How To… Again

Claire Farrell shares some ideas on how we can stick to it

(Please note, this is a repost from our very first sponsor posts of the challenge, How to Stick to It from January 17, 2011.)

I love how enthusiastic people are in January.  New resolutions, plans to improve ourselves – it’s always fun to list the things we would like to do next.  Most of these plans are forgotten pretty quickly and before you know it, it’s the end of the year and people are planning their new, oh, wait, I mean, last year’s resolutions.

How can we stick to our plans?  Publicly challenging ourselves with ROW80 is a great start.  But all great starts need decent finishes too.  So how do we keep ourselves on track?

First is to pick manageable goals.  Goals that suit you – don’t compare yourself to anyone else.  In theory, lots of things seem easy peasy but when we sit down to do them, we think of anything, literally anything, to avoid getting on with it.  If it’s too overwhelming, break it down a little more and complete one small step at a time.  It’s the first round so we’re still figuring out just what we can do – but even the easiest of challenges can feel ridiculously hard once life starts complicating things.

Be prepared for off days, random destruction of whatever it is you need to complete your challenge, and the rest of the world demanding your attention.  Falling behind?  You can catch up, no problem.  Take each day as a fresh start.  If you’re trying then you’re succeeding.

Suddenly feel like you don’t have time?  Make it.  There’s always something we can cut to bump up our work time.  Trust me, I have five smallies – I’m the Queen of Making Time.  No time is an excuse, I’m good at those too.

That’s why challenges like ROW80 are so useful.  We all know the excuses, so they won’t work this time.  But it’s not a mad rush to the finish line, it’s figuring out what we can produce on a regular basis.  It’s instilling a sensible work ethic and a steady routine that should benefit us in the long run.  It’s public accountability and the camaraderie of us all being in this together.  It’s hard to focus when you’re working alone but seeing your progress during the weekly updates is going to be a real motivator.

It should be fun too.  If you’ve had enough for one day then take a break, have a look at what everyone is doing.  Don’t try to match them – their goals are not your goals, but maybe get to know them, cheer them on and know that they will do the same for you.  Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely existence and when it gets tough, the rest of us will push you towards that finish line.


Claire Farrell


ROW80 Reprise, Inc.

Andrew Mocete takes us on a tour of Problem Solving, Inc.

(Please note, this is a repost from our very first sponsor posts of the challenge, Problem Solving, Inc., from January 10, 2011.)

I wish remembered where, but I once read a interview with John Lennon about his song writing process.  What struck me most was he told the interviewer he’ll sometimes stare at his instrument for hours without writing a single note.  The next day might be the same thing and day after that too.  For him, this was being productive because he knew his mind was working things out and eventually the music would come.

For someone highly respected and considered a genius at his craft to have gone through the same aspect of the writing process as I did was huge.

How many times have you stared at a blank page with no idea where the story is supposed to go?  How many times has what you’ve written looked wrong and you knew it needed something more, but didn’t know what?  Well according to John Lennon, this is part of the process.

When we get stuck, we get frustrated because it feels like we’re not getting anything done.  But then there’s that eureka moment where it all makes sense and we wonder why it took so long to figure it out in the first place.

I don’t know why these solutions come the way they do, but I do know there’s a part of my brain working around the clock solving my problems.  And there’s a lot of them.  So how does my staff of diligent neurons decide which of my many issues to work on?  I think it’s a kind of *whatever voice is loudest gets seen first* type of thing.  A problem on your mind will cause you stress which affects your overall health.  It only makes sense to solve that problem first.

If you’re making time to develop your skills as an author everyday, then when a problem does come up, that little section of your brain will keep working until it’s solved.  Conversely, if you only develop your skills when the mood strikes, problems will get solved when and if your brain can get to them.

Staring at that blank page or ugly looking chapter may seem unproductive, but it’s telling your brain what you’re doing is a priority.   It’ll get the message and help you reach your goals.


Andrew Mocete

Round 1 Check-in 3/15/20

(Courtesy of Guy Smiley’s Guts)

For history buffs and their very creative counterparts (like, maybe Shakespeare or someone like that 😉 ), today is a great day for writing and connecting and… planning (though I imagine for the conspirators that killed Caesar, that was done a few days or weeks prior).  It’s a well known day for stories of all kinds, truth and…  well usually NOT the truth. (Like what really happened to Caesar….)

And this is a good thing, ROWers.  It shows that your mistakes don’t mean as much as your ability to get back to your project and produce it, produce it, produce….  Basically, you define the story you want people to most remember about you.  You define what YOU want to remember and know about you.  Step by step, challenge after challenge…  round after round.

As we start looking toward the end of this Round of Words (we’re done on the 26th, folks, so it’s coming soon), we should start looking at what we’ve accomplished and what we still want to focus our energies on in Round Two.  Remember that the end of one 80 day adventure just means you can start the next ROWnd with a shift in focus and a sense of refreshment…  even if you’re working on the same projects as you’ve been working on for the past couple of years.

