I promised my friend Lori that I'd have the first draft of The Terrapin's Trail done by July 31. Psychologically it's a tremendous to set a deadline for myself. Part of the problem for me, a naturally-undisciplined writer, is that I lack focus and "work ethics" when there's no deadline. I thrive on deadlines. I work best when there's a deadline looming around the corner. In college, I wouldn't even start on my projects until two days before they were due. I wrote my review column the same day it was due every week. I just don't do well with too much time on my hands.
It's a personality flaw. And I let my situations enable this flaw of mine -- what I need is more discipline, though I won't like it. The problem is that I have a need for achievements and success, but at the same time I don't like to feel like I have to "work." This dichotomy in my personality has been a hurdle for me to achieve what I want while trying to have a relaxed, carefree life. The overachiever in me vs. the beach bum. All my life I've wanted to find a balance -- I know I can't be truly happy being an overachiever at all times or a beach bum (I'd get so incredibly bored after a few days at the beach). But where is that balance?
Right now, I need to focus. I've spent almost 3 years on this novel now, and it's not going to write itself if I don't get cracking. I've made progress. The book is currently at 65,000 words, but I still have a way to go to finish it. At the end, it may not be a very good book after all, and I may have to put it aside for a while and wait for the writer in me to mature. But I'd be damned if I don't finish what I started. When I started on my first novel, I told myself my goal was to finish writing it, to see if I could get to "the end." I did. I never thought I would get it published. But I did. After that, it did seem like suddenly I lost a purpose. What's left to do? What's next?
I do want to continue to write stories, and to be published and read. Widely. So I know that should be my next goals. I've always been a goal-oriented person, and I know if I put my mind to sometimes, I always accomplish it. So that's what I need to do -- to refocus my efforts, and redefine my goals.