Saturday, October 31, 2009

Can we just get to the fun stuff?

Setting writing goals and the tasks to achieve them do not actually throw me into a panic. I think I'd prefer a bit of panic to how I feel about making goals. That feeling is more like "blah, blah, blah." Nothing exciting about it. But I do have that nagging voice in the back of my mind getting louder and louder that says you need them. The clock is ticking and you will drown without some goals to grab on to.
So, with good intentions and a bit of induced panic (the picture helped), I put in a Google search to find articles on setting goals.

The first article I found compared setting goals to . . .*cringe*. . . creating a business plan. Hmm. Okay. A long moment of serious contemplation and then I'm kind of fed up. A business plan. That's all well and good, but sorry, a business plan approach doesn't exactly make me jump up and down and say, "hey, let's try it!" Instead it means planning. And that takes time. It will be a long, long while before I can get to the fun stuff.

I quit looking. This need to get to the fun stuff is usually when my goal making hits a snag.

The need for instant gratification is also why my son's room turns into a disaster zone. He doesn't want to put something away before playing with something else. He wants to play. And I get that. Do I ever! Of course, the room does need to be cleaned up and I take half the blame for the size of job it's become. It's not a task anymore. It's many, many tasks.

It's time for: The Big Clean Up.

My inner dialogue, that arguing back in forth to listen to and hush the inner critic, is in many ways similar for both writing and being a mom. Each time the "big clean up" occurs, I'm thrown into guilt for not teaching better habits. For not daily enforcing "putting something away before playing with something else."

We have to do the Big Clean Up together because, a) the mom guilt, and b) a general request to clean the room will go nowhere. His blank look says, where do I start? The job is too big, so we break it down. The dirty clothes in the hamper, the Nintendo games and DVD's back in their cases, etc. And, in the process, I also discover that, left to his own devices, my child will start playing with a newly discovered toy. This distraction is another trait I empathize with! Eventually, the room is clean. The little voice in my head says, yeah, a clean slate for another mess.

But, you know, the strange child actually thinks our Big Clean Up is fun. Yeah, FUN. I guess it's because we're doing it together. Of course, the inner mom critic worries I'm not teaching him independence, but another voice fires back, at least you're not constantly nagging the kid. That isn't fun for either of us. But the Big Clean Up is a game in itself. Even if it's a race to find blocks, missing game pieces or socks.

So, hush, nagging voice. Both for being a mom and for being a writer. I have a big job ahead. My very own Mess and Big Clean Up. It's also sometimes called writing a novel. It's a balance act of when to make a mess and when to clean it up. Goals are of limited value to me when I'm making a Mess. For the Mess, my progress comes on the days I stay in the moment. To remember it's a story I want to tell with characters who make messes. I do have a deadline (yes, that's a good serious word) of the end of the year for the Mess and the Big Clean Up to be complete. Then I'll have a clean slate for another mess.

Do you enjoy the journey? Do goals help you more, less, or equally while making the Mess (first draft) or during the Clean Up (revision)?


  1. I pretend to have goals. It makes me feel better. :) Like right now, I have to have the first three chapters of, not one, but two manuscripts finished by (well tonight was the original) Monday. And I've got not one, but two stories I plan on reaching 50k on by the end of November. Yikes!!! Some might think I'm insane, others might think I'm deliberately setting myself up for failure. I guess we'll see. ;)

  2. Renee! Your goals boggle the mind! Wow. In addition to the NaNoWriMo you have another 50k for a manuscript for the end of November? There is no denying that it's a lot, but I wouldn't say you're setting yourself up for failure. I hope you do make it, but even if it's close but not quite, remember that however close you get will be a success. :)


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