~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Saturday, January 05, 2008


So. Goals for 2008. Not so much resolutions as changing of habits, evaluation of goals, and an honest as possible outlook about how I am.

(That’s not asking for much, is it?)

One of the things I’ve been meditating on for a month or so now are my work habits. Strangely, my writing habits are entirely different, completely opposite from everything else. With everything else, I’m all about lists, about crossing things off of lists, of knowing what I need to do and methodically doing it. Of being organized and in control. Of setting a goal and meeting it as best I can.

In writing, I still like lists and crossing things off of them, I still like being organized, but there’s a level of methodicalness that I don’t have, never will have, and really need to stop trying to force myself to have.

Yes, writing is my job. Yes, like any other job, I have to sit down regularly and do the job. But writing is also creative, and creativity can ebb and flow (as the amazing Suzanne Brockmann noted in an RWA session I just listened to). There will be off days, days where it’s a struggle. On struggle days, I need to power through, at least get some words out that can be edited later. But there will also be some off days where it’s more than a struggle, where it’s just not there, and on those days, I need to honestly acknowledge that my subconscious brain—where the magic happens—is clearly telling me it needs a little time to work on its own.

Last year I tried doing 100 for 100—committing to writing a minimum of 100 words a day for 100 days in a row. Because 100 words isn’t enough for a career, I added a concurrent challenge of 500 words for 50 days.

For a while, this worked. I really, really, really didn’t want to start over, and that got my butt into the chair several times. But then I did miss a day…and there was no incentive to sit down the next day, because there was no penalty.

Plus—and really, this is the crux of this whole ramble, the realization about myself that I need to work with and work around—I’m really good at the negative. I miss a goal, even a daily word count, and I promptly start that downward spiral towards the belief that I don’t have the determination and work ethic to be a full-time, professional writer. What happens then? Well, I don’t write. I get more and more convinced, and thus more and more depressed, and who can belly up to a computer in that mental state?

Despite the inclinations everywhere else in my life, I’ve realized, I’m not a methodical writer. I can’t handle writing every damn day. Nobody works every damn day at their job. Everybody needs time off. When I start trying to do this every day, hit a word count every day, I burn out like a Roman candle in a downpour. Sputtering and damp and grumpy.

In other words, for you OCW-ers reading this, I desperately want to be like Kris, whereas I’m really, truly more like Dean.

So here’s my resolution: Stop being so hard on myself. Cut myself some slack. Honestly recognize the difference between a difficult day I have to power through and a day I need to step back and work on something else, like updating files or submitting stories. (Or just take a vacation day to recharge the batteries.) And not beat myself up if I miss a goal, but step back and analyze and figure out how to use the information to move forward in a positive way.

To that end, I’ve just signed up for one of our Oregon Coast group’s quarterly challenges. It started as a Novel-in-a-Week challenge, but since not everybody can take off a week every three months, it’s a “set a goal and hit it” week. My goal is a minimum 10,000 words on High Spirits through 1/12. Why? Because I’m reasonably comfortable with 2K/day, and if I write 2K/day, I actually will get a day or two off.

Then we’ll go from there. I need to be fluid about my goals as well, and tweak them as time goes on. I hope to consider and outline my goals for each month at the beginning of the month, and review them at the end of the month. The only reason I haven’t done that yet this month is because I’m having a confab with Teresa on Monday to discuss upcoming Sophie projects.

Well, despite the rambly mess of all that, it took up my writing session for this morning! So after high tea with friends and a movie (The Golden Compass), I’ll hit the computer again. Having taken a little time away from HS, I’m feeling excited about working on it again (I started in again yesterday), which is exactly why I needed a short break…


TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Both the problem and the proposed solution sound rather familiar...No surprise there. The details are different, but the general picture sounds very much like why I needed resolve to find the joy in writing again, and how I'm attempting to do it.

Maybe we can talk about this general theme on Monday too?

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Hm. I don't think my issue is about finding joy in my writing. And I'm surprised that my solution sounds familiar, because it's the opposite of every other writer's resolutions I've read about! Everyone else seems to be all about writing every day!