Setting goals & keeping focussed

23 Apr

Today I’m happy to have finished all my prep work for the May challenge.

That’s 31 stories & 2 spares to sub out. Spellchecked, a grammar pass, audioproofed (with a listen along, doing any edits) & layout.

It took about 5 days in total, including the time it took me to select all 33 of those stories. A lot of it is what I’d class as “invisible work”, or stuff the end reader will never know happened to the piece unless they follow this blog or my twitter feed.

I’m trying my to lift the curtain back on what I do “behind the scenes”, to bring a story to being able to submit it. The story needs to be absolutely the best condition, in terms of readability, grammar, no mistakes, consistancy and layout.

I want the editors where I’m sending these stories to have the best possible reading experience I as a writer can give them. Sure, it helps if the story is solid and enjoyable too, but all the niggly small things an editor might potentially reject your work for needs to be removed.

Then you’ve got a fighting chance at a sale.

The main problem with going through all these steps with so many different stories is it really takes it out of you, mentally and physically. It’s even tougher with being in lockdown, to the point where the last time I did this it took 3 days in total to do 38 stories. This time around it took almost a week, and I’m not in a hurry to be doing it again any time soon.

The main thing I found which helped me was to set a daily goal, to get a specific amount of stories done. I didn’t always achieve that goal, but I knew that with each piece I did, it was making my workload lighter for the next day.

It has been quite difficult to maintain focus on the stages of getting these stories fully polished and submission ready. Again, the daily goals have helped there, but I didn’t get to all of them. I don’t see that as a failure, more I over estimated my own ability or mental state at the time.

Never set yourself stupid targets you can’t possible reach. Goals should be sensible, reasonable, and within your grasp. Even if you fail to reach those goals, it’s still a helpful process as you’ve learned something about how you work as a writer, which will shape your future experiences.

I now have time to cooldown, to get myself and my mind ready for the challenge.

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