Welcome to Episode Five of Writing Walks. I’m your guide, Alex C. Telander. It is February 6th, 2020, 8:52 AM. And today I am at Spring Lake Regional Park.
Today I’m going to be talking about firstly writing goals and then a little later writing situations, and then I’ll be ending it up with a recommendation. Writing goals is a hefty subject; carries a lot of baggage. So the first point I think I want to make about writing goals is you should really only come up with writing goals if they’re going to work for you. You can definitely try them out for a first time and along the way, earlier on, middle way through if you find out they’re not really working for you at all, it’s fine just to abandon them and try something else or not go with it at all. But I feel when one sets writing goals, one can feel pressured and stressed by them. And for some people that works well; I work pretty well with deadlines and goals to shoot for, and I want to do them, but for some other people, it can just be more stressful. And then you mull over it and think about it and worry about it to the point where you’re focusing more on worrying about the goal than actually doing any writing. And instead you just procrastinate and do something else.
So If you haven’t done anything goal-oriented before like that, you can try it out, but, um, don’t feel bad if you can’t stick to it, or if it doesn’t work for you. There are a million different ways of working your writing, of applying structure and deadlines and goals to your writing, but there’s a million different ways for a reason and that’s because they don’t all work for everyone. Different things work for different people. Over the last like five to ten years I’ve been doing usually at the beginning of the year in January, setting myself writing goals.
I remember when I first started kind of doing it, I’d set myself – that was was when I had a blog too – I’d set myself lofty goals, like four or five big goals to shoot for the year. And then by the end of the year, as time was running out and I’d start getting stressed out about it because I had maybe one or two of those goals done and the other ones just weren’t going to happen. And it was a learning process. That’s another thing with writing goals too, is that it might work for you, but it might not work quite in the way you first did it. So you can adapt it each time to suit your needs. And that’s what I’ve learned over the years of doing it is just giving myself not too much to do. You can set it up where you have just a few goals to shoot for, and then you can have a few bonus items. So that way, if you do get through your goals, you got some extra things to do. There is something to be said when you complete that goal, that first item off the list; it does feel great. Feel a thrill, feel a sense of accomplishment and you feel encouraged to keep on going and go on to the next one and that you’re, you’re making headway. And that’s the thing with writing is you always feel like you need to make headway. That you need to keep going; that you have something that you’re shooting for because you want to see results. And it can be a tricky thing with writing because the writing might not be coming out the way you want it to, or you might be forcing it, or you might not just find that you have the idea you thought you did. And that could definitely be discouraging along the way.
I have found that I need to be in the right frame of mind to do certain projects so I can have that writing goal, But I’ll usually set like all my writing goals for the year. So it won’t be like, I need to have this writing goal done, but February or March, um, if there’s A deadline coming up for that specific goal that I need to have and I’ll do it that way. But for the most part, if it’s just something I want to achieve for that year, I’ll just say by the end of the year, I want to have it done. If I get it done by March or April, that’s awesome. That’s out the way. And then it can be within the next one, but I don’t want to force an idea for a deadline on myself that I might not be ready for.
I have found that stories and ideas sometimes need to percolate in my mind, or I’ll have the idea and I might want to start writing the story right away. But at other times I can feel it’s not quite ready yet, that I haven’t fully developed it. And that’s when I’ll need to just give it time; a week, a month, whatever it takes, kind of, um, even if it means going on walks and, and developing it more in my head, I’ll need to give it that bit of time. So that way when it’s ready, that’s when I can sit down and start writing because otherwise I’ll be forcing the idea and it won’t come out the way I want it to. It will become some different, which can sometimes be good. But for the most part, it’s not the idea originally wanted. So that’s why I want to give myself time. And that’s why I feel it is important to set yourself goals and possibly deadlines that work for you.
Over the last few years, I haven’t really done goals so much because I’ve just been so busy with various podcasts, mainly with Ostium and just different things going on. And it’s been a case where I’ve had to rearrange constantly and adapt. Um, this last week I’d set myself kind of my ongoing schedule for the week, for the rest of the year, of what I was going to do each day. Cause I have Ostium to work with and other podcast projects; I have my novel I want to work on. Um, so I set it for this week, all with the goal of starting it this week and plans changed. Things changed in my life. Uh, I ended up working late one day. I was exhausted after that. Couldn’t do the work that night. Uh, now recently the last few days I’ve had a deadline thing come up that I’m gonna be working on today. So that’s going to change what I want to do today.
