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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, November 10, 2008

Setting Personal Goals/Challenges

Happy Monday! Actually, I'm thinking of it kinda like a mini Friday, since we're celebrating Veteran's Day tomorrow (thanks and prayers to all our vets!!) with a day off of work and school!

That means I can stay up later than usual writing and not have to worry about being a zombie at work tomorrow! YAHOO!

This month is all about challenges. Many folks are doing the novel in a month challenge, others have their own goals/challenges going on. With me, I'm always busy, always running someone somewhere, or racing to catch up or get somewhere I'm supposed to already be. Did I confuse you? Many days it's my natural state of being.

In order for me to get things done (writing, housework, errands, job obligations), I have to write it down. I have to set mini goals or steps so that I feel productive.

Focusing on writing, here's what I've found works for me:

Setting a page goal for each day I write. I have to be honest, I'm not a 7 days a week writer. My life just doesn't afford me that luxury. Yet. We're two kids away from an empty next, and then, we'll see how much time I can turn into writing time once my everyday mom duties have cut back.

Perhaps I'm trying to finish a manuscript by a certain date. I look at what the expected page count should be, then break that big number down into smaller numbers that I can manage.

If I get more done, it's gravy. But if I don't meet my goal, then it piles onto the next day. Not a good thing.

If my pages are done, then I can have time to play. Or keep writing. Or read a book. Whatever makes me happy. But reaching my personal goal is a must if want to succeed.

Being unpublished, I don't have publisher deadlines, so I have to set my own. And then stick to them. You can try posting your deadline near your computer. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Circle the date in your calendar. Tell your spouse and kids. Your neighbor or your exercise/walking buddy. Someone who will ask you how it's going. Someone you won't kill when you're having a not-so-good writing day and don't want to be asked about it. :-)

Bottom line, some visual that will keep you plugging away.

It's important to have small personal goals. They keep me motivated and feeling good about myself. This can be a lonely business. Just me and my computer. But when I can check off the day on my calendar, mark it as completed, I feel a sense of validation. I'm working towards my goal. Every day is a step closer.

How about you guys? What mini or personal goals work for you? How do you challenge yourself to meet your goals?

I'm always looking for new ideas. If you have some, please share!!



At 2:13 PM, Blogger Dianna Love said...

Hi Pris -

You make a lot of good points, but one I want to highlight is "enlisting the help of someone you won't kill when they ask you about page progress on a bad day."

I think it's really important to explain to at least one, if not 2 or 3, non-writers in your life about how writing a book happens. WE know we don't just sit down and the words pour out of us onto the page in a brilliant arrangement (okay, big eye roll...;->), but a non-writer doesn't get that.

So when you plan your writing time, take a moment to share what that time is like from your perspective so that the people who CAN be supportive, will know how to best do that.
(hope this posts as I've tried twice to do this already)

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Prisakiss said...

Great advice, Dianna. And very true. If only the words flowed so easily.

It's important for us (as writers) to explain to our loved ones/support system how writing works for us. Can I be interrupted for something small, if I'm moody what does that mean, if I'm humming to my headphones should you tap me on the shoulder and ask what song I'm listening to, whatever it is.

If they don't know what to expect, or what it's like from my perspective, how can I expect them to understand or pick me up when I need a boost? Or why it's so important for me to have my writing time so I can stay on track.

It won't do you any good to set a goal, but not share it with the important people in your life. It helps them understand why dinner's running a little late, or why your alarm is going off 30 minutes earlier or why you're not watching that tv show with them as often.

You're working towards your goal.

At 3:08 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Hi Pris! I used to keep track of page count every day but now I used word count and it always feels like MORE... so I guess I am tricking myself into thinking I wrote more everyday. I write my word count for the day on my calendar and highlight it in yellow because it stands out that way and makes me feel good about what I've accomplished!

I always get more writing done when I turn off the internal critiquer and let the words flow...worry about fixing them later.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I have to set a daily page (or word) goal or I will fritter my time away and not make the important deadline.

Having a critique group helps me, because I have to show I've been working!

At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Christine said...

Dianna Love expressed the frustration I have with non-writing friends who don't understand or get what it is I am doing and why I am doing it. Why "waste" my time doing something I am not getting paid to do (YET) when I could go get a little part time job at a scrapbook store or something. And no, it's not like writing flows beautifully out of me onto a page (I WISH!). But I do have a few friends who do get it... non writing friends. They believe in me and root for me to press on.

For me, what gets my behind in the chair and motivates me is my short term contest goals, as well as the workshops I am taking. I also write a list of tasks to accomplish for the week and check it off as I accomplish each goal. I find word count/page count works great in first draft run, but not in revision. It's more about TIME on the keyboard during revision. I like setting the timer on my microwave. When it beeps, I can take a break.

And yeah, those pesky interuptions... when I am in the middle of FINALLy working out a scene or problem, and someone interupts I become quite a nasty gal.

The familiars are learning not to come near me if the doors to my office are closed :)

At 11:09 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Great point about not using page counts for revision goals. You're so right. Sometimes revision leads to fewer pages--for me anyway!


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