Showing posts with label real life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label real life. Show all posts

On Overcoming Phobias

(In which my loving wife tries to reassure me as I leave for the hospital)
Cindy: "How about this? Would you rather get your blood drawn or go to the dentist?"
Me: "That's a mean question."
Cindy: "Well?"
Me: "All right. If it was just a tooth cleaning, then I guess . . . No, the dentist lasts longer."
Cindy: "See?"
Me: "Fine. I'd rather get my blood drawn than go to the dentist. There, I said it."
Cindy: "How about 'Yay! I'm getting my blood drawn!'"
Me: "Don't push it."

On the Art of Socializing

(In which my wife Cindy and I discuss taking our five boys to a local playgroup)
Cindy: "I don't know if I want to go to playgroup tomorrow. But the boys would love it. I feel bad."
Me: "They have snacks at playgroup, right?"
Cindy: "Yes..."
Me: "I'll take the boys."
Cindy: *smirks* "You'd have to socialize with people."
Me: "You'd be surprised how rarely you actually 'have to' socialize."
Cindy: *laughs* "Yeah, you'll just sit next to the snack table with your book, not even checking to see if the boys are getting in trouble."
Me: "I'd watch the boys!"
Cindy: "See, this is why you don't get to go."

(A little later)
Cindy: "I guess I'll go, but I'm so tired. I don't know if I want to talk with anybody."
Me: "You want some tips on blowing people off?"
Cindy: "Sure."
Me: *gets excited* "Okay, first you need to look like you're doing something."
Cindy: *chuckles* "Like your book?"
Me: "Yeah, you take a book or a notebook or pretend you need to discipline your kids..."
Cindy: "I could talk to you on the phone."
Me: "That would work. Or headphones! Headphones are great, because you can pretend you don't even hear the person. And if someone doesn't get the hint, you make them stand there until they call you three or four times, then you make a big show of taking your headphones out and blink at them and say, 'Did you say something?'"
Cindy: *stares*
Me: "I've never done that before."

How Needles Almost Killed Me, and How I Got Over It (Mostly)

I'm waiting to have my blood drawn as I write this. There's little else on my mind.

I hate needles.

I always have. Even in my late 20s, I had to look away and hold my breath while the nurse said, "This will only pinch a little."

When we were preparing to move out here, we had to get a couple of vaccinations. One time in particular, I was so freaked out I couldn't eat breakfast or even sit down in the waiting room. I just wanted it over with. Well, they gave me the shot, but on our way out the door, I nearly blacked out.

I thought maybe I had just gotten up too fast (I did sit down while my wife got her shot), so I put my head between my knees until it went away. I didn't black out, but I wondered if it had something to do with what they shot into me.

My wife needed some medicine, but in the line at the pharmacy, I started sweating like crazy. My wife told me to sit down while she got what she needed. While I waited, it got even worse. I had trouble breathing, and my hands were tingling. I watched my fingers curl into a tight fist, ignoring every message my brain was sending them otherwise.

My breaths came shorter, but I managed to call my wife and she called the doctors. I thought for sure the shot had killed me, like I was having an allergic reaction, or they put the wrong stuff in the syringe or something. Meanwhile, the doctors were calm as a desert.

After a while, my hands began to unclench and I could breathe again. The doctors told me it wasn't anything terrible. I just had a panic attack.

And I felt like an idiot.

The whole thing was in my head. Made-up. Pretend. I could've prevented it, even, if I'd just eaten something beforehand and sat down for the shot (which they patronizingly had me do next time).*

It's seven years later, and not only am I not freaked out (well, a little bit), but I can even watch the needle go in and my blood come out. I don't like it, but at least I'm not dying.

I don't know exactly what changed me, but I like to give the credit to my kids. I didn't want them to grow up so afraid of needles that they believed the doctors were killing them. So I tell them over and over again that getting a shot does hurt, but only a little, like getting pinched. I even pinch myself and them to show how little actual pain there is.

