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Permission granted

When I go running, I usually set out with a goal for that run–say 35 minutes. Sometimes, when I've met that goal, I think, “Great, but it'd be even better if I went around the loop once more and made it 45.” Yes, my hips will thank me, and an extra ten minutes will not normally throw off my whole schedule, but surpassing a goal isn't always the right choice.

There's a delicate balance between shirking your work and going overboard. It takes discipline to keep going when it feels like you won't make it, but it also takes a sort of discipline to stop when you reach your goal.

For example, I have set a daily writing goal of 1000 words. Some days it takes me less than two hours, and other days I sit in front of the computer for 12. And some days, I don't meet it.

Often, I feel like I should keep pressing, even if I meet my 1000 words, to make up for the days when I don't. Shouldn't I just keep typing until bedtime? Write during lunch? Skip reading that book I've been dying to open?


As tempting as it is to work on my MS day and night (and I still do, a lot), I'm granting myself permission to stop at 1000 words. Stop after reading one contest entry. Stop after doing one class exercise.

Otherwise, I'll miss out on the little joys that I so look forward to. Every good effort deserves a reward. I'm not yet getting paid to write, but I can pay myself in other ways. Relax with a good book. Hang out with the kids. Have lunch with a friend.

How do you keep yourself from burning out, but still meet your goals?

The Daily Squirrel: goal

A crimson banner emblazoned with the word “FINISH” flapped in the breeze at least a mile down the road. It appeared closer on the long, straight path, but she had only passed the eleventh mile marker a few minutes ago.

Her legs dragged as if weighed down with lead, but she kept shuffling forward in a pathetic jog-walk. No one thought she could do this. Brad had laughed right in her face when he overheard her telling the boss she signed up for the half-marathon.

She might not finish in ninety minutes like super jock, Brad, but she would finish if it killed her. She couldn't wait to see the look on his face when she crossed the finish line. He wouldn't be laughing then, and he might start to wonder what else she could accomplish if she set her mind to it.

Let him worry, she thought with a smile.

Tell your friends!


  1. Christine


    I think you have an excellent philosophy and balance in your writing/regular life. I tend to go in spurts when I am covered under with external demands. I pushed through a batch yesterday because I KNEW the rest of the week was not looking good for writing. But usually I set the timer. Now in revisions, I don’t go by word count. I go by time count. Sometimes I cut more words than I write.

    I love first draft writing. I can’t wait to start the next WIP just so I can move ahead.

    • Reply

      I’m working on finding balance. It requires a lot of discipline and practice. I’ll definitely have to find a new metric when I’m revising, like a chapter a day or a certain number of scenes.

      Avoiding the lure of the new story is the hardest part, isn’t it?

      I guess when life gets in the way, all we can do is enjoy the break!

  2. Martha Warner


    There isn’t anything harder to achieve than balance. I have been teetering on the brink of hubby-revolt because with all the emails/blogging/writing that I have to do after work… he feels neglected. *sigh*

    So I went out and upgraded my phone to the new DROID Eres — oooOOOoo — I love it. I can access everything. Everything. My email, my files to crit, my blog, anything and everything. So I can get it all done during the day as it happens instead of playing catch up at night.

    And *yahoo* he’s golden again…. 🙂

    • Reply

      Awesome. I love new toys. I do the same with my iPhone (which I’m on right now).

      I think aftery hubby finishes school this summer he’ll notice my lack of availability. Right now, he’s too busy!

  3. Christine


    My thumbs don’t let me type fast enough to comment on my iPhone, but I do use it to catch up on my email/blog reading if I am stuck somewhere. I got to thinking though, that’s when I used to catch up on my reading.

    I wonder what would happen if I stopped reading blogs, emails, class loops, coordinating loops, coordinating contests, blogging? The world wouldn’t stop turning, but I think I’d miss my online community tremendously. It’s like a virtual playground.

    I do all my “computer catch up” at night–but my DH is usually on his anyway and DD is studying or with friends. If not, then we’re off doing something.

    • Reply

      I’m with you, C. The community is addictive. Even when hubby’s not in school, we always find reasons to be on our computers, and since every member of our family has one (I know, right?), it’s easy for us to all be doing our own thing.

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