Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Goals, Guides and The Process

Fuzzy

Fuzzy doesn't like the camera. Too bad. She's very photogenic. Her name is also Fanny. It depends on who you ask.

I've been kind of sick lately. A 24 hour flu. You'd think the sucker would be over after 24 hours, but the weakness and dizzy head remains, slowly fading away. Well it's a week later, so let's see how long I remain up and functional today. I got smart and decided to write a blog post before my energy disappeared. Yay. I must be getting better. It's no biggie, just interferes major time with my productivity.

So here I am.

I've made a little bracelet out of bead thread and silver beady things. I made a folder for Ivy out of a happy meal box. Per her request. I've cut out dozens of felt circles in anticipation of stitching up little charms. I even appliqued a tiny red heart on one and tried to embroider (but made an ugly disaster of it) another one. I have no photos of any of these.

I've thought about my plans for the year, my "resolutions" if you will. Last post I talked about theme words... Organize, Enjoy, Say Yes to Life. But the truth is, I have goals that I need to accomplish. The major one... finish this novel and send it out and find an agent and get published.

I'm finding it hard to focus only on the theme words when I have this big honking goal hanging over my head.

I need to work on this goal, that is it. But it isn't a resolution. Resolutions are like bullies. They say you must do THIS thing. ALL the time. WITHOUT fail, or you are a loser. And that actually sets you up to fail. Witness all those lapsed gym goers, yo-yo dieters, people with chewed fingernails, furtive cigarette smokers, and novels languishing in trunks under the beds.

If you really want to achieve something, to make a change in your behavior, you have to think long term. What do you want at the end of the year... not what do you want right now. You have to allow yourself to be imperfect and to backslide, and to have lazy days, even weeks without sitting down to revise the fourth draft. Because of course, you have the flu and kids and must also take care of yourself, not just your goal.

So you set yourself up with smaller goals, that over the long term, will add up to the major goal.
Goals that are not overwhelming. Goals that are specific and measurable. Have fruit for desert instead of cookies, rather than lose 20 pounds. Take a yoga class, not "be fit." Write a query letter, not "be a best selling author".

So that's what I need to do. Look to make smaller goals that fit in with my larger goals.

Not coincidentally, I hope to make my smaller goals and my larger goals fit within my guiding words for the year. I will do so now, breaking down the goals into tasks that will fit within the guiding words.

ORGANIZE: organize my writing space, organize my agent research, keep in touch with critical readers, set up a daily writing schedule, keep a writing log, follow a time table.

SAY YES TO LIFE: actually start writing instead of hiding from it because it is scary, believe that I will be published, look for people who can help me, recognize and accept opportunities that come my way, look for the good in my book and emphasize that, show people my writing, take advantage of the free time I have to work on the things that I really want to do.

ENJOY: allow myself to enjoy the good things about my book, remember to enjoy my writing time because I actually love to write, develop rituals surrounding my writing time to recognize the specialness of it, look back at my life and recognize how far I have come, write a new resume or curriculum vitae celebrating all that I have achieved, write an author's bio as if my book were already published, set up a rewards system for writing/publishing goals achieved (perhaps rewards towards that new camera I want), accept the process for what it is and learn to enjoy it.

Let me tell you.

That little exercise actually has gotten me thinking about writing. Not only that, but it's gotten me excited for the process of revision, research, and querying.

You see, I don't want to just be a published author. I don't want just to have a novel written. I want to enjoy the life I am living while I go about doing this. I want to live this life, the one I have, not the one I will have once I achieve some goal, once I have beaten some resolution.

Try this exercise. Think of the guiding words for your year... the words reminding you of the life you want to live, the person you want to be. Now think of the goals you want to accomplish. Now try to find ways that your goals can be achieved THROUGH your guiding words.


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