Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Plan of Action

by Lori

I’m with Janet (see Wednesday, January 2 post). Resolutions set me up for failure. Yet I need some sort of quantitative goal to keep me pointed in the right direction.

I’ve made the mistake, in Januaries past, of setting near unattainable writing resolutions: write for three additional hours a day, send out five queries every other day, submit three manuscripts each week, read dozens of books on writing and editing, etc., etc.

When February rolled around, I was exhausted. Trying to jam so much in caused lots of stress. My efforts were not well thought out. The quality of my writing suffered.

My hard drive overflowed with articles, stories, and books. However, I didn’t polish the majority of what I started. My office was a hub of activity, with myriad distractions and interruptions. I could write amid the chaos but effective editing and rewriting were difficult. I ended up submitting only a fraction of what I wrote because I knew my work wasn’t up to par.

Last November, I decided not to wait until January to set new writing goals. I wanted to try something different. I didn’t want to feel so stressed that the mere thought of writing evoked dread.

I needed a place away from the bustle. My bedroom was the only feasible option. I purchased an inexpensive desk and set up my laptop. Viola! Almost zero interruptions. Plus, with no Internet connection, I wasn’t tempted to waste time checking and rechecking email, or visiting blogs.

I established five simple goals, sans rigid restrictions: write, polish, learn, attend, and send. I posted the list at the bottom of my computer screen. I already wrote on regular basis, a habit I would continue. Polish could be achieved when I secluded myself at my new desk; my flash drive made it easy to transport files from computer to computer. Learn took in studying anything that would further my knowledge of writing, editing, markets, etc. Attend meant going to workshops and critique group. The first four goals set me up for the last: submit, which I felt better about than ever before.

My life is far from simple. No two days are ever the same. But, with my new goals in place, I've resolved not to fret over daily or weekly quotas. Instead, each day, I ask myself if I'm doing my best in at least one or two things on the list. I focus on feeling good about my accomplishments, not dwelling on what I haven't done.

Now, writing is once again enjoyable. Overall, I feel the quantity and quality of my writing has increased. So have my submissions and publishing prospects. I’m excited about the possibilities the New Year will bring.


Janet Jensen said...

Great followup, Lori! Definitely a productive plan. The small TV once in my office has been moved. That's one step to help me focus on the task at hand!

Lori Nawyn said...

Good idea, Janet. I need to move the treadmill out of my office so everyone isn't flocking in to use it. But then again, its presence reminds me I need to use it as well!