And somewhere along the line, I started to believe it myself.

Anything you're afraid of?

* Although the patronizing might have been all in my head, too.

Writing When You Hate Writing

Some days, this is exactly how I feel.

Sometimes it's the novel's fault. As I plow through the draft, crap gets built on crap, building into a gargantuan pile of whatsit that I'm just going to have to fix later. Mistakes and weak plot points devolve into puzzles I no longer want to solve. And I've already used all my stock phrases and have to think of new ways to make people look, shout, cry, and laugh.

Sometimes it's the query process' fault. Being a tad insane, I've been charting my rejections and requests. There is a strong correlation with my mood. Like in August, when I got a bunch of requests and was writing 1,000 words a day, and the beginning of this month when I got some hard rejections and hit a bit of a slump.*

Sometimes it's just life's fault. Social workers come to visit. Kids are home on a day I expected to have to myself. Family issues just send out negative waves.

(It's never my fault, apparently. That would just be silly.)

Whatever the reason, I feel like things will never get better and I'll never get out of it. That's crap, of course, but it doesn't change how I feel.

So what do I do when this happens? Usually I try to plow forward, and sometimes I can. Other times, I have to take a break. Even though I know accomplishing something in writing will make me feel better, sometimes I have to accept that's something I can't do yet.

But what to do on that break? Man, I don't know. Sometimes playing a game works. Exercise. Mostly, though I just have to get off the internet and remind myself what my life's really about.

What do you do?

* I'm better now, but I don't think October will be breaking any records.

A Letter to my Son

Dear Isaac,

I would like to apologize for your DNA.

Not that you aren't awesome. You totally are. But,'s because you're part of me that you get upset when you don't excel at something the first time. I will spend my whole life trying to teach you what I learned only a few years ago: that you can do anything if you work hard at it. But it won't make you feel any better when you fail, and I'm sorry for that.

It's my fault you can't sit still. I know, I know. Daddy is the most inert, quiet, non-silly man you know. But as a boy, I was exactly like you. When you get in trouble for it as much as I have, you'll learn to keep it inside too.

And it's my fault you feel everything must be in perfect order. That's why you have to put your Go Fish cards back into pairs before you can count them. That's why each piece of your orange peel must touch none of the other pieces. In the future, you will straighten stacks of cards every time you take a turn, and your friends will mock you by knocking things out of place (see #4).

It's okay. They still love you. And I'll help you fix it.

Keep in mind that for all our faults, you are still an incredibly handsome genius. Most of the credit for that goes to your mom, of course, but at least I didn't screw it up.

Though if you grow to hate your widow's peak, well, I apologize for that too.

Love you, buddy.


Pop Quiz: Name Pronunciation

[UPDATE (9/12/11): Believe it or not, my name's pronounced Hyna (like Heineken, the beer). Remember that when I'm famous and you do a vlog or podcast about me. (Also if you call me Hiney in public, I may use your own mispronunciation stories against you. I'm looking at you Matt MacNish!).]

A silly poll for the weekend. These are the five most frequent pronunciations of my last name, but only one of them is correct. Note that if you know me in real life, you are TOTALLY ALLOWED to vote. I'll update this post with the correct answer on Monday.

  • Heinz (like the ketchup)
  • Hine (rhymes with brine)
  • Hane (like the underwear)
  • Hyna (like Heineken, the beer)
  • Hiney (like the word for butt)

So, I had this speech class my sophomore year in high school. I hate speeches. Before HS, I sometimes intentionally took a zero just so I wouldn't have to give a speech. The teacher was a good guy. He was funny, but he had no inhibitions when it came to student humiliation (as befits a speech teacher, I guess).

Because the class was a general requirement, the students were a cross-section: nerds, jocks, actors, cheerleaders, popular kids, everything. I only had one friend in the class and was in constant fear of what the others thought of me or when they would laugh.

