Sunday, December 15, 2013

Setting and Resetting Goals

An important goal I set for this time at home was to put more effort into my writing.  If I was going to take it to the next level, I would need to dedicate more time to it.  The hour before everyone gets up in the morning wasn’t cutting it.  Most mornings, after getting coffee, shaking my head awake, a “quick” check-in with Facebook and Twitter, I had whittled my window down to 20 to 30 minutes.  No career writer can produce a great work in 30 minutes or less.  I am not Domino’s!
At my June critique group, I brought chapter one of my newest work in progress – a middle grade chapter book about a 5th grade boy who has math anxiety.  While I shared, the pages vibrated in my hand as I read and my voice changed with each character’s string of dialogue.  I was excited.  I could feel this story bubbling inside me.  I described it like trying on hats.  I had once complete middle grade novel, one quarter of a young adult, and now this one.  The first two were just OK but they weren’t the right fit.  I still wanted to work on them… someday… so I carefully tucked them away onto my thumb drive for later. 
But this story was just right!  The agent I met with in May said, “You’re a teacher, you must have some funny stories to tell.  Everyone loves a funny middle grade character.”  I had that! I spent the next two weeks building characters and settings, jotting down plot ideas and funny anecdotes from classes past. 
Then summer started and my writing stopped.  The alarm was no longer set, the rush to squeeze in writing time was gone, but so was my motivation.  This is OK, I need a vacation.  September brought me a little momentum – I should be working on something by now!  I’ll research!  I read about math anxiety, I watched wrestling videos – just waiting for that spark to get more words on the page. 
Then November came - National Novel Writing Month!  I headed to to check it out.  It was a free way to finish my novel with guidance and support along the way.  Hooray!  This was just the push I needed.  Then I saw the word count was 50,000 words!  I panicked.  The goal for my book was 30,000.  How the heck was I going to write 20,000 extra words?!  Luckily, @NaNoWriMo and @NaNoWriMoSprints had suggestions and prompts. Phew!  I could build backstory!  I could work on the second book!  I could do this!
When I wasn’t writing, all I did was think about my characters and their stories.  Then, I’d sit down and only 1,000 or so words would make it to the page.  To get to 50K by November 30th, the average per day should be 1667.  As week one ended, I set myself a new goal: write everyday and hit 30K.  There were many moments when I felt disappointed about lowering this number.  However, I had a goal and I was writing every day.  I was happy.
I finished with 34,109 words.  For NaNo, I was considered a loser.  I consider it a win! 
I love new challenges and setting goals.  I also think it is OK to change those goals so that you are able to feel successful in the end. 
Healthy challenges are fun, keep you motivated and with social media support, a way to connect with other people.  My new challenge starts today.  It is a 50 day challenge.  You choose your own goals.  Mine are: write, meditate and exercise every day. 
Check out the following links to join!