The Big 3-0: Reflections

On Thursday, I celebrated a milestone: my 30th birthday. I try not to be one of those people who freaks out at birthdays, and the truth is, I feel no different at 30 than I did at 29. But I think birthdays, like some holidays, provide a good opportunity to reflect on one’s life and goals, especially when entering a whole new decade.

My 30s are intimidating to me because I associate them with “real” adulthood. My earliest memories of my mother are when she was in her early 30s, and of course, I always thought she was a real grown-up, someone who had everything together. This next decade is going to include a lot of choices – where do we want to live long term, do we want to buy a house, are we going to have kids, and if so when, etc., etc. This is also going to be an important time in my legal career. I’ve been working for almost five years now, so I finally feel like I know what I’m doing at work. The next decade will (I hope) provide more opportunities to advance in that career, and, most importantly, I should qualify for public service loan forgiveness within the next six to seven years (seriously, it’s going to be the happiest day of my life).

When I look forward to the next decade of my writing career, I don’t know what will happen. I have one project finished, pending editing, and I have three other projects that are thisclose to being done. Okay, realistically, each one needs another solid month of work, but I could finish at least one or two of those by the end of the year. Taking that into consideration, what’s a realistic goal for the next ten years? Publish one book a year? That seems a little aggressive to me, though not impossible. Maybe one every year and a half? That would end up being between 6-7 books over the next decade. I think that’s possible. Ideas aren’t the problem. I have 11 stories “in progress” – meaning I’ve either written something on the story or I’ve fleshed out the idea. So, the problem is actually sitting down and finishing all of these projects.

I’m also trying to remind myself that I’ve accomplished a lot so far. Let’s be honest – during ages 1 through 18, I didn’t do much, but in those subsequent 12 years, I finished college and law school, had two great legal jobs, published a book, and traveled a decent amount. That’s not bad before 30.

Do you use birthdays or holidays to reflect upon your goals? Anyone else hit 30 and not freak out (or did you freak out)? 

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Writing Struggles: When Real Life Gets in the Way

I want to apologize in advance, because this post has sort of a negative vibe to it. This was a rough week. There’s no way around that. Some things happened at work that really shook me up. Three people were fired from our office, all in management, and it happened very suddenly. These were people I liked, people who I enjoyed spending time with outside of work. I have to be a little bit vague about all of this, because I don’t know if I could get into trouble at my job for talking about any of the details.

I spent a lot of time this week thinking. I thought about my current job, my work as a writer, and where exactly I’m going with my life. Everything that happened at my job just left me really discouraged. That discouragement spread from my job to my writing, and as a result, I really didn’t write much this week. I couldn’t find the energy. I couldn’t find the interest. Instead of being productive, I just sat on my couch and stared at the wall, wondering what I was going to do about my career.

As much as I would love to be able to quit job and write full-time, that is not going to happen anytime soon, if ever. Most days, I love my job. I love being a lawyer–or rather, I love working in the field that I do. I have an interesting, high-paced job. I don’t think I would be so happy if I worked in a different field of law.

Today, I’ve been beating myself up about my lack of productivity this week (and, instead of working on Repetitions, I’m on here, writing this blog post–ha). I only have essentially a week left in the month, and I’ve only written about 14,000 words. I’m nowhere close to finishing this project, and each day that goes by without writing takes me further from my goal. Add onto that the facts that next weekend will also be a no-work weekend (spending the weekend celebrating a good friend at her bachelorette party) and that a huge case at work is coming up for trial the following week, and I don’t know how I’m going to achieve much these last 8 days. Will I even hit 25,000 for the month?

When I get down on myself about not meeting my goals, I try to remind myself that this is the first year where I have been serious about goals. Last year, I wrote about 114,000 words. In 2013, pretty much the only thing I did was write The Historian (which is maybe 72,000 words). In comparison, I’ve already written over 107,000 this year. That’s pretty good. If I keep up a steady pace, it’s very realistic that I will finish at least two projects by the end of the year, possibly three. That’s amazing for someone who just started writing (meaning: actually sitting down, writing, and finishing things, not just dreaming up ideas and sketching characters) less than two years ago.

So, although a part of me is being very critical, I’m trying to stay positive. I’m trying to focus on how much I’ve already done and how I’m accomplishing other goals as well (reading 100 books in a year is no joke).  And if I don’t finish Repetitions by the end of June – fine. I’ll finish it in July. Or August. Or whenever the project is complete. This is not a George R.R. Martin situation.

How do you stay motivated with your projects when real life gets in the way? Post suggestions in the comments!