Meeting my own writing goals has always been difficult. Deadlines are easy when somebody else is driving me–my job, my grades, my reputation–but difficult to respect when those forces are absent, in my experience. Fear of consequences is an effective motivator.
That’s where public accountability enters the equation. By stating my goals out loud, I hope to harness a similar energy.
This is somewhat more personal than the other posts. My intent is to avoid that for the majority, since ruminating on my own flaws is not helpful to others, but my goals are inevitably tied up with my flaws, so…
To be clear, sometimes the “public accountability” strategy still doesn’t work for me. If I feel like shit and do not want to get out of bed, the fact that I told you I’m going to write thirty thousand words this month means very little in the moment. However, telling other people what I want to accomplish is a smaller, less stressful version of the expectations that drive me while taking a class, for example. So, I decided to make my accountability statements here. Very few people are reading right now, and that’s fine. December is an experiment, because half of it will already be gone by the time I get to put these plans into action.
Since we’re here, blog goals come first! These are very simple:
- Get back to a regular posting schedule. This means publishing on Mondays like I’m supposed to.
- Put together a 2019 challenge to share with others. It won’t be easy, but it also won’t be a punch to the kidneys like Nanowrimo is.
- Draft entries for the “Writing Basics” series. These might not appear on the blog timeline. The plan is to provide posts on basic writing techniques so that I can refer back to them when I discuss more complex aspects of craft. In the meantime, I’ll focus on craft topics I find interesting, and look for some other blogs to link to if I need to refer to basic shit like, say, how to choose a name.
- Put that social media plan together. This sounds way fancier than it is. I am not great at social media. Why I ever thought I could go into marketing…
If I drop my blogging schedule for anything, it’ll be writing. I’m currently on a break–something I always do after Nanowrimo–but that ends on December 15, which means I’d better have some goals ready.
- Produce a submission for Writers of the Future (WotF) Q1 2019. My submission for the fourth quarter of Volume 35 got a Silver Honorable Mention, which means I’ve got some revising to do. In the meantime–since that revision will not be ready for the first quarter of Volume 36, which is due on the 31st of this month–I’ll try to submit something else. However… I’m not a fast writer. So we’ll see.
- Write five days a week. Writing every single day is not as essential, in my opinion, as getting the story down in whatever way you can. I personally find five days per week more sustainable than seven.
Only two. If I set too many, I won’t achieve any of them.
Setting Achievable Goals
Long story short: I don’t know how to set achievable goals.
Learning to set reasonable goals should be the parent goal, so to speak. Case in point: “Produce a submission for Writers of the Future” in two weeks is a tall order, and composed of a ton of smaller goals that need to be met first. It’s like asking myself to lift 250 pounds before I know if I can lift 20 pounds. Now–in this case, I have already achieved several of the smaller goals, because I’m using an older story that I plan to redraft. There’s no need to create an entirely new piece. On the other hand, I may need to draft it more than once, in which case two weeks is probably not enough, and I just set an unattainable goal.
If I don’t manage to achieve the WotF goal, I’m going to feel like a failure. Is that fair? I would say yes, because it’s easy enough, isn’t it? Finish the damn story and send it off. That’s all there is to it! If I can’t do that–I mean, it’s a fairly short piece. I am capable of writing two thousand words a day, or even eight thousand if I’m really into it. (Inspiration is a miracle, sometimes.) Sure, I don’t do that all the time, but I can if I want it badly enough. The obvious conclusion is that I don’t want it, or that I want the words to write themselves, or that I’m not as good as I think I am (ha ha, I’m good?), or that I could’ve done it and just fucking failed to do it.
The truth is that a lot of days I want it, but not that badly. Other days, I just don’t care.
When I say that sometimes I don’t care, what I mean is that this goal pales in comparison to all the other ways I could make myself useful, or worth having around. How about permanent gainful employment? Or actually getting all the housework done? Or not being sick all the time, so I can stop sucking up money with medications and treatments? It’d be great if I could win this contest, or publish a story. However, doing those things is essentially meaningless, since it adds nothing to life for anyone but me. Also, unless I start publishing regularly, it’s sure not going to mean anything for my “career.”
Knowing all these things, it’s hard to “want it badly enough.” If I can’t be a useful human being, the writing seems superfluous.
But others would say I’m wrong.
Notice how unchallenging the above goals are. Somebody who gets shit done would look at that list and shake their fantastic heads. But for me? Achieving all of them would be a fucking miracle.
It’s December, and Christmas is almost here. Is it time for some miracles?
I’ll be honest, though: if I have to choose my miracles, I’d rather all the people I love stay healthy and alive. The last two years have shown us that is not something we can take for granted.
I would really like to have that and my writing, though. It’d be really nice.
Let’s Put My Money Where My Mouth Is
We’ll see how these goals go. And speaking of… next up should be a post that isn’t personal rumination! It could be one of the following:
- Basics: How to Use Scrivener for Worldbuilding
- Finishing or Redrafting a Story After a Long Pause
- How to Avoid Anxiety After Submitting (conditional on that successful Q1 submission)
- Characterization by Quirk: Literary Style and McDonald’s Luna Books
Ohh, that last one sounds pretentious. Maybe that should be my next post! I love me some pretentious craft talk.