Reaching the Finish Line

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This is it, coming into the final stretch of my goal – submit 4,000 words (or less) to a short story competition. Am I going to make it?

Yes! A loud, and resounding yes. I still have some tweaking to do, but I have sat myself down and done not one, not two, but three edit reviews. After slashing an additional 200 words (you’ll remember that I started with removing just the first two paragraphs, and dared to call that editing) I went back through and started thinking about how it all flowed. I managed to add another 190 words back in, but this time it added to the story, it maintained the flow, and gosh darn it, it added consistency. I feel like everything makes sense and it was a story that even though I wrote it I was excited to read.

I’m sitting on the current final version right now, I want to do one last read of it before I decide I am actually 100% fully finished. At this point I think I am just holding on to it because of nerves; I’m not quite ready to hand my work (physically or virtually) off to a stranger for judgement. That’s the next hurdle I have to overcome. It can be done. It WILL be done. Just maybe I need to hold on to it a teensy, tiny bit longer.

In five days I will officially be done with this side of things, and the agonizing wait to hear final results will begin. I’m not even sure what the time frame is for that waiting period. Weeks? Months? I imagine it will be a considerable amount of time. After all, I anticipate thousands of submissions for this contest along with mine, so there will be many days of reading ahead of the judges. And many days of waiting on pins and needles for me.

Actually, not really. I imagine the first few days will feel agonizing. However, as the days go by I have lots of new projects on the horizon. Next up: I’ve decided to take the plunge this year and try to complete a NaNoWriMo. 4,000 words had seemed difficult at first. Now I want to see what I can do with 50,000 words. In thirty days. Think this is something you would be interested in? Check it out at their website here. Have you already completed one and have some insights to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comments or feel free to contact me directly through the contact page or via email: hsellers@heather-sellers.com

 

Holding Myself Accountable to the Goals I Set

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Whew! One week down, about two and a half to go. Time flies when you are attempting to accomplish terrifying goals.

This week I wanted to talk about the goals I set last week, let you see how accomplishing them has been going and then talk about what I found helped and what I found held me back. The good news – I mostly accomplished the goals I set. The bad news – I almost didn’t. I had a few touch and go moments and it wasn’t pretty. Luckily I have an amazing support network who understands how important this goal is to me, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that this has made all the difference.

Recap, week one goals define the concept and start the rough draft. In order to really accomplish this I identified that I need to write 300 words a day in order to have a completed rough draft ready for the painful editing process with enough time to have a final ready for submission on September 14th. How did I do with my daily word counts? See below:

  • Monday – 348 words
  • Tuesday – 142 words
  • Wednesday – 0 words
  • Thursday – 307 words
  • Friday – 0 words
  • Saturday – 623 words
  • Sunday – 1,297 words

I managed to surpass the total number of words needed for the week (2,150 words), but as you can see here there were a few days I struggled with getting anything done. I’d love to say I was too busy to write, or that emergencies came up making it impossible. None of that was the case. The only thing that held me back was me.

I was elated on Monday when I surpassed my goal, it felt like a win that was going to help push me through my word counts every day. Instead it was that much more disappointing on Tuesday when I didn’t even hit half of my word count, and that certainly made Wednesday hit that much harder when I closed out the day with 0 words.

I tried to perk back up on Thursday and managed to meet my goal, but somehow a successful day just led me into the following day set up for failure. By none other than myself. I spent a majority of the last week hopping in and out of my own head, psyching myself out, staring at the blank page for far longer than someone who has a completely realized concept should.

And it really is a fully realized concept with characters I want to keep around long after this short story is complete, an entire series worth of adventures and shenanigans for them. So why was it so hard for me to write a simple 300 words per day?

In November those who sign up for NaNoWriMo sign themselves up for a much more intense goal of 1,500-1,700 words per day in order to complete a 50,000 word manuscript. And they succeed! So I keep going back to asking why I can’t do this minor goal.

The answer is me. I am my own worst enemy.

This is where a support network becomes necessary. I sat down yesterday staring at what I had written all week and dreaded adding to it. I had a rough outline and I already knew where I was going with the story, and I still found myself stuck less than 1,000 words into the story. While I was ranting and raving at my computer, ready to quit writing forever (perhaps a bit of a melodramatic response to the self-induced stress) my husband was patiently waiting for me to take a breath. His patience was a life saver (again, a bit melodramatic, my life was never in any danger). He said exactly what I needed to hear and helped me walk through what I was stuck on so I could figure out what needed to come next.

The result of this? Blowing both Saturday and Sunday’s word count goals way out of the water. I surpassed both day’s goals in record time, writing for less than an hour on Saturday and just over an hour on Sunday. I have good feelings about the rest of the word count goals this upcoming week and I know that if I get stuck again I have someone who is there to help me get through it.

What’s next? Another 1300 words to complete the first draft and then I start editing. I can’t wait to see how the next week goes – nervous, always, but definitely excited too.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with writing goals; you can share in the comments or feel free to contact me directly through the contact page or via email hsellers@heather-sellers.com

Don’t Let Small Successes Feel Like Failure

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The last week has been a whirlwind of activity: kids getting ready for back to school, shifting our summer morning routines back to the early morning school year routines none of us are fond of, trying to cram as many activities into the Saturday and Sunday hours as possible (and failing). Seems like after the many years of doing this we’d have it all better planned out, but that does not seem to be the case. I envy those that seem to have it all figured out – the bowl of lemons on the counter displayed to perfection kind of people.

If you are one of those people congratulations, I honestly and sincerely envy you.

When I was younger I had dreams of being organized to the finest point, knowing where every item was with my eyes closed. A blind person would have been able to comfortably navigate my dream space without Daredevil special abilities. The reality of my life kicked in and while I would never go back to change any of it, I do wonder at what point I lost control of the organization. At what point the chaos set in.

With all of that being said, it’s amazing that with all of our activities and plans I am finding time to write this weekly post. I had so many other writing goals for this year that I am seeing become less and less likely will be accomplished. This can be a frustrating (and admittedly depressing) realization. Where did the extra time go? That abundance of sand in the summer hour glass that is suddenly nearing the end, and none of the projects anywhere near the level of completeness I had promised myself in May.

I could sit here and really let myself have it. I probably need to hold myself accountable, and surely that means there needs to be some sort of action that goes along with my failure to follow through. However, in all reality, negative reactions don’t necessarily provide the kind of response that will lead to me completing my goals next year.

Instead, I need to stop and acknowledge the things I did manage to accomplish in the last several months. Identify where my successes happened, and see where the patterns are that I might be able to replicate to have more successes.

The reality is that last year I was researching blogs and how to create one; this year I made it happen. Small steps are still successes. It’s knowing this and continuing to push on that make us continue to be successful.

Next year maybe my podcast that has fallen to the side will be my next focus, getting to build it up into what I really want it to be. And maybe at this point next summer I will have another success to add to the list.

Don’t let your small success feel like failure. Acknowledge it for the triumph it is. Celebrate the accomplishment. Use that win to keep pushing forward.

Believe in yourself.