I am, historically speaking, a procrastinator.
I think I’ve covered this before, but for today’s post it’s important to understand that reaching benchmarks and meeting goals is something I couldn’t do for a long time. Honestly, I have a hard time determining where in my life that changed. In college? Maybe? In High School I was the person who ‘never met her potential’ because she ‘never tried hard enough’.
A goal was something my teachers would talk about setting and meeting, like it was a homework assignment. Goal to get into college seemed far away when I was more concerned about if I would be able to afford the cute knee-high pleather boots that matched my pleated mini-skirt.
When you’re working about 25-30 hours a week to help chip into the family income pool, it takes away the drive to do much outside of school, even if a teacher tells you that it’s for your own good. I had very little complaints about work ethic from my employers and to this day I’ve yet to be fired for slacking. So I knew, subconsciously, that the possibility of working hard was there, after all I worked hard at the day job. It was hard getting my brain to accept that I also needed to work hard for myself.
Deadlines help but if you don’t know where you’re trying to end up, it makes traveling down your road a little difficult. After all, with no destination in mind, how are we suppose to navigate the path in front of us?
When I read a book, one of the things I marvel at is the way some authors can pace a novel to hit every emotional point during their try/fail sequences. These sequences are also known as Scene and Sequel. They happen when your protagonist starts their journey off with the assumption that their plan is going to go one way and then it all goes sideways. At DragonCon this year, Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera was a guest. Now, Butcher is, in my biased and young professional opinion, the best writer I have ever seen at Scene/Sequel-ing. He puts Harry Dresden through hell and back in each of his books and yet it always feels fresh. This is a hard thing to do! Especially when you have over 15 books in a series. I asked him how he did it? How he trained himself to pace his novels in such an exciting way.
To paraphrase, Butcher told me that you have to think of your novel as a roller coaster. While you have your climbing action and your loop-de-loops, your sharp turns and your angles planned into your plot, it doesn’t matter at all if you don’t know where you’re ending up. I was inspired.
For my next two short stories, I realized I needed to find my ending before I could really understand that horrible middle stage of writing. And once I did, all of the knots in my plots became clearly untangled.
Just like it’s applicable to writing, Life benefits from this advice.
I haven’t known what I wanted to do with my writing career for a long time. I grew up being told by everyone I knew that Writers Couldn’t Make A Living Writing Fiction.
Yet this year, I got the StoryBundle deal for NaNoWriMo and read Dean Wesley Smith’s books about killing the sacred cows of publishing. (Link HERE if you haven’t heard of this gentleman). Then I read his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s book, The Freelancer’s Survival Guide. Now, I currently am no where near ready to launch myself into a career with freelancing. I have some debts to pay off from college, my husband is currently IN school right now working on his degree as he worked full time while I was in college, and my body of work is tiny due to not buckling down to create until this year. Yet now, with these two writer’s advice, I feel like I understand what I want better. I understand my DESTINATION.
With NaNoWriMo started this weekend, I hope that you understand your goals. Right now, the goal might be short: Write a novel in 30 days. I’m moving on the working theory that while that is a good start, my goal should be to KEEP writing after this novel is in the can.
Writers Write and finish what they write. Then write something else.