Posts Tagged ‘goals’

Boomerang

Posted: March 31, 2017 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a nail biter. 31 years old and I still can’t kick the habit. It’s not for lack of trying, either. In fact, there are times when my nails get so long I actually need to cut them; when everything goes according to plan and I hardly think about them.

Then life hits, stress levels adjust, and I’m right back to ripping, biting, and gnawing.

It’s a nervous habit. The older I get the more I realize it doesn’t have much to do with a desire to bite them, it’s more of a compulsion. It happens in the moments I’m not thinking about it. I’m sitting at my desk, fiddling with an edge of a nail and then suddenly there is a divot, a small indentation that my other nail fits perfectly into. I worry at it, and then it is gone, leaving a jagged, uneven mess in its place. Can’t leave it like that, so I continue to pick and bite until it has achieved a new level of sameness, one that is far shorter than it started.

Every time I do this I wonder why I didn’t just grab my nail clippers. I have them. They travel in my purse for times like that when an edge needs to be cut. Only clipping them doesn’t seem to satisfy the compulsion, the urge, the need to relieve some inner anxiety in a physical way.

No matter how hard I try, I never seem to form the habit of leaving my nails alone. There are moments of triumph and then agonizing defeat.

Likewise, the road to writing has been bumpy this month.

February went off without a hitch. I upped my word count for a total of 3,532 for the month.  I was looking forward to another increase for March.

It didn’t happen. While February was full of nothing but smooth growth, March saw things torn apart. Life was too much and the tenuous hold I’d made upon creating a new habit was destroyed. My writing this month looks much like my nails. Not much more than a nub.

April will be better.

Satisfying Resolutions

Posted: January 29, 2017 in writing
Tags: , , ,

New Year’s Resolutions are difficult. Every year we hear about people making them and then breaking them. There’s a good reason for that. Changing your life is hard. It’s so easy to fall into the slump of comfort, of the familiar, of returning to old habits.

I wouldn’t call what I’m doing now as “killing it”, but its better than nothing. In the past 29 days I’ve written 2,490 words. This is a little shy of the 100 word a day goal I have set myself this month. Not bad considering I didn’t write 100 words every day. In fact, if I sat down 3 days a week that would have been fantastic, but I didn’t even come close to changing my daily habits.

What has changed is my level of focus. I’ve prioritized writing. Making smaller “to-do” lists has been beneficial as well. I’ve been trying my hardest this year to put three priorities on my list a day. This stops me from succumbing to overwhelm, as in the past I’ve made lists of everything that needs to get done and picking off the list as I went (not to mention adding). By keeping it at three it limits the scope of my focus.

I don’t feel like I have to do everything. It’s made sitting down to write very freeing. By having only three things on my list a day it allows me to feel empowered to write. If it makes my list I feel free to come home and write first.

The low word count requirement takes over the pressure I feel when I sit behind a keyboard. If writing is on the to-do list but I find myself exhausted or mentally taxed from work it’s only 100 words. Every time I sit down I surpass the goal, allowing me to feel satisfied that I’m succeeding.

I’ve made a lot of progress this month. I’m looking forward to making even more next month.

There’s something about the new year that makes people want to better themselves. Perhaps it is because, like a fresh snowfall, the new year gives us the impression that we have a blank slate. A calendar full of blank pages waiting to be filled by change and improvement. A whole year to do with as we will. What could be a more tempting tabula rasa?

My home town was actually graced with a fresh snowfall for the new year. New Year’s celebrations behind me I awoke to find the world blanketed with snow. Pristine and unmarred. Unfortunately, I had places to go so I cleaned off my car and headed off along the snowy roads leaving dark tracks behind me. As I turned onto a road more traveled, evidence of the everyday world was more clear. The white snow had turned into a dingy gray slush. I turned again onto a main road where there was only the thinnest of slush from all the cars, and as I took the on-ramp to the freeway there was almost no difference to the road at all, the snow mashed away by the tires.

The new year isn’t just the fresh snow, it’s built on the prior year. As we travel onward through the months we wear away that beautiful fresh start and realize that this year isn’t a completely fresh start; it’s connected to the year that came before just as the snow can become little more than water on pavement. In looking ahead to my plans and goals for the new year ahead of me I realize they’re based on the experiences I’ve had the year before.

I’m going to jump on the bandwagon here and formally declare my “resolutions”. I’ve heard on several occasions that publicly sharing goals makes a person feel more responsible for accomplishing them, thereby creating conditions for success. I like hedging my bets so here we go.

