The Motivation of (External) Deadlines

If there’s one thing that my writing journey over the past year has taught me, it’s that deadlines are extremely useful. I think the only reason I’ve been able to finish writing ten stories in that timeframe is because they each had a submission deadline every month or so. Even most of the posts on this blog (including this one) can chalk up their publication to the fact that I’ve given myself a Wednesday deadline every week.

Of course, it’s not like deadlines were a foreign concept before last year. They’ve been a part of my day-to-day writing job as long as I’ve had one. And they’ve been super useful! But for better or worse, I find them considerably easier to meet than implement.

Part of the reason this is on my mind is because I’ve been working on a flash fiction story. I started writing about six weeks ago … and stalled soon afterward. But with the deadline approaching this Friday, I suddenly find myself with renewed inspiration.

Suffice it to say, the story is practically finished. But the situation paints other 2018 goals in a new light. I’m realizing the need to establish deadlines for the goals that don’t currently have them. But there are two issues standing in the way: 1) I don’t know what realistic deadlines would look like and 2) I’m not sure how I’d set them up as “external” deadlines.

I could pick an arbitrary date and post it here, but I question whether that’d be effective. So in lieu of establishing a deadline that way, I’m going to try to use the stories that have deadlines as deadlines themselves. In other words, the plan is to divide the short story/game (not sure which one first) development into segments and set a goal of completing those segments before submitting flash fiction pieces throughout the year.

Will it work? Maybe. At the very least it’s a plan and offers a similar sense of structure to what deadlines provide. I’ll try to keep you posted in these posts, including short updates in addition to the main content of each. So stay tuned and let’s see how this deadlines once-removed experiment works.

Goals for 2018

As we’re heading into a new year, I’ve started thinking about what I’d like to accomplish in terms of writing in 2018. I’ve never big been on resolutions, but I think these are good goals to pursue to help strengthen my writing. They’re loosely arranged in order of priority, but not necessarily in the order that I’ll tackle them.

  • Set aside a consistent weekly time to write. This is the basis for all the other goals. Right now, I don’t have a time of the week dedicated to (personal, creative) writing. Life gets — and will always be — busy, but if I want to take my writing more seriously, I feel like I need to give it the time and space it deserves.
  • Submit a flash fiction piece for every Splickety prompt. Already ⅙ of the way done! I didn’t quite achieve this over the past year, but it definitely got me writing on a much more regular basis. You can see the full list (getting a sneak peek at some potential stories!) here.
  • Publish a blog post every week. Depending on how things go, this could be the toughest goal. It won’t be enough to just write something every week — I’ll need to come up with some form of content that’ll work as a blog post. On my secret blog I would just do weekly status updates, but for this one, I want to write more posts of actual substance.
  • Submit one short story to another publication. Flash fiction is great, but this year I want to expand into slightly longer stories. I’ve done a little research into short fiction markets, but not nearly enough to say exactly which one I’m most interested in. I’m also not sure whether the better course of action is to pick a publication and write a story targeted to them or to write a story based on a preexisting idea, and then shop it around.
  • Complete a narrative-driven game. This one may be a stretch, but I really want to try my hand at writing a game! There’s actually a decent number of systems out there that make word-driven game writing quite accessible. The one I’m mostly to attempt is Twine (essentially a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure creator), but there’s also StoryNexus, InkleWriter, ChoiceScript, and probably plenty of others that I haven’t heard of yet.

There you go — my goals for 2018. One thing that I’ve intentionally chosen with these is to not pick a goal that’s beyond my control, such as being published in a publication. After all, why create a goal that ultimately depends on other people? (The thought of setting a goal to grow my following/brand crossed my mind — and I’m sure there are steps I can take to do that — but it still feels beyond something that I can do on my own power.)

It feels really good to have these written down, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they drive the theme of future blog posts. But for now, they’re just here as a reminder to help me focus on a select few things and keep writing!