Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting Back to What Works

Isn't it ridiculous how otherwise smart people can "forget" how to be successful?

It's not always true. (Warning: The following might sound like bragging. A little.) Last fall, I lost 17 pounds by counting calories. I don't remember exactly when I stopped logging and calculating the calories for everything I ate, but I just didn't want to do it through the holidays. I needed a break. I tried to keep my portions manageable and not go overboard on the holiday goodies. Surprise, surprise, when I got on the scale a couple of weeks ago, I was exactly where I'd been when I stopped! No gain!

Of course, maintaining is not losing. I want 13 more gone by my writers retreat in mid-May, so I started counting again.

The bigger struggle is writing. I hoped the new year would bring a little more balance, but I've still been swamped by the day job, freelance work, stuff with the kids, volunteer (though minimal) and promotional activities, etc., and I wind up too tired to write every day. And that's even without watching TV for like six weeks!

I've been beating myself up over my lack of discipline/dedication/time management skills. And then I read this post by Liz Talley. She didn't really say anything I hadn't already known, but her advice to turn to your support group kind of slapped me in the face.

I *have* a support group. I've had them for six years. But things have changed since we first set up to hold each other accountable, and we've been very lax in 2013 about checking in with each other about writing. So I revved us up. Now I have people to report to, and that gives me a little bit more push.

The other thing I needed to do was set more concrete goals. I always have goals, and I always track production, but I'd gotten a little vague on that to start the year. So I pulled up last year's spreadsheet, thinking I'd set a goal to beat my word count total for the corresponding month in 2012. January was 8,428, so that's very doable. But May was 24,454, and August was 35,900. Not stellar, but pretty high. What if those are months I have to do revisions for my publisher? Being that direct was going to be too restrictive.

So I calculated an average for the year. Since October had 0 new words (god, I don't think that's happened in YEARS), it ended up being a decent 15,414. So that's my goal for each month, to write at least that many words.

Since I'm already halfway through January, I wasn't sure I could do it this month. But I broke it down, and needed 800 words a day. Whew! That's less than my daily goal has been! (Never mind that I double my daily goal one day, then do nothing for three days.) Thank god for Thursdays. Today I wrote over 2,600 words, so now I only need 600 per day for the monthly goal. I will hopefully do more, because that's how it works. You meet a particular count, but only need 200 more to reach, say, 1,000, and then you're on a roll so you keep going, and it's almost 1,500 so keep going a little...

Now I have to do 2 client projects and cook dinner and hit the volunteer stuff, try to go to bed at a decent hour, and stick my determined chin in the air for my goal tomorrow, which is a day job day and a soccer game night and...

No more excuses.

1 comment:

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great post. Do what works yet we often do forget.