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Introduction and Background

In 2018 I did the #RejectionChallenge for the first time. I learned a lot, both about the professional side of writing–taking it from a ‘when I feel like it’ to treating it like a job–and managing my emotions around writing and submitting. It really helped me to level up, in terms of feeling and sounding like a professional writer, banishing quite a bit of my imposter syndrome; after all, I knew how much work I was putting into meeting my goals.

Coming off that success, in 2019 I started a weekly challenge for a couple of people in my online writing group, mostly to help us keep on target and offer encouragement to each other. What started as a small group grew in number pretty quickly. Along the way the Challenge became not just about the submissions, but about how to overcome obstacles, keep motivated, and learn to level up our submitting game. I had fun coming up with a new(ish) challenge every week, posting reply-gifs to motivate and/or celebrate, and bouncing along in the shot-gun seat of other people’s submission journeys. Quite a few of of the people in the group let me know how much they appreciated the weekly kick in the pants.

With all that in mind, for 2020, I really want to help other people learn to deal with rejections and how to manage their goals. I’ve written about goal-setting before and productivity tips, but I know some people still struggle with putting those tips into practice, so why not have a weekly Challenge? It doesn’t even need to be about writing; since most goals ought to be broken down into smaller chunks to really be effective, a lot of Submission Challenge tips will generalize pretty easily. So I hope you’ll join in! Monday I will be posting the Challenge for the week and Thursday (or Friday, I haven’t decided yet) I’ll be posting how I did that week myself, along with other news and updates.


Challenge #1

Since it’s the first Monday after the holidays we’re probably all a little groggy so I’ll try to keep things simple.

You’d think that the first challenge of the year would be declaring a goal. Maybe in other blogs, but not here! I’m not going to be your boot camp instructor, yelling at you to keep up with an arbitrary goal someone else decided; I want to help you understand yourself better so that you achieve yours.

So the first challenge for this week is to think about what your goal really is.

See, this is the thing about setting challenges: everyone thinks you should only ever set them to be hard. To be slightly more than you think you are capable of achieving. And that kind of pushing yourself past your limits is certainly very motivating for some people, especially people who run gyms in particular.

BUT.

There is a different kind of motivation: the kind that comes from seeing progress behind you, not just the wall in front of you.

And if you’re the kind of person, like me, who feels better about what’s completed than what’s still left to do, setting huge marathons as goals is… often self-defeating.

I don’t know about you, but I trip. A lot. And once I start to fall behind, that ‘well, it’s either perfect or not worth doing’ mentality can come over me, causing me to lose motivation and lag even further. And then the shame kicks in, leaving me even less motivation and further behind. Round and round we go, so super fun you guys (please stop this ride I want to get off).

But.

If a goal isn’t MORE than you can do, if it’s LESS than you can do, then you are allowed to trip. Because it’s okay to do so, to lag behind sometimes, knowing that eventually you’ll hit a second wind and catch up.

My method, when setting a submission or editing goal, is less about the BIG NUMBER, and more about the tiny one: what is the minimum I can do each week? What is a number so small that even if I am sick, or depressed, or stressed out of my tiny mind, I can still probably hit it?

If I push myself I can do 20 submissions in a day–I know. I’ve done it. It SUCKED. And it’s not sustainable, even as a weekly goal. But two subs? TWO MEASLY SUBS? A week? That’s laughably easy. I could have done two subs in the time it’s taken me to write up this post.

Which means that I can do two subs even if the rest of the week is a tire-fire.

And that’s the ‘secret’; knowing that those two subs week after week add up–and if I trip, it’s not the end of the race. I can likely make up two subs the following week with little issue.

So your first challenge, should you choose to accept it–is to ignore the common wisdom about ‘setting goals’ and to really think about yourself–your past behaviour–your victories. Do you do better if someone is yelling at you to do one more stomach crunch? Or do you prefer to simply take the stairs once a day instead, until it’s routine?

How does knowing that about yourself alter the goal you want to set this year?

That’s it. I know it sounds easy, but taking a long, hard look at your past victories AND failures is often harder than you suspect. It’s easy to ignore the successes as ‘flukes’ and the failures as ‘out of your control’, but there are patterns there. It’s those patterns–and overcoming them, or strengthening them–that will ultimately guide your path through the Challenge this year.

WHO’S WITH ME?

Feel free to comment below if you plan to follow along this year, or send a tweet my way! YOU CAN DO THIS. Let’s push off this boat together. <3

See you on Thursday!

P.S. After hearing some questions from people, I wrote up a more in-depth post about goals vs dreams and how to make sure your goal is a SMART one.

vfeistner

Victoria Feistner is a novelist, a graphic designer, and an artisan in equal parts, although some of those parts are more equal than others. She resides in Toronto with her husband and two fur children, also known as cats.

2 Comments for "The Submission Challenge: 2020 Edition"

  • Ean Bowman

    My minimum: create one 3D model per month!

    Reply
  • vfeistner

    A good goal! How long does it take to create one model?

    Reply

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