All is well.

I feel the need to say that since it’s been something like 6 weeks since my last blog post. I won’t offer up too many excuses…But remember that scene in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” where he was driving down a dark highway and the road signs started getting increasingly more complicated and squiggly?

Squiggly roads ahead.
Squiggly roads ahead.

I guess I’ve been in touch with my inner Pee Wee (??) and have had to pay more attention to the road ahead (life metaphor, ICYMI), making it harder to post as often as I like.

More Pee Wee. This scene haunted me as a child.
More Pee Wee. This scene haunted me as a child.

But, I’m here now! So, some general housekeeping…

It is safe to say that I will NOT reach the writing goal I set for myself a while back. Draft 1 of manuscript 2 is definitely not happening by May 1st. Partially due to Pee Wee-inspired roadways, but also because I’m actually working on another project that I’m really excited about. It was an idea I had kicking around my brain for a long time. I tried to back-burner it and be all “wait your turn, damnit!” But, it wouldn’t listen. So, I’m embracing change and trying to be flexible with myself. New multi-project, timeline-specific goal forthcoming.

I think it’s OK to have two different writing projects going at the same time, right? J.D. Salinger served in WWII and allegedly had the first six chapters of Catcher in the Rye on his person on D-Day. There’s a photo of him during the war, literally in the trenches, squatting at a little table and working on his manuscript. (Watch that documentary if you want to see it.) If he can find time to write The Great American Novel in between storming the beaches of Normandy and surviving battle, I think I can probably handle two different word documents competing for my time.

Ok, that’s it for now. There’s more to tell…but not yet.

Question: What’s your philosophy on creative projects? Focus on one at a time? Or are you of the lots-of-spinning-plates persuasion?

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Not so S.M.A.R.T.

I started to write this post about resolutions vs. S.M.A.R.T. goals, and how you’re really much better off with this acronym-guided goal-setting than the typical, vague, forgotten-by-mid-February New Year’s resolution…But, then I could only remember what 2 of the 5 letters in S.M.A.R.T. stood for. I sat in front of my computer for a few minutes really trying to remember without the help of Google. Because, honestly, if I was going to write a S.M.A.R.T. goal inspired post, shouldn’t I just KNOW what all the letters stand for? (And, what is Google doing to our brains? Pre-Google, I would have just remembered this, along with the name of the guy in that show and where the post office is because I simply had to in order to survive…)

But I was like “S…stands for ‘smart.’ Your goals should be smart, right?…” And then I realized the level of irony of this particular internal conversation.

So, then I finally googled “S.M.A.R.T.”

Well, first I watched this video from the most recent episode of SNL, which is all about New Year’s resolutions:

resolutionrevolution

S.M.A.R.T. goals are:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Time-bound

It’s not rocket science. Basically, you’re more likely to make progress if your goal is something like “train 3 times a week so I can run that 5k at the end of March in under 30 minutes” vs. “work out more.”

At the end of December I set a S.M.A.R.T. writing goal. Instead of telling myself that I’d “write more” I wrote the following on a piece of paper, pinned it to my corkboard, and told a handful of close friends who could help keep me accountable:

Manuscript #2

Draft 1

May 1, 2014

I felt organized and motivated. Empowered.

A month later I wonder what the hell I was thinking.

OK, maybe it’s not that bad. I’d already been working on something for a few months, so it’s not like I was starting from scratch on Jan 1. I have a preliminary story outline. And it can always be a really terrible, pockmarked Draft 1 (as most are).

But, the truth is that I am way off from something that’s even nearly complete. Which could mean a couple different things:

  1. I’m not writing enough. –>This feels true. I’ve been less disciplined about setting aside designated writing time that isn’t peppered with a dozen snack/Netflix breaks
  2. My goal isn’t realistic. –> It’s possible. But, it feels like a cop-out to change my deadline at this point before I make a real effort to address possibility #1.

And, this is what I like about S.M.A.R.T. goals. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels so much easier to say “eh, screw it” when it comes to vague resolutions. But, if I have a self-imposed deadline looming, I’m more likely to regularly check in on my progress. And, maybe I’ll realize that May 1st just isn’t going to happen and I’ll need to go back in and tinker with the “time-bound” element of my goal. But, that’s a lot better than ditching the thing all together.

Question: What keeps you on track when it comes to setting and pursuing goals?