The Home Stretch

October 27th , 2014

The term “senioritis” comes to mind, though i’m not exactly sure i spelled that correctly or if there is even an officially correct spelling since i’m pretty sure it’s a made up word, but i first heard it in college so i know it’s a thing.

It refers to the idea that when you’ve been working on your degree for the last however many years and you finally reach the home stretch, suddenly you begin to skip classes and slack off on assignments and whatnot.

The end is so close you can literally see it approaching on your calendar. Why keep working hard? Your GPA soon won’t matter. If you bomb your last test you will probably still pass and that means you will probably still graduate and that means you will probably never see any of your professors again or care at all about their scrunched up disapproving faces.

It’s a mindset that can strike any long project. Work out goals, diet goals, personal projects, home improvement projects, whatever. For some reason, all that work you did at the start grinds you down and by the time you can see that the end of your suffering is near, you take your foot off the gas and you coast the rest of the way.

Writing, unfortunately, has multiple stages that can easily be affected by senioritis. Your first draft for instance, or your first edit, or just starting your first edit after you just put all that work into finishing your first draft. Then there’s revisions and rewrites and the cycle goes around and around. Each stage can drain you, leaving you exhausted and eager to just coast for a while.

Coasting can very quickly become stopping, which becomes stagnation. Maybe you stopped in the middle of a chapter and left it for months. Getting back into that mindset, picking up where you left off can feel like going on an archaeological dig into your manuscript, unearthing whatever came before and trying to decipher exactly what that strange creature from before was thinking when they wrote that strange and unfamiliar series of symbols.

Momentum is key. So is self discipline. Commit to write so many words a day or a week whether you feel inspired or not. Writer’s groups can be great for accountability. Anyone you value can be great accountability for that matter, just tell them to poke you once a week and check up on your weekly goal.

If you want to write, you do whatever it takes to stave off the slow crawl into stagnation, and when you see the homestretch approaching, for whatever stage of the journey your on, you put your foot down to the floor and cross the finish line with your engine roaring.

I am approaching a sort of artificially imposed homestretch. I want the first draft of the next book i am working on to be done by the end of the calender year. This will not be easy, but i will do my best to do it, and even if i don’t make it exactly when i want, there will be no senioritis involved.

What’s the goal? 2500 words a day or 10,000 words a week.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


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