63: Building Writing Momentum – Transform Habits with the 12-Week Year

The 12 Week Year – Discover how accountability, commitment, and greatness in the moment can elevate your writing game.

“The 12 Week Year” by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington – https://www.amazon.com/12-Week-Year-Others-Months/dp/1118509234/

“The 12 Week Year for Writers” by A. Trevor Thrall – https://www.amazon.com/12-Week-Year-Writers-Comprehensive-ebook/dp/B09CLX3NMK/

Question of the week: What does greatness in the moment mean to you?

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Transcript
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Maybe you're like me, I haven't published a new book since

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before the pandemic started. I've published a flash fiction

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piece and I have written loads of podcast episodes, and a few

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self help lead magnets. But that's not the same as

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publishing my next fiction book. Maybe your fiction writing

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efforts have stalled like mine. So in an effort to get to the

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root of the problem, which for me is trying to straddle the

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fiction and nonfiction worlds. I picked up two books in December

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2022 that have influenced my thinking in a huge way and

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continue to do so. The first was the 12 week year by Brian P.

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Moran and Michael Lennington, which identified one of the

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biggest obstacles to writing my next novel, The year long plan.

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More about that in a minute. The second book is a 12 week year

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for writers by A. Trevor Thrall, which was written for writers by

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a writer. Perfect. So what did I learn? What is strategic

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thinking? What are tactics and What is greatness in the moment?

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Stick around and find out? A writing proceeds authors Welcome

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back to the podcast. To those of you who are new, I want to

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extend a special welcome. My name is Kathrese. McKee. And I'm

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glad you're here. If you are writers seeking encouragement,

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information and inspiration, this podcast is for you. Let's

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get to it. annual plans are no good to me. Yes, you heard me

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correctly. A one year plan kills my motivation and momentum.

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After all, I have an entire year to get the book done. So my

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brain immediately adopts Island time. That means urgency goes by

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the wayside. If I don't sit down to write the darn book one day,

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then I say soon come, which translates to I will do it

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tomorrow, or the next day or the next. The premise of the 12 week

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year is it people lose focus, procrastinate and delay action

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when faced with a long time horizon, like a year. This is

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why New Year's resolutions don't work for the vast majority of

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people, right. But if you shift to a 12 week year, with

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appropriately sized goals, then you can stay engaged, maintain

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momentum, and consistently take action. You also enjoy more

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flexibility to tweak your plans, because you have a faster,

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quicker feedback loop. This leads to real measurable

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progress. Both books are full of great material about vision

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planning, process, control, measurement and time use. But

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first let's talk about three other principles,

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accountability, commitment and greatness in the moment, and

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let's talk about them in reverse order. So greatness in the

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moment is what sets the Olympic athletes apart from the rest of

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us. greatness in the moment is about doing all the things

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required to prevail when nobody is watching, like maintaining a

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strict schedule, eating the right foods, sleeping enough

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doing the weights and the treadmill, swimming early

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morning laps in the pool competing against yourself and

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endless workouts. This is greatness in the moment, so that

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on competition day, the athlete is at their peak state of

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readiness. There is no victory unless there is greatness in the

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moment. For writers this looks far different, but it is

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greatness in the moment nonetheless. Getting up early to

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write or writing work while everyone else is doing fun

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things like watching tiktoks tracking time in the chair or

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words written revision revision revision scheduling an editor

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and revising again, spending endless hours researching a time

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period to get the details right. world building character arcs

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crafting, dialogue taking critique, move that last one's

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hard, great novels and great nonfiction books don't just

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happen. They are preceded by greatness in the moment.

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Commitment, of course, seems self explanatory, but I think it

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comes from understanding really deeply understanding your

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reasons why accountability is not what you immediately think

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of in our current culture. This isn't about being held

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accountable, or holding others accountable. Accountability is

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about taking ownership of your results, and being accountable

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to yourself, keeping score for yourself being honest with

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yourself, owning the results you get. That's accountability,

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however, accountability also means being willing to report

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your results. In the 12 week year for writers, Thrall

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discusses weekly writing groups. Ideally, these are not about

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others holding you accountable. But about you reporting your

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score for the previous week on working toward your goals.

