Part One: Set some goals
Do you make goals for writing? Of course, you do. Word count, page count, scene count—these short-term, “I can get up when I get to X” goals get us to our long-term goals. And we all have long term goals, even if we haven’t written them down. Likely, we all have several, ranging from the practical to the fantastical. Mine:
- publish my stories
- write a novel
- have someone make a movie directly based on one of my (published) short stories
I have mentioned I’m an unpublished author, haven’t I?
Part Two: Make Them Realistic
I jumped at the chance to join Write Anything. “Perfect timing!” I thought—which was true. “This is just what I need to keep me honest and motivated!”—um… Read my whimpering July post if you don’t already know that answer to that one.
As my year-long project, I decided to work on a novella I began several years ago. A modest project on the surface of it. Unfortunately I neglected to anticipate my complete lack of time after January. Even more, I neglected to truly think about what it would take to do that project. Any one here tried to jump in to the middle of a narrative and back into the lifestyle, mood, and voice of characters put in hibernation for more than four years? Yeah. Honestly I didn’t think it would be easy – that was kind of the point–but the complexity of my goal was unexpected. So was the complexity of my schedule.
Nothing like failure to set us up for….failure.
As writers we face rejection after rejection (a beta-reader hated our favorite scene; an editor didn’t like our submission, and could be bothered to say why; family needs more time with us, and wonders why we demand time to stare at a piece of paper instead….) The last thing we need is to set ourselves up for failure.
Part Three: Reevaluate & Rewrite
In April the W. A. contributors wrote a progress report. I had accomplished nothing.
The fact is, it’s easy to set a realistic goal and then let is slide when life does what it does best: change. We must reevaluate our goals and progress to see whether our expectations matched up to our realities.
Mine clearly didn’t. The underlying expectation when I decided to jump into an old project was that I would contribute a bit to it each week – researching, drafting, revising….something. I underestimated my actual time to write. Not the pen-to-paper time, although that was less than I expected too, but the time to wander around lost in my own thoughts. I didn’t have it and until I reevaluated back in April had no idea how much that was necessary to the continuity of a longer project – even a “longer” project as short as a novella. With no time in my own head from February on, my writing sputtered, stalled, stopped. So I switched gears.
My second attempt at a realistic goal was to write a poem a week. A much more manageable goals. I largely succeed, too. You can see it in progress in this post. Writing, though, still largely sputtered. If you read that whimpering post I mentioned above, you know I seriously considered quitting. I had no god damned time.
And then (insert light from heaven music here) I did.
It won’t last long, of course, but it rounds out our discussion:
1) Set goals
2) Be realistic
4) Set goals
5) Make them realistic
7) Repeat. Often.
My goals? Long-term: Don’t give up. Short-term: Finish the story I started yesterday before my time runs out, then go back to a poem a week.
Our goal: Keep our goals in our pockets so we can look at them often (even if our goals are invisible; or our pockets are.) Go forth and write.