It’s been three days since I started ROW80 and already I see my goals my need changing. I’ve written two out of three days, which is good. But I’ve only managed about 500 words per day which is 1000 words shy of my goal of 1000 words per day.
I tend to beat myself up over goals which is one reason that during my hiatus from fiction writing I didn’t make any writing goals. I wrote as I felt lead. I have little vignettes and scenes that run the gamut of emotions: humour, angst, passion, anger, lust, tenderness. Some of these are the best scenes I’ve ever written. Why? Because I just let them happen. I didn’t have an agenda. I didn’t have any finish-by-this-date goals and I had no intention of publishing anything during that time. It was all for me. For fun. I’m a writer. Whether anyone else sees my words or not doesn’t change that one fact. Writers write.
ROW80 is part of my personal therapy. As someone who has been a therapist, I know the importance of attainable goals, especially when one is attempting to change behavior patterns or ways of thinking that are no longer useful, or perhaps even harmful. We need to feel a level of success in order to continue moving forward on our quest for self-improvement and healing. What I like about ROW80 is that no one is there to stand in judgement if the goals I set for myself were too lofty or perhaps not even the right goals for right now. I can attempt to meet the mark I set for myself and if I fail, I get to determine the cause for that failure and adjust my goals as needed. Or not. Maybe that goal is a stretch goal and maybe I need it there to push me. Sometimes stretch goals are very, very good. Sometimes they can be detrimental.
Right now, because I’m a recovering perfectionist and because I just got the joy of writing fiction back in my life, I am going to drop my word count per writing session goal to 500 words per day. If I do better than that, excellent! If I only make 500 words, still excellent.
Every writer is on his or her own journey. The support we get from each other along the way is invaluable. The support and self-care we give ourselves is even more important. But we need to be honest with ourselves. If we aren’t honest about why we are doing, or not doing, then it’s too easy to fall into the trap of never doing. Or the trap of burning out. I know. I had to quit my job due to burnout because I forgot just how very important self-care is to my well-being. Sure, I was the best process engineer I could be (yes, that is correct. I was a process engineer and systems trainer after I left the world of psychotherapy). But at what cost?
It wasn’t until my health became bad enough that I couldn’t work that I paused and started to consider what I need to be healthy and happy. And what my family needs. I’m still in recovery. It took years for me to get to this place, it may take a while for me to swim out. I’m okay with that. Now. Just as I’m okay with the fact that I may have to exercise my writing brain some more before I can swing 1000+ words per day. And that this draft will likely be that shitty first draft writers talk about. I may have to learn to plot in different ways. I may need to relearn some of the craft I knew inside out and backwards before. And that’s okay. What’s not okay is not trying.
So that’s my update. My goals are changing and I feel good about the progress I’ve made thus far. I hope you feel just as good about your progress, as well.
I really appreciate your post; I found your comments on being mindful about setting goals and considering their relationship to self-care to be very thought thought-provoking.I hope you continue to enjoy your writing journey!
Thank you. It has taken me many years to get to this point, but the journey is well worth it.
Even 500 words a day is making progress. Great job!
Thanks. It’s important for me to remember that it’s about forward progress right now, not just about amassing words.
“Recovering perfectionist” – Love this phrase! Sums me up to a tee. Hello, my name is Kim and I am a perfectionist.
This is something I’m working on this year….how to be both a writer who finally finishes rewrites and submits alongside being a cringing perfectionist. On eof my goals is also to be kind to myself an dto listen to my body’s messages an dto nurture my body. Last year I ignored my body to my detriment and ultimately to my writing’s detriment.
Good luck with being kinder to yourself and good luck with your goals this year.
Thanks! It’s definitely a change in outlook to ask the perfectionistic tendencies to take a back seat. Good luck to you, as well, as you wrangle that inner perfectionist so you can have a productive writing year AND in being kind to yourself.