Last Saturday, at the monthly OCC RWA meeting, we held a drawing for everyone who entered goals three months ago. I did not accomplish my goals. Bummer, but you know, stuff happens.
If I were my 20-year-old self, I would’ve shaken out the hair shirt and really worked myself over for not working hard enough.
Age can mellow you out, especially if you’re a Capricorn like me.
Here’s what 23 additional years of life experience has taught me when it comes to not making my goals.
Examine. So why did you not make your goal? Were you too ambitious in your planning? (Pausing to raise my hand.) Did work/family/emergencies take you off the path? Examine what happened from the time you set your goal to the due date.
Do the math. How much did you accomplish in that time: half of the book, ¾ of the book, nothing? Even if you only got five pages written, give that some love. As a recovering hair-shirt-Capricorn baby, I can tell you that appreciating what you’ve accomplished is far MORE productive. And us Capricorns, are all about productivity.
If you have no idea what this whole Capricorn riff is all about, check this video out and then return to the next suggestion:
Reset. Okay, so back to the math. It took you three months to complete 150 pages when you needed to complete 300 to make your original goal. The deadline for your new goal – because you’re not giving up – should be three more months from now. Or, if you really freaked out, give yourself more time.
If you really want to go deep, I highly recommend The Chunky Method by Allie Pleiter. In her workshop and book, she helps you to determine what kind of writer you are, how productive you really are and then gives you the formula to determine when you’re most likely to successfully complete a book. I always thought I was a sit-in-the-chair-until-I’m-done-or-dead kind of writer. I was in my 20’s, but now I can last about 15 minutes before I need to get up and move around. By accepting that reality rather than trying to fight it, I’ve become much more productive and my yoga has gone up a level because I intersperse writing sessions with exercise.
You freaked out big time. Hey, it happens to all of us. My inner critic can wake me up in the dead of night. I’ve persisted through her schoolyard taunts for decades because those fears were embedded way too deep. I recently undertook Nancy Levin’s audio book, Worthy. Her book focuses on self-worth issues tied to money and abundance. All I can say from the experience is: wow. I dredged up fears and confidence issues that I spent way too many years denying. Through listening to the audiobook and doing the exercises, I’ve released old abundance myths and replaced them with new abundance truths and it has affected every area of my life, especially my writing. I also have the tools to face fears and recognize excuses – they never really go away, but I have gotten better at recognizing them when they show up – and keep moving closer to my dreams.
Get to work. Ever since last week’s meeting, I’ve made headway in reaching my goals. I’m beginning to suspect that I need to be better at tracking my progress and keeping a journal of what I’ve accomplished so I know where I need to pick up in between writing sessions. If I practice what I’ve just preached, I will achieve my goals of publishing Girl in the Mist audiobook and Lost in Whispers by November 2017.
I’ll let you know one way or the other!
What are your goals for the next three months? What do you do to stay on track? Share in the comments.
- Write the first five or ten chapters
- Revise Act I
- Write a novella or short story
I shouldn’t be posting this because you’re probably going to think, “Who does she think she is?” Well, it all started when I was taking a break from revisions and came up with the following list based on some of the bad habits I’ve had to undo (yes, me), and the habits I’ve observed in others.
So before you hate me, hear me out okay?
The Seven Unhealthy Habits of Unsuccessful Writers
1. Wrote to get published when I should’ve written to uncover my voice
2. Spent more time talking about writing than actually writing
3. Believed my own excuses as to why I never had time to write
4. Needed the approval of others whether it was a contest judge, a “get-published-quick” seminar or a critique partner
5. Said “if I finish a book” instead of “when I finish the book”
6. Couldn’t keep my behind in the chair, or worse, played online Mah-jong for “inspiration”
7. Gave up too early
What bad habits have you had to undo, or are in the process of un-doing?