Sometimes, when the To Do list gets overwhelming and the deadlines pile up, it's easy to lose sight of the target. I don't just mean your goals—though, they can certainly get shuffled in the chaos—but the entire "big picture" end game. As in, what is this all for? When the WIP is complete, or the weight lost, or the new (insert hobby here) is mastered, what's the payoff?
I had a visceral reminder of my "end game" yesterday.
Four years ago, I scored a dream writing gig—the opportunity to write an educational graphic novel for the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. I was given a loose theme, and some subtle messaging, but the bulk of the story was mine to write as I pleased. I researched, I drafted, I found a talented illustrator who understood "me" and the project, and we created FIELDS OF HOME.
Yes, it's a corporate publication, but that first book turned into a 10-book project that has allowed me to meet some inspiring innovators, write some of my best adventures (giant bugs, mermaids, dinosaurs, aliens!), and collaborate with truly one of the most talented illustrators I have ever met.
But perhaps most importantly, I've toured dozens of schools talking to kids—young readers—about writing, illustrating, and of course, reading.
Yesterday, James (illustrator) and I flew to Grande Prairie (about a 5-hour drive from home) and talked to 150 Grade 4-6 students about the books. One hundred and fifty excited, eager students. They asked us questions, like: Did you come in a limousine? And we spent more than a half an hour brainstorming ideas for their own stories. They asked us to sign their books, their hats, their hands, their scrap pieces of paper...anything they could find. And as we left the school, they waved and cheered, clutching their books to their chest with white knuckled excitement.
And that's when it hit me.
In all of the deadline madness, the chaos of simply "keeping up" and dealing with the HOW and the WHEN, I somehow lost sight of the WHO and the WHY.
I LOVE writing (even when I don't), but more than that, I love seeing people read. Obviously I love people reading what *I* wrote—but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Does it?
This isn't our first school visit. We've done so many I've lost count. But, I needed this one...I floated home on that adrenaline rush.
It's that same adrenaline that will motivate me through the weekend as I strive to reach 35K on this WIP. Because truly, there is nothing that gives me greater joy than seeing READERS. That's who motivates me. THEY are my end game.
What about you? When you take a look back at the goals you set for March Madness, what's your end game. Not the HOW or the WHEN, but the WHY. What's in it for you? Whatever your target, I hope in this last week of March Madness, you hit a bullseye.
Speaking of bullseyes...RACHEL! Head on over to Denise's blog—YOU HAVE WON A PRIZE! Congrats!
Everyone else...there's still time. Tomorrow, Denise kicks off the final week of March Madness (yikes! where did the month go?) See you there...right?
It’s SATURDAY, Day 14 of MARCH MADNESS!
And yeah, maybe that fact alone should be more than enough motivation to REACH THOSE GOALS! Except…I don’t know what it’s doing in YOUR neck of the woods (all of you West Coast sunshine stealers need not respond), but here, in Alberta, there is—gasp!—sun!
Which means I have SPRING FEVER.
So, of course there are a half dozen or more things I’d rather do than sit at my laptop and write. Like what, you ask?
- I could wash my sports car—because I can drive it out of hiding soon!
- Go for a walk.
- Get a pedicure—for when I can (eventually!) wear those flip flops. (Sidenote: I could also FIND said flip flops…)
- Pull out the patio chairs and READ until it’s too dark to see the words.
- Take a long bike ride through the river valley.
- Spring clean my garage.
Okay. Maybe not that last one. I think there are mice in there… * shudder *
The thing is, it’s unlikely I’ll do ANY of those things this weekend, because I’m crippled by the guilt of doing pretty much nothing toward my goals since my last check in.
Wait—back up—you haven’t made any yet? STOP READING RIGHT NOW and visit Denise’s blog where there’s still time to set some goals (reading, writing, or anything book related you want) AND be eligible to WIN some pretty amazing prizes.
