An Optimist Learns Objectivity

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

As an optimist, I assume the best about my writing. Of course I’m writing (almost) every day. Of course my manuscript is coming along beautifully. I’ll be finished in a couple of months.

When I completed WriteOwls’ Write by Midnight in February, the most useful tool in the whole month was the daily writing log. And it’s because I’m an optimist.

When I actually recorded my daily writing progress, I could no longer simply assume the best. If I didn’t write one day, that day had a big blank line beside it. And that objective record forced me to be realistic instead of just optimistic about my writing.

I managed to wake up early and write most days, so I met my goal of establishing an early morning writing routine. But my writing log wasn’t just a checkmark of whether or not I wrote that day. It also required a stated goal and notes on my progress. That’s when I realized how slowly this revision was coming along.

My goal for an entire week was to revise a single scene. I worked at it every day, but I did not make much headway. Eventually I realized that I’d have to go back to an earlier point in the story to lay some groundwork before I’d have a chance at fixing that particular scene.

Writing all this non-progress down in my writing log was a bit discouraging. If I hadn’t kept that record, I probably would have assumed that I was writing every day and therefore making wonderful progress. But the log was vital to actual success because it helped me see a problem and then figure out a way around it.

What tools help you set and achieve your writing goals?

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