My goal is to have a completed second draft of my novel by November. Sounds like a good goal on the surface.
But have you ever set a goal, and in the “reaching your goal” part, felt like it was the worst goal ever?
It’s not that I think it’s impossible. On the contrary, I think it’s totally doable. But doing it is hard! It’s worse than hard. I am struggling mightily. I have been sitting here for four hours at my computer and put in maybe 45 minutes’ worth of work on my novel. The other 3 hours and fifteen minutes I spent reading blog posts and recipes on the “100 Days of Real Food” website.
Go ahead, laugh. I know it doesn’t sound like I’m battling my novel. It takes no effort at all to switch from Word to Chrome and bury yourself in articles about chocolate cravings.
But the pain is real, and not just because I now want some chocolate.
I have no idea how to write a novel. I’m working out some tough scenes–have been working on them for months, trying to get them right.
Progress is imperceptible.
Let me break it down for you. I start a writing session with a scene one way, then I add some detail to flesh out the setting. I fiddle with the characters in the scene, test out some dialogue, and then ultimately delete everything I did, to start over from a different point of view.
So to console myself, I spend an hour away from my novel, (a-hem!) “researching,” then I come back to the scene and type a couple lines of mysterious dialogue.
“Well, a DB is a DB,” said Brad. “It’s probably for the best. By the way, how did you find out your mom was a DB?”
“I got a disturbing message about DBs being forced to volunteer.”
“From some guy who used to be my mom’s friend.”
When someone looks at me during this process, they see the exact same thing, whether I’m surfing the web or hacking a scene to bits. Me, sitting at my computer, frowning.
It’s not easy to write a novel.
And it’s made harder because no one can see the work I’m doing.
I know my internal woe is not incredibly interesting to you, but at this stage I need someone to know I’m putting forth considerable effort to make something happen that I don’t know will ever come to fruition.
Where are my results? Nowhere to be seen.
See? Worst goal ever because I don’t know how to measure my progress, and I can’t tell how close I am to reaching my goal.
I just know that I’m not there yet, so I need to keep plugging away. Even though it’s the worst goal ever, I still want to accomplish it, and I could really use your support.
So next time you see me frowning at my computer, give me a pat on the back and tell me to keep up the good work! Then ask if I’ve learned anything new about “real food” that I can add into my novel.
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