Speaking of prizes…
CONGRATULATIONS Catknutsson! You have won a prize! Please stop by the goal-setting post to pick your prize and email your choice to d(at)denisejaden(dot)com.
* throws confetti *
So, back to guilt.
I wish I could blame something tangible on my lack of productivity, like a massive work project that required all of my time, or a surprise deadline for one of my extra projects, or, even better, that the super-duper schedule my sister created for me somehow failed. In reality, I just shut down. And despite all of the wonderful posts by the March Madness hosts this week, I couldn’t figure out how to fire up the muse for anything more than a couple of paragraphs here and there.
As the deadlines piled up, I turned a blind eye to the ever-growing To Do list in my daytimer, and even turned off my iPhone notifications. But last night, I realized I could no longer put everything on “ignore” — the guilt was overwhelming.
Friends, I have a problem.
I am ADDICTED to THE TO DO LIST.
There. I’ve said it.
Honestly, there is nothing that gives me more pleasure than using my special red pen to put check marks next to completed tasks. Sometimes, I’ll break a middle sized project into multiple, smaller To Do items so there are MORE things to check off. I add things like: Do laundry. And if I’m feeling antsy, that item becomes: Wash whites. Wash darks. Wash towels. In fact, a couple of those items above (like finding my flip flops) have already made it onto the current To Do list.
You see where this is heading, right?
Every Sunday, I rewrite my To Do List for the week—and there are currently 77 items on that list from last week that should be completed by tomorrow. More than half are items I’ve carried over for months—like: Revise Jack of Hearts.
No wonder I can’t find the motivation to write. My To Do list is insurmountable, and rather than shrinking, it keeps growing…with implausible tasks. I can’t really REVISE a whole book in a week, not with 76 other items on the list.
With that in mind, I’ve decided that I’m going to add one more thing to this week’s To Do list and make it priority—I’m going to restructure. The list has to be more organized, more manageable, more inline with my goals. Otherwise, I don’t have a hope of reaching them. I have a feeling some things don’t even need to make the list. Like, if I shower and there are no clean towels, I probably know to do laundry, right?
What about you? What can you restructure or better organize to help you meet your goals? Do you keep lists? What kinds of things go on that list?
Be sure to check in with Denise tomorrow to kick off Week 3 of March Madness!
Congratulations! Your first week of March Madness is complete! Wait, what? You haven’t set your writerly goals yet? It’s NOT too late. Head over to Denise’s blog to learn how March Madness works. While you’re there, set a few goals and you’ll not only gain the adoration of your peers, you’ll also be eligible to WIN some KILLER prizes. No, seriously.
One of my goals this month is to hit the 35K mark on my new WIP. It’s not an extravagant goal—far less than what’s expected during NaNoWriMo, and certainly below my personal word-count record. But here’s what I know about myself—there is no greater procrastination instigator than a goal. Maybe it’s part of my writerly ADD or some strange performance anxiety, but a self-imposed deadline can sometimes stop my production cold.
So, it was with considerable trepidation that my husband and I embarked on a road trip yesterday, driving from chilly Edmonton to Chilliwack, BC where the daffodils are in full bloom, and much to my husband’s amusement, the golfers are already on the greens. Yes, greens. It’s a 12-hour drive, and while I’d planned to write THE WHOLE WAY, that didn’t quite happen.
As what usually happens on extended road trips, my husband handed over the wheel at about the half-way mark, and instead of writing…I drove.
Normally, this would induce all sorts of panic about a lack of productivity. But as I turned down the music and tuned out his gentle snoring, I found myself drawn in by the landscape. BC is a beautiful province, rich with stunning snow-capped mountain peaks, blooming flowers, and flowing streams and rivers. Despite living in Alberta for the past 15 years, I’m a BC native, and while I can still appreciate the beauty of my environment, what really fascinates me is the road system. The twists and turns through mountain passes. The steep inclines, and soaring downhills. The treacherous shoulders that drop off into seemingly nothingness.
