Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Antagonist Within

I am currently working on my first full length novel and for the most part I find it to be a real joy. I get excited knowing that when I finish my day job I'll come home and will be able to start working on something that I want to do for me. However there are times when I arrive to my little room after a long day of work that the antagonist inside of me places several obstacles in my path that some days I overcome and other days defeat me. Now the antagonist inside of me is not like the one in my book. No I don't have to battle wits with a psychopathic killer or solve mysteries, no it's much worse. I have to battle the desires that the antagonist within me places in my mind, and believe me there are times it is difficult to beat his logic. He might suggest sitting down on my bed. I agree, Certainly a few moments of rest would do me good before I write. Then he might suggest that some television would help me to unwind. That sounds reasonable I respond. And then to finish me off he suggests enjoying a few cookies. Capital idea! Before I know it I have sat through two hours of television and I realize I've been bested again! As you can see the antagonist inside of me is much more deadly than anything I can dream up and put on paper because the antagonist inside of me is stopping me from what I want to achieve.

Thankfully when this happens I get up a little earlier the next day and spend the extra time making up for the writing I should have done the night before. Five years ago there is no way that I would have been able to recover that quickly. Back then I would have used my failure as an excuse to fail again and again until the negativity I was creating might have stopped me all together from achieving my goals. Today I'm happy to report that I achieve the goals I set in place for myself and I do it because they are important enough to me, and I know that a setback is something to move past quickly and I can still continue to achieve my goal.

What I have learned for myself is what I do first is the most important thing. So I may say Writing is the most important thing in my life, but if I get home and sit in front of the television for two hours then my actions are not fulfilling my desire. It takes conscious effort to sit in the chair and do the writing first and then when I'm done I can play or relax. If I try to do it the other way it falls apart and never works.

One of the clear ways that I have found to complete my writing is to set goals. I set goals for myself that are clearly written, that have a time and date to be completed and contain a reward. For instance this week my goal is to break the 50,000 word mark in my novel. When I set this I had just over 40,000 words complete, so I needed to accomplish 10,000 words in seven days. This goal was simple to put down on paper with a clear completion time and reward. I would write a minimum of 1,500 words per day (which for me is less than half a scene). The reward is a slice of pecan pie with a scoop of ice cream. Having the reward is important because it gives me two things to shoot for, in this case: 
1.     Finish 50,000 words (a real accomplishment for my work)
2.     Get to eat pecan pie (a real treat for my taste buds)

So here is how I learned to beat the antagonist within (at least most of the time) 
  • Set goals and write them down with clear dates and times to work on and accomplish the goal.
  • Do the important stuff first. First in the morning, first when you get home. If it's important it needs to come first.
  • Set rewards for accomplishing goals and don't give the reward until the goal is accomplished.
  • Understand that you will not always accomplish what you want every day. Accept it, move on and continue to accomplish the goal.

Stay tuned as I'll be laying out the basis for my book in an upcoming video blog.

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