So the worst moment comes; the teacher calls me up for my turn. "Adam..." He squints at the role sheet. "Hiney?" Then he laughs and says, "A damn hiney?"

I laughed it off, but really I wanted to crawl into a corner and die. What's your worst name pronunciation story?

You're Not the Best (and that's Okay)

One aspect of my overwhelming fear of failure is that when I see someone do something I can do, but much MUCH better, it makes me want to stop trying.

This is ridiculous, of course. Did I really expect to be the best guitar player? Or the best sketch artist? Or to play Moonlight Sonata better than someone who's had it memorized for years (that would be my wife)?

No. But sometimes I fool myself into thinking maybe I'm the best bass player in my church, or the best writer in my crit group. Then someone comes along in what was supposed to be MY realm, totally shows me up, and makes me wonder what I was ever doing there in the first place.

And even this is ridiculous. No matter what I do, or how small my realm is, there will always, eventually be someone better than me.*

There's the obvious lesson: Don't compare yourself to others. It's a game with no winner and one loser (you).

But there's also this: The fact that there are people better than you is a GOOD thing!

If you're close in skill level, that person can challenge you to become better.

If you're not so close, that person can educate you to become better.

And if they're so much better than you that their skills are the equivalent of MAGICAL WIZARDRY,** then at the very least they can entertain you.

So there you go. Don't compare yourself to others, but if you do (cuz it's basically impossible not to), USE IT.

* Unless my realm is just me, which is either just sad or else exactly the solution I should be looking for.

** As opposed to regular wizardry.

On the Probability of Success

A conversation I had with my wife Cindy the other day:

Cindy: "It's so hot!"
Adam: "We should invent like a portable room with air conditioning and just drive it around."
Cindy: "You mean like a car?"
Adam: "No, no. We'll put a couch in it and a TV or something. We can rent it out!"
Cindy: "Good luck with that, honey. I think you've got a better chance with getting published."
Adam: "Wow. I didn't think the idea was THAT bad."

Answers! (and a Selfish Request)

Before I get to the questions, I have a task for you. You remember that story I wrote, "Pawn's Gambit"? The one about the escaped convict trying to find his daughter (before the assassin he works for does)? If you haven't read it, go read it now.

Your task (assuming you like the story, of course) is to go to this thread on the BCS forums and vote for "Pawn's Gambit" to appear in their Year Two anthology. And next time you need an internet vote for something, I'll vote for you too.

(There are lots of other stories you can vote for in addition to mine (you're allowed up to 5). Beneath Ceaseless Skies is easily my favorite fantasy mag (all the more for being free), and it's worth clicking through to read the other stories.)


Jodi Meadows says: Your Q&A comes with sound effects: how much input do you have in that aspect of your videos? Can you request certain sound effects?

My sound effects team is not the easiest to work with. She only takes on projects she's interested in and rarely takes creative input. And if her mommy's around, she refuses to do any work at all.

Despite all that, she's one of the best in the business. After all, she was raised by sound effects masters:

Susan Quinn asks: When are you going to start writing for children? You have a massive built in critique group. :)

I don't know if I can trust my critique group. They still pick Garfield the Easter Bunny for bedtime reading (if I forget to hide it). I do, however, have an idea for an ABC book that includes "A is for Airship" and "Z is for Zombie." If I could illustrate it, I think they'd really like it.

Dave asks: If you could fight anyone from history, who would it be?

Man, I don't know. Why would I fight someone? Cuz it's cool? Cuz I hate them and want to beat them up? Cuz I want to learn something?

See, I'm pretty sure if I fought someone, I'd lose (unless I'm fighting a five-year-old, but then why am I beating up a five-year-old?). Does growing up in a dojo and sparring with other ninjas count? Maybe I could do that.

Deniz Bevan asks: Where or when would you vacation if money and time were no object?

My wife and I really, really, really want to go to Italy someday. And maybe Paris. I think we could pull together the money, but the real issue is the ten kids we'd be leaving behind (or worse, dragging along behind, that would be terrifying).

