I ran a marathon when I turned 4o only because I told people I was gonna do it.
If I never said it out loud to real people who heard me, I would have bagged it when I was starving, tired, and my toenails were falling off.
But I did it. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty, but I completed the NYC Marathon once, and it’s still one of the things I’m most proud of.
Writing conferences, or blogging conferences (apparently a huge difference) are a kick-ass source of inspiration, but it’s difficult (for me) to attend alone, which I’ve done several times now, only because I posted on my FB page that I’d be there. It’s hard for me; like going to the prom alone. At somebody else’s school.
But I showed up anyway, because I said I would, and quite possibly, non-refundable tickets.
You gotta do what you gotta do when you say you’re gonna do it
Or at least try.
Once a month I attend Writers’ Rendezvous, an organized discussion with 15-20 local Connecticut writers at the Westport Barnes & Noble, who generously share ideas about craft and content. We also, one by one, state our goals for the month, and are held accountable to follow up at the next meeting. Every time.
We start each meeting being held accountable to our goals from last month. These range from taking a class, rewriting a chapter, writing a pitch, finding a copyeditor, reading a book, submitting work, business cards, writing 2,000 words, cleaning a desk, building a website, learning twitter, researching, creating a bio, or simply just coming back to next month’s meeting.
Did we get it done, or didn’t we? Or do we even remember what we said we’d do?
Then the floor is open for sharing and questions, there’s a wealth of talent in that circle, all willing to share what they know, who they know. Before adjourning, we go around the circle again, with our goals for the following month, until we rendezvous again. Out loud, one by one.
Crime novelists, financial writers, poets, children’s book authors, memoirists, health, comic book writers, romance, self-help, fantasy, mystery, screen writers, historical fiction, social commentary, spiritual, travel, cook book authors – genres from across the literary spectrum. Published authors and aspiring newbies set goals for the month, then follow-up on whether they met them. Gabi makes us. We make us.
No one’s keeping track or score, except for each of us on our own to-do list. It’s up to us to accomplish what we say we’re going to do. Or not.
The facilitator, the fearless reader and writer, Gabi Coatsworth, is a Brit who sounds awesome even when chastising you, and by you, I mean me.
ME: “I”m going to check out Scrivener, attend BinderCon, submit 3-5 essays, blog 3x a week, try NaNoWriMo for the first time, learn WordPress, and maybe go to a couple open-mics.”
GABI: “Bravo darling! Good for you! That’s the spirit, but shall we, I don’t know, perhaps you should leave something for the rest of the year? What can you get done for next month?”
ME: “I’ll write a blog a week, submit some essays, at least three. And attend BinderCon. Better?”
And we went on to the next overachiever.
What we’re writing is not important, but the common goal of hard work, time management, and generous support holds each of us accountable, month after month, to each other and to ourselves.
There is support in accountability.
If you say you’re going to do something, then you should by all means attempt to do it. Maybe you’ll succeed, maybe you’ll fail, but at least you can say you tried.
Road races, rallies, or writing rendezvous, showing up and speaking your intention aloud is often the best thing to do to get to the next step.
Maybe you won’t get there by next month, but the mold has been cast, the words have been set, and action is sure to follow if not today, then tomorrow. Or the day after that.
Excellent blog! May I re-post it?
sure, see you tomorrow!
Your overachieving just made me want to take a nap. NaMoWriMo is enough of a take-on for the month. Unless you are lumping your whole to-do list into your monthly goals. Try thinking about three things you want to accomplish for the year. Each month decide what steps you will take to move you toward those goals. I break it down by week, but a monthly report works, too.
Sigh…. Now, I must stop socializing and finish my character and scene developments. I started NaMoWriMo and almost immediately got bogged downed by lack of planning. I adjusted my goal to support that next novel, instead of writing it. I hope to write 1,000 words of day toward development.
Onward! Good luck knocking those words out!
So now, I feel just a tiny bit more motivated to get some writing done today…thanks for the push.
Hey you! Thx for reading! one of my fav insta feeds. Did you see I used your image in previous blog post? (the one on politics and art)
“If you say you’re going to do something, then you should by all means attempt to do it. Maybe you’ll succeed, maybe you’ll fail, but at least you can say you tried.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Great article, even if I don’t have problems with my own personal motivation. I’m currently in the middle of another 130,000 word novel, I write two blog posts or more a week, do all the marketing for the first seven novels, and am helping my fiancee plan our wedding! Free time is at a premium these days!
It’s great that groups like Writers’ Rendezvous are around to support people!
it’s a great group; highly recommend finding a similar meet-up where you live, but sure doesn’t sound like you need it! Good luck on your novel(s) and wedding!