Setting Realistic Expectations

One thing therapy has taught me is that I have unrealistic expectations of myself. And then when I don’t make a goal, I take it out on myself. And I never make my goals because they are too far out of my reach. I’ve instituted making realistic expectations when it comes to housework. I prioritize now and I don’t beat myself up if I don’t get everything done. This way I get some things done, am satisfied with myself and finish off the rest at a later time. Though to be honest there is no such thing as being done with housework. Before I would make a lofty list, stall out on the first item and then go eat some ice cream and play video games, nothing getting done.

So while I have accomplished some in setting realistic expectations, I still struggle with it for my writing. It being the last month of the year, I’ve been goal setting for 2014 and man my goals are awesome. I’ll list my writing goals below:

1. Finish the rough draft, the revision and submit the queries of With Teeth.

2. Finish the revision and submit the queries for Heroes in Name.

3. Write and submit 52 flash fiction stories (one per week)

4. Write and submit 12 short stories (one per month)

5. Finish the rough drafts of Bad Apple and Duty, Love, Honor.

Anyone else tired after all of that? For some people the above is entirely possible. For me, it may even be possible, if I forsake my kids, my responsibilities and any other activity but writing. It isn’t very realistic of me. So I have a couple of choices in how I handle my goals. I can set the high goal and be happy that I accomplished anything that I do or I can make my goals much more reasonable. I’m going with reasonable.

1. Finish first draft of something

2. Revise a novel and submit queries

But these are “simple”. I know I can do it so I’m going to also make some stretch goals, aka goals that are just a little bit out of reach. Goals that I probably won’t make but that I will accomplish much in trying to reach them. I’ve decided not to plan out which projects I’m going to work on and let my muse have a little bit more room rather than being boxed in.

My stretch goal for 2014 is to write 1 million words. This can be first draft, blog posts, rewrites, anything. I want to reach 1 million words written in a year. Breaking this goal down, I am aiming for 20k words written a week or about 3k a day.

So when making goals for yourself, how do you go about it? And what are your goals for 2014?

The Importance of Finishing What You Start

One thing writing has taught me is the importance of finishing what you start. Everyone can benefit from this lesson, not just writers. I have a lot of unfinished works on my hard drive but writing isn’t the only thing I have a hard time finishing.

I’ve started knitting. So far I’ve finished two scarfs and half a washcloth. I still use the half washcloth but it is half the size the pattern called for. However I’ve started and unraveled countless projects so far. Right now I have two separate projects going at once, one another scarf and something called a spa towel. I’m already tempted to start another washcloth but I’m refraining until the towel is done. So what right? Who cares if I finish what I start knitting wise. It’s all practice right? Only its hard to see how I’ve improved if I keep undoing my work. Plus I’m trying to give these things as presents for Christmas and I don’t just want to give unknitted yarn.

So being stuck I made some goals for December, easily achievable and recordable. I’m going to finish the unfinished projects on my hard drive. This includes five flash fiction stories (less than 500 words needed for each), one novelette (about 3k-6k left), and 3 short stories, all of them only needing an ending. Boy I suck at endings.

I already know that I’m not sure how many of these projects, especially the flash fiction are even going to make it to revision. The passion on them has been lost since they’ve sat untouched for months. However dispassionate I feel, I need to finish them. I’ll learn from the finished project and I’ll know at that time whether they will ever see the light of publication.

I’m not just going to begin where I left off, instead I’m going to read each piece through from beginning to end and then write. I may even do some planning on the endings, though I already have the ending planned for both the novelette and the short stories. It’s the flash fiction that I have no idea where I’m going with.

This is one of the reasons I started blogging. To have the satisfaction of something finished, even if its just a blog post.  There are a lot of reasons why I blog actually, but that’s a subject for a different post.

Who else has problems finishing what they start, not necessarily just writing projects? Do you abandon them or come back later? What motivates you to finish what you start?