Monday, April 23, 2012

Lessons in how to be dumb

There are seven days in a week. 

Not earth shattering news for most, but it still rocks my world. My weeks are now bookmarked with work, study, coursework, daily commutes and washing my hair*. Free time is fleeting and fought for.

It's been a painful adjustment after almost a year of traveling, when my time was wholly and luxuriously my own. Nap time was mandatory, as was listless daydreaming. I felt a heady sense of accomplishment if I backed up my photos or got a load of laundry done.

Needless to say I have a bit more to pad out my day. I need to push and prod responsibilities around to fit my writing in. I had originally anticipated I would have a first draft of my novel completed by May/June. After all I wrote reams whilst on the road, all I had to do was retype it and add a bit of flowery language, right? I can safely say I think that this sweetly naive and almost laughably so. That's not to say I haven't been working hard to make it happen, but I fear that it will not be enough, so my revised deadline is August.

You can see with my self-imposed deadlines that I'm trying to create goals to ensure I keep writing a priority. Without goals I fall into a slurry of whimsical distractions.  

My current dilemma is how to set goals that set action in motion. I know I need time pressured goals but at the same time I falter if set too firm. My recent attempts of establishing writing goals has left me floundering & overwhelmed.

Just in the past month alone I have oscillated between wild and varied word counts goals - then I abruptly realized I don't really count words. In fact word counts added a sense pressure, not the ra-ra motivating kind, the straggling kind.

I decided to focus on a country/region per week. This worked somewhat well for Tibet and Iran. But found that this approach had me nit picking sections I had already written and didn't propel me into creating new material. It also had me hopping between chapters and leaving some ideas unfleshed. I know if I skip on and leave these ideas half formed, they will become rotten and unworkable by the time I return to them.

I've toyed with fixed durations - two hours per day. Or even setting times of the day - write whilst commuting, but as drool drips onto my iPad and my head lolls towards the shoulder of a stranger most nights I am just too tired.

Basically I have set many goals. Many dumb goals. I need SMART goals. Yup, this is starting to sound like every work related professional-development course ever run - except without the cheap instant coffee and stale biscuits. I offer no biscuits.

So I need to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

It hasn't been all miserable failures. I am keeping my goal of completing one writing exercise per week. My inner critic berates me that I should do one a day, but I am firmly ignoring that bitchy whine. I'll review and increase the number of exercises based on what's achievable in the upcoming weeks.

I just need to figure out a series of SMART goals to achieve my August deadline. As that deadline is just like a floating pie in the sky at the moment. For more info on goal setting check out this and this.

* yup, since getting back to Sudney I can safely reassure everyone that I do wash my hair on a regular basis.  Thanks to irregular shower access, irate plumbing and corrosive water, a gnarly matted nest was starting to take hold of my scalp.

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