Know Yourself

I hate running. Okay, hate is a strong term. Rather, I dislike it. Three things keep me in the running game. 1) Calories burned 2) I need to get in shape if I want to do well in the military 3) the challenge. Above all, the challenge pushes me the most. Running is not my forte, and it’s a great feat when I do well.

The runs I take are rather short, not even a mile. I put my goal in sight and head out. It’s brutal, and I want to give up before I’m even halfway done. But I see my goal and I push on. Usually I make it halfway without stopping. Sometimes I do quit and walk the distance. Once I just said forget it, turned around, and walked home. Yeah, I know. Loser behavior.

One day I was jogging home and staring at the tar cracks in the ground. As I passed each tar crack I realized I could make it to the next one, and the next, then the next. The goals were so small they didn’t overwhelm me like looking in the distance and seeing the stable or my home half a mile away. I couldn’t believe how well I did that day.

Next time I went running, I avoided looking toward the stable and concentrated on the path in front of me. It was my best run EVER. If I’d had the energy when I got home I would have cheered. 🙂

So what does this have to do with writing? It all leads up to goal setting. Because I didn’t know myself when I went out running, my initial goal discouraged me from continuing or hitting the mark. Once I set smaller, more obtainable goals I was able to do better.

Writing is like that. The idea of typing a 80+k manuscript is a daunting task. However, dedicating oneself to small chucks, say 500 words a sitting, is doable. It doesn’t even have to be everyday (though it’ll take longer to finish). Just dedicating 3 days a week at 500 words a pop will produce a 78k word manuscript in a year. Imagine if you added another day or two. And if you hit the 500 word goal and feel the motivation, go further! You just won and get to go for the bonus round!

The thing is, set your goals with the knowledge of yourself in mind. If a 2k words a day goal is going to lead you to fail more often than not, then rethink it. Set something realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Being a writing success is hard enough as it is without the weight of near-impossible goals pushing you to quit.

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