Tag Archives: goal setting

Discipline in Life and on the Page

I let out a groan as my muscles strained with exertion, feet pushing firmly against the plastic biting into my tennis shoes. Thick droplets rolled down my forehead and dripped into my eyes, momentarily blinding me. I panted as I worked the bike up the ever so slight incline going home, my muscles screaming as they begged for a rest. Sure, I was out of shape, but it’s more the fact that I was trying to be in shape that was killing me at the moment. An hour of cardio at the gym followed by a bike ride home in the sun at midafternoon with a heavy backpack, did not make for a happy body.

So I suppose it begs the question, why go to the gym knowing you’ll only have to bike home and be miserable later? Well I suppose that’s a matter of knowing I need the exercise (as evidenced biking home) and because I like applying a certain level of discipline to my life. It gives me motivation, makes me work harder.

But exercise is not the only area of my life which requires discipline. No, school work, my job, and other elements do so as well. But this month I’ve been trying to apply this to writing as well.

I don’t really remember where I found out about October Writing Challenge– a twitter monthly event that requires writers to do 500 words or 1 hour of editing every day. I’d heard of NaNoWriMo of course, but the popularity of the event has always rather thrown me off truly pursuing it and last year I did my own 1000 word challenge instead, focusing on making sure I spent regular time writing rather than focusing on one particular project.

It’s always been important to me to write regularly. I go crazy if I go more than a few weeks without any ideas. I require something to occupy my attention. But making sure to do so each and every day is a challenge I both enjoy and benefit from. Even so, as I approached the end of the week, I had much the same reaction as I did on my bicycle earlier today. My writing “muscles” feel exhausted, they are demanding why I’m not giving them much of a rest, especially when I have homework to consume my time as well. However, like when I’m on my bike I’m just trying to ignore it and press on. Because I know the benefits will pay off in the long run. We’ll just see if I can make it all the way through the month. Fingers crossed!

However, there is one element I appreciate more than my 1000 word challenge last year. And that is community support and accountability. Knowing people are going to see if I post my word count or not is a fantastic way to keep me going. It’s like having a workout buddy, or a fitness trainer. I have someone waiting and watching, seeing if I’ll fail or succeed. And when I have that I tend to do well.

It’s not easy, that’s for sure. But I feel in a lot of ways it’s like climbing a mountain. The exertion I feel right now is merely payment for the beautiful results I’ll see at the summit. And I’m looking forward to ending this month only to look back at a great view of how far I’ve come.

So if anyone is interested in building some writing discipline and endurance, check out the writing challenge. It’s fantastic and really works, at least for me.

What are some ways you motivate yourself to meet your goals? What discipline strategies do you apply to writing or any other task?

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Reaching for your Goals

Writing goals

So, with school starting I haven’t had much time to blog, but I thought I’d sit down today and actually write. Last weekend I had something exciting happen. I finished writing my fourth novel.

Now, I don’t really like to brag, but that’s a pretty big accomplishment for a 20 year old (almost 21!) Sure, there are people who have written more, but for me that’s a lot and it’s even more exciting because I’m continuing to achieve my goals. What are my goals you might ask?

Well, ultimately I want to be published. But for now I’m content merely practicing the art of writing a novel, stretching and challenging myself to do better each time. So I’ve made it a goal to write a novel every year from my 18 birthday onwards. So far I’m actually ahead of schedule. I suppose that one will get to be a bit challenging when I end up in the real world, but for now it’s something I want to try for. This summer however I simply had the goal to finish one novel over the course of the four months. I did it…though there were definitely some challenges. Let me quickly advise you against setting goals while co-writing. That tends to make it difficult and merely cause stress and tension.

Anyhow, here’s what I really want to get at. I was a Girl Scout all through high school, so if there’s one thing I can tell you about it’s goals. I advise all of you writers to set goals, and here’s how you should do that. With SMART goals:

S- Specific: Don’t just say I want to be a better writer. Say…I will write a page every day. Make it something clear-cut so you don’t get confused about whether or not you’ve achieved your goal.

M- Measurable: Again this should be something easy to see progress in. Getting better at something is clearly not very easy to measure, but choosing to type a page without spell check on and try to get fewer and fewer errors each time is something you can see change in.

A- Attainable: So, I’ve already realized my one a year novel goal may not be attainable in the long run. You have to know yourself and your limits. If you’re an extremely slow writer who takes a long time just to finish a short story I would not advise NaNoWriMo. Don’t choose something too hard, but don’t make it too easy either.

R-Relevant: Choose a goal that’s relevant to what you want to do better at. Saying, I will learn more about commas when you are doing fine with commas is a waste of your time.

T- Time-bound: Always give yourself a time to finish the goal in. This creates more motivation. If you say, “I’ll have fewer spelling mistakes” you’ll never have as much dedication as you will if you say “I’ll have fewer spelling mistakes by March 31”. Then you’ll have to do some practice between now and March.

So alongside that you should always evaluate how well your goals are going and reevaluate if necessary. If you follow some of these simple steps you’re bound to become a better writer. Also, make sure you always have your goals recorded and check them off when you meet them. If you need someone to hold you to your goals then try to find a friend that can help you, and maybe you can help them with a few goals as well.

What goals do you have as a writer or otherwise? Have you got better ways to form goals? Any exciting accomplishments in the last few weeks? Please share some motivation and support!

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