I’ve driven these roads my whole life—in all kinds of vehicles, from SUVs to sports cars—but last night, as we journeyed through the mountains, I put the laptop away. Instead, with every passing kilometre, I plotted. I worked through character development. I mulled and processed and problem-solved. I enjoyed the journey.
And when I reached my destination, I wrote.
Almost 4,000 words, actually.
It’s true that a rough draft is easier to edit than a blank page, and I do subscribe to the notion that you have to continually write to get better. But sometimes, you simply need a break—because otherwise, you can forget…to enjoy the journey.
This 12-hour drive helped kickstart my inspiration—but it’s obviously not the only option. One of my best friends says his best ideas come to him in the shower. Another fills her notebooks with snippets of her dreams.
When you’ve hit a roadblock, what do you do to get over the hump? Let me know in the comments. And be sure to check in with Denise tomorrow as she kicks off week 2 of March Madness.
I’m super excited to co-host MARCH MADNESS this year, a month chalk full of motivation and support for your creative muse. Started by the brilliant Denise Jaden, March Madness holds you accountable for YOUR artistic goals — and, there are rewards! Seriously awesome prizes, not to mention the support and adoration of your peers.
Yes! It’s like NaNoWriMo — without the pressure of a 50K word count. In fact, YOU set YOUR goals which can be about writing, reading, blogging, illustrating or… anything book-related you want! Hey, who are we to judge?
Here’s how it works:
The madnesss began March 1 over at Denise’s blog where you can set your goals. Don’t worry if you haven't made it over there yet—you can add/revise goals throughout the month.
Next, check in daily throughout March at the designated check-in points below. Share your victories and struggles. Cheer on your peers.
And then…collect your winnings. Well, that’s the idea anyway. The hosts have kicked in some awesome prizes. Winners will be randomly selected, and announced on the various blogs—which is incentive for you to check in. Right?
So, where are these designated blogs?
Mondays – Check in with Kim Baccellia - http://kimbacceliasweblogfantasy.blogspot.com/
Tuesdays – Check in with Shari Green – http://www.sharigreen.com
Wednesdays – Check in with Mary Ann Scott - http://thebrokentree.blogspot.com
Thursdays – Check in with Carol Garvin - http://careann.wordpress.com
Fridays – Check in with Tonette – http://www.tonettedelaluna.com
Saturdays – Check in with me! - http://www.dawnius.com/blog
Sundays – Check in with Denise Jaden – http://denisejaden.blogspot.com
And of course, the prizes!
- A critique of your first five pages - (courtesy of Denise’s agent Michelle Humphrey – INT’L)
- A handmade bracelet - (courtesy of Mary Ann Scott – INT'L)
- A surprise book on the craft of writing (courtesy of Dawn Ius – US/CAN)
- An audiobook of Writing With a Heavy Heart - (courtesy of Denise Jaden – INT’L)
- A FULL Manuscript Critique! (courtesy of Tonette de la Luna - INT'L)
- A Writing-on-the-go Writer’s Kit – (courtesy of Carol Garvin – US/CAN ONLY)
- Book of Choice (to $20 Cdn) from Book Depository (courtesy of Shari Green - INT’L)
- A swag pack from Anne and Henry and Falling For Alice - (notebook, charms, bookmarks – Courtesy of Dawn Ius – US/CAN)
- A surprise box of YA Fiction - (courtesy of Denise Jaden – US only)
- A package of fiction books, including KI, SPIRITED, and possibly an ANNE & HENRY ARC – (courtesy of Dawn Ius – US/CAN)
- Some popular high-demand advance copies of YA fiction – Choose one or two from the following selection (courtesy of Kim Baccelia – US/CAN)
Okay, time to get cracking. No matter WHAT day you landed on this blog, head over to Denise’s to set your goals! Remember, the more you check-in and encourage others, the better chance you have of winning some cool stuff!
Enjoy the madness! And see you back here on Saturday, right?