Sunday, March 20, 2011

Positive Reinforcement

It's hard to believe this is almost the last Sunday ROW80 check in. When I think back to the first of the year, I realize just how much my life has changed in three short months. My first ROW80 coincides exactly with the release of my first novel. I was pretty much a nervous wreck back in January. Gifts hit Amazon on Dec. 28 with a ranking somewhere close to 100,000, and B&N on Jan. 1 or 2. I had a lot of anxiety. See if any of this sounds familiar:
Will anyone like it?
It it any good?
What the hell am I thinking?
How dare I put myself out there with real writers?

For roughly two weeks I drove myself and everyone around me a lot crazy. If you don't believe me, check my archived entries over there. Some of them are not pretty. But I had ROW80, tolerant friends, and an angelic spouse, so I had a plan and forward motion. Then something weird happened: people started buying my book, and liked it. I kept writing, met other writers, and at some point, I started thinking of myself as a writer. Not "fake," or "self-pubbed," or "real." Just a writer. As in, one who writes. I don't know at what point the switch flipped. I just know that as ROW80 draws to a close, I have a book with a ranking I'm pretty happy with, another on the way, a great support network, some disciplined work habits, and some writer friends I can bug when I'm stuck or feeling silly. Best of all, whenever I hear the phrase "real writer," which still sadly gets thrown around a lot in regards to Indies v. Trads, it comes out in my head in this hilarious, high-pitched Pinnochio cartoon voice: "I'm a real boy," but insert writer instead. Of course I'm real. I'm sitting here at a keyboard, aren't I? I'm getting paid for my work, and I'm producing more. Let the controversies roll on by. I have stories to tell instead.

My original ROW80 goals went something like this:
1. Four writing-intensive days a week. I put a heavy word count on this- 1500. I think as far as work habits go, the "writing intensive" idea works best for me. I need to stay loose with it. Sometimes it means editing. Sometimes it means freewriting. Sometimes it means drafting. When I'm deep into a book, "writing intensive" almost always means a chapter a day.
2. Two writing related blogs a week. ROW80 worked out nicely here, with bi-weekly updates forcing me to blog.
3. Read a book in my genre and review it at least once a week. No problem there, either. If anything, I need to cut back on the reading, or perhaps specify that I read an Indie author, or perhaps a non-fiction craft related book.
4. I planned to spend about 30 min. a day networking and marketing 5 days a week. Honestly, that's just too conservative an estimate. It's also a very limiting way of thinking about it. A better way is that I should limit internet time, and plan very targeted, formal marketing campaigns around specific releases and/or ideas.
5. My biggest ROW80 goal was to have my second book finished by the end. It's looking like I might just make this one, which would be amazing. And if I do, then what? I know there's another ROW80, and I plan to participate. But I need some kind of positive reinforcement. So that's my new and unexpected ROW80 mini-task:

Think of a reward. One that won't reinforce other bad habits, so chocolate's out. :) Something in proportion to the achievement, like a quick trip to the ocean, or the spa, or shopping. I have a household to factor in to the equation, and there's still a week to go, so it's something to think about. But what about the rest of you? Has anyone thought about possible ROW80 rewards, and if so, what are you thinking?


  1. Congratulations on realizing you're a "Writer." ;) And now you're a "Published Author."

    Rewards? Hmm . . you already listed my favs. I think a visit to an art gallery or museum would also be good.

  2. Congrats! The reward thing is so hard for me because I am hard-wired to think of food as a celebratory thing (and my derierre has sufficiently increased over the last few months enough to show it). My next self-reward is shameless book-buying. Or a MASSAGE...yeah I like that.

  3. I can totally relate to the anxiety, it's the worst bit.

    Also, it doesn't seem like this round has been only three months. That sounds so long. I've been all about the rewards the whole time. The last day coincides with my birthday so it won't even feel like I'm getting rewarded for ROW80, ah well!

  4. I can relate to the "am I a real writer?" feeling, especially since I'm not published (at least, not in any publication of consequence). I can always tell when I tell someone I'm a writer and they ask "if I've written anything they might have seen" and I tell them I'm not published, they look at me as if I'm a sewer rat with leprosy, just some eccentric little creature using writing as an excuse to never venture outdoors (though the last bit is kinda true).
    As for rewards, the last book in a series I love is coming out in May... A delayed reward, but one I'm looking forward to :)

  5. I bought, read and enjoyed your book, thus you are a writer! Never thought about a ROW80 reward, but maybe when my novella gets published next month that will be my reward...OR a trip to Spa World :)

  6. It's great day when you decide you are a writer - the day I did all the guilt about spending time on the 'machine' vanished.

    Hope whatever you decide as a treat you enjoy

    see you in the next round

    keep smiling

  7. The ocean! It's finally warm enough.

  8. Everybody remember the last day of ROW80 is Claire's BIRTHDAY!!!!! Let's be disgustingly cheerful at her!
    I forgot it's the first outdoor concert in a nearby small town. The Civil Wars are playing, it might be warm enough to go barefoot, the outdoor stage has a tin roof, I can visit the slave graveyard and haunted whiskey still, and sometimes the one and only restaurant has homemade honeysuckle ice cream. If only two of them work out, it'll be pretty rewarding.

  9. That sounds awesome, Vicki! The homemade honeysuckle ice cream, I mean, a brilliant idea I've never heard before. The haunted places sound cool, too, though at this point I'll just be thinking, "Yes, yes, more ghosts, yawn..."

  10. Yeah, but a whisky still? Makes you wonder what those ghosts are up to.