During the month of December I’m going to be talking about how writers can motivate and keep writing during a long, long year. How to set goals, how to keep expectations and such in a healthy place. So stay tuned.
But right now I need to start these topics with how to deal with challenges and events that cause goals to get pushed aside.
In other words, before I go on, I need to address my own challenges this year, with about one month to go.
The weight challenge…
It was going great until August and I was down 18 pounds from January 1st and over sixty pounds since my heaviest a few years back. Since the death of my friend in August and the estate issues and all the weeks in hotel rooms and traveling, I have gained back five of those pounds, but they are dropping off again now that things have settled. So the year will turn out fine on weight. I should end up about 15 pounds down for the year, which I will be happy with.
I also set out to run a marathon, but thanks to the estate problems, that didn’t happen either. I am resetting that marathon goal for 2012. And to drop more weight, about another twenty pounds before the marathon.
So decent year on the weight, but not a great one. Reset for 2012. More on this challenge right before January 1st.
Short Story Challenge…
The goal was to write, along with my normal novel writing and blog writing, one hundred short stories in one year, all started from titles. Well, that’s not going to happen now this year. Duh… (grin)
In fact, I haven’t written any fiction at all since September. I hope to have the brain back on it shortly, but am not pushing myself.
(I have another issue at the moment. Thanks to the last move part of the estate (long and boring story), a harrowing drive with a big moving truck through the mountains in high winds and downpour rain (not so boring), and slightly high blood pressure from the stress of the fall, I now have a swollen optic nerve. Basically that means I’m mostly blind in one eye for a time, at least two or three months, until it clears. Makes writing these things a little slower, but I’m getting along fine at the moment. Blood pressure back under control and everything.)
During the short story challenge writing part of this year I finished thirty-five short stories. Three sold to traditional publishing markets so don’t count.
In fact one is out just now in Courts of the Fey edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Russell Davis. I published thirty-two electronically through WMG Publishing. You can see the results of that and the story of the writing of each one under “Challenge” tab at the top of the page (or covers of the stories and when they were written down the middle column).
I also did a ton more writing in the last eleven months and hope to do more this last month of the year, (even with a bad eye) but I’m not going to be silly and try to hit the story mark. And I’m not going to tell you how many words I wrote in 2011. Just leave it at a distance past a half million, even with three months almost totally off.
But the challenge is not over either.
I am going to continue the challenge to write 100 short stories as soon as I can, all from titles. In other words, the short story challenge from this year will just continue on until the day I reach 100 short stories. No more artificial deadline of doing that in one year.
More than likely I’ll now finish the one hundred short stories by the summer. We shall see. Keep following the challenge right here. And remember, the story is only up for free to read until I finish and post the next one.
I have a new challenge to add in for 2012 on top of the short story and weight challenge. As some of you may have guessed, it concerns novels. And I will talk about that right before January 1st as well.
What Causes a Challenge to Go Sideways?
There are a ton of varied reasons a writing challenge can get off track. Let me list the three major categories of problems.
– You just forget about it. (This is the most common. One reason I was doing my challenge out in the open. I have been known to do this as well.)
– Other projects come in and break the plans. This is normal for a professional writer. Actually, almost any writer. When an opportunity comes, you often have to toss out plans and go after the opportunity. (This used to happen to me all the time during my media writing days. I would have a novel on deck and get two other media or ghost jobs and the first novel would hit the back burner, often never to see the light of day again.)
– Life gets in the way. This is what just happened to me this fall. Somehow life just stops things cold. There are no writers that escape this at one point or another. If you let it make you angry, you will just delay your return. You have to roll with things and just keep going. Sometimes deadlines will force you to keep writing, but not often. If I had had a traditional publisher deadline on a novel this fall, I would have called my editor and asked for a three-month extension.
What do you do when a challenge goes sideways?
-- Figure out what caused it and why.
(For me this year a life event caused the problem.)
– Figure out if the challenge was too extreme or the type of challenge not in your control. (Like selling a book to a traditional publisher…not in your control. Mailing, on the other hand, is in your control. Indie publishing is in your control.)
(For me writing one hundred short stories in one year was a very possible challenge. The challenge itself was not a problem with my normal work methods.)
– Figure out how much the challenge helped you.
(For me I will be down about 15 pounds and have at least 32 short stories I would not have had. Nothing wrong at all with that outcome.)
– Reset the challenge or create a new one.
(For me I am doing both. I reset the weight challenge and continued the short story challenge, just taking out the year deadline, giving myself an extension. I will be adding in a new challenge for 2012 as well right before the first of the year.)
This is a start on the series of upcoming blogs about writing and life that I will do through December. How to set writing goals that are both sane and a challenge.
As I have said a thousand times on this blog, every writer is different. The key is figuring out what is right for you when it comes to setting writing goals for a new year.