Don’t Beat Yourself UP

I think I’m writing this more for myself than for any of you…  but goals are hard for me. Hard to maintain.  Part of the problem, I think, is that I have to learn to re-define what a goal is.

A GOAL is something we strive towards; it is not a mandate.  A goal should be measured not by completion, but by milestones…  in other words, say you have a goal of, I dunno, writing FIVE HOURS A DAY (what was I thinking??).  And you only write for 3 hours on Day Two.  Maybe three and a half if you count the time spent staring at the computer. What do you do?  My gut response is to let that tape play in my head. The one that says:

“you suck! Day two and you’ve already failed…

YOU are a failure!

You suck!  Really.  A writer?

I think not. “

Looks pretty ridiculous doesn’t it.  I mean three hours is a lot of time writing.  I added almost a thousand words to what I was working on, a piece titled “Seriously Messy Chapter Four” from my dissertation, Reconstructing My Mother.  AND I managed to WRITE an email I’d been putting off, another email to the English Department announcing an upcoming event.  I went to Yoga—for the third day in a row! And I ate a healthy lunch.  I also WROTE a post on my personal blog, and two lines of poetry for an in progress poem called Intervals.  AND I WROTE a post on the UNM Creative Writing Blog, and started WRITING an email newsletter for Duke City DimeStories.

So really all in all a good writing day.

But what does this tell me?

First, maybe I need to “revision” my goal.  I want to be successful, so I’m going to count blogging as writing.  All writing is good, right?  (well maybe not Facebook status updates, but lots of other kinds of writing can count in my new vision of the goal)

Second, I may want to revise my goal. Maybe five hours is too ambitious (I’ll hold off on that decision and see how the rest of the week goes).

What I’m NOT going to do is beat myself up and call myself a failure. Because

“There’s two kinds of people in this world, there’s winners and there’s losers. Okay, you know what the difference is?  Winners don’t give up.” (Richard, from Little Miss Sunshine)

–Jennifer Simpson


PS:  I just wrote for another half hour!  I think I made my five hours after all!

A Writer's Book of Days by Judy ReevesPS 2:  if you need a little inspiration for today, I share today’s prompt from Judy Reeve’s A Writers Book of Days (note I have the previous edition which may be different from this edition, but really valuable none-the-less)

You see a shooting star….

3 thoughts on “Don’t Beat Yourself UP

  1. Thanks for posting this, Jenn. Yesterday was beating me up as well. Today, not so much. I ditched the computer and went back to writing by hand. Three hours (to be honest, about two hours and forty minutes) in and its only eleven!

  2. Hey Jenn,
    Thanks for the shout out for A Writer’s Book of Days. & for reminding me that setting goals is one way to “get it done.” The other is to tie myself to my chair.

  3. Judy!! thanks for stopping by, and I hope you don’t mind me sharing one of your prompts… I actually had to email a friend to get it since I had just loaned her my book three days earlier! (she said she wasn’t writing so I gave her your book as inspiration)

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