Allow me brief rant about messing up.
Kids do it all the time. Teenagers are the lord and masters of messing up (though it makes them cringe and their face break out). By the time we get to be adults, most of us will do anything to avoid messing up because it’s embarrassing and horrifying.
We hide our mistakes, we blame others, we bury the shame by swilling beer, chowing down seven-layer dip, partaking in illegal substances, watching American Idol or Real World marathons, and pulling our hats down to cover our eyes. Because we feel bad when we mess up. We feel stupid and worthless.
But to be human is to mess up a lot.
So the choice is this – you either acknowledge that you are not human, which means you are an Immortal, which means you should feel like crap if you miss a day of writing or forget to change the oil in your car or blow off a date with your best friend. You’re Immortal – go back in time and fix it! And stop whining!
If you’re human, then you get a little break. The trick is to be honest with yourself, get up, dust yourself off, and go at it again.
Have you missed a couple of writing days this month? Had you planned on being published by now? Were you convinced that not only would you be published by now, the movie of your book would be out and you and JK Rowling would be taking your kids to Chile to go skiing in August?
Nothing wrong with that. Dreaming is the first step. But if you’ve fallen a little short of your goals, do not reach for the seven-layer dip and the remote. Dust yourself off and admit what’s not working. If the goal is really important to you, set another milestone (perhaps one that is a shade more realistic) and go back at it.
I have fallen way short of my running goals recently. I overtrained for the Lake Placid half-marathon and wound up with pissed off tendons and muscles in my calves and feet. I’ve taken almost a full month off from running to recover and I’ve spent about nine-tenths of that time yelling at myself. Which is ridiculous.
I”m going to try and start running again this week, but I know I need to be more balanced about my exercise. (Balance = a concept that eludes me; I usually go at a project a hundred miles an hour, then I crash and burn and wonder what went wrong.) I just bought a bike so I can crosstrain more and so my legs and feet will forgive me. I’d like to run another half-marathon in the fall, but I’m not going to obsess about it. The goal is to try and get in some kind of exercise every day, just like I write every day.
Today’s goal: Write for 15 minutes without scolding self.
Today’s mindset: balanced.
Today’s prompt: Take a couple of minutes to evaluate how you’re doing on your writing goal for the year and if you need to recalibrate. “Write every day from now until December 31” is a reasonable, achievable goal. “Get an agent, score a four-book, six-figure contract based on this really good idea I have” is not reasonable.
Extra prompt – freewrite descriptions of clothing worn by your characters. Push for exquisite specific details about those jeans or that suit or her bra strap that tell us as much about the person as the clothes.