Sunday, September 29, 2013

Balance in a Topsy-Turvy Writing World

This past week, I  learned that I can edit and pace up to five (5) chapters per day. *IF* I don't take time to shower or cook and limit bathroom breaks. Never mind the shoulder muscle aches and the headache, or the throbbing wrists and blurred vision. Or that nothing else gets done. "Really, Kathy," I ask, "what kind of life is that?"

 "Nope," Kathy says. "That's no life at all."

In this busy, busy day-to-day world, I have been experimenting and learning about REALISTIC goal setting.

Sure, I can edit and pace five (5) chapters per day, but, really, if that pace causes physical effects, burn out, and exhaustion, is that any way to write?

I used to work. A LOT. Days, nights, weekends, holidays. During one holiday season, I worked 90 hours the week of Thanksgiving. I had no life. I was so exhausted that, although I tend to be positive and enthusiastic, I no longer enjoyed the life I was living. Er, not living my life, since all I did was work.

This past week was one doing and stepping back to observe as I have been doing. Now I know what I am capable of during a week, and I know what I am able to realistically produce in a day.

So, instead of barreling through, racing, and charging to the finish line, I need to spread out my goal to a more realistic time schedule.

So, instead of 5 chapters edited and paced per day, a more realistic goal would be three (3) chapters, with breaks every hour and a half or so, even if only a bathroom and stretch break. With this realistic schedule, I would have time to do other things, other than writing activities, and still accomplish grounded-in-reality writing goals.

Another thing I discovered, that even though you set unrealistic or over-reaching goals, not reaching them can be discouraging and affect short-term goals going forward.

For instance, edit/pace 5 chapters one day, but then be too exhausted to even finish two the next day. Or, set a goal of four, then due to the difficulty of the chapters or distractions, only do one or two...there's no way to play catch up if you over-schedule up front.

Realistically, by setting more reasonable, reachable goals, I will get more done in the long run, because I won't be overwhelmed, exhausted, or self-sabotaging by not being able to catch up.

So,  Schedule 5 days of reasonable tasks, then build in two days for roll-over work from the previous 5 days. Realistic. Doable. Feasible. Did I mention doable?

For the next 7 days:
  • Edit & Pace 3 Chapters Per day (5 days)
  • Roll-Over Editing/Pacing days (2 days)
  • Work on/Enjoy Non-Writing Activities (7 days)
Then, after that, review goals, and drill down Quarterly goals (October, November, and December), then break down the goals into monthly, weekly, daily tasks.

All writing, everyday--morning, evening, and night--makes Kathy a dull girl and much less productive; therefore, it's time to set my topsy-turvy writing world right side up.

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