What Do You Do?

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
The twists, the turns, the lifts, the dives.
It all comes at different speeds,
at different levels, at different needs.
Once you think you’ve caught your breath,
you’re off again.
A completely new adventure.
Sometimes the water fills your lungs—
your world turns dark.
At others, your eyes are so full of colour
that it starts to leak through your tears,
your pores,
your fingers.
You struggle to release it,
either because the expression is difficult
or because there’s too much to share.
But what do you do when it’s both?
The veil pulled down,
and the colours revealed?
You dance,
filling the air with bursts of colours and smooth lines of grey.
You paint,
overflowing the canvas with black and blue and shades of the day.
You sing,
pouring rivers of red and purple into our ears.
You love,
pouring out the melange of pink and green, yellow and orange, brown and turquoise that’s consumed you through the years.

You be.
You be you.
You be who you long to be.
You be the people you look up to.
You be you in your greatest dreams.

You
be
you.

And breathe.

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Setting Goals

I think everyone knows the struggle of setting goals. Whether it be writing, exercise, reading, creating, or monetary goals, we can’t seem to stop ourselves from creating giant mile markers in our lives. We usually set the goals when we’re feeling on top of everything and ready to tackle the world, but we don’t often take into account that once that motivation starts to fade, the things we’re enjoying and planning to accomplish tend to become the same things that stress us out to no end and are put on the back burner because life just gets in the way.

My writing goals for 2016 are a great example.

Goals Accomplishments
Screenplay(s) for Eragon

(because everyone knows it needs to be redone)

It hasn’t even been started.

…but I did reread the book.

Novel It has been started, but it is only at 4187 words out of a minimum goal of 65000.
Ten short stories Three shorts stories were plotted, but none were finished.
Twenty poems Eight poems were written.
YouTube scripts (one a week) Only about ten YouTube videos were written, and only five recorded.
Blogs (two a week) Well, this went well for a few months, and then everything went awry, and I’m just starting back up (yet again) with a goal of one post a week.

Originally my goal was to finish my novel and the screenplay by June on top of half of the other goals as well. What I didn’t account for was my motivation or stress levels. I quickly encountered problems with that blog of mine disappearing, trying to balance part-time fast food work and a few full-time level freelance gigs, trying to find new roommates, looking for steady work, and traveling.

The thing is, though, that if I had taken a few things into account and simply structured my goals and my schedule better, I could have easily accomplished these goals.

  • Set aside specific days to work on specific projects.

I’m far more likely to work on them and reach my goals, even if I’m still not very good at sticking to it. I’ve been trying to write blog posts on Thursdays so that I can have them ready to post on Mondays. Although I’ve been awful at it for the last few months, when I push myself to do it, I can easily whip out a blog and put it up on the editing page that Azelyn and I use.

Now this technique looks different for writing my novel and all my other projects. Starting in January, I’ll be aiming to write a minimum of 2700 words a week for six months. I’ll be trying to split that throughout the week, but I will be setting aside the most time on Sundays and Fridays to work towards this goal. I’ll be planning like this for my other goals as well.

Here’s what my average weekly writing schedule now looks like:

SONY DSC

Now this might seem excessive (it certainly does to me), but if I routinely follow this schedule and manage my time, it should be relatively easy to follow. I’ll definitely be allowing myself to work ahead on any/all project if and when I like, and I’m quite excited to do so.

  • Set smaller goals at different increments that will help you reach your larger goal.

As you can see in my planning chart above, I’ve come up with specific goals for each week, and even each day. Obviously, nearly every day has overlap, but I vary the degree of difficulty/time commitment from day to day. But the most important factor is that I have a minimum goal for every week.

I’ve found that having weekly goals helps me most, but some people prefer daily, monthly, or quarterly goals. Having the weekly goals, but a daily plan gives me some leeway on what I should/could accomplish in a given day. I’m already aware that there will be days or weeks that I cannot finish the tasks I’ve marked. My schedule and the goal to work slightly ahead will help when those times arrive.

  • Work ahead when possible.

I know this is something I tend to hate thinking about, just like many of my friends do. But sticking to a schedule and getting ahead of the original plans can not only help reduce stress in the future, but it can also help your creativity become an integral part of who you are and get you in the habit of working on your projects, even when you don’t feel like it.

  • Find someone to help keep you accountable.

This can occur in so many different ways. I’ve tried several systems, and each has worked in its own time. Currently I use a combination of a couple accountability techniques: inquiring, nagging, and punishing.

Azelyn and I already talk on a daily (or as close as we can get) basis. However, amidst our regular conversations and fangirling, we still constantly ask each other how our projects are coming along. Largely, this is just because we’re curious, nosy, and each other’s number one fan. But also, we do it to ensure we’re actually being productive. The nagging is very rarely towards Azelyn, and it’s usually just about getting her post on our editing page earlier so I don’t have to edit it super early on Sunday morning. It’s a whole other matter for me. Azelyn is constantly nagging me about any and every project I’ve set before myself because I am the queen of procrastination…which is one of the reasons we’ve added punishments to our accountability. Right now, this is specifically meant for our blog posts, but once the new year hits, it will also include my videos and my novel word count. We’re still working out how those punishments will work out; but for the blog, every day that I fail to write a blog post past its deadline, I owe her a dollar. (Right now that’s up to $13. *oops*)

  • Reward yourself for reaching your goals.

Now I have no idea how I’ll do that this coming year yet, but I have a few ideas in mind, given that I have the money. This could be as little as eating a cookie when you reach your weekly word goal or as big as taking a vacation when you finish your novel. But whatever it is, don’t make the goals too small and the rewards too big. Make sure you actually have to work in order to be rewarded; then the victory will taste even sweeter.

What are some techniques you use to help set your writing (or life) goals?
What are some of your favourite reward systems for reaching your goals?
Let me know in the comments!

White Colours

The golden hues and raging reds
fill the skies before they’re dead.
A vast blank page left laying out
for everyone to see in doubt.
When light seems bright but life seems gone,
remember to look at the dawn,
where the hidden growth shines deep below the snow,
and the brown and orange give way to hope.
Just look and see the somber joy give way to happy sadness
as a new time begins and we all raise our glasses.
Take the time to see the glory of it all,
with your eyes half-masked by the cold’s call,
because the journey’s just begun,
as the silver bells are rung.
And as green takes the place of gold,
remember what you were told:
Be merry and bright.
For the time is right
for you to grow
and to let what has been hidden show.
As the whites and deep greens fade to kaleidoscopic hues,
make sure you’re the one to choose
what you’ll be and who you are.
Because you’ve already come so, so far.

Yellow Signs Rising

Yellow sun rising
as a silken thread is spun through the air,
through twists and turns,
ups and downs,
slides and glides.
The words form slowly,
gently.
Their cursive leaves longing,
turning circles round the room
for the unspoken thoughts
of smiles and glances.

Yellow tides rising
as a cotton yarn floats among unified breath,
curving and racing,
turning sharply avoiding the walls
built from silence.
The words form carefully,
hopefully.
Their swirled print twists,
making a smooth web
so fine and full
of remember-whens and long-agos.

Yellow signs rising
as twine moves along the earth,
turning sharply avoiding the walls,
jerking and stabbing,
making sharp angles.
The words form quickly,
thoughtlessly.
Their caps glare in the dark,
leaving ghosts
that linger and ache
of goodbyes and bleeding hearts.