I personally always thought New Year Resolutions were a silly idea. If you have something that you want to make better about yourself, why wait? Make the resolution to do it in May or August or whatever. And why on earth would you wait until the new year to evaluate yourself and figure out what you need to do better? As if many people actually evaluate themselves and find something they didn’t already know. And of course, there’s the broken resolutions because people pretend like this year, they’re going to do that thing that they haven’t ever managed to do. No, no, you’re going about it all wrong! If you haven’t been trying all along, what makes you think you’ll magically be able to give it a proper effort just because it’s a new year? It’s silly.
But then, I’ve never been able to come up with a resolution – a goal – that was worthy of setting at the beginning of the year and evaluating at the end until last year. And technically, I made the goal in February, so it wasn’t even a New Year Resolution. My goal was to finish a complete and fluid fifth draft of my WIP and I did it. Finished everything on the 29th or so of December. But writing a book, for someone well versed in NaNo, feels like a different sort of goal than improving habits of ingestion or erasure of bad habits. And then again, maybe I’ve just always sucked at setting those kinds of goals. Either way, I find I do better with writing when I give myself a confirmed start date and a solid, non-negotiable end date. And so too do many, many, many other writers – at least on that solid end date part. At least right now, I’m…sort of a slow writer. I mean, I type quite fast. My WPM tends between 75 and 85, depending on distractions and flow. And with the power of my willingness to sum up or skip altogether, I draft quite quickly as well. Nano is a piece of cake for me. Unless I have a brand new baby in which case it’s a foolhardy quest that I can still conquer because I will never let words beat me. But I edit slowly. Oh so painfully slowly. Part of that is because I’m a whiny child in many aspects and doing things that are ‘boring’ that I don’t want to do is one of them. Change the laundry? I don’t wanna! Figure out dinner? I don’t wanna! Change my baby’s diaper? Actually if my husband is around to do it, we agreed that it was his job. Oh, he’s not home? *grumble*
Edit my book? I don’t wanna!
The other thing that slows me down is often I can’t figure out what’s wrong with the chapter. I know it’s not where it needs to be, because when I read it, I don’t feel excited, I don’t have shivers run down my spine, I don’t devour, like I do when I am reading a good book. And that means my book, in that chapter, isn’t good. I have two writing groups; both meet, at this point, bi-weekly when they’re meeting at their most frequent rate (sometimes we all have crazy lives or all three of us have babies or some postponing nonsense like that). If I’m stuck on a chapter, I’ll have to wait for the next meeting to get some help. I COULD find a friendly beta reader who might help me out, but at this point both groups have pretty good context of my story from previously submitted chapters, have a feel for the voice and flow and storyline and characters, so I’d prefer to use them, my writing groups, instead. And the thing about meeting bi-weekly is that it’s killer to meet any more frequently than that. I don’t feel like I have enough space – I have enough time, surely, but not enough space to procrastinate and therefore, in a way, not enough time – to write. And I frequently need to write the chapter, or at least edit it from last time. There’s also the time to read what others have submitted. If we have a week to get our chapters or segments or whatever ready, you can bet they’ll probably be submitted pretty close to the end of the week if at all and then there’s not good time to read them all. So it’s not like I can speed up this process; I wouldn’t want to. Writing takes time, reviewing writing in depth takes time. Heck, I usually have to read the entries twice or at least once and then have some solid time to think about it to say anything other than, “I liked it. You misspelled “the” on page three, so you’ll want to fix that typo. Um…I thought this dialog was funny?” That “critique” is no good.
So editing takes me a really long time. Setting a year goal was good for me, last year. I’ll probably set a goal of wanting to have Draft VI done by, I dunno…October? I could probably go sooner but again, I’m a child and I don’t like pushing myself. Draft VI is primarily cosmetic. There’s a few loose ends, a few white boxes, some continuity issues…I have to figure out the rules to the card game and at least a few verses to what has suddenly become a plot-critical song. (Stupid meter. Stupid…iambic-type-thing. Stupid deafness to up beats and down beats. Stupid plain old rhyming isn’t good enough.) So it really shouldn’t take me a whole year, but there are some big things that will still take time.
I guess I’ll make it official here: I want to have Draft VI done BEFORE Oct 1st. Sept 30th 11:59:59 pm is the last moment I have to achieve this goal.
I’ll let you know how I do. Accountability is an important part of keeping goals.