Saturday, February 12, 2022

It’s Okay to Adjust Your Goals

Scott D Parker

Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote a post about finding time to write? The thrust of the piece was that there are lots of little chunks of any given week to devote to writing. I stand by that assertion, but two things happened in the past week. I realized I wasn’t leaving time for all the other things an indie writer needs to do, and I was getting worn down.

When do I edit my stuff? When do I create covers for my stories? When do I do the website upkeep? These activities are crucial to being an indie writer/publisher in 2022 and I simply wasn’t giving myself time to do any of it. Why would I? Doing those things meant I would write less.

But, but, but I have a minimum word count of 1,000 words. How am I supposed to do all that other stuff and still get in my thousand?

I’ve been trying and doing reasonably well. Actually, that may not be entirely accurate. I have been working in the editing and the cover creation, but doing it by sacrificing sleep. The Olympics didn’t help because of the time zone difference, I’d be up watching live coverage prime time through 11pm yet still getting up at 5am. That, of course, wouldn’t last, but it crystalized just how much time in the day I had at my disposal. It is finite and there are things I need to do, and keeping myself healthy is high on the list.

But what about that minimum word count? What about hitting that thousand? Well, if the words are crap and you’re just writing to hit a number, then what’s the point? I intuitively recognized my internal self was stretching out scenes just to meet some arbitrary number. For example, the short story I’ve been working on is nearing 10,000 words. Are they all needed? A critical edit will tell me the truth, but there’s a sense I’ve been padding the story to reach that 1,000/day threshold.

But to do this, to accept that I’d be doing less in the given time allotted to me, I’d have to give myself permission to downshift and try something else. That’s a big mental hurtle for many of us, myself included. We want to be super productive, but if that productivity either ruins our health or delivers sub-par writing that you’re going to have to fix anyway, what’s the point?

Better to be efficient even at a slower pace than the opposite.

So I gave myself permission to drive the writing career at a slower speed. My goal is to create better content at a consistent pace without sacrificing my health, both the body kind and the mental kind.

What also helped me reach this conclusion was this week’s post from Kristine Kathryn Rusch. She links to an article ostensibly about “Covid Cloud” and how we can overcome our concentration issues, but the author, Jessi Gold, makes a point about doing less. “Normalizing doing less feels uncomfortable, vulnerable, and might even make us feel like a failure. This is because we often measure our success by our productivity.”

Yup, that was me. And it’ll still be there, truth be told, but I am trying something different. Still writing everyday, but allowing myself time to breathe and do the other things required of me, like re-reading a novel to determine next steps.

Do y’all ever have moments like this? What do you do?

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