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Posts Tagged ‘goals’

May Day.

Beltane.

The first of May.

It’s a brand new month starting on a Sunday, and the day practically felt like summer.

I ended up with approximately 56,000 words in my 130-page Came NaNoWriMo project. While I didn’t really stick to my original plan, I am pleased with the accomplishment. Even better, I have a plan for the next step, which I have never taken with a NaNoWriMo project before: review and revision. In the past, I get to the end, breathe a sigh of relief, and pretty much walk away.

This time, I am going to read through everything I wrote during the month of April and expand on it. And I am going to do it longhand. I printed out the document and pulled out a notebook. Actually, I built a notebook. A few years ago I came across something called a disc-bound notebook. Pages and covers were held together by plastic discs along one edge. The advantage is that you can add, remove, and rearrange pages. Since I am not sure how many pages I will need for the project, being able to adjust the number means that I won’t end up with too many or too few. Being able to rearrange the pages means that I can pull an idea out, expand on it, and put it in a separate section.

The original content will be written in black ink, and any additions or revisions will be written in whatever other color strikes my fancy. I am starting with purple.

It’s a daunting task, but I think that it is going to be an excellent writing exercise. I haven’t set a deadline. I am just going to see how it goes and work on it in small chunks.

Some of my other ongoing projects did not fare as well in April. I finished reading one book instead of two, and I only cast of one pair of socks (although I think I am still on track for my goal of 25 pairs in a year) and made very little progress on sweater knitting. My regular journal doesn’t have any entries for about the last half of April because I used all of those words toward my Camp project, which is fine because my real writing goal is to write every day, and that daily discipline is still intact.

With the start of a new month, I can pick up the projects which got put down for a while and even start some new projects. This is an unfamiliar feeling. Usually when I don’t meet a goal, I have a sense of failure. Now I have a feeling of excitement about being able to get back to projects which were interrupted.

I am quite certain that this new mindset and outlook is due to tackling projects in smaller increments and to successfully working on those projects every day for a while. If I have done a small bit of something every day for several months and then I miss a day or two or even a week, I know that all I have to do is the next increment, and I will be back to making progress.

It turns out that the compounding effect of incremental change actually gives you some cushion so that there isn’t a feeling of regressing. The progress you have made so far is still there, so all you need to do is take the next step forward, and you are back on track. Who knew?

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The fine folks at NaNoWriMo are forever suggesting fun and interesting tools for writers, and I think that the Hero’s Journal is my favorite, perhaps because I have been doing more journaling lately. (I have to say that I am not a big fan of journal as a verb, although in this case it is a gerund, so the verb gets to work as a noun. I am not sure if that usage is better or worse.) The phrase “the exhaustion of toxic productivity” resonated with me.

I will note that if you have serious issues with either Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, these journals might not be for you. If you enjoy epic fantasy, quests, and magic, then these journals look like a fun writing exercise to help you build your writing confidence, cultivating a daily practice, or working through a writing slump — to name just a few options. It is designed for anyone — from kids to adults — who has a goal, and the goal doesn’t even have to be writing related. The journals turn that goal into an adventure.

The physical journals are a bit pricey, but there is a PDF version which you can use on a computer or print to paper. Even better, you can try before you buy with a generous 71-page free sample of each journal. Just enter your e-mail address.

If you like extras, there are side quest decks to enhance your experience, and according to the Instagram feed there have and will be other goodies like stickers and pins. There is a newsletter, too, which I would image also provides announcements about such things, but the Instagram feed has news as well as pretty pictures. The FAQ page has more details and tips for using the journals.

I have downloaded both samples and look forward to trying them, although I will probably wait until after Camp NaNoWriMo is finished. Watch this space for a report on my findings.

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And in which the author gets perhaps a little more personal than usual.

I am not much of a fan of New Year’s Resolutions because such a specific label is restrictive, as if there is only one day a year when you can resolve to make changes and improvements in your life.  Then, if you don’t follow through for some reason, do you have to wait until the next January 1st to start again?

I think not.

Every day is an opportunity to take stock of what you have (or have not) accomplished in previous days and then decide what to do going forward.

I have discovered that goals are more helpful, motivating, and achievable, if they are a combination of general and specific.  For example, I find “get some exercise at least five days a week” to be a more realistic achievement than “run five miles a day.”  Sometimes goals evolve from being vague to specific.  After I finished one knitting project which had been lingering for quite some time, “knit more” evolved into “finish these three projects by the end of the year.”  I didn’t specify an order or hierarchy for the projects, and I am not going to worry about actually having more than three unfinished projects (not to mention other projects I want to start).  Instead, I am going to stick with these three.  I think it helps that they are a bit of a mixed bag.  The largest project is the simplest (no fancy pattern).  The smallest project is the most complicated, and the one in between is, well, in between.  The current order seems to be to finish the middle project first and then alternate between the large, simple project and the small, complicated project, but that may change.  The point is that I keep making progress and even if I don’t do any knitting for several days, it is easy to pick up where I left off because I have a plan.

As a contradiction, the specific reading goal of fifty-two books a year is finally working out.  Last year I managed fifty-three, so this year, the goal is to read fifty-five books.  So far, so good, and hopefully it is a long-term trend which I can continue.

Cooking goals remain nebulous beyond “read cookbooks, try new recipes, be mindful of ingredients and where they come from, support local farmers and businesses,” but that’s okay because I think that it is working well so far.  I eat less processed food, and while my brain occasionally craves a fast food hamburger, my taste buds remember that the food I cook tastes so much better.  I do have a subscription to an online cooking school which I need to work into the schedule somewhere somehow, but I haven’t figured out how to make that work just yet.

My favorite accomplishment so far this year is the successful baking of oatmeal cookies, but they deserve their own post, which fits in nicely with the goal I really wanted to discuss in this post: writing.

Writing used to be a necessary cathartic process to quiet the clamoring voices in my head.  As I have made progress on various projects and goals and have generally found a better balance between work and life, the voices have quieted significantly on their own, so that while I still enjoy writing, it is not quite the necessary survival skill that it has been in the past, which means that I often find myself thinking, “I should write about that at some point,” but I don’t make it to “some point,” especially if I am going through a “stay away from the computer while not at work” phase.  (Now *there* is an extreme compound, complex sentence for you.  Watch out Marcel Proust!)

With the advent of the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo, I have decided to set a goal of getting back to writing.  I have given myself the choice of writing a blog post a day for thirty days or finishing a draft of the cookbook.  Obviously, I am starting with the blog, but I think that I will end up doing a combination of the two with the notion that if it takes thirty days to make or break a habit and if I can write every day for thirty days, then at the end of the month, I will have a new good habit.  That’s the plan at any rate.  We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I wanted to share the following story which came in one of the e-mail newsletters I received from the NaNoWriMo folks because I just love the positive power possibilities of the written word.  Enjoy!

Wrimo Spotlight
“My daughter Logan is borderline autistic and deals with extreme anxiety. She struggles significantly when things are not “perfect”, and just couldn’t get her words on the page. Any more than five sentences was a struggle for her. Still, I decided to try and see what would happen if I signed her up for NaNoWriMo.

By midmonth, she had attended her first write-in with my students and after that was writing non-stop. By the end of the month, she had written more than double her 1,000-word goal. What’s more, she had become a completely different child.

She was so excited about her writing, she was carrying her manuscript everywhere, had read her story to the whole class, and was writing like mad. It’s been inspiring to see the happiness and ease writing now brings her.” — Holly B.

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