One thing I’ve learned over the years as a writer is that you don’t have to take things so seriously; don’t take it to heart too much. And this definitely applies to writing goals. This week I’ve basically thrown that schedule out that made for the week, but I am fully confident next week, barring any unexpected events, I’ll go straight back to that schedule and try and stick to it the best I can for the rest of the year. It’s okay change and adapt and customize your writing goals and your plans for yourself and for specific projects. And it’s okay halfway through the year to acknowledge this one item on the goal list you aren’t going to do this year. You aren’t going to hit that goal you want, or you’re just not ready for it yet. You don’t want to do it. You can strike it off the list, just add it to the following year or something like that.
Down the road, you do have to acknowledge whether the goals are helping you or not. To look at them from an outside view, a third person perspective and see: are they working for you? Are they helping you write more? Are they encouraging you to write, are they encouraging you to keep going? Are they making you excited about writing and wanting to keep coming back to it? I feel if any of these are pretty much a hard no, then writing goals maybe aren’t for you and that’s fine; then you can come up with a different system. Nothing’s set in stone. The world and media is full of people, telling other people what to do. And that’s All the more common in writing with people telling other people, whether they’re writers or not, whether they should be writing.
One of the more common questions you get author events is, after the, the author is introducing and talking about their new novel, one of the early . . . well, first question will be, where do you get your ideas from? And the next question is, what’s your next book you’re working on? And 99% of the time that author does have another book that they are working on because books get published further down the road, way after they’ve been finished. But the author’s mindset is all in that current book. So they’re kind pissed off I think by being asked, what’s your next book? What are you doing next? What’s your next thing going on? And it’s definitely a thing that happens a lot with writers, where people are always questioning them and telling them what they should be doing and how they should be doing it, whether they’re writers or not, whether you should be writing every day, all these different things.
And again, for some people they might like that, that might work for them to encourage them. Instead of writing goals, they like being told by people what they should be doing. And it helps them. I don’t know if I know of anyone like that, but I guess there’s someone out there probably that will work for them. But it’s all just talk. Don’t let it get to you. Be the writer you want to be. Write the way you want to write. This novel could take you a year or two years. It could take you 20, 30 years. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise; it’s what you want to make it. It’s what you want to be. And you’re going to do it your way. Cause that’s your own unique way that no one has ever done before.
So writing goals, if you haven’t done them before, give them a shot. I’d recommend starting small first, depending on what sort of projects you’ve got coming up, uh, I’d say maybe two, maximum three. I can remember a past year doing like, I want to get five chapters done and four short stories and something else done over here. And it was like, I got one short story down and like one chapter. So really I recommend starting small and Hey, next year, if it worked out well and you get everything, you can add a little more on for it. But that way, when you hit your goals, you’ll feel much better than getting to the end of the year and having only half or a quarter of that list done. So start small, two or three goals, and like I said, set up some bonus goals so that way if you do get through them all, you got some other stuff you want to work on, because there’s nothing that really beats that feel of hitting that goal, finishing that project, and being able to call it done. It’s a great unique feeling that mainly writers just get to feel, when you finished your writing project.
Now writing situations, this might cross a little over into writing spaces, but this came to me when I was thinking about how whenever it’s cold and raining I love the idea of sitting with a hot cup of tea and either reading or more importantly, writing. On the idea of sitting at my computer, listening to the rain outside, being able to look outside, but being nice and warm inside and writing. That’s . . . I feel like that’s my kind of ideal writing weather. And maybe if I lived further north, north of California, and more of the Pacific Northwest, I’d be able to experience that environment more. But right now it is, what are we in the beginning of February? And I’ve got crystal blue skies above me and a hot sun of my back. And that’s pretty much normal weather for this time of year here.
