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#FirstDraft60 Day 18: Planning for Challenges and Obstacles

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comThis 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
#FirstDraft60 Day 18: Overcoming Obstacles and Challenges | KayeDacus.comYes, 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?
#FirstDraft60 Day 18: Overcoming Obstacles and Challenges | KayeDacus.comWriting 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?

  1. tawnheritage permalink
    Wednesday, October 19, 2016 7:12 am

    My “fail/try” self-admonishment is identical to yours except for one word: “The only way to be sure you always fail is to never try.” I read your posts every day and cheer you on!


  2. Wednesday, October 19, 2016 1:35 pm

    I haven’t been doing all of the exercises as part of #FirstDraft60 (mostly because I’m still editing last year’s novel and haven’t been entirely certain what I’m going to write this year) but I’ve been reading all of the posts and I just wanted to pop by and say how useful they’ve all been! Thank you so much for putting all of this together. It’s been really encouraging and inspiring, and it’s clearly taken a lot of time and effort. Thank you for passing your knowledge along to newer writers! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Shirley Taylor permalink
    Wednesday, October 19, 2016 2:08 pm

    I actually know of at least 2 days in November now when I may be unable to write much, if at all so for that I will compensate by upping my word count goal for that week from 2,000 to 3,000 for the 4 days prior to those 2 days.
    I’ve already set Sunday aside as my “off” day so that I can take a day off and not burn out but also so that if I do have words to make up I can attempt to do so. However, if I’m unable to write at all and/or achieve my word-count goal during my planned writing time I will attempt to write/add to my daily word-count at a later point during the day even if it means I have to take my notebook upstairs and lock myself in our room and long-hand it to get it done (not sure I won’t be long-handing it anyhow yet). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wednesday, October 19, 2016 5:23 pm

    Okay, so I’ve already had a little hiccup in my plan for today (not really reaching the level of “challenge” or “obstacle,” but still good practice)—which was that I had to work an hour and a quarter later than expected tonight because I had to get a project finished and turned in tonight because I have the day off tomorrow. Because it’s an urgent project that was about twice as long as it should have been, it just took that much longer to do.

    But it works out well that my favorite show, Criminal Minds, which is the only one that I have to watch when it airs because Hulu doesn’t carry CBS shows, isn’t on tonight. So I can recoup that hour then!

    For me, I just have to remember to make adjustments and be specific about when I’ll make up the time (again, trying to treat this like an actual part-time job) so that I don’t end up just blowing it off and procrastinating instead.


    • Shirley Taylor permalink
      Wednesday, October 19, 2016 7:15 pm

      I’m now actually thankful that Criminal Minds doesn’t have a new episode tonight for your sake! For me, I’m anxious to see the next one as it was such a surprise to have Emily back…noticed that they actually took Hotch out of the opening credits though so he’s clearly gone despite the little “reason” they put in for his absence. I use to watch all the CSI’s (never got into the Cyber one though, maybe I was just really done with it) so it’s weird for me to see Delko on CM now. lol
      I too am trying to view this as a real job…yesterday I put in 4.5 hours over the course of the day, today the same by pure fluke…now that I’m all caught up though I will likely only put in 2ish tomorrow. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Carol permalink
    Wednesday, October 19, 2016 8:30 pm

    So I already know that I’m off the week of 10/31 so plan to write a lot that week. I also know that my day job wipes. me. out. So I built my writing schedule to have a bigger word count goal on weekends. That being said, I know from experience there will be a day or several that I don’t meet my word count goal. For whatever reason. My plan is to adjust and roll with it. In the past I’ve let it snowball into failure. But I’m learning to adjust without beating myself up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sarah Madelin permalink
    Thursday, October 20, 2016 12:18 am

    I love everything about this post. Fear of failure is a huge hindrance in my life, and it’s the one I’ve committed to breaking free of this year. The process of writing down goals does scare me. I dread the idea that they’ll be staring me in the face if I fall short of achieving them. I agree with what Carol said, I also have a tendency to let my failure to meet a goal one day snowball. I miss a couple of days and before I know it I’ve stopped trying altogether. This time I want have compassion for myself on days when I don’t make the word count goal. Hopefully that will help me jump back in rather than feeling like I’ve fallen so far behind it’s not worth trying to catch up. Realizing it’s okay to adjust the goal will help. Writing out our goals is brave. Pursuing them is even braver. Admitting that we need to recalibrate and then picking up our work again might be the bravest of all. Continuing to write after adjusting a goal shows how much we believe in our words. Thanks for the encouragement. I needed to hear this today.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sunday, October 23, 2016 1:34 am

      I think all of us beat ourselves up over missed writing days snowballing. I know if I don’t reach the target by the end of the first week, I can’t get myself back to my writing place to have a strong finish.


      • Sarah Madelin permalink
        Tuesday, October 25, 2016 12:48 pm

        Hopefully this time will be different for all of us! The little nudges of encouragement from being part of a group working on similar goals definitely helps!


  7. Sunday, October 23, 2016 1:37 am

    Sundays (mornings and afternoons) are open for catch-up and housework items that must be done. I’m also currently planning to finish right after Thanksgiving (because of my sister coming for a visit) but I can use that time if needed as well.



  1. #FirstDraft60 Day 21: Saturday Catch-Up & Review Day #amwriting #nanowrimo #nanoprep |

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