Claudia Lefeve

You’re Writing Anyway, Right? By Claudia Lefeve

At the start of each round, I am always excited to see dozens of writers post their first updates. Then after a couple of weeks, the numbers seem to magically dwindle down. Whether writers are still keeping with their goals and are just not posting, or have decided ROW80 isn’t for them, I can’t say.

After reading various writer posts, the consensus among those that decide not to participate or drop out from future rounds is due to a lack of time. Time is a concept that is not lost on me (I have three jobs, including writing), the writer who tends to several kids, or the single mom (or dad) trying to raise a family while holding down a full-time job. We all have to deal with the big beast called Life.

Fortunately, ROW80 is a challenge that is tailored to each individual writer – because you create the goals yourself! And if you’re currently a participant, I’m sure I don’t have to go over the details of how this challenge works, but what I will say is this: if you feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day or can’t keep up with your goals…you can always change them! You don’t have to burn out by raising the bar too high with unattainable goals – there are other writing challenges for that. This is a challenge where you can set reasonable goals because you have limited time.
When I first participated back in Round 1, I wasn’t sure if this was something I could commit to. Then I realized the only commitment I had to keep was to myself. If I want to be a writer, I have to set goals, whether it be personal or something I post on a weekly basis. So I have only one major goal and it’s the same one I’ve kept all three rounds and it’s a simple one: write everyday. That’s it. I don’t feel the need to change or update it every round because while simple, it’s not always an easy task.
Now, I’ll admit, this is the only writing challenge I’ve ever participated in, so my experience is limited when it comes to challenges, but I can say without a doubt that I have met some of the most supportive writers/authors by participating in ROW80. For me, that’s what ROW80 is all about. And I don’t mean on a superficial level either. I’ve connected with some very talented authors that I’m honored to call my friends. Through supportive emails, comments, and unconditional support, I’ve been able to get past the “should I really be doing this” to “hot damn, I’m doing this!”
I know I’m preaching to those ROW80 veterans out there, but for those of you who are embarking on this fabulous challenge for the first time, don’t sweat it! You’re writing anyway or else you wouldn’t be here. Sure, there are times when I don’t feel like posting or meeting my weekly goals and most times I don’t and it’s okay.
I just move on to the next week and start all over.

Who Am I To…Write?

Unlike many of my writer friends, I didn’t major in English or decide I was going to be a writer at an early age. I’ve never taken a writing course, although I probably should. To date, my writing is limited to graduate thesis’, literature reviews, white papers, and grant proposals. While I do have short stories that have been published, I still feel like the odd man out.

Who am I to call myself writer? Sure, I can string two sentences together, but does that make my writing worthy of publication? Will readers think it’s junk? Will my author friends secretly laugh?

I often find myself wondering if I can make it as a writer. Now, I don’t mean “make it” in the sense of being able to support myself with my writing (although one can hope), but rather, will my stories be liked by my readers and peers. And I’ll bet I’m not the only one who feels this way (oh, please don’t let me be the only one!).

So how do we overcome our self-doubt?

For me, I find comfort in success stories from unlikely authors. Take John Grisham, for example. He was a practicing attorney for almost a decade and as far as I can tell, he didn’t set out to be a writer either. It wasn’t until he heard a story about a little girl that prompted him to write his first novel (A Time to Kill). And what about Kathy Reichs? She didn’t major in English either, but through her experience as a forensic anthropologist, she was able to expose us to a whole new methodology of crime solving – not to mention her sweet deal as executive producer on Bones, which is based on her series of books.

It was those stories that inspired me to pursue my secret passion to become a writer. Again, I had no background in writing, but I knew I was onto something back in graduate school – a paper discussing chaos theory, based on an article written by my professor. Now, I didn’t read the aforementioned article, but I still managed an A. That was my epiphany – only a writer can bulls#*t their way to an A. Right?

It took a few years for me to feel comfortable submitting any of my short stories for publication. My first attempts at writing novels don’t even occupy a shelf in my virtual files – they were trash and thus ended up where they belonged, in the recycling bin. But with every book I didn’t finish, I realized my writing only got better. Today, I don’t cringe when I go back and read pages written from the day before. Of course, it still has to be edited, but nothing that can’t be fixed.

One of the major advantages to ROW80 is that I can customize my goals to ensure I continue to grow as a writer. The great Stephen King said, in order to be a good writer, you have to write (and read) everyday. So in order for me to succeed, I know I have to write everyday and my goals are reflective of that.

Even if I don’t accomplish all of my intended goals, I know that just by setting aside time to write everyday, I can build my self-confidence enough to be able to stand by my writing – even if no one else thinks I can.


Claudia Lefeve