Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Do What Till Labor Day?


It’s not Labor Day yet, but one thing is certain: I have achieved major fail on my Labor Till Labor Day Dare.

My goals were unrealistic (“Write more new words than you’ve ever written in a month and revise two hundred pages on top of that”), and I’d forgotten to factor in my obsession with the Olympics (Yay, Olympics!). Then a multi-day shoot at work sucked a ton of my time and energy. Plus, August boasts both my anniversary with Chris and my birthday.

My timing for this dare was less than ideal, but let’s face the real truth: My record with dares, even the ones I start myself, is abysmal. Dares don’t make me write more, they just make me feel more guilty for not writing. And hey, if there’s one thing I don’t need, it’s more guilt!

It’s time for me to find a new way to tap into my writing mojo… preferably a way that works.  As always, I’m open to suggestions!

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • I pretty much use weekly goals that help guide what I choose to work on every day. And I don't kick myself for missing them: I just use them to help me pick my work for each day, crossing off what I achieve, rolling what I miss over to the next week without adding to it (i.e. this week I'm supposed to do 1500 words on Phoenix; if I miss, next week I'll have to do 1500 words on Phoenix, not 3000 — that kind of adding seems counterproductive to me; all it does is point out you're behind). I also have yearly goals, but I don't break those down to monthly because I know some months are just fantastic and others? Well other we'd like to ignore ever happened. ;)

    Beyond that, I use little rewards. For example, we earn little…well, we call them crests, at my writing group for achieving certain things. Right now I have a copper apple (along with a few others) to signify that I've done 250 crits for the group, and I'm aiming for the silver 500 crit apple. We have them for writing goals, submissions, publications, all kinds of things. And I'm pretty proud of my crest heavy signature over there. Not quite sure what you could put in place of crests, but sometimes aiming for some kind of rewards helps.

    You can see some of my crests here:
    These are just things I've earned for challenges — they don't include my story crests, crits, or anything else. I should think about adding them though. ;)

    • Wow, I've never seen anything like that crest system — seems like it's very effective!

      I particularly like your rule about not carrying over goals to the next week, so that they snowball into massive wordcounts (and massive guilt). That seems very wise, and maybe even doable for me!

  • I picked up the crest system from a community called Forward Motion, though they call them something else. I am a big crest o'holic, but I really can't afford to reward myself with anything else, not even a pretty pen or pencil. :(

    You can see all our crests here:
    Even the ones for previous challenges are shown on those pages (see the Completed stuff). Just keep in mind we don't want them used anywhere except at DII.

    They do change every now and then. We're looking at a few activities to cut at the end of the year: we don't want to put in a lot of work on stuff that gets no participation, you know? And with our 35 member max, participation in activities can be problematic. But we've got a few things we keep doing: revision ralleys (mostly because I need them, the writing challenge, a few others.

  • I think that everyone needs to find their own system that works for them.

    I also think you have two goals:

    1. write more

    2. not be guilty

    These seem to be compatible goals, but I feel that they might be mutually exclusive if you use more force to do it.

    For myself, I see my writing as a delicate flower. If you pull it out of the ground with guilt and goals, it dies.

    You need to plant the seeds, put it in the sun, water it, and get out of the way.

    Getting out of the way is very important for me. It's a matter of trust that I'll finish a project. I don't know when, but life is too short for guilt.

    You write because you want to be happier. Happiness does not come from writing a lot of words nor does it come from guilt. It comes from the candy store when you buy chocolate. :)

    I find that the more relaxed I am around my fiction, the more I'll write. This means reading a lot of fiction, going to web sites about RPGs, watching movies, and remembering why I like to write to begin with. Daydreaming about new worlds. Biking when I'm free to think of fiction or not. No pressure.

    Then again, I never finished a novel. :)

  • One thing I picked up from RWA Nationals this year:

    "Devotion, not disclipline."

    While discipline has its place, the more guilt and fear and negative emotion we put on our writing, the harder it is. We used to love doing this, and we need to find our way back to that place. This is my job, yes, but it' also my joy, and I need to devote myself to it rather than beat myself up about it.

    I'm also finding that setting myself time goals to write works better than word count goals. While I do need to be aware of my progress in order to meet deadlines, I'm finding that I'm happier writing when I work regularly and steadily. I'm happier if my goals are "Today I need to work on X short story and Y novel," and not stress about "Q number of words on each."

    I also listened to a workshop recording recently where they suggested you set ridiculously small goals to start. "I will write one sentence today." Then reward yourself. Yay, go me, I achieved my goal! You slowly build those up higher, but never crazy-high, and the ultimate concept is that you buoy yourself by always reaching your goals rather than creating negativity by setting your goals to high and feeling guilty and bad for not reaching them.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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