How’d I Do?

So, last week I set myself a SMART challenge that was both smaller than some I’ve done before and, at the same time, bigger. 

What the…?  Does he have any idea how stupid that sounds?

Of course I do.  Self-awareness is one of those things that defines sentience which, I’d like to believe I am… sentient, that is… sort of.  But bare with me a moment while I “try” to explain my opening statement.

The goals I set were smaller than usual in that I was only setting specific, SMART, goals for a 7-day period of time.  The writing tasks were finite in nature to suit the timeframe.  With me so far?  Good, cause I’d really hate to lose you at this early juncture.

They were also bigger than many of my goals because they were so specific.  If you remember, I pledged to write a minimum of 30 minutes per day, have 5 more chapters for my sequel plotted and have the general plot outline for my Writing Show project done.  Oh yeah, and I was going to have a rough draft of my first chapter (again for the Writing Show project) complete.  The whole point of the goal-setting was to get fingers back on the keyboard and get my writing on track.

So, was my experiment successful?  In a word, NO.  It was, in fact, a dismal failure.  But at the same time, it was a huge success.

Yeah, I know… there I go again contradicting myself.  Maybe I should change the title of this article to “How many times can Mike contradict himself in one go”.

Now that everyone is thoroughly confused and wondering why they bothered to start reading this in the first place, let me talk about where things worked and where they didn’t.

What went wrong?

That whole 30 minute a night thing?  Yeah… not so much.  It actually took me 3 full days before I wrote a single word (I consider plotting to be writing in this context) and I can’t say that even then did I write every day.  If you do the math, I owed myself 3.5 hours of writing minimum for the week.

Having a completed first draft of my Writing Show submission.  Again, nice idea, but failed in the execution.

You’ve got to admit, those are two pretty major failures for a single week.  But there were some successes as you will see momentarily.

What went right?

Surprisingly, despite the big challenges of getting a late start and not producing every day of the 7-day stretch, I did a number of the things I had set out to accomplish.

I actually exceeded my weekly total for hours of writing.  I believe I finished the week with 4.25 hours vs. the original goal of 3.5 hours.  Granted, most of that was completed on two separate days instead of spread out over 7…

I plotted 6 new chapters for my sequel, not 5 and I’ve got a new perspective on where the story is going and how it’s going to get there.

I did get the general story outline completed for my Writing Show entry.  I also discovered that a prologue might be in order.  And I came up with a new, more compelling way to begin the first chapter (new to me anyway), and… well, let’s just say that it went better than expected in many ways.

I did actually get some of the prologue written (see below).  Keep in mind that it’s not finished and it is draft.

Deep in the silent depths of hyperspace, a ship slowly died.  Its engines cooled, sputtered and finally flared out causing the ship to drop back into normal space where it floated inert and powerless.  Systems across the ship shut down and the sole occupant of the vessel came awake as the stasis field surrounding his cell collapsed.


Leviticus Pope woke with the realization that something was seriously wrong.  Sitting up in his cot, he searched his brain, furiously trying to identify the problem.  Several minutes passed before he finally understood; there was no sound.  No sounds of people.  No sounds of equipment.  Not even the soft purr of air ventilating the ship.  Nothing but the rasping sound of his own breathing.

As you can see, the grand experiment didn’t go exactly according to plan, but it still did what I needed it to do, which is write and create.  From that vantage point, it was a success.  And that is really the point for me.  Getting the writing going in the right direction and focusing what I wanted to accomplish.

Next week will definitely be more of the same.  I won’t dwell on the pieces that didn’t go as planned.  I celebrate the ones that did.  And, I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Have a great week!


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