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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

IWSG - Deadlines, Opportunities, and Goals

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a once-monthly blog hop originated by our very sci-fi ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and which now has a permanent home at the IWSG site. Every first Wednesday of the month we gather to connect with one another, to share our thoughts and our insecurities, and to offer one another the kind of guidance and reassurance that only another author can provide.

We're a week late this month due to New Years falling on that first Wednesday, but I'm extremely excited to be co-hosting today along with River Fairchild, Julie Dao, and Sarah Foster!

I'm disappointed in myself this month, plain and simple.

December was supposed to be a big month for me. There were open-submission windows with a pair of mid-sized publishers that I quite like, and I really wanted to get my novel-in-progress edited and polished in time for submission. I've been told that, in its current state, the manuscript is something that a small press would love, and would snatch up in a minute, but I'm aiming for something bigger. I know what I need to work on - repetition, sentence structure, internal dialogue, and core conflict - and I really thought I could get it done, especially with 2 weeks off work.

I didn't. Not even close.

There are a lot of reasons why, and some of them are even really good reasons, but the bottom line is I didn't get it done, didn't make the deadlines, and ended up squandering the opportunity. That's not to say there won't be other opportunities, or that giving myself more time won't make for an even better finished piece of work, but missing this particular chance really gnaws at me.

Now, I could set myself another deadline, but I fear all that will do is set me up for failure once again. Instead, I am going to set myself a goal of picking up the manuscript once per day. Even if I know I won't have time to work on it, I need to pick it up once a day . . . hold it in my hands . . . feel its weight . . . remind myself that the words are my own . . . and own the responsibility for transforming the story.

That won't get it done, not by itself, but it will help to keep me on task.

60 comments:

  1. Rather than a deadline, set yourself a goal. Maybe daily - you said you need to touch it every day. Make that your goal. Because in doing that, eventually it will be ready.
    Know it sucks to miss the opportunity, but there WILL be more, and maybe they will be even better.
    Thanks again for co-hosting today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alex - glad to be making the rounds!

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  2. I agree with Alex. And, in my opinion holidays are never good times to try and write anything worth while. Too many interruptions and the pull to be with family is not to be ignored. Don't beat yourself up! As AC said, there will be more opportunities and you will take advantage of them when they come. Thanks for co-hosting today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, you know what they say about the road to hell and good intentions . . . in hindsight, holidays were probably a bad thing to count on.

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  3. Thanks for hosting!

    When I stumble or think I screwed up, I always fall back on the Galaxy Quest. Yes, the M.O.V.I.E.
    "Never give up. Never surrender!"
    It never fails to straighten my back and lift my chin. Plus I laugh, :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL - great movie . . . I haven't watched it in years!

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  4. I actually think you are the smart one enjoying your December and not driving yourself nuts trying to finish up the ms. What good is that? December is a bad month for publishers to choose a deadline what with holidays, family gatherings, travel. Even if you take 15 minutes out of your lunch hour every day to scribble something about your story, it will keep you on track and creative. Best wishes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that's the approach I need to take - seize those 15 minutes, and just remember they'll eventually add up.

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  5. You were smart not to rush your manuscript just to get it submitted. Been there, done that and regretted it when the rejection came back. Goals help us focus. Just make them small and do-able. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - I've rushed before and regretted it, so no argument here.

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  6. We can only do what we can do. Hang in there! I'm sure you're doing just fine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - it's slow going sometimes, especially with a toddler to take care of, but time will come.

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  7. I'm working under a deadline right now that's kicking my butt. It's a tough one. Makes me wonder if my brain is shutting down on purpose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL - been there, done that. I rushed a short story to meet a deadline back in October, and in hindsight I'm not surprised it got rejected.

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  8. Own it! Great words. You can do it. Be patient with yourself.
    Thanks for co-hosting this month's IWSG.
    Play off the Page

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    Replies
    1. Glad to be co-hosting . . . it's been great having the chance to check out more blogs.

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  9. I find goals much more doable than deadlines. Sorry that it didn't get done in time, but you have the right idea. Pick up the manuscript, even if you don't get much or anything done in it. It will get done and be even better for it. :)

    Thanks for co-hosting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, goals just sound better too . . . deadline has such a ring of dread to it.

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  10. Hi, Bob,
    Life is like that. We fall down, but get up again and keep going. Keeping the novel on the front burner will definitely help.

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    Replies
    1. Not quite sure I can manage the front burner, not with a toddler craving attention, but definitely a side burner. :)

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  11. I sympathize. Setting deadlines seldom works for me. There's always something that needs "fixing" it seems. Your idea about just picking up the manuscript is a good reminder. Nice to meet you.

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    Replies
    1. Nice to meet you too, Beverly - thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Replies
    1. Yes, sometimes bigger really is better. :)

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  13. I'm curious about what made you miss the goal. Perhaps it wasn't the right thing for you.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, it was a lot of things - family, schedules, illness, weather, etc. - but I have to take some responsibility for not making time. That's what my goal is all about.

