Perhaps it’s because I was a Girl Scout. Perhaps it’s because I’m a gamer. Whatever the reason, I’ve learned over the years that I will work ridiculously hard to earn silly recognition. We recently got an Xbox 360, and though I’m still a Nintendo girl at heart, I have developed a slight obsession with earning the Achievements on Xbox. There’s just something about hearing that sound and seeing the little bar pop up that makes me want to cheer every time.
It’s the same way with writing. While it’s always been a passion of mine, I accomplish much more if I have some form of reward system in place, however trivial it may be. I did well for some time at writing daily on 750words.com, largely because I loved earning their badges for consecutive days of writing or other accomplishments. And of course, NaNoWriMo with its measurable goal, strict deadline, and exuberantly encouraging participants has transformed my writing life in ways I never guessed possible. But outside of November, I’ve found it hard to stay focused on my writing goals.
What I had been lacking was accountability. Giving my year-round goals more strict deadlines and a reward system is key to developing writing habits that will help me grow into the writer I want to be. I started out by participating in a local writing group made up of a few awesome people I met during NaNoWriMo. Then I learned about a weekly Twitter group called Write Club (@FriNightWrites). Both of these were great for making connections with fellow writers. I found encouragement and the occasional kick in the pants that I needed.
Then there was the discovery I made just last week. A couple of my local wrimos who I also follow on Twitter had posted about Write Motivation. It’s a self-imposed monthly challenge. You list your personal writing goals, promise to post about your progress in blog posts and on Twitter, and also to encourage others taking on the challenge. The reward? Virtual cookies. That’s it. Just a little graphic you can download with a picture of some cookies. But it is just what I needed to stay motivated while I’m working toward some big goals this year.
So I signed up for February. I’m starting out small, because it’s a short month and because it’s a fairly scary thing for me to take on a challenge so publicly. Here are my goals in all their glory:
1. 30 hours of revision on P.Q.
2. At least 5 blog posts this month. This sounds like a tiny number to me, but it’s something I have never accomplished. Blogging is still a challenge for me, because I’m a little terrified of putting myself out there and even more terrified that I don’t really have anything to say that will interest other people besides myself.
3. Attend at least 4 write-ins with my writing group. My schedule has been hectic, and will likely continue to be this month, but I need this connection to my writing peers.
That’s it. Those are my big goals for this month. I’m hoping taking on this challenge every month will help me set reasonable, measurable goals to develop myself as a writer. Want to join in the fun? Visit www.writemotivation.org for more information, or use #WriteMotivation on Twitter to share your own goals and your progress. And share your thoughts in the comments here. Happy writing!