At least three times a week, my roommate and I make a pact to get up and go to breakfast. Breakfast is served from 7 to 9:30 am on weekdays. She has work at 9 am. I have class at 11 am. We decide to get up at 8, shower, and enjoy the cafeteria's mediocre scrambled eggs and coffee together.
We haven't been to breakfast once this semester.
I don't do very well with goals.
This is a problem I've been meaning to work on for a while. (See what I mean?) I'm supposed to be a writer. We're supposed to be all about goals, right? If so, then I definitely need some help.
Goals are two-part things. What do you want to accomplish, and when? It's not the what that gives me problems. My what is clear: a writer's overarching goal is always, in the words of Chuck Wendig, "I will finish the shit I started." But the when of finishing the shit I started is always a bit...vague.
What I've noticed is that whenever I impose a "when," I almost never finish the goal. "I will get up at 8am and go to breakfast." Haha. Right. We see how that worked out. "I will finish my novel by my twentieth birthday." HAHAHAHAHAHA.
On the other hand, when I set vague goals like, "Work on Contracted this weekend," I get 2,517 words out in a few hours. In a novel, that wouldn't be a hugely impressive addition -- but in a short story? A lot happened in those 2,517 words. I'm pleased with the progress, especially since it's a secondary project that I work on in my spare time. I even got a beta reader for the first half! And I still managed to do my homework.
Likewise, my editing goals for The Green Eye are concrete: shave off 14,000 words in the first round of edits. Oh, and change the entire main subplot and main character. If those aren't ambitious goals, I don't know what would be.
I'm less ambitious with my when's. It's usually "as soon as possible." "Finish Edit Round #1 by the end of February" might be better. Or maybe not. There's no one holding me accountable to that deadline, after all. I have other stuff to work on. I could throw everything else out the window and get that done, but would everything else suffer for it? Or would it be worth it? What do I even want out of this book, anyway? Should I be working on something more --
Aaaaand I slam my foot down. No mid-month goals; no monthly goals; no hourly output goals. I will do as much as I can in the time I have. Meanwhile, I have my handy Excel document to keep track of my progress.
Which brings me back to the original problem of, "If you don't set concrete goals and deadlines, you probably won't finish the shit you started."
Lately, there has been a goal-setting post trend in the bloggers I follow. I admire people like Brooke R. Busse, who can set incredibly ambitious and detailed goals. Here, though, she admits -- when she reaches for the moon and misses, she doesn't feel like she's fallen among the stars. She feels like she's failed to reach the moon.
On the flip side of that, she says some great stuff here about not focusing on your failures -- look at the goals you have accomplished. Eh, just go read her blog and be impressed.
So...don't set overly ambitious goals? But then you might fall into the trap of lowering your expectations. So...so...I don't know.
Help me out here. What's your process? What are your goals?