Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Work-in-Progress Wednesday: Goals and Rewards

When I was really struggling with The Bartender Book, I went to a wine-tasting at a (totally amazing) local wine shop called House Red. I was writing it up for my freelance job for the local paper, but I tried one wine that I just Had. To. Have.

However it was 45$ and my usual wine budget falls in the 5 to 10$ range at Trader Joe's. It was available for pre-order (because it was coming all the way specially from Italy), so I decided to get it. I told myself that if I'd finished the book when it came I could drink it.

As you can see from the picture, it is still unopened. I finished the book, but I ended up doing so about a month before the wine arrived. I used another little incentive: a trip to New Orleans with my husband. I wanted to finish before we left so I didn't have the book on my mind. With a bunch of all-nighters and my co-workers at the bar graciously agreeing to take a couple of my shifts, I met my goal. I had a lovely trip and I was actually in revisions when the wine arrived.

I could have used the wine as a reward when I finished those, but since I like revisions, I didn't feel I needed it. I decided that since wine only improves with age, that it would keep until I sell a new book.

Opening that bottle of wine is the big reward for a goal that is sort of out of my control. I can't determine when or if the Bartender Book will sell. All I can do is keep writing so that if it doesn't someday I can still drink that damn wine.

Enter the Modern Myth YA. Because of my slump, I've been hesitant to set big goals. As I've mentioned before, daily word count goals tend to cause more trouble than good for me (because I start to value quantity over quality, I veer off path, I stress unnecessarily), so my general goal is just to do a couple of 90 minute write sessions a day and follow my natural rhythm.

Then my friend Lindsay came back for another visit (that's the reason for no WIP Weds on March 14) and a week off got me itching to revise. I also had a conversation with my lovely agent and she said she would really like to see what I was working on if I had a solid chunk and it wouldn't interrupt my flow and maybe just maybe we could even shop on partial. After running a compile in Scrivener, I found to my delight that I'd produced a little over 100 pages already. They were rough though, but why not polish them to get back into the manuscript, please lovely agent A, and maybe just maybe (big big maybe) get a step closer to drinking that wine. Plus I have a trip to Seattle coming up on the 5th. Trips are great goals for me and I would have a good amount of time to get it polished before then.

Except last week my elderly cat Sidney got really sick (that's the reason for no WIP Weds on March 21), so my whole week was filled with distraction and anxiety. I still have four chapters to polish (and mind you it took almost a week to polish one of my chapters, but it averages more like a day or two), one which needs a bunch of scenes still written (that could definitely take a week!), and I need to turn my garbled outline into a working synopsis. All in *GULP* three-and-a-half working days. (I leave on the 5th, but have some other commitments on other days.)

I'm not really sure it can be done, but I'm trying not to beat myself up about it (and since lovely agent A is so very lovely it makes it easier) and I'm also so into and excited about it that I'm actually willing to work on it on the plane and during my downtime on vacation. We shall see what happens.

But due too my crazy goals there will be no WIP Weds next week (unless I check in to declare victory) or the following week (Seattle) or the week after that (RT conference, come and see my events if you are there). But I'll be back in mid-April, with more updates, snippets and maybe some real solid goals about finishing the last 2/3rds of this book if I'm brave enough.

However, you should all check out my lovely CP, Kaz Mahoney's blog because she is setting goals for a sort of spring NaNoWriMo and if you are trying to set some goals too, you should join her. I will be once I get back.

What kinds of goals do you set and what ways do you reward yourself both big and small?


Karen Mahoney said...

The day you get to drink that wine, I wish I could fly across the Atlantic and taste it with you! :)

Great post. (And thanks for the linkage.)


Adrianne Russell said...

I hope your cat is feeling better!

The last goal I set was if I wrote 500 words I could watch the latest episode of "Dance Moms." Somehow allowing myself to indulge in guilty pleasure TV is fairly motivating! It wasn't as satisfying as wine, though.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

I wish you could, too, Kaz! And you are more than welcome for the linkage.

Adrianne, thank you, and he is! Guilty pleasure TV is a good goal too.

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

I'm here hoping you get to open that bottle soon :) Best wishes for you and Sidney :)

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks so much Audrey!