ROW80 Sunday Check-In: Process Not Product

A goal is something to strive for. Theoretically, there is as much—or perhaps even more—value is in the striving as there is in reaching the goal. So in that sense, I’ve succeeded this week.

In another sense, I’ve fallen short of my goal as stated (to write 5 of 7 days using the writing and contemplation prompts in The Pen and the Bell). Just a bit short, though; I wrote 4 times this week. Plus I blogged, so that’s kind of bonus. And I homeschooled, prepared 21 meals and 37 snacks, cleaned the house, hosted a meeting, and dove into two new (and time-consuming) volunteer tasks. But those weren’t on my ROW80* goals list, so those don’t count.

Here’s a rundown of the prompts for Chapter 1, “Sitting Down and Waking Up”:

– Create a sanctified space for yourself. (I kind of already have this. It’s a corner of the basement. I’ve got a card table, which I euphemistically call “antique,” the vinyl top of which is cut into flaps from the time more than ten years ago when I thought I didn’t need a cardboard backer for a razor-blade cutting project I was doing. In addition to the card table is a plastic set of shelves with a CD player and a set of meditation and yoga CDs stacked to the side and a little Buddhist shrine, with a Buddha statue and a couple of pinecones. The candle, incense and matches I keep on the top shelf out of the reach of inquisitive three-year-old hands. The meditation cushions and yoga mats I keep up on top of a storage bin so maybe my elderly cats won’t defile them again. Now that I describe it, the space seems neither “sanctified” nor “mine.” Maybe I should start over again with this whole “sanctified space” thing.)

-Build a few moments of quiet awareness into your morning routine. (I do this when I think of it, which isn’t often. It’s a miracle there’s anything resembling routine in my morning routine and there’s nothing resembling “quiet.” I blame my children, but it’s probably not entirely their fault.)

-Write continuously for ten minutes about what’s right in front of you. (I did this once this week. I’ve done it before. It’s calming and invites me to notice details I normally overlook, like the smell of the couch cushions. I’m pretty much okay with overlooking that detail.)

-Begin a writing session with a letter to a friend. (I did this three times this week. This exercise was a little surprising. There’s something liberating about writing a letter that I have no intention of sending. That’s not the surprising part. The surprising part is how much richer the writing became compared to a regular journaling session. I was able to see the subjects about which I was writing from a different perspective. I chose to write to friends with whom I’ve not spoken in years, and there was a lot of catch-up to do. The letters were pretty long, so I just made this my entire writing session. I can see the potential value of using this exercise before starting in on a project-writing session.)

This coming week’s chapter is “Details, Details, Details.” There are seven prompts designed to help one slow down and notice details. I think I’ll do my noticing somewhere other than the couch this time.

*ROW80 is “A Round of Words in 80 Days: the writing challenge that knows you have a life.” You can find more information here.

3 Replies to “ROW80 Sunday Check-In: Process Not Product”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. A goal is something to strive for. It’s a journey that pushes us. But writing 4 times this week isn’t bad by any means, especially when you were doing so much other stuff. This week is your starting line, not the finish line. Keep on working toward those goals. 🙂


    1. I really like that: “This week is your starting line, not the finish line.” Thank you for that, Ryan.


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