I am a person motivated by goals. Without them, I drift aimlessly for awhile, until I feel frustrated that I'm not accomplishing what I want to be doing. Goals help with this process, for I know whether I am hitting the mark or missing it.
When I had my revelation in November 2008 that my life was full and happy except that I wasn't writing and I wanted to be, I set a goal of writing three screenplay pages per day, and within a few months I had a completed first draft. After many years of mucking about wishing for something, I had it done in three months after I set a specific goal.
In mid-November of 2010, I took an intentional break from writing when I had a mini breakdown of sorts. Too much conflict with a lot of people in a short period of time, plus stress in our house with Jason's new council responsibilities on top of his insane work travel schedule, and trying spur-of-the-moment to write a novel for an online challenge all combined to add up to an overload, and something had to give.
I decided to offer myself a break from the rigorous schedule I had set up, and over the next six weeks I learned how to simply be, and relax in a way that I had never understood before. It was like heaven on earth to take a vacation from my own unreasonable demands, and relish in the joys of the Christmas holidays.
When the calendar turned to January, and every gift was unwrapped and every decoration stored in the basement for another year, my spirit rolled over and sat up in a metaphorical way, ready for something new. When I took the time to put my finger on what I was looking for, I felt the urge to return to my memoir and my novel. I decided to set a goal of writing four pages per day, for a total of 1000 words, in either or both of these works-in-progress.
For the last three days, I have surpassed this goal, finding the joy again in sitting down with an empty mind and watching words pour out to fill the screen. It's astonishing what is in my head and my heart, ready to escape if I will simply provide the opportunity.
I am currently reading Story, the hailed screenwriting book by Robert McKee, and learning so much which will make my next draft of my script even stronger. When I've finished the book, I'll find a way to add in a few pages per day of my screenplay rewrite, and hopefully be in a good groove with my word counts each day and add something else without toppling the whole house of cards.
It's important to listen to our subconscious. It will whisper to us when we are stressing ourselves out, and eventually scream to get our attention. I don't want to wait for another breakdown. I want to become more attuned to how I feel at any given time. I know that I don't have to do it all today, but I also know that I can do little bits at a time, for the little things add up to the big ones over time.
I think the key is our own awareness. When we are exhausted, we need rest. When we are too busy, we need leisure. When we are restless, we need a challenge. Goals help me with this part of the puzzle, and I understand now how important it is to keep them realistic. A to-do list as long as my arm becomes discouraging when I know I can't do it all in one day. I don't want to set myself up for failure, as my husband and my kids need my time and energy too. So I've set a modest four page goal for each day, and when I meet it, I feel on top of the world.