Managing Writing Goals

My office is filled with the sound of constant tapping, and I am aware that I have been at this for hours now. I check my word count. So proud. I scroll through the pages. It’s good. Very good.

And then I think of another project.

And another.

And two blogs.

That have been untouched.

I fizzle. My writing heart deflates like a cartoon balloon, pbbt-ing into nothingness.

Sometimes I can keep writing despite this sudden paperweight of anxiety and uncertainty, but it is hard. So, I took some time out to start piecing apart my goals and projects, and I would encourage you to do the same if you find yourself going, “This is all well and good but what about [other project]? Should I be doing that?”

  • Stop and ask, “Who am I right now? What is important to me?” If the answer is, “I am a person with a very hectic day job and I need the escapism that writing can afford me,” then maybe it means that you should manage your time more around pleasure writing than searching for marketing ideas.
  • Pick three flavors. Your writing life is an ice cream store. You get up to three scoops. No more. So which ones do you want to try right now? If you want to edit your book, manage your blog and finish that short story, maybe you could wait to start that parody zine.
  • Ask yourself if the problem is you or the clock. Do you actually not want to be doing a given task, or are you just poorly managing your time and energy? Step back with a spreadsheet that has your day broken down by 15 minute increments. Color-code everything that you have to do, and then break up the rest into what you want to do. Stick to that.
  • Always keep a sticky note of “Do Unto Others.” It’s one thing to lose sight of your own projects, but if you have a commitment to someone else, be sure that you are factoring that in.

What sort of tactics do you use to manage your time? Are you good at keeping track of everything or do you get easily distracted by the squirrels?

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5 Ways to Get Stuff Done

In 2015, I’m really focusing in on finishing things. Sounds simple, right? You start something. It begins. It comes into formation. Obviously…you need to bring it to an end.

I started a number of things last year: a few different crafting projects, some pieces of writing, a couple of classes. I would pick at them a little bit, then move on to something else. Then, I would remember them again. And freak out. Pick, pick, pick, put down, forget, remember, freak out. Rinse. Repeat.

Now, I’m trying to get stuff done. Here are a few habits I’m using to work on it.

1. Keep a list of projects somewhere close and where you can see them often. I’ve been using an Excel sheet as well as a file in Evernote to keep track of what I have been working on. This way, I can make notes about the last update I made, when I did it, and what is outstanding. It feels good to start crossing stuff out.

2. Ask the hard question: keep it or kick it? Once the To Do List gets long enough, it’s time to take a long look at what you’ve been working on. Why is it there? What is it adding to your life? What will come after it? Will it be there later when you have more time?

3. A little bit goes a long way. Okay, you don’t have time to sit down and finish the whole rough draft of your 300-page novel. However, I bet you have time to write a few sentences. Even the tiniest baby steps will make you feel more accomplished than procrastinating on it.

4. Set a date. Tired of seeing that unfinished craft project? Sure, nobody is waiting for it, so it’s up to you to pick a date to have it done by. Be realistic and honest with yourself. Even if it’s not for a few weeks (or even a few months), commit to having it finished by a deadline. Ask people to keep you accountable.

5. Don’t overthink it. Take a deep breath. Get to work. Don’t spend time stewing in your own brain, mulling over the, “Oh God, why didn’t I finish this before now” or “I can’t believe I put this off” or “There’s so much to do”…stop. Focus on the present. You can do it now. Just start.