Following up on last week’s Top 10 list. The one where I startled myself while writing it with that goldmine in point number one. On why I’ve been so “stuck”—and how to fix it.
To start solidly down this path, I’m enlisting all of you (or if no one is reading this, some scavenging info-hoarding bot on Facebook will do just fine—because Facebook nudges me to post something on my page every single day) to hold me accountable.
Accountable to deadlines and word counts. At least for a while until the habit is as ingrained as anything else I do on a regular basis.
I find I don’t need this level of accountability for many of my other responsibilities—the nature of most everything else I do has an inherent deadline. Work clients need their content turned around in 72 hours. Grandmothers need their pacemakers checked every three months. Bills are due once a month like clockwork.
There’s a rhythm to the rest of life. But not the writing. Because, as I discovered last week, I’ve not placed it in high enough priority. I’ve treated it like a hobby.
But I want more.
And I think that’s okay, since I’m a fairly responsible adult and I’m fairly certain I’m free to want more. And I’m fairly certain I won’t damage family or friendships if I spend a little more time a week sitting at my desk making up stuff (isn’t that a fun job title?). I’m fairly certain I’ll still cook the occasional dinner (don’t cook much anyway—that’s a blog for another day). I’m fairly certain the cat will be fed and the bills will be mailed and the pacemakers will be checked. I’m fairly certain my motives are harmless.
I’m absolutely certain I want more.
I’ve mentioned that I participated in a short story challenge last summer. That challenge squeezed more productive words out of me than anything I’ve ever done. It had deadlines. Daily ones. With enough words to build complete universes filled with characters and conflicts and twists—thirty times over.
Thirty days I wrote. In a row. The rest of life went on. Bills got paid. Work got done. Pacemakers got checked. Didn’t miss one church service that month. Didn’t skip any obligations. Cat didn’t die. At that point, I even had a special-needs Schnauzer demanding walks, medication and cuddle time.
How did that happen? How is it now that I want more, I can’t seem to produce? I think it’s because last summer:
1. Someone was waiting (Dean).
2. Someone was dangling an attractive carrot (Dean, with his extra class offers).
As much fun as that challenge was, I’m not going to enlist in that again. So Dean can’t help me this time around.
So, I’ll use you guys. You’ll all be the “someone waiting.” So number 1 is taken care of.
Now for the carrot.
Winning the carrot means setting a goal—a slightly uncomfortable goal or it’s not worth doing. A specific goal with a deadline.
Starting today, September 3, 2018, through the end of the month on the 30th, my goal is to write 30,000 new words on my work in progress and three additional new shorts. New words—not rewrites or redo’s—brand new, forward-progress words.
And three shorts. Complete with their respective cover art.
Thirty thousand words and whatever number of words it takes to create three new short fiction stories in 28 days. Blog words don’t count, but so far I’ve not missed on the one-post-a-Monday streak, so I’ll keep that going as well.
I’ll post my progress every third day on the Facebook feed and give a final tally on the evening of the 30th.
If I “win” my challenge, I’m going to buy a shiny new orange fountain pen for my growing collection. Fountain pens are awesome, and I don’t have an orange one. Orange because it’ll represent the carrot (corny, I know—but fun!).
If I “lose” my challenge, I’ll be words—and maybe a story or two—ahead. So I still win. Just no orange fountain pen.
And, as I’m about to hit send on this post, I know what will happen. The crystal ball in the back of my head just lit up like a white-hot firecracker, sending up warning flares and blaring sirens.
Fear takes hold. Because any time I try to do something big or, heaven forbid, write something in ink on the calendar…
Life happens. Bad stuff. Good stuff. Everyday mundane stuff. Anything and everything to push and steal time and bring guilt and procrastination.
You name it. It will happen.
But it’ll be fun to see if the challenge works in spite of life. Because I want more.
And thank you in advance for keeping me accountable.
Thank you for hanging out for a bit. Check back on Mondays for a new blog and the first Friday of every month for a free fictional short, and be sure to visit my Amazon page.