Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Staying on track

BICHOK: Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. Easier said than done, unless one is a hermit on a mountaintop. The writer mired in daily life needs constant reinforcement of her goals.

The Orange County Chapter of the Romance Writers of America has a great system for helping writers set and stick to their goals. At each monthly meeting, we can write down one or more writing goals that we plan to accomplish by the following month's meeting. We also put a dollar in a jar for each goal. At the next meeting, those who met a goal tear that goal off the sheet and put it in a box. A name is drawn from that box, and that person wins all the money contributed the previous month. A dollar may not seem like much, but I know I feel terrible if I don't meet my goal and my dollar is wasted.

One of the 2008 Clarion Workshop graduates belongs to a goal group. When I asked what a goal group was, he explained that it was a group of people who meet every month to review their goals and their progress toward them and to support each other in their efforts. That sounds like a great idea; who wants to admit in front of a group that they fell short? If I knew any writers living near me, I would set up a goal group myself.

One motivator I came across recently is Habit Forge (http://www.habitforge.com). At this free Internet site, one can set goals. Every morning, Habit Forge queries you whether you met your goal for the previous day and charts the number of days in a row you've succeeded. The kicker: No matter how many days you've been successful, if you fail one day, the meter resets at 0 successes. Ouch! So far I've been using Habit Forge for personal goals such as "I will not snack between breakfast and lunch" and "I will not windowshop on the Internet." But I've found the service so motivating that I plan to start using it for writing goals as well.

One motivator I used when I had an office with a lot of wall space was a huge yearly calendar hung on the wall. Each day that I wrote at least half a day I rewarded myself with a sticker on the calendar. One could tell from across the room how well I was doing.

What systems have you used to create a writing habit and maintain it?

I'm glad you visited my post today. Please come back on April 7, when I'll tell about my talks about writing at my former high school.

—Shauna Roberts


Farrah Rochon said...

Shauna, my RWA chapter here in Austin does the same thing for goals, and even worse than losing my dollar is to publicly admit that I didn't complete my goal.

I will have to check out Habit Forge. I am always searching for new ways to help me reach my page goals. Thanks for the link!

Phyllis Bourne said...

I've been using a HabitCal calendar for dieting.

I'm definitely checking out Habit Forge. I could use it. Thanks for the tip!

Shauna Roberts said...

FARRAH and PHYLLIS, glad I could suggest something useful you weren't already doing.

Liane Spicer said...

Great ideas Shauna - just the sort of in-your-face motivation I need.

"I will not windowshop on the Internet."

*blushes and stares intently at invisible distant object...*