I set a goal this week. A terrifying goal. I have to finish something before September 14th. I have to finish something completely, and submit it. To a contest. I decided this was going to be my big goal to end this year, and I was ready. And now, suddenly, I’m not.
I had an idea I wanted to use for a short story to submit to the Writer’s Digest short story contest, and I was very excited with what I got out initially. Then I looked it over and realized that it will never serve as a short story, it is most certainly part of a larger story. That’s when I realized just how terrifying this goal is.
I’m worried that I don’t know how to be concise enough for 4,000 words. I suddenly find myself baffled with how to finish a story. I’m terrified of the follow through.
When I was a little girl I wanted to be a writer. When I was a teenager I wanted to be a writer. Even now, as an adult with children of my own who are starting to build their own dreams, I want to be a writer. The terrifying realization is that no matter how much I want to be a writer, finishing things still feels out of reach.
I have been going over some of my shorter pieces trying to decide if any of them are up to snuff for this contest, something I would be proud to submit, and I’m second guessing every single piece.
I should just let myself pick one and make it what I want it to be, but for the first time ever I am finding myself unable to see the potential of my ideas and am limited to just the words I’ve put on paper. I’ve spent the entire last seven days being baffled by the choices in front of me and time is running out.
For the next three weeks I am going to force myself to buck up, stop coming up with excuses, and finish something. And then I am going to make myself submit it. This isn’t about winning the contest. This is about accomplishing something I have spent the last many years telling myself I can’t do.
In order to resolve my conflict about this I am choosing instead to create a plan of action. Something that will clearly define the path, and what I need to do to meet my deadlines. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
Week One: Define the concept. Start the rough draft.
Week Two: Finish the rough draft.
Week Three: Edit, Edit, Edit.
Final days before submission – Create a final version I can be proud of.
The good news is that this is realistically attainable. Over the next seven days I need to come up with a concept that I can work with, and start my 4,000 word draft. With 14 days to finish my draft (depending on how long I take to come up with my concept) I can plan to write 300 words per day, and still come in under the time frame I have laid out.
I’ll keep you all posted on whether I make my goals or not, and the lessons I learn from this. If you’re interested in taking a look at the short story contest you can check it out at the Writer’s Digest website here.
If you’ve done something similar and found things that were helpful, or things to stay away from, I’d love to hear about it; you can share in the comments or feel free to contact me directly through the contact page or via email firstname.lastname@example.org