Stupid Goals

I was reading a thread on reddit today where someone was talking about their inner critic and how they found it so hard to even get started. Paralyzed by fear and all that. Nothing new there, and nothing that most of us haven’t dealt with at one time or another.

One response that I really liked, though, was from another writer who had been through the same thing recently. His solution was to decide to write a hundred stories. His plan was to show them to no one, just write them to get the words flowing.

He wasn’t done the hundred stories — he’s still working on them, in fact — when he started some new writing projects. He’s obviously excited, and obviously past that hump. And he did it by giving himself an utterly irresponsible and unrealistic goal and trying to achieve it.

It’s a fantastic technique. It’s one I use from time to time; two winters ago I set out to write 10,000 words in a single weekend, when I went away to a little hotel in a sleepy off-season town. Just last month I set a goal of 20,000 words in the first two weeks of October, when my wife was away on a trip (but while I was also working full-time). I hit both goals, albeit just barely.

There’s something about setting impossible goals that really works for some reason. Maybe it’s freeing, mentally; you wouldn’t beat yourself up for falling short, since the goals were so outrageous from the outset. So you work towards them without the same kind of pressure.

On that note, I was planning to finish the book I’m working on by the end of November. I’m pretty far behind the pace I need to get there — basically I need to write around 20,000 words in the next three weeks, and work is really busy these days. But what the hell — I’m working to hit that mark anyhow. I only started this book in July so finishing it by the end of this month would be a great achievement. If I don’t get there, well, I’ll finish it soon after.

Back to work, then.

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