Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

January 16, 2014

Goals for 2014

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 4:38 pm

The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild (CSfG) gathered last night for its first 2014 meeting. After we finished discussing the upcoming business of the year [1], we got on to the discussing of setting our writing goals for the year.

Honestly, I wasn’t going to do it. I had every intention skipping the whole New Year’s resolution thing. Instead of making a collection of half-baked promises that I am in the habit of failing to deliver on, surely it would be better to just knuckle down and produce whatever I could.

Then yesterday I read this essay on what is happening to someone who procrastinates a lot. Someone like me. I have to say I found the essay so eerily descriptive of my state of mind (especially the stuff about the dark playground and self-reinforcing cycles of shame) that I almost couldn’t finish reading it. Which was nuts of me, but there you are.

I highly recommend that essay, whether or not you’re a procrastinator. Someone who is will find it full of useful observations on what you’re doing to yourself and what you can do about it. People who are not procrastinators will learn that it’s completely understandable but utterly useless to offer the advice “Just sit down and do it”.

Anyway, when I accepted that part of the strategy for fixing the procrastination problem is to set tangible goals broken down by simple, specific steps, I realised that I kind of need the goals to keep me honest.

So, long story short, my writing goals for the year are:

1: finish the current draft of my novel manuscript by the end of February. If I keep to my 400+ words a day writing streak, that should mean I will produce at least 14,000 more words by the 28th of February, which *should* be about what I need to wrap up the draft.

2: write 10 short stories to publishable quality, one a month for the remaining months of the year. In theory that one should be a doddle, in that it usually doesn’t take me that long to write a story once I start. The risk will come in stories that blow out beyond what I am picturing as my standard length of 4000 – 6000 words. I am giving myself leeway to redefine this goal if it turns out that everything I want to write this year is really a novella rather than a short. I won’t know until I start though.

3: submit short stories at least 25 times. At the normal rate of submission/consideration/rejection-or-acceptance, this is about the right rate. By the end of the year I should have a good stockpile of stories, such that even if a few of them are accepted (which I hope they will, obviously), I should have enough coming in and going out again to meet this target.

4: I also have some additional non-specific goals about getting my work into various I-consider-them-prestigious Australian genre short story markets, like a Ticonderoga anthology or Cosmos Magazine. Small steps though.

So there it is. I’ll be pretty happy if I meet these goals, and very happy to exceed them. I anticipate the rest of my life getting in the way of my going far beyond expectations, especially if I have a radical career change soon. But writing is something that can keep me grounded and sane, so it gets a high priority.

Did you crack and set yourself goals?

 

[1] Which didn’t take long, but by the way included the informal notification that the editorial team for the next CSfG anthology has been finalised. If you happen to be someone who might want to make a short story keep your eyes open for the announcement of the theme and the call for submissions. [2]

[2] Also: Conflux, our local speculative fiction convention, will take place over the October long weekend this year. Which is a bit of a problem for me, seeing as that’s the time of year of my wedding anniversary. Since I was at a convention around that time last year, the anniversary had probably better win in 2014…

5 Comments »

  1. I set my “put all my memorised guitar pieces onto youtube” goal this year, born out of frustration at previous attempts to get my playing up to performance standard. So far so good. I took advantage of my long service leave to take a week off for guitar this week, which hasn’t increased my rate of output, but has improved the quality (as I get to the tail end, we start to hit the pieces I’m not quite so good at).

    In general, the only anti-procrastination thing that works for me is to sit down and allow myself two options: do the thing, or do nothing (for a set period of time, usually reinforced with an alarm). I usually spend the first ten minutes fighting the procrastination monkey (I’ll just get a glass of water… no. I need to go to the toilet… no I don’t. Let me just… no.), then get down to it. As effective as the technique is, actually going into this mode is difficult too.

    Comment by Andrew Shellshear — January 17, 2014 @ 7:16 am

  2. My problem is 95% with getting started. Generally once I start the job, I can keep going without getting too distracted, but I will put off and put off the moment of getting underway to sometimes-ridiculous lengths, up to doing major housework (multiple loads of washing, ironing a couple of weeks worth of shirts etc).

    Empirical evidence from the recent experiments suggest that I can easily crank out 400-800 words in an hour, but I am having difficulty in sitting down to start that hour before 10 at night. That means that a second hour’s worth of productivity doesn’t happen because I’m too tired. Still, the sprint-writing approach does seem to work pretty well, and my wordcount for the year is over 10000 new words, so I’m not unhappy with the results to date.

    I am enjoying the guitar pieces. Keep them going!

    Comment by Lexifab — January 20, 2014 @ 10:00 am

  3. I cracked today. Clean the lab and keep it clean, is my 2014 goal… :/

    Comment by Dr Clam — January 21, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

  4. Salutory!

    Comment by lexifab — January 22, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

  5. […] Just to note, this is mainly for my benefit, holding myself to account for my plans for the year, as articulated way back in January in this subtly-named post. […]

    Pingback by Late exit to 2014 « Lexifabricographer — January 3, 2015 @ 10:17 pm

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