A note from our president, Jen FitzGerald

April 2012

As I write, the Two Step Conference is less than a week away. I can’t wait to spend a whole weekend with fellow writers and especially my CPs.

The timing also signals the end the month. A time when my CPs and I review our stated goals for that month. In addition, at our last monthly meeting, we opened the envelopes containing our quarterly goals.

In both cases, I failed to complete all my goals. I reached some, but not others. I never get down on myself because without those stated goals I probably would have accomplished much less.

But I do ask myself why.

Were my goals to lofty? (no) Did real life get in the way? (no) Did something else with a higher priority come up? (no) Did something more shiny come along? (YES!) Did I have enough accountability? (yes)

Lofty goals are great. They push you to reach higher, go farther. But if you consistently miss that goal, especially by large margins, then perhaps you need to reassess that goal. Take a long, hard look at it. Is it truly realistic when you look at your other obligations no matter what category they fall in to?

Be honest with yourself. It’s good to push yourself, to strive for more, but setting yourself up for failure serves no purpose.

Sometimes real life gets in the way. There are deaths and births or graduations and illness. These events require our attention, pulling it away from our writing and even affecting that writing once the event is over. And that’s okay. Those events add to our life experiences and will help make future books richer.

One of my goals was to take a class this quarter. I did, and I just finished it. Did I learn something? Sure. But it really had nothing to do with the subject of the class. Remember I said I still hadn’t officially finished a manuscript, hadn’t become an RWA Pro? What I learned was that for whatever reason I chose not to finish. Well, duh, you say. But what I mean is that when I got to the hard part (which is where I am now on the current WIP) I chose to stop, to not push through, to not do the work necessary to finish. After doing the homework for my class. I’d get back grammar corrections. That tells me I *can* do it. I *know* how to do it. I just . . . didn’t. But knowing, realizing that I can—and maybe that was something I learned how to do these past years—is encouraging to me.

I’m struggling now. I want to put this manuscript aside, but conversely I want to finish it. I’ve new motivations and I’m in a different place than I was a year ago, two years ago. I can do it. Now, I’m choosing to.

Another goal was to write every day, Sunday to Saturday. I have daily goals and I have weekly goals. Even when I didn’t make the daily goal, I always reached the weekly goal. I’ve done that since the beginning of the year and it’s given me the courage/confidence to take part in this year’s Book in a Year program. Last count, there were about twenty of us signed up.

If you haven’t, why not? Yeah, twenty-five pages a month may seem like a lot. But it’s a page a day. A mere 250 words. Maybe, just maybe, you can do it. Push yourself a little bit.

As for the aforementioned SHINY, I came up with a new plot idea for the class I took. The failure to meet one goal was a deliberate choice I made to focus on the new story rather than the old one. So does that count as a failure? I’d say yes. And no.

If you need accountability, how much? Do you have critique partners that can help you? Is a spreadsheet enough? If answer to both those questions is no, figure out what you need and post to the loop. Maybe someone else needs a helping hand too.

So as we head into April, it’s time for my CPs and I to state new goals. Some stay the same: to write everyday and make a specific daily & weekly word count. Others change based on prior accomplishments or decisions. If I’ve finished a manuscript, it’s time to revise and edit and then begin the next one.

On another quick note, I’d like to send out a special thank you to Cindy Dees, published author, and new NT member. She attended our March meeting where we read our blurbs. She was very gracious with her experience and knowledge and commented on each and every blurb we read. I really appreciated her insights and her willingness to share.

Have a great writing month—

Jen

 

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