#FirstDraft60 Day 18: Planning for Challenges and Obstacles
This is going to be more of a motivational post—and a “something to think about as we move forward” assignment/discussion question. But it’s something that’s very important to think about. However, I know that most of you, like me, are trying to get caught up with stuff from Week 2 and earlier this week. Please do take the time to think about and post an answer to today’s question—and then get back to working on any of the story-prep stuff you haven’t done yet.
(If you are all caught up, today would be a great day to do another brainstorming/draft-writing assignment to keep in touch and get deeper with your characters.)
Planning for Challenges and Obstacles—or, When Life Gets in the Way of Writing
- One of the kids gets a stomach bug that ends up getting passed around the whole family. You’re nursing them and/or in bed yourself for five days.
- Your college girlfriend’s fiancé walked out on her at the altar and she needs you to go to Cancun with her so that she doesn’t lose the money spent on a honeymoon.
- You get offered the promotion of a lifetime. The only catch is that you now have to relocate three hundred miles away before the end of the month.
- You just don’t feel like writing today.
Yesterday, we pulled out our calendars and started working on our writing schedules for the 30 days in November on which we’ll actually be writing our first drafts. But no matter how carefully we plan, we know that something is going to come up to interfere, it always does.
Okay. So what are we going to do? Quit?
Of course not.
There are, obviously, going to be things that come up in the thirty-day writing period that are beyond your control—things that take precedence over writing and require your time and attention. But it’s how you handle getting back on track with your writing that will be the key to success or failure.
If it’s something that just knocks you out of the (writing) game for a day or two, that’s going to be easier to catch up with than the stomach bug laying you out flat for five days.
Because we’ve set so much stock in doing this challenge—in completing that first draft—losing even a single day of writing time may seem like an insurmountable obstacle. Especially if you know from creating your writing calendar that you already might not have time to write every single one of those thirty days.
So what are you going to do? Quit?
Of course not!
Setting Goals = Risking Failure
Yes, by setting goals, you’re making yourself promises. You promise yourself that you are going to take this journey and that you’re going to help yourself succeed.
However, unless you’ve signed a contract that requires you submit your manuscript on November 30, there is no penalty for modifying your word-count goal in order to account for the roadblocks and obstacles that are going to come up.
But the only way to ensure you fail is to not even try.
For anyone who’s set
a self-imposed deadline
and missed it.
For anyone who’s stated
a certain number of words to be written every day
and not done it.
For anyone who’s submitted
manuscripts to editors and/or agents
and been rejected.
For anyone who’s joyously told
family and friends that we’ve decided to
write novels and get them published,
only to have those same people
lose faith in or even mock you
when you can’t show tangible results.
We know what failure feels like,
and we don’t want to be there again.
So our hearts and minds tell us
it’s easier not to risk that failure.
To quit while we’re ahead.
One of the reasons why I believe most writers are hesitant to actually sit down and go through the process of definitive goal setting (word-count goals for a manuscript, goals for daily word-count, and, above all, planning and writing a first draft in 60 days) and then writing it down and sharing it with others is not only because doing that makes it more concrete, more real, but also because by defining exactly what it is that we want to accomplish, we are defining exactly the ways in which we can fail.
What Do I Do if I Need to Change My Goal?
Writing down your goals—handwritten in a journal, typed on the computer, emailed to yourself as a list, however you want to do it—makes them real. By having them written down, it gives you the opportunity not only to go back and check things off that you’ve accomplished or completed, but also to remind yourself of the other steps you promised yourself you’d be taking.
Just because you’ve written your goals down (even if you used pen or posted them online somewhere that you can’t change it!), doesn’t mean that they’re written in stone—as your circumstances change, as issues arise, as it becomes apparent that the timelines you set don’t work, then, by all means, re-evaluate and, if necessary, change your goals. But when you change them, make sure to write the new/revised goals down, too—after all, how will you measure your success if you don’t have it written down so you can check/cross it off?
Assignment: Spend some time today thinking through possible challenges and obstacles that may come up between now and November 30 that may hinder you from meeting all of your goals. For each scenario, think through how you may handle it and how it might impact your writing time.
Then post a comment answering the question: What are you going to do when obstacles and challenges arise during this challenge?
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