For the Blog: I want to post more often. Blogging is a wonderful way to release all the thoughts in my head in a constructive way. My hope is that those who stumble upon this blog not only find it entertaining but find posts that resonate with them. When people respond to my posts it’s a way to dialogue with people I would never ordinarily have the opportunity to talk with, people with similar interests and struggles. My goal for the new year is to post once a week. Knowing my schedule, posts will probably come on Sundays, but I don’t want to box myself in by stating “every Sunday I will post to the blog”. It allows for some flexibility on my part so I don’t feel as guilty if Sunday comes around and I’m too busy and postpone until Wednesday.

For my Writing: To finish the first draft of Reaper. On a more strict note, I’ve set up a due date of June 1st to have that done. I’ve found that goals keep me honest when it comes to writing, gives me a sense of urgency instead of ” well, when I have time I’ll get around to that and hopefully it’ll get done before the next new year”. June gives me five months to rough draft my little heart out and if I succeed it gives me three months of summer vacation to play around with editing it before I head back to work in the fall. The goal is to have one round of edits done by the end of the summer and to hand out a copy or two for perusal by beta readers by September. The first draft goal is doable. The editing goal will take a bit of staying power, but I think it’s possible if I accomplish the first goal of being done with the rough draft by June.

For my Health: Of course I’ve got the standard “eat better” and “exercise more” but that isn’t my main goal. My main goal is to become more invested in ordering food at restaurants. To explain myself, I’m gluten intolerant. No wheat, no barley, no rye and all of it’s subsidiaries. Since finding out that gluten is what’s been causing a select group of bodily issues over a year ago I cut it from my diet and have seen positive results. The problem is that I don’t like to be confrontational, so when I go to restaurants I often find myself making educated guesses about ingredients instead of flat out asking and being certain. This year I want to take responsibility for my own health. I have a right to ask. It’s not being pushy, or rude, or confrontational. It is asking an honest to God question, the answer to which will impact my own health. My goal is to start politely inquiring about the availability of allergen menus or ingredients used for sauces. And to stop playing guessing games when people bring food to work. This goal will by far be harder to stick with than the first two. Old habits die hard. But if I succeed I’ll be a much happier person in the long run.

If you’ve made resolutions for the new year I wish you the best of luck and support in achieving them as the year goes on. Just think, in twelve short months all this will be is a distant set of tracks in the rear view mirror.

Happy New Year!

For my LIfe.

If this was a Nano month I would be doing the happy dance of being 50% done.

Oh, what the heck, I’ll do a happy dance anyways.

This month started the inception of my summer writing goals and I must say, there’s nothing more satisfying right now that being able to see numerical progress on a chart. Not just one chart, but four. I’ve been working with a paper chart since the start of my rewrite, using the chart from one of the Nano writing guides (the one I have is from silveragebooks) to block in my progress in colored bars and also put down dates as I hit the daily total milestones. My progress, if all in one month, would be a fantastic sight as the colored bars completely match up to the daily goals. However, these bars have been spaced out between four months worth of writing, but already I can see progress. Each month I’ve dedicated a different color for the bars, thereby I can see how many times I hit a goal during one month and a cross reference that with the other printout of what days I hit those goals. The fantastic part is if I keep up to my goals, I’ll have a lot of bars all in dark blue finishing out the chart.

Because I like instant gratification, I have another two charts tallying up word count for me so I don’t waste time adding it up on paper (because I would, and its bad enough I’ll stop to word count check after every large chunk without adding addition time. Have I mentioned math is not my strongest suit?). One chart is for overall numbers, which I then plug into daily word counts and see the 1,000 words I owe slowly tick down until I see a negative number.

I’m only a little bit behind for this week, and I’ll totally make that up tomorrow and Saturday. When I say I’m a little bit behind, I’m talking about a mere 600 words. That’s child’s play compared to what I’m typically running behind during Nano (then we’re talking thousands at the end of a week).

The ability to see the negative numbers and color in my bars is plenty of motivation to get me through the moments of writer’s block or tired brain.

What do you do to motivate yourself? Do you do word count goals? Page goals? Or is every moment a time for celebration?

Sometimes I feel like I’m in the elementary stages of author-dom. It’s so hard to get back into the swing that I’m always curious how much I’ve written. And let me tell you, if I didn’t keep track it would be going a lot slower than it is. Are others as tied to word count or have some of you graduated beyond that to where you write and write and eventually you say, “that’s good for today” knowing you’ve done something sufficient?