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  14. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be. I think your plan of picking up the manuscript every day is a good one - chances are you'll get more done this way, since there will be less pressure. Good luck!

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    Replies
    1. I think that's exactly what it is - a goal without the pressure. If I need a bit more time to make it right, then I have it.

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  15. I know what that's like.
    Things always get in the way.
    I hate things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Things aren't as bad as stuff, but I hear you! :)

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  16. You can't beat yourself up over it. The right opportunity will come in the right time, and you'll be ready for it. Just keep your eyes open and your fingers ready, eh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely - although sometimes it's not having the eyes open that's the issue, it's where they're pointed!

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  17. I think you're fine. Better to send in something that you took the time to work on than to send something that looks like a rush job. Besides, at the end of the year, industry professionals expect a lot of "unready" manuscripts because it's right after NaNoWriMo. Good luck with your draft!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good point - I hadn't thought of the timing issue and the likelihood of "unready" manuscripts flooding the market.

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  18. No goals, as such. Just a reminder.

    It might work.

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  19. Thanks for cohosting this month! I miss deadlines all the time and it always takes me far longer to complete writing things than I think it will. I don't let it bug me anymore - it's par for the course.

    “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” ~ Douglas Adams

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  20. LOL. My ISWG post this month had to do with not getting enough done too, although in my case I'm referring to the entire year. Thanks on co-hosting this month's ISWG.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I can't look back at a whole year . . . that's more missed deadlines and disappointments than I can face. :)

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  21. Own the responsibility! That's the spirit! Can't go wrong with that attitude!
    Also remember that you can only do so much at a time.
    Thank you for co-hosting the IWSG this month.
    Writer In Transit

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - I figure owning it is really the key.

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  22. Little goals are the best way to go! The holidays and end of the year are always hard (at least I find) to really get things done. Try not to beat yourself up....I'm sure there was a good reason, like something bigger is coming for you. Thank you for being a co-host with Alex!!

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    Replies
    1. My wife always believes things happen for a reason, so I'm hoping it is that bigger things are waiting.

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  23. I like that goal of picking it up once per day. I'm setting a similar one about promotion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, promotion . . . that's a whole other job right there, isn't it?

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  24. December is one of those months that can slip by quickly. It's just a busy time of year. If you pick it up each day, I'm sure you'll get it finished. Thanks for co-hosting this month.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, in hindsight, December may not have been a great month for focus . . .

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  25. I feel for you, Bob, because I especially know how you feel this month. Don't be too hard on yourself. It's a new year!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks - new year, new start, new opportunities!

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  26. Missing an opportunity is always disappointing. Hope you catch the next one.

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  27. I think that is a wise goal. One that should motivate quite well.

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  28. Man, I used to stress to meet deadlines for different submissions, but by the time I'd find out about them, I'd not have enough time to get something together that met my specs. I quickly found out that something new comes along every day. The right opportunity will come along when you're ready for it. Best wishes.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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  29. An opportunity will arise when you least expect it that'll be perfect! Don't beat yourself up . . . it happens to the best of us :-)

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  30. Thanks for co-hosting this month! not an easy job I'm sure.

    Deadlines can be good things but they can certainly pin us to the wall and make us afraid to pick up the pen and get to work. Keep plugging away! Keep chiseling out the story, editing and adding as you go. You WILL finish it. Maybe not as quickly as you'd like, but you will finish. And when you do, the opportunity to submit will present itself. The Universe is funny that way :) Don't give up on your story!

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  31. I can't remember the last time I actually printed out a manuscript, but now you have me thinking I should just because. Maybe if I had something to physically hold in my hand the work would feel more intense and urgent to me. I try to stay away from deadlines while I'm in the creative phase, but once I move on to polishing and perfecting, deadlines keep me accountable.

    Thank you for sharing and co-hosting this month. Great job!

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  32. I've found it's easier to go one day at a time with writing. I planned on being published by the end of 2010. HA! 4 years later, still revising. Don't be too hard on yourself.

    Thanks for co-hosting!

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  33. Deadlines are tricky things aren't they? They can give us the impetus to keep going and get something finished, and we feel so good when we manage it, but miss one and it can seem like a crushing blow. I take it hard when I miss one but it spurs me on to meet the next one.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog on IWSG day!

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  34. Oh. That hurts.

    I am glad you're optimistic about the future. Keep picking up that MS.

    (Thanks for co-hosting the hop this month).

    Leanne ( http://readfaced.wordpress.com/ )

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  35. Oh, I understand that feeling. While I'm not yet shopping my novels, I've had several anthology deadlines I've missed for short stories, and I've been really disappointed in myself. Good luck as you work on your daily goal of holding your manuscript.

    The Warrior Muse

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