I Realized A Few Important Things About a Challenge…
You have to have the following…
1… It actually has to be a challenge. Something you haven’t done before.
2… You have to remember what the challenge is on bad days six months after you start and why you are doing it.
3… The results of the challenge need to be something that can be used and advance some part of your writing or publishing world.
4… If a Writing Challenge, it has to follow Heinlein’s Rules.
Okay, those all seem simple, right? And for most writers and most levels of challenges, they are simple. Until you get to a level of production that I am at.
My challenge last year was to publish 70 major books in my 70th year. So looking at it by the numbers, #1 it was not something I had ever done before and was a real challenge. #2 it was easy to remember, #3 yup, those 70 major books are already being used and making me money a great deal. #4, it followed the 4th rule of Heinlein’s Rules, so great there even though it wasn’t a writing project. Still I had to start and finish every one of those projects over the year and have a supportive team behind me and propping me up.
So today I did a lot of thinking about the challenge I might start on January 1st. It’s a writing challenge. And my biggest problem for me isn’t if I could do it or not. I know it will be difficult and I will slip along the way. I’m okay with that. And I can remember it without a problem.
My problem is #3 and #4. If I do the challenge I am thinking about, and make it, I will end up with far more finished writing than can be used in any real sense and thus I will miss #4 of Heinlein’s Rules, which honestly has always been my toughest anyway. I still have almost 50 short stories unpublished and printed out in a pile behind this computer screen.
My problem is that if I start the challenge, the massive amount of product starts to build up and nothing is being done with it, I will just cancel the challenge. May, June… along in there. That’s where the remnants of my critical voice hang out, in the “What’s the Point?” of not doing anything with something I have written. Especially if sometimes the writing makes me lose sleep and be stressed in any fashion.
So the challenge now is how to deal with #3 and #4 above. I will be back shortly to let you know how I figure it out and either start over with the idea of a challenge, or just not do one, or announce it. Either way I will tell you what I am thinking.
But when setting up your own challenges for 2022, keep firmly in mind those four elements. And if one element seems like it might be a problem, figure it out before you start. If you can see a problem coming ahead of time, it most certainly will be one during the year.