Thursday, January 10, 2013

To Resolve

Maybe this topic is old-hat by now, because I've seen a lot of talk about it around the Internet, given the season, but the idea of New Years goals and resolutions have been bouncing around my head like that old ping pong arcade game.

While I've been pondering, cogitating and weighing my goals and resolutions for 2013, an email from David Farland arrived in my inbox (it's called the daily kick in the pants for writers, and you can sign up here).

So even if you've already read five blog posts about writing goals today, here's his take on how to meet your own expectations:

With writing goals, I’ve tried a number of different types of goals over the years. I’ve tried the, “I will write a book a month goal.” This is the astronomical goal intended to just push you to get words on paper. I have had times where I was extremely productive, but I’ve never been that productive, unless I’ve been on a writing retreat. The problem is, life ain’t a writing retreat. I can’t do that all of the time. Still, there may be a period where setting an extreme goal makes sense. I can go on a long writing retreat and get huge amounts written.
I’ve tried the “I will work on one scene a day” goal, which basically says, “I won’t go to sleep until I’ve at least done a little writing.” This seems reasonable, but there are days when other things need to take priority for an entire day, maybe even entire weeks. So you feel pretty crummy about yourself at the end of one of those days. The goal also suffers from not being strictly defined. What does “I will work on a scene” mean? Does it mean that I will completely write a draft of a scene? That’s a nicely defined goal. But “working” on a scene too often becomes sitting around with a distant gaze, just thinking about it.
How about the “I’ll write X pages per day” goal. It sounds reasonable and measured, yet ensures that by the end of the year, you’ll have a large amount of work done. Same problem happens as above, other things get in the way on certain days. For example, Tax time is coming. It takes me a full week or more to get my taxes prepared, and I can’t clutter my mind with other things while doing it. So by tax time every year, that goal goes out the window.
While we are at it, how about the “At 6:00 AM, I will park my butt in my chair and start writing.” That’s the goal that I’m using today. I find that setting a time and a place to write works pretty well for me. It has for years. My writing day is supposed to start by 8:00 AM, and I’m an hour early to work this morning. For me, this one has always worked best. Why? Because humans are creatures of habit, and by making writing a habit, I can ensure that I’ll get at least something done every day.
~ David Farland, On Being Resolute

 I'm off to get some writing done.

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