Challenges and Goals

lightning-boltI love participating in challenges. They’re like productive dares. Who can resist a good dare? I’ve always been the kind of person to do something just because someone said I couldn’t.

When I was a kid, we used to go camping in the mountains and there was a series of lakes connected by a creek. We’d usually camp at one of the bottom couple lakes, and at least one day during our trip we’d hike up to the top lake, and then the top of the mountain. One year, as we were passing one of the middle lakes on our way up, my older brother said, “I bet you couldn’t swim across this lake. I could, but you couldn’t.” So I promptly stripped out of my clothes (I had my swimming suit on under) and said, “I’ll meet you on the other side.” And I did. Even though it was ridiculously cold, even though I wasn’t a professional swimmer, even though no one else did it with me, and even though it was further than I’d probably ever swam at once before, I did it, simply because my brother said I couldn’t. (By the way, don’t ask my brother about this story. He lies. In recent years he has decided that he swam it with me, and he gets my sister to lie for him, too. My dad will verify that my side of the story is accurate, though.)

Anyway, the point is, I work well under pressure. I push myself when I have a reason to. Even if that reason is totally arbitrary, having it helps me.

I love having a specific goal to meet and measurable success. That’s why I love NaNoWriMo. It has a specific goal to meet in a specific amount of time. I didn’t participate last year. I was overwhelmed by life stuff. But I missed it. I missed having to push through to meet a word count goal and the feeling of satisfaction when I do.

So, when my friend and boss at Splickety/Havok issued a Flash Fiction challenge, I jumped on board. The goal is to write a flash story (flash fiction is 1000 words or less) every day for the rest of August.

I started yesterday, and succeeded. One down. Now, on to the rest of the month. Who’s with me?

About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

6 comments on “Challenges and Goals

  1. I’ve written three or four now, but I started a few days earlier, I think. I’m going through our 2015 themes and writing a story for each one–or at least I’m attempting to. I wrote a couple of bonus stories as well.

    So far this is harder than I thought, but I’m loving it anyway. I’m essentially panting my way through these stories (as I am known to do with my flash fiction) so two of the four or so that I’ve written are pretty lame and will need some salvation at some point, but the point is that I’m DOING it. And by the end of the month, I’ll have several marketable stories that I can distribute to my readers as a bonus for buying my new book. 😉

    • I’m specifically trying to focus on ones that I know I have to write anyway, like my upcoming staff features. I’m planning to write at least two or three possible stories for each one so I can pick the best ones to actually use. I also have a short story series I’d like to add to, and there’s another magazine I’ve been thinking of submitting to, so I’d like to work on a story for that.
      And of course, the baby is having a “don’t put me down at all today” day, so that makes it harder.

  2. Amen, Avily. Challenges should always stretch us to use skills we thought we didn’t posses or achieve results we never thought possible. We should seek out and embrace challenges – not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because when it comes right down to it, the only way for us to expand our comfort zone is to step (or sometimes get shoved) outside of it.

    • Absolutely. It’s easy to get complacent when you don’t “have” to do something, so having a challenge to drive you forward can be very helpful.

  3. […] I did a longer story and divided it between two days. I mentioned when I started how I enjoy having challenges and goals, because it helps me be more productive. So, while I didn’t achieve the goal to the letter, […]

  4. […] that I’m a goal-driven person who works well under pressure and likes to accept challenges, not completing NaNo feels like a failure. I beat myself up over how if I hadn’t skipped so […]

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