Back in school I learned about this study that some scientists did on motivation. They took two groups of Marines and made them walk twenty miles. The first group was simply told to start walking. The second group was told how far they had to go before they could stop. I’m sure I’m getting the details wrong, but the point is that the first group suffered a lot more. They were tired, cranky and angry. The second group marched the twenty miles without a hitch. They were ready for more – boo ya!
We all do better when we know what the task ahead of us is, and roughly how long it’s going to take us.
I’ve been working on this novel (actually typing pages) since December of 2008 and I’ve got quite a ways to go yet. While it’s impossible to know exactly how much more time this project will take, it’s important to me to know how far I have to hike, and so to keep sane, I break the whole “write a novel” thing into chunks.
My new goal for a finished second draft is November 30th. Yes, it’s arbitrary. No, I don’t have an editor begging for pages, or a publisher anxiously awaiting my newest work, but it’s important for me to know what’s ahead and when I will get there.
Having a deadline (even an arbitrary one) keeps me moving forward.