Goal Setting: Am I My Own Worst Enemy?

For some people, the process of setting goals inspires them, motivates them, helps them strive to be better people. For me, goals are intimidating, creepy-crawly things that I run away from as soon as they’ve settled into their scabrous bodies.

This is not to be confused with my daily to-do lists, which I seem to manage okay.

I’m talking about long-term goals. I may be able to “Write 500 words on a short story” for a day, but if I try to section bits and pieces of a larger project to complete, I freeze up. For instance, I’ve been meaning to edit a novel for the past couple of months. I’ve only made it a few chapters in. What the hell? I want to finish this book because I want to start querying it. I have another novel idea brewing that I’d like to get words down for at some point before I pop a human out of me.

So what’s stopping me? It seems there’s always something else I need to be doing. Finishing a short story, doing critiques, writing blog posts, reading slush. There’s always something else that has a due date of right now.

I would set a hard due date for myself on the novel revisions, but I know they’re self-imposed. Am I rambling or does this make sense to anyone else? All I know is it’s a continuous struggle and I’m getting tired of not moving forward because of a million other commitments and priorities.

Normally, I try to offer a word of advice on this here blog, but today, I’m frustrated with myself. How do you do it? How do you enforce a novel deadline on yourself? I know it’s as simple as picking a manageable date and sticking to a schedule. But I want to know, how do you do it?

The Short Story-Novel Balance

The title of this post would imply that I’m able to balance both short story writing and novel writing at the same time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case. New short story ideas are so bright and shiny, I must write them RIGHT NOW! Of course, that puts my novel on hold and prevents me from achieving my long-term goals. Cue the sound of my depression creeping back…

So, now that I’ve wrapped up a short story for an anthology, no more bright and new short stories for me. Nope. I’m done. If I get an idea, I’m jotting it down or making a brief outline but THAT’S IT until my novel draft is done.

You know I started this novel for NaNoWriMo last year? Yeah. Pretty sad. And I just now reached 64k. Granted, I had to backtrack and dump about 30k a few months ago to add a new POV character, but still. I can’t help but think, “I should be done with this by now,” every time I open up Scrivener to write.

Alas, it won’t get done unless I, to quote a certain captain, “Make it so.” That’s why I’m putting a moratorium on new short stories and even revisions of drafts I’ve already written. Apparently, I can’t be trusted with working on multiple creative projects.

I’d like to have the novel draft done by November 27. If I write 1,000 words a day from now until then, I should reach 100k. I might not need all of those words, but I’d like to allot for them anyway. Once the draft is completed, I’ll worry about revising the handful of short stories I have sitting on my hard drive as drafts at the moment, maybe pen a new short or two, then dive into structural and plot revisions. I hope I can clear plot problems up in one go and then tackle the details, but there’s no way of knowing until I start.

In other words, I’m getting serious, yo!