Starting from Zero

zeroSometimes, as we said in our post on reviving your New Years Resolutions, you fall a bit short of your goals. Sometimes, you fall way short.

When this happens, every writer handles it differently. Some brush themselves off and get right back on it, others regroup after a short break, and yet others take a little longer to stew over it. Some don’t let their shortcomings affect them at all, while others do. Case and point: we’re all different. But if there is one thing we should all strive for, it should be to not allow that let-down to affect our future progress.

Alas, we’re all human. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we get discouraged. This is where starting from zero comes in handy.

This morning, I woke up and opened up a small spiral notebook. I drafted out a few major goals and decided that, despite being a bit disappointed with myself this new year, I’d drop the negativity and channel only positive energy into my goals moving forward. In addition, I decided I would treat the process as I would a rigorous workout routine: start slow and work my way up.

The goals—which read more like priorities—varied. I listed them in order of importance, with my fitness and health ranking at number one (of course, writing was in the top three). It felt silly to do this, especially since I have made countless similar lists over the years that proved ineffective. Why bother trying again, when I know I’ll only continue to break down my good habits over time—if I ever form them at all? My original resolve was already starting to weaken, victim to my negative and self-depreciating thinking, when I came across today’s horoscope:

You have a long list of things to do. Many of them are priorities. But you can only have so many priorities, and you may be fighting an uphill battle to get everything done. It may be time to reevaluate what you need to do, and the order in which you need to do it. This will also give you a chance to catch your breath, and to figure out if all your goals are just as important as they were when you started. Once you revise your plan, you will feel settled and confident.

This is what I call “starting from zero.” Taking a deep breath, organizing your thoughts, and accepting that you aren’t flawless. It may seem easier said than done, but ultimately, giving yourself permission to continue despite your past failures will only make you stronger… and less stressed!

It may sound odd, but I say “give yourself permission” to continue because that’s exactly what you need to do: stop berating yourself and allow yourself to move on. That “uphill battle” my perfectly-timed horoscope speaks of is often caused by our own self-criticism. And while there are some priorities we can’t just drop and pick back up later, it can be helpful to ease up on ourselves during these times instead of stacking on more responsibility.

If you’re having a hard time getting back to zero, try these steps. They may seem cheesy or cliché, but they work!

1) Start with a relaxing activity, such as some deep breathing or a warm bath.
2) Take out a notebook. Write down your goals and priorities in order of most important to least, and star the ones you’d like to improve on.
3) Brainstorm. Write out what you’re doing, saying, or thinking that’s causing you to stand in your own way.
4) If it helps, write out an actual pledge to yourself. It could be a pledge of forgiveness, a pledge to continue… whatever you need to keep going!
5) Take your goals further. Write out solid, measurable ways you can work toward these goals on a regular basis—this way, you aren’t vaguely saying “I’m going to achieve this.” Instead, you’re promising yourself “I’m going to do this, which will help me achieve this.”

Finally, give yourself some slack! Writing is hard enough on its own—let alone while berating yourself for missing a deadline or not writing at all. If you ever find yourself in a rut, stop by our Twitter for some motivation, sprints, or just plain fun. We promise to do our best to get you out!

Do you ever bully yourself into a corner? Do you find starting fresh helps? Let us know!

And now… here’s this week’s Story Shuffle prompt!

Character: An 8 year-old math genius who talks with a lisp

Setting: Vienna

Year/Era: 1066

Item of Interest: A fake voodoo doll

This one’s a toughie. ;) Good luck and let us know how it goes!


4 thoughts on “Starting from Zero

  1. Pingback: Battling the Mid-Month Boogie Monsters | The Sprint Shack

  2. Pingback: How Writing “for Publication” (Nearly) Killed My Love for The Craft | The Sprint Shack

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