Don’t be too ambitious……

Learned a lesson again, yesterday. I’m in the midst of a first edit of an upcoming novel, tentatively titled Coup de Grace. Work stuff is closing in, so I realized I’ve got to floor it or the editing won’t get done for a while. So, instead of my normal 10 page a day goal, I thought I’d try for 100.

Here’s the problem with lofty goals like this one. Many times they turn around and kick me in the crotch, as my goal did yesterday. If I’d been half smart, I’d have realized that it was far too much for one day’s work.

After several hours of work, I’d only been able to finish 35 pages. Which is still pretty good. But my stupid goal made me feel like I’d been lounging around, eating bonbons. Even though I got a lot done, I felt like a jerk for failing to meet my target.

When I set a goal I know I can accomplish, and I meet it. I feel empowered, energized, like I can do it again. Like the whole task is manageable. When I set my goal too high, I feel like a failure, like the entire task is too much, in general. Not good. It makes going back to editing that much more difficult.

Plus, I ruined a perfectly good day. I spent much of the day close to anger, grumpy, and unwilling to take a decent coffee break or enjoy a conversation. My bad.

More importantly, I dented the editing process. My obsession with accomplishment meant I wanted to skip over issues, and skim as I read in order to “get things done.” Editing is a process that requires time and thought. A “need for speed” undermines the entire effort.

Today, I’m going back to my 10 page target. If I get 10 or 200 pages done, it’s still the target I need to use. It’s funny how much of the writing endeavour is a head game. A huge part of success, for me, means keeping expectations in line.

About Bill Bunn

Bill’s excited because his second YA novel, Kill Shot, is now available everywhere! Bill Bunn is the author of three books (soon to be four), several essays and articles. He published his first young adult novel, Duck Boy, in October 2012 (bitingduckpress.com). His second book is a collection of grown-up essays and articles titled Hymns of Home, released April 1, 2013 (bitingduckpress.com). In 2003, Moon Canoe, a children’s picture book was published. This book was bought and translated into French by Le Canotier, and released as Canoë Lune (2005). He is currently writing two pages a day to generate the rough draft of his next novel. Bill Bunn lives near Millarville, Alberta, Canada. He and his wife, Linda, take care of three teenagers, two dogs, two cats, and two hives of bees. Bill teaches English at Mount Royal University. https://www.facebook.com/billbunnauthor
This entry was posted in fiction, Writing advice, Writing process, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s