Writer’s Block or Lack of Goal Setting?
Is lack of goal setting setting you up to satisfy the self-fulfilling prophesy of failure? I need to finish my work by [supply date], but just can’t finish/edit the manuscript because:
- I’m a daughter/mother/wife/grandmother with lots of household duties and they always seem to take precedent to the real work at hand.
- I’ve hit a major snag and can’t seem to get past it–now I just don’t want to work on it at all.
- I know it takes two hours to really get my head into the project, but I’m just not in the mood or right frame of mind right now and know there is not sufficient time today.
It was mentioned some time ago that I joined the Idaho Authors Community in the hope of finding new avenues to help with the promotion and marketing of my grandfather’s manuscripts written some 80+ years ago; most regarding the years he spent sailing the North Atlantic. You could say that’s a specific niche market and it doesn’t help that I’m crippled by working with another’s manuscript, not my own. That’s favorite excuse #1, made even more difficult by being unable to work in the head no longer available to me who actually experienced the infamous nor’easter of 1900; bow dipping well below the horizon and rolling to starboard before pointing three masts skyward again.
The last meeting dealt with goal setting and I realized that the goal I’d set for completing the project had already passed me by. But why? How?
Well, see the above items numbered #1-3. I’ve long heard it said that attainable goals must be measurable; i.e., too many goals makes it impossible to become successful. Set too few and they lack the capacity to complete the task. Each individual has a tolerance for the number and nature of goals; where five per day might be appropriate for you, too many for the next writer. So how do you find the personal goal level that will work for you?
A. One seasoned and successful author suggested placing goals on either the “front burner” or the “back burner”…well, then in my kitchen, the front burner would always get the attention. Goals set on the back burner may as well be set on the “slow burner” or the burner that never sees a match–it’s just not important enough to come to the front of the stove.
B. One enterprising young mother set her goals in 15 minute calendar increments. Whereas that might have worked for me some 30 years ago, now find odious in nature and simple blood pressure elevating fodder.
C. Books on solving writer’s block were proffered, but declined on the belief that it’s not really writer’s block that is the problem, but a lack of enforcing personal discipline. My goals usually come in threes; usually attainable number–just three–in whatever schedule–per day–per week. Sounds simple enough. So break it down even further:
a) Share with others, if you share the household, that the manuscript has a deadline and ask for their support. You may need, as do I, a large block of uninterrupted time to get my head into it and then let nothing stop the synergy.
b) If you are a person who feels you must take care of home, family, laundry, perceived lists of must-do’s before you can relax–then do them first so you can sit down without those unfinished chores nagging at you.
c) Morning person? Work on the manuscript early when no one else is up and can bother you. Evening person? Eat or don’t eat dinner; let the dishes go and gather your materials–start typing.
What is most important here? All the distractions that continually pop up to relieve you from the task at hand? Set your goals in easily attainable sets: (1) Today–finish the write/edit to page 50. (2) Tomorrow–write/edit another 50 to page 100. (3) Following day–write/edit another 50 to page 150.
You can do this and so can I. But first, I just need to finish this up and I’ll get right to it!