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Friday, January 10, 2014

Of hives and hyperventilation

It’s that time of the year. Again.

You know. The time of year when we look back and take stock of our successes. And failures.

The time of year when we look forward, hitch up our pants, and set goals.

I hate it.

It’s that whole goal thing. Anyone who read my last post (Lying Fallow) knows that I don’t react well to too much pressure. And goal setting is definitely too much pressure for me. I don’t even do resolutions, having learned that any resolution I make in January won’t last to February.

I realize that many, many people thrive on setting goals and making resolutions. On New Year’s Day, I spoke with my friend Karen Abrahamson (a wonderful writer of urban fantasies with unique settings and premises). She happily rattled off all her writing goals for 2014, which included two new novels, a new novella series, multiple short stories… and then publishing all of them.

Hives broke out on my face.

You couldn’t pay me enough to deliberately set my anxiety bar higher than it already is, but for her, it works. She wrote half a MILLION new words last year (excuse me—I need to find a paper bag in which to breathe for a minute). She is a goal-oriented writer, always striving to write better and bigger stories.

She exhausts me.

But I guess I can’t judge her by my standards, just as she can’t judge me by hers (thank goodness). I am finally figuring out what approach works best for me, so that I don’t overcommit and destroy my fragile little ego when I disappoint myself. And I need to trust other writers to know best what works for them.

What about you? Does a lack of goals make you feel untethered? Or does setting goals make you want to take that tether and hang yourself with it?

P.S. Here’s my latest cover, for my upcoming novel release (February): Obeah. See? I do have goals. Bite-sized, manageable ones.


Wynter Daniels said...

Half a million words??? That's crazy! I need goals to keep me focused. I try to set them at the achievable level soI don't give myself hives;-)

Elise Warner said...

Don't want hives. I'll settle for what I truly believe I can achieve within the year--take a deep breath and begin. Congratulations on your latest, Marcelle.

Robert Runté said...

Yeah, no, goals don't work for me, at least not for creative endeavours. I can set a dieting goal, because that just requires willpower; but writing, not so much. Setting a goal like 'half a million words' is meaningless because I am more interested in quality than quantity. And you can't really set a goal like "write another award-winning story" because that's not really something one can control. "Write a couple of stories I'm happy with" or "do more work on the novel" sounds reasonable--but that sort of goes without saying. I don't need to state that as a goal, because that just is who I am. To make it a goal, I'd have to say "x number of stories I'm happy with" but that's just setting oneself up for failure if one only hits x-1. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised to find myself at "a couple plus X" at the end of the year.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Marcelle, such a good point...goals aren't for everyone. (I enjoy setting them, and smashing them to bits, but I know not everyone does.) And then there are the people who write 4-5 books a year. Yeah, thinking about that DOES give me hives... Some days, just breathing is a goal. ;)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Oh, I don't think Karen set out to write half a million words -- that would daunt even her. She set herself a goal to write a minimum number of words every day and kept the streak going all year. She surprised even herself.

And Robert, I can assure you that she is just as interested in quality as you are.

Rita said...

I have a primary goal supported by secondary goals

Toni Anderson said...

I like goals.They stop me writing the same sentence/scene over and over ad infinitum :) But, they have to be attainable goals. Pushing me to my best limits, not over-stretching me until I'm worn out. I could never do 500K new words in a year. God help me :) I might manage half that in a good year though. I can work with that :) Do what works for you. What is Obeah about?

J Wachowski said...

Goals! I SHOULD have them! Yes!
Unfortunately, I'm that kid on the soccer team who stands there looking at the light coming through the trees, who stops running after the ball to help the kid who fell (from the other team), who kicks a goal by accident and wonders why people are laughing?
I'm not great at goal driven action. But hey, the light in those trees is sooo pretty. Did you see?

Marcelle Dubé said...

Rita, are you another Karen...?

Julie, sit down until the dizziness passes.

Toni, Obeah has nothing to do with romantic suspense, although it does have romance and it is (hopefully) suspenseful. Here's the short blurb:

"On a near-future Earth decimated by plagues, two species of humanity survive—Homo sapiens and Homo gaians. When an insane gaians blames sapiens for the world’s problems, only Lauren Tom will stand between him and the destruction of the remaining sapiens.

Unless she decides he’s right."

Shelley Munro said...

Half a million? Wow! I'm a bit like you. I keep my goals very loose and achievable (for me). I don't make resolutions and goals give me hives too :)

jean harrington said...

Catching up here, Marcelle. Encjoyed your post and LOVE the cover of your new book.

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