So I like the idea of writing when it’s raining. It seems like the place I always want to be and usually when I’m thinking and it’s because I’m out working somewhere in the rain, but I don’t make that a requirement of my writing in any way. Same thing for when you want to write in certain situations, you only want to write at certain times a day or in certain places; if you can set those up for you easily . . . set them up for yourself easily, then that’s good. And that’ll encourage you to get more into the writing theme, the writing routine. But if it’s something that you have to either wait for, like if I were to wait for the next time it’s going to rain before I write again, it could be weeks. I have no idea when it’s going to rain again. And it also could be on a day when I’m working so I won’t be able to write cause I’m working then. So don’t let that hinder you. Don’t let that hold you back from writing is what I’m trying to say. I’d love to be able to write in the rain when it’s raining, but I don’t always get the chance to, and I’m not going to let that stop me from writing when I want to write. I’m going to write in any condition, sun, sleet or snow, Not that it ever snows here. But you can’t just wait for the right circumstances to happen. Whether it is your writing space or your writing condition; your writing situation; if your computer that you’re using, your laptop is updating Windows or updating something and it’s not going to be ready for four hours. So you’re like, well, I’m not going to write now. There’s other ways you can write, you can use your tablet, you can use a phone, you can use pen and paper. You can just sit and think, you can go take a walk and think about writing. That will all work, but don’t let the crux of wanting this situation, this condition, hold you back from writing. Because once you start doing that, the more you do it, the more you’re going to fall into that routine; the less you’re going to write and the less you’re going to want to write. And you really want the opposite of that.
Set your writing goals and your writing plan up without these conditions and these settings. Do it so you’ll just write wherever you are, whenever you are, however you are, so that it gets done. Don’t think about what the ephemera of your writing situation is. Just think about the actual writing and doing it.
My recommendation for this week is the “Witcher” book series by Andrzej Sapkowski. This is off of the, well, it came out before the hit Netflix show “The Witcher,” which is very entertaining. I really enjoyed it, just powering through all those episodes. And I started reading the books and they’re really engaging. It’s your epic fantasy style thing with dwarves and elves and humans, good and bad and magic, but it also feels quite different. The author is Polish, so they’re all translated. And I did the, uh, audio book versions and the audio reader does a really good job of giving accents to people and just differentiating everyone and really giving a feel of the world. So I think the translation is really good. And then the audio book reader that I have is really good.
But the books feel a little different because the author is Eastern European. There’s definitely a political and sociological feel with Eastern Europe, with, um, the use of certain words, “pogrom” is one that comes up quite a few times; a sense of communism, a sense of bad things happening, and no one being able to do anything about it. It’s just a different kind of mindset and feel to it that you don’t really get as much in regular Western fantasy. Thinking of like, you know, classic Lord of the rings, Robert Jordan, those types of things. So I really recommend the audio books. They’re really fun. The stories are good. Different things happen that you wouldn’t get in your usual fantasy. The way it’s set up, it’s kind of interesting, there’s I think it’s a four or five . . . think it’s a five book, like kind of main arc series. And they’re named book one, two, three, four, five, but there are also three kind of short story collections. The way I did it was the first two short story collections came out first, then it was the five books series, and then it was one more short story collection. I ended up reading all three short story collections first, and that I think really helped just to give me a feel for the world, all the different characters, what the Witcher was like, and all that sort of stuff, uh, for the TV series too, they pull stories from the first two short story collections. So I’d recommend starting with those and then moving on to the kind of arc series. That’s what I’ve been doing now and it’s really good. That’s the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I did hear that the print versions are all out of print. I think they’re reprinting them, but they’ve all sold out, but maybe by the time this comes out, it’ll be more available and you should be able to get the audio books and definitely the audio. I mean, sorry. You should be able to get the audio books and the e-books.
All right. I think that wraps it up for today’s Writing Walks. Thank you once again for joining me. If you enjoy the show, please tell your friends. You’d like to write a review, that’d be greatly appreciated, on iTunes or wherever you can write podcast reviews. And if you’d like to support the show in any way, I do have a KoFi linked to my Twitter account @bookbanter, or you can also support me on Patreon. I’m also posting photos of all my Writing Walks I take; I post them on my Instagram and also on the Patreon account. And if you’d like to start supporting me on Patreon and talking about writing or anything like that, I’d be happy to engage with you and try different things on Patreon. Thanks again for listening. And I’ll see you next time.