Writing for a goal

I’ve long since recognized that I do better with some sort of deadline in place.

I can write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days doing NaNoWriMo, keeping a daily word count and racing to fill up that little bar to reach my goal, but set myself the same task nearly any other month out of the year, and I’ll flounder, unlikely to make it work, despite my intentions. It’s a mixture, I think, of the visual representation and the community that circles up around NaNo.

Another great way to get my butt in gear and get things done is when an opportunity comes up to submit work, and I’ve got nothing ready to go.

Last year I submitted work to and was published in the 2018 California’s Emerging Writers anthology. I whipped those two submissions up in like two weeks. I recently was invited to submit work for the 2019 edition, and I’m trying to give myself more than two weeks to work on some pieces.

What I like about this is that it’s a chance to write up some of the ideas I’ve got that don’t really feel full enough to be a novel. It’s a great way to just get writing, as well as a good way to see what potential an idea may have. I some feedback on the piece I had published last year, some people wanted more to the story. So I thought on it, and came up, loosely, with a way that I could turn that little piece into something fuller. I haven’t done it yet, but the idea is there.

I’ve got three ideas this year that I’m working on (slowly but surely).

  1. A girl is caught in a time loop, where she does the same things over and over again everyday, hoping to break the cycle. But it’s not until she tries something completely different and stops focusing on changing the unchangeable that she breaks out of the loop and discovers what else life has to offer.
  2. A woman took the position as keeper of a remote lighthouse to escape the chaos and stress of change. Over the years she’s developed as much reputation as the lighthouse, and people come from all over to see the beautiful scenery and to get her advice and wisdom. One day a young boy visiting with his parents poses a challenging question: she takes care of the lighthouse, but who takes care of her? The boy’s questions help her start to think about stability at the cost of community, and whether it’s worth it.

The third idea I’m not quite ready to share, having just come up with it over the weekend (OK, so it was really a dream I had, don’t laugh. I get good ideas from dreams, sometimes). But it fits right in with my recent theme of being overwhelmed and anxious about the future, trying to run away from everything in life, and realizing you have to eventually face life head-on and answer the questions and make the choices to get to where you want to be, wrestling with being active or passive in life.

I’ve made a good start on the first story, and I’ve got a pretty clear idea where I need to go to wrap it up. I expect in this next week to really set myself to the task of finishing that one and starting the second.

While I may not actually be dealing with any of the issues in my own life (writing is just another avenue of escape, at the moment, even though I’m using it to wrestle with those tough questions about dreams and hope and giving up), I think sometimes it can help uncover the true strength and courage that’s inside. Realizing that you know what you have to do, and if you can write compelling stories where little pieces of you triumph over the overwhelming odds, maybe you can triumph, too.

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