Goal-setting is relatively ineffective for me. I tend to reach somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of any writing goal I set for myself. But joining a challenge and having some kind of external-to-me group to whom I can report? Much better. For example, this week I had a couple of different short story ideas, but both of them required research and were probably going to be longer pieces. I didn't do any writing on either of them, but I got some novel writing done while I was procrastinating, and I did think about them a whole lot. In an effort to get something submitted this week, I went back and edited a short story that's been sitting on my hard drive since October. And this afternoon, I decided I just couldn't let a week go by without at least making an attempt to produce a new short story. I drafted half of one today.
It was a productive week, in other words. Even if I didn't meet the challenge this week, I'll have a couple of pieces that will probably be ready to go for a first round of submissions by the end of next week.
And this is my main point: Write 1 Sub 1 has gotten my creaky submission process in gear. I will sometimes go through jags of submitting stuff, only to drift away from it later. But the idea of having to get a story in fighting shape, super fast, is helping me to see that doing so doesn't have to be a laborious, painstaking process. It can be a fun, roller coaster, extra super fast laborious and painstaking process.
For the first time in a while, I'm engaging a skill I learned in grad school: researching, composing and editing a piece of writing at high speed and with an eye to high quality. I know I can do this. And hey, there will be time for any further necessary revisions after the rejections roll in, right?
A bit of theory here: in The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron uses the metaphor of "filling the well" to argue that what we really need as artists is a source of images, experiences, or encounters with art in order to stimulate our process. Otherwise, we risk becoming drained or "empty."
Right now, I'm feeling like a different metaphor is appropriate. I'm finding that as I work to "empty the well" by using ideas and engaging in writing, editing, polishing and submitting, I'm giving room for more fresh inspiration to flow in. Instead of stale, stagnant waters, I've got fresh, spring-fed, bubbling coolness. There might even be the odd mysterious sea creature down there.
I'm looking forward to finding out.