So…  start thinking about what’s to come, what you’ve accomplished…  what you most enjoyed about your ROW80, and what you’d prefer to tweak a little.

And while you’re doing that, you may want to check-in for the moment and let the rest of us know how you’re doing.

Here’s your linky:

Round 1 Check-in 2/4/20

Salvete scriptores!

Yep!  Greetings writers!

I’m doing a course in Classical Latin. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for some time. Mostly, my interest came out of writing and wordsmithing in general (because of how much of our English language has been influenced by it) but as well because of my love of archaeology and history these days. This isn’t my first time trying.  I picked it up a bit once before, then set it aside.  Finally I’m really doing something about a long term dream, going for it, achieving my goals…  that’s what the ROW80 is about.

Courtesy Love Images Collections

Have you got a class or goal you’ve been putting off for some time because you just didn’t feel you could get to it?  Why not pick it up again, turn it over, look at it close…  Who knows, maybe you might find you’re ready to take it on and go for that personal victory.

And…  even if you aren’t, well, who knows, maybe you’ll at least get closer to that goal than you had been before.

Here’s your linky! Why not share a little bit of some special project you’ve been working on along with your check-in? I’m sure your fellow ROWers would love to hear about it.

Round 1 Check-in 1/26/20

Busy is a decision

Debbie Millman, host and founder of Design Matters, the long running design podcast, believes that. and she has a pretty good reason for doing so.  We all make time for things we want to do, even if it’s captured moments in transit or blocked out chunks of time where we immerse ourselves in a particular passion.

Yes, we do have moments where our lives demand our focus shift a bit more than others, but once the emergency passes, do we get back into a pattern or do we find that our priorities have shifted and we find ourselves too busy to go back to those old dreams.

Now that you’ve got a couple of weeks ROWing under your belt, it’s time to start asking the serious questions about those goals you set for yourself.  Are they doing what you want them to do?  Will you achieve your dreams if you keep following the path you’re on, or might you benefit from a slight course correction?

Are you busy?  What have you chosen that makes you so busy?

By the way, here is your linky for this week’s check-in:

Feel free to leave a link to your check-in there, in the comments, or in our FB thread.

Round 1 Check-in 1/15/20

The Blank Page? Or not.

Here it is… a new check-in, a new chance to say “I’m doing this!”. It’s not a blank page; it’s an opportunity. It’s chance offering a rose to your muse. It’s a new world to explore.

You know how it is. Writers Write. And the Blank Page is not to be feared but faced with eagerness and curiosity.

Why not let us know how it goes for you, here in the linky, in the comments or on your FB page… You’ve got this, ROWers.

Round 4 Check-in 11/23/19

Abundance! (courtesy

Happy Sunday!

As we approach our national feasting day in the US, Thanksgiving, thoughts of harvest and preparation for the scarcity of Winter fill our minds….  Really, even in these modern times, there is an almost instinctive need to gather our resources and prepare to settle in for the changing seasons.  We may fight these natural urges with holiday parties and NaNoWriMo write-ins, but as daylight grows shorter, so does our energy.

A great thought or the spark of an idea can change this for us in an instant though, and off we go, running toward the next story or novel….

Ideas abound.  And may you have a great, filling harvest of them.

Tell us how you’re doing in the comments or on our FB page, and have a wonderful Sunday.

Round 4 Check-in 11/6/19

You are! Really! You are writing, creating, DOing in a month of not only wordly craziness (NaNoWriMo), but approaching holidays and family gatherings. So Kudos to you and just a small nudge…

Keep at it, ROWers.

And as always, let us know what’s happening in your ROW80 journey in the comments or on our FB page.

Round 4 Check-in 10-13-19

court. US News

I’d ask if you’ve ever been stuck in traffic, but given roadways these days, it’s pretty likely.  I do have to ask though…  how did you react?  Did it stress you out, frustrate you, relax you, feel… “it’s unenviable, but inevitable”?

What about curious and creative?  Or perhaps even awed?

I had all of those experiences the other day while stuck in some traffic on Interstate 78 on my way to our old house.  Yeah, it slowed my already long trip home down, but I saw stories; I saw gorgeous scenery (there are some sandstone “cliffs” where the hills had been blasted back to make the road that were stunning contrasts in colors and textures, even to a point where runoff had virtually melted the choppy stone into liquid floes; I got a lot of people watching done…; heck, I even got the chance to b-bop to my favorite song without worrying if I might wiggle the steering wheel too much and cause an accident.

Being stuck in traffic—or on the page—doesn’t have to be negative or annoying.  It can be a blessing in disguise, if you give it a chance.  And, it is inevitable (and unenviable), so why not make the best of it?

Let us know how you’re doing in the comments, on FB or in your blog check-in (don’t forget to leave a link for us to find you there).