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Finding or forming an enjoyable and supportive writing

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accountability group for the purpose of reporting progress is

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probably the hardest part of the whole thing. But the group

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doesn't have to be more than two or three people keep that in

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mind. Again, this isn't about being held accountable or

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holding others accountable. It is about holding yourself

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accountable. You

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You want to report a strong score. So you are more likely to

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do the things that will make that possible. It's like a self

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fulfilling prophecy. I am going to report a strong score this

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week becomes action that turns into a strong score. At the

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beginning, I said we would circle back to merit

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measurement. So what are we measuring? That's up to you.

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Let's say you want to write a novel that is approximately

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60,000 words, you want to have it ready to publish in one year,

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you already know the premise of the book. Maybe you've written a

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synopsis already. Okay? The year is too long of a time horizon.

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So you divide the super project into 12 week chunks. Let's agree

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that you need time for your editor to work through it and

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get it back to you. And you will need time to get it ready for

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publication. That's one quarter of the year. Now you have three

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quarters left 312 week years to do the rest. Still too long. But

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you feel certain you can write 20,000 words in 12 weeks. I

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mean, that works out to less than 2000 words per week. Wow,

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that's a low low number, but let's go with it. Man, I feel

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really bad because I know how long my novel has been sitting

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around there and 2000 words week, I could have done that.

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Okay, so maybe you decide to work in plotter.com, or use note

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cards or spin for of the first 12 weeks, creating a timeline.

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Crazy, I know, don't call it an outline, it's more like a map,

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right? That still means 2500 words per week. I mean, if you

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only worked two days a week, you could probably get that done and

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say for hard hours of work. There's your measurement, also

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known as a tactic, right for an hour, four times per week, or

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write for four hours once a week, or write for two hours

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twice a week and track your actual writing sessions. However

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you add it up, it's writing hours divided by four. If you

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write for only an hour, that week, you achieve a score of

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25%. If you write for three hours, you achieve a score of

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75%. If you consistently score 75% or above, you will start

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building momentum. If your score is lower than 75% for two weeks

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in a row, then you need to assess this situation

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strategically ask the hard questions. What can I do to help

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myself? How else can I do this? Is there a way to do this even

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better? Who can help me? How can I set aside more hours

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strategize to solve the problem or choose a different

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measurement? Don't forget to ask is this a doable? Number of

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writing hours in my current season of life? If you have

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young children? Or if you care for an elderly parent, the

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answer might be no, I can realistically only write for 15

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minutes at a time, a couple of times per day. That's okay, but

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you need to acknowledge your life situation honestly. In a

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nutshell, the 12 week year is about identifying the most

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important goal or two or three, then thinking them through in a

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strategic way, and then deciding on the tactics and how to

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measure your success. Give yourself a few hours to come up

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with your first 12 week year plan. then schedule the work and

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the scorekeeping and last but not least find some way to

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report your progress. There's this game called Othello that is

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played with 64 discs, which are black on one side and white on

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the other. The person with the most discs of their color at the

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end wins the game. Although a tie is possible. The model on

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the box is a minute to learn a lifetime to master. It's so easy

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to learn the rules, but it is a very devil to play against a

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worthy opponent. The 12 week your method of planning is easy

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to understand and to learn. However, you are in effect

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playing against your last best effort. With each 12 week round,

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you will achieve a better understanding of how to improve

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your game. Also, your estimation skills will improve success

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leads to more success, so this is well worth doing. I highly

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recommend reading both books, but writers should at least read

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thralls book for writers. His personal story is inspiring and

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he breaks the topic down in a way that is easy to understand.

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Both books are listed in the show notes. The question of the

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week is What does greatness in the moment mean to you? Thank

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you for listening to the podcast today. If you enjoyed this

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episode, please leave a star rating and follow the podcast.

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If you're new around here. I hope you will sign up for

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writing pursuits tips for authors my newsletter that comes

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out most Thursdays when health and life permit that link and

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all the links mentioned in today's episode are in the show

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notes and writing pursuits.com Please join us on Wednesdays for

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new episodes and keep writing my friends. Keep writing

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