‘Tis the greatest day o’ tha year!
No, I won’t write like a pirate for this entire post, but I do enjoy September 19. Be sure to spread the pirate love.
Anyway, it’s the final check-in for this Round of Words in 80 Days. For those of you arriving late to the party, I’ve pretty much done my own version of a wrap-up over the last couple of weeks. Between poorly-chosen goals, poorly-chosen metrics, and a poorly-behaving brain toward the end I can’t say I’m finishing out the round with warm and fuzzy feelings.
Rather than belabor what I’ve already belabored, I figured I’d use this post to share what I learned about my own processes. That is, point out the silver lining in the gray storm cloud that comprised the last round.
Then I had to go grocery shopping and the store decided half the things I wanted to buy were no longer necessary. Also, vegan burgers are things which almost don’t exist. Every “veggie” burger brand I checked contained egg whites. It wasn’t until I met a strange old man in the back of the store, said the super-secret vegan password, and performed the required even-more-secret-than-super handshake that I was led to the one brand which makes actual vegan burgers.
Needless to say–but I’ll say it anyway–I’m tired. I got nothin’. The only wisdom I can share about my first experience with ROW80 are these two bits which I just don’t have the energy to elaborate on:
1. Leave room for yourself when choosing your goals.
2. Don’t use the words “at least.”
Oh screw it, I will elaborate a bit.
Writers, especially those still struggling to “make it,” seem to have a natural tendency toward biting of more than we can chew. Between family, day jobs, appointments, dead batteries, wasp infestations, and typhoid epidemics we struggle to find the time to write. Or the time to promote ourselves. Or whatever it is we think we should be doing right now to further our writing career.
You don’t have to stop right now. Nor do you have to stop so often or for so long it’s hard to get started again. But you do need to stop once in a while and find time for your brain to unwind. And I have two reasons for saying that.
The first is the standard parroting of that time-honored phrase “life is short.” It really is. Sooner, rather than later, you’ll reach the point where you have more memories than future experiences. Take time to build some good ones.
The second is a practical reason. Ideas can come at any time, but the best ideas come when they’re least expected. That’s my observation anyway. I go for a walk, say hello to the friendly dog down the street, and find myself accidentally solving a problem with my current WIP. Or coming up with the seed of an idea for the next one.
Don’t try to mimic a machine in a factory and attempt to use every waking moment productively. Because sometimes, a little time taken for yourself might just turn out to be the most productive time of the day.
That leaves us with the second bit of wisdom I picked up. Don’t use the words “at least” when deciding on goals. Make goals a finish line, not par for the course. I’ve seen a lot of goals like “I will read at least one book a week.” I even wandered into this round with them.
The problem with a goal like this is you can never win. I can’t, anyway. With a goal like the above, you can start a book on Sunday, be done by Thursday, and be kicking yourself by Saturday for not reading two. Anything you do above and beyond your goals should feel like a bonus. It should make you feel like you’ve gotten ahead. Like you’re winning.
As soon as you bring in the words “at least,” you’ve taken away that possibility. And if you’re like me, you’ll be kicking yourself for not exceeding your goals.
Anyway, that’s what I’m taking away from this round. I’ll be jumping into the next one having looked before I leap, with a better chosen set of goals.
How’d your round turn out?