I was encouraged to use NaNoWriMo to complete a rough draft to a fictional memoir I had outlined years ago and I did. I completed over 74k words in the first three weeks of November, on top of weekly blog posts to each of my websites.
I was pleased to see that January and February are set aside for edits, revisions, and publication and so I sat my extreme rough draft on the shelf away from my frontal lobes. Still there was the occasional story, whether flash fiction, a short story, or prose that escaped my fingertips to pour into a Word file on my laptop and I wanted everything done last week. We, as writers, always know the impossibility of completing everything in a short time span, though that knowledge doesn’t deafen our heart’s cry to write until our brain gives out and our fingers cramp up.
Often my brain runs into overdrive and becomes overwhelmed with the thoughts of all that needs to be accomplished. I shared this sentiment, along with the above story, during a conversation with a good friend and he asked me a simple question: “What do you want to do?”
“Well … I want to continue writing stories; post weekly blog articles; maybe even post twice per week on each site; edit the short stories, flash fiction, and prose pieces already written; revise my poetry collection for publication …” I ended with saying, “I didn’t want to be a Jack-of-all-Trades-and-the-Master-of-None. I want to actually finish things.”
He asked again, “What do you want to do?”
“I want to do it all, though I know it isn’t realistic. I create a writing schedule each month and revise it the first of the next month depending on how well I did with sticking to it. My concern is having so many things going on at one time, that nothing gets done and I keep spinning my wheels. I know I need to have realistic goals.”
“So, pick two or three things and do each one to your satisfaction. Or alternate working on one or two of them before moving on.”
“How do I know what two or three to pick?”
“Let me ask you another question. Do you feel the need to be read or do you feel the need to write?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I feel the need to be read. I want people to read my work. I want to get a reaction out of people. That’s why I love critique groups. I get in-person immediate feedback. Whether it’s good or not so good, I have a reaction and that’s what I want. When the reaction is favorable, it’s even better. But, even an unfavorable one indicates what I wrote made someone think. I want people to read my writing. So, do you feel the need to be read or the need to write?”
“I feel the need to write. I have a thought and it won’t rest until I get it on paper, well, actually into a document on my laptop or in my phone. I’d love to be read and even receive pay for it, but the need to write is more prominent than wanting a reaction from someone.”
“Okay, so understanding that you feel the need to write, focus on a realistic goal of two or three things. Alternate working on them so you’ll have fresh eyes when you go back to a certain piece, and finish those pieces. Once those pieces are done, then you can decide if you want to tackle a couple more or if you want to work on publishing what you’ve completed.”
Hopefully, my sharing this story will help you think about what your own writing goals are and how you plan to accomplish them.
Leave your comments below. I’d love to read what you’re working on and what you’d like to complete in the near future.
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