Monday, March 21, 2011

A Writer's Game

When I decided to start writing "more seriously" (i.e. actually write on a regular basis rather than sporadically) after graduating from college, I knew plotting would be involved.  From my limited writing experience, I understood that I would have to plot my way from a happy point A to a shocking point B.  What I didn't realize at the time was that I would need to plot my own life too.

I’ll spare you the messy details, but it occurred to me recently that if I don’t make some changes to how I approach my writing, I’m never going to get the crappy first draft (and I say that with great affection) done.  My writing has been like the caucus race in Alice in Wonderland.  You don’t know whether or not you’ve won, let alone reached you’re desired destination.  So you keep running until you tire yourself out and drop the project for not better reason than you don’t want to race about with it anymore.  And that thought scares me.  How can I become a better writer if I can’t even follow through with my stories?

Since figuring out that writing without concrete goals is the best way to guarantee that I wouldn’t be motivated to write, I happened to read Michelle Ward's recent guest post on Writer Unboxed.  She wrote about working through obstacles by taking one step at a time and one of sections stood out to me: “…You might be overwhelmed with the scope of an idea.”

*raises hand* yep, that’s me.  I’m ¾ of the way through and that’s still me.

In the body of the text was this handy-dandy link that went to her site and something Ward called the Goal Game.  Figuring I had nothing to lose, I figured I’d play a round and see how it went.
It ended up looking like this:

Not bad, right?  Okay, it’s a bit messy, but it’s a great start.  Because of all the long division scribbles, I figured out that if I write 2000 words a week (that’s only 285 words each day!), in seven weeks or so I should have 14000 more words, in which I hope to finish the first draft of my novel and can move onto revisions.  I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty big.  No, HUGE!  If I can win this game, it’ll be my first ever completed novel draft.

And if for some reason I shouldn’t finish in this time period, hey, I’ll be that much closer to finishing.  Either way, as long as I play the game, I’ll win.

So, dear reader, are you game?


Bluestocking said...

I think it's great you are trying to figure out a way to make that final push to the end. But don't beat yourself up too hard if you don't make your quota by a certain time. Creativity needs a little space to grow. I've noticed I've stalled a bit in my own writing -- time to change up the routine. Happy writing!

whenigrowupcoach said...

OhmyGOSH I've never seen anyone else fill out my Goal Game but me! :) It just lives as a download on the Internet, and while I know it's being used, it's another thing to actually *see* it. Thanks so much for posting this, Lena - so glad it was helpful for you!