ROW80 Goals and the ‘Latte Effect’ of Writing

Like many of my writerly friends, I’m a very goal-driven person. Think about our job: We write books in the hopes that someone will publish them, read them, benefit from them. That can’t be done without a strong sense of direction. So we set goals, tangible manifestations of our dreams.

I keep those goals near me wherever I am. The whiteboard in my home office lists my writing goals for the year. The sticky notes program on my computer desktop reminds me every time I turn on my laptop. The row of post-its on the bottom of my work computer helps keep me on track when I’m on several different deadlines at once. I believe in taking methodical approaches to big goals. One step at a time.

Don’t believe me? Consider the “latte effect.” In the world of personal finance, the latte effect is used as proof that many of us can, in fact, afford to save up for a rainy day. If you buy a latte a day, five days a week, at $5 a cuppa, that’s $1,300 in one year. Save that money instead, and you’re off to a good start with your savings. In 10 years, you’ve saved $13,000—not too shabby. (I feel obliged to add a disclaimer. I am not Suze Orman and am in no way qualified to give financial advice.)

But imagine if we sat down and said, “I need to save $13,000.” That figure is overwhelming. Maybe 10 years (120 months) is overwhelming. If we think of it instead as $5/day, $25/week, it becomes tangible. Most of us will never hold $13,000 in cash. But $5 or $25 is far more accessible.

Whether we’re saving for a rainy day or writing toward a finished novel, we can use the same approach. The latte effect shows how a little bit of effort each day can add up to a decent chunk of savings over the long haul. What if we wrote 500 words a day or for 30 minutes daily? Over the course of a year, if we write six days a week at 500 words, that’s 156,000 words. Suddenly, writing a novel doesn’t seem so daunting.

I was drawn toward A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) because it’s the “writing challenge that knows you have a life.” I can’t do NaNoWriMo because I’ve taught every fall for the past few years. And the last few weeks of the semester, the beginning of the holiday season, and the writing community’s version of the Insanity Workout don’t mix well. I still managed to write an estimated 125,000 words last year—and that’s not counting back-story, deleted scenes, etc. Little steps, big goals. So I’m hopping into ROW80 because it’s exactly my kind of challenge: set your own goals, and stick with them. It’s not a one-size-fits-all deal.

So here are my ROW80 goals. Feel free to hold me to ‘em. 😉

1.)  Write 3,000 words per week on Pierce My Heart. The story, which started off as a longer short story, is now a full-fledged novella. We’ll see where it goes from there.

2.)  Blog three times per week. Expect to see me on Wednesdays and Sundays for ROW80 check-in, as well as on Fridays.

3.)  Revise the Pierce My Heart synopsis. Don’t expect that one until closer to March, as I revise and expand the story.

So, now it’s your turn. What are your goals for 2012? How are you approaching them?

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10 thoughts on “ROW80 Goals and the ‘Latte Effect’ of Writing

  1. I love the idea of little steps, big goals! And not getting overwhelmed at what we are trying to achieve! I’m trying on 1K a day, and thrilled that those small steps will equal big word count by the time ROW 80 is over. I think this whole Round of Words in 80 days idea is brilliant! So glad to be a part of it!!

    Great goals, and great attitude toward reaching those goals!!

    Can’t wait to see your successes as this round progresses!!

    • Heather, I think 1K/day is a great goal. I believe indie author Zoe Winters sets that as her goal.

      I’m starting out small for Round 1 and am going to try to step it up for Round 2 of ROW80. Good luck reaching your goals! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. Great goals Janelle! I love your analogy in comparing lattes to words. That was awesome!

    I too have joined you all over at ROW80. Well see what happens. I hate making goals. There, I said it. And I did put in my post on Monday that I didn’t want to join. But I’m making myself push through some of the uncomfortable issues I have. LOL!!!

    So I look forward to keeping up with you Janelle. See you soon! 🙂

    • Karen, I hope it works out for you. The great part is, it’s a neat challenge and a way to keep each other accountable for our goals. But it’s also not the end of the world if we don’t meet our goals. (I hear that, in 2012, the end is nigh anyway…) 😉

  3. Ha ha ha! I love what Julia said. But I don’t really but coffee from those coffee houses much anymore. Both for their financial and calorie costs. Great post Janelle! I have jumped for my first Row80 challenge. I am looking to all the pros for guidance. 😉 Looking forward to great things. Can’t wait to see how you do. I’ll be cheering you on.

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