Friday, October 22, 2010

How Do You Measure A Year?

By Susan Ishmael-Poulos

How do you measure a year?

In a week, I'll celebrate my 39th birthday- which gives me only 525,600 minutes before I turn The Big 4-0. God willing, I'll fill those minutes with family and love and travel and words. God-willing, I'll stand up for justice, support my friends, nurture my children and grow as a woman.


God-willing, this year ahead of me will be as full and as fun as the last.

Every year when the season turns from autumn to winter I evaluate the last 365 days and plan for the next 12 months. I don't make New Year's resolutions, I make birthday resolutions. Ending this decade, in many ways, is both a relief and a challenge. At 39, I'm finally a grown up. I'm settled in my skin, I know who I am and what I want. (Right? Please tell me I'm right). And my birthday resolution this year? To complete The Angel's Share, the manuscript I've held in my hands for longer than I care to admit. Forty for me is a good thing. It's a great motivator for getting things done.

Goal setting in writing is critical. This past week, Julie has challenged us to write 500 words a day, which means not just talking about writing, or blogging about writing, but actually writing. I took her up on her challenge and actually surprised myself: 1568 words in the past three days. Good words. Words that bring me closer to that light at the end of the tunnel. The beauty of this challenge is that as writers, we often rely only on internal motivation to write. If we are lacking in internal motivation- as many of us struggle with- it's great to have a friend challenge you to step up. External motivation in a powerful thing. My looming birthday is my biggest external motivation yet.

Where are you right now? Relying on you to motivate yourself to sit down and get those words out of your head and onto paper, or waiting on someone, or some thing, to challenge you? If you are of the latter, then here is your challenge. I'm stealing from Julie- (but she will forgive me)- Five hundred words a day. In the next 525,600 minutes you'll have written not one, but TWO manuscripts. Now: listen to the song I've attached above and get busy.

You can thank me later.


  1. Oh love this! I know, sometimes you just need that push to get back into routine, no matter how many words a day! Mine really took off when my crit partner and I swapped some new WIP chapters--whoa did we both surprise ourselves with that stuff! Love it! And happy to say, I nailed about 2K today! =D

    Keep going strong, and I love the song!

  2. I usually have to set myself challenges to accomplish my word count. It almost always works, and when it doesn't, it's usually for a really good reason instead of just excuses. I guess I am deadline-driven. Glad you joined in the fun this week, Susan! I intended to finish my weekly goal yesterday, but I think taking my mom to the ER qualified. Getting on it today ... unless we have a TORNADO. It's dark out there.

  3. A very timely reminder! I'm off to write my 500 words now.


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