Pep Talk - 2008 - Week 2

First off, a brief reminder. If you want to change your goal, now is the time to do it. You've got til the end of the 15th. (I am very psyched to say that the only goal change has been upwards.)

So, the other night I have the television running while procrastinating typing, honest, and a commercial comes on for some helpline for quitting smoking. Good for them, it's a useful service. I hadn't really been paying attention until the actors who were paid to impersonate smokers started addressing the audience about how it wasn't their fault that they couldn't quit. And honestly, that kind of pissed me off.

I don't know how it is for those of you outside the wonderful 'States, but here sometimes I feel like we're setting up a culture that can't be assigned blame. If a mistake is made or something just wasn't up to standard, the culture is blamed, the media is blamed, the government is blamed, everything is blamed but the person that caused the problem in the first place. So in a system where no one's going to be held accountable for their goals, who's going to bother?

Well, you guys are.

That's one of the great things about this contest. No one's forcing you to do it, there's no punishment if you fail, but you're doing it anyway. You've all made a promise with yourselves to strive for this goal, and even if some fall short when the word counts are tallied, I know everyone here is going to try their hardest til the clock strikes twelve, the fat lady sings, and the other cliches get worn out.

Ultimately, it's that kind of freedom which is the biggest reward. When you succeed, you'll know you made it because YOU sat down in front of a computer (or desk), YOU typed (or handwrote) to the end of your goal, and YOU are the reason you succeeded. Conversely, though, if you don't make it, it's not the fault of the kids that wouldn't leave you alone, the boss that made you stay late, the muse which was uncooperative, it's you. We can offer inspiration, ideas and support, but it is you that decides whether you succeed or fail. So let's decide to succeed.

So, it's week three. By the end of week two, most of you should be just shy of halfway through your goal, so you should have a pretty good idea of where you stand. I don't know why we're wired this way, but humans by nature are last-minute-panic creatures, so don't despair if you're not halfway yet. Chances are thanks to that looming deadline you're going to be writing more in the last two weeks than you did the first, anyway. Let's help the process along.

50k, or whatever you have your wordcount set at, is a huge chunk of words no matter how you dice it. It's made worse by the fact that 31 days (well, 16 now) is such a long way away. How are you supposed to invoke last minute panic if the last minute, well, isn't? The key is to set small, immediate goals for yourself, preferably within an hour (day's okay, but I tend to slack off til the end of the day if I do that.) For example, say you're going to write 500 words in an hour. AN HOUR! That's only 60, no, 59 minutes away! Pretty soon, that last minute WILL be the last minute, and you're pushing to fill your self-set goal.

Back to talking about week three. If you've survived the dreaded Week Two (which was horrible for me, personally) then you can certainly survive week three. If you're at the halfway point, congrats! It's all downhill from here, knowing you have less left to write than you've already written. If you're not, no panic; the worst is over. You've gotten through the horrible growing pains of getting settled in with your story and now the rest will come to you even if you have no idea what's going on. You know, it's like how Thursday is to the rest of the week: you've already got the worst parts behind you, the best is yet to come.

Keep the fire lit, people. There's no more "hanging in there", there's just steady progress forward with that goal starting to come into view. You've come this far, so don't stop now!