The funny thing is, I think both of us want to visit those places because of the food.

C Ann Golden asks: If you could be any superhero who would you be and why?

That's a really tough question for someone like me. I want to spend weeks researching all the different superheroes and their powers, then write a thesis about it. (That's only partially true. I actually just want to read a lot of comic books).

He's probably on my mind because of the movie, but as a kid I always liked Green Lantern. He seemed so cool because he could do ANYTHING. Though I have to admit having your weakness be "the color yellow" is kinda lame.

David Jace asks: If you could become any animal (and turn back) what animal would it be?

A seagull. No seriously, check this out: I could fly, live near the ocean, have no natural predators, and feed on a diet of sushi and beach BBQs. IT'S THE PERFECT ANIMAL!

That's it! Thank you for your questions (seriously, one time nobody asked any questions and I cried for a week (okay, so I didn't cry)), and don't forget to vote for "Pawn's Gambit"!

Question/Answer Time

It's been a while since I opened things up for questions, so now's your chance. Same as before: ask anything you like in the comments -- serious or silly, professional or totally inappropriate -- and next week I will answer your questions. I'll probably even tell the truth.

And because I hate leaving you with nothing on a Friday, here's a peek at what it looks like when I'm reading your comments and blogs.

7 Things You Never Wanted to Know

I have been coerced by the hilarious and talented K. Marie Criddle to tell you 7 things about myself. I'll understand if you stop reading the blog after this.

I first beat Super Mario Bros. 2 on Wednesday, February 15, 1989. That's right, I KNOW THE DATE.

The Care Bears Movie still creeps me out.

I learned to play Bryan Adam's "Everything I Do" on the piano to impress girls. It worked once. We broke up 2 months later.

I straighten things obsessively, especially board games. My wife, Cindy, used to taunt me in Ticket to Ride by intentionally bumping her trains out of place, because she knew it drove me crazy. (I do love her, though. Really.)

One day, we were on vacation with my family and teaching them Ticket to Ride. Cindy said, "It's fun to bug Adam with this game. Watch." She bumped a train out of place, and every single member of my family shouted, "What are you doing?!" and moved to straighten it.

I love my family.

When I was a kid, I stapled my thumb trying to put together my first novel (an illustrated Choose Your Own Adventure). After crying, running to Mom, getting a tissue, and waiting for the blood to clot, I went back to the novel and STAPLED MY THUMB AGAIN.

In order of increasing terror, the creatures I am most phobically afraid of are: spiders, scorpions, facehuggers.

Presented without comment:

Yeah, I think we're done here.

Cooking for Nine

You may know I have an acute fear of failure. The kind that makes me terrified of stupid things--like small talk or mowing the lawn--just because I might fail at it. This, of course, makes writing and getting critiques rather difficult. Anyone who's been writing for a while knows you can't please everybody--even the best books have haters, and the unpublished more than most.

Turns out cooking for my family is good practice then. For a sufficiently large family,* somebody will always hate whatever you cook for them. And they're kids, which means they're just as honest as if they were hiding behind the anonymity of the internet.

For someone who's afraid to even play a friendly game of soccer, you can imagine what this does to my ego.**

But here's the bright side, and hopefully something you can use in your writing: no matter how strange or bad my cooking is, there's always at least one person that likes it. See, the converse law of "You can't please everybody" is "You will always please somebody."

It might be only your mom or your best friend, but it will be somebody. In order to get past the crotch-kicking that is rejection, you have to focus on that person. Internalize their opinion. Believe them. Honestly, it's the only way to keep moving forward when you feel like everyone else is cranking your soul through a sausage grinder.

Mm, sausage. Maybe everybody will like that...

* I don't know for sure, but I'd bet "sufficiently large" might even mean "two."

** It doesn't help that they're all Thai, so the foods I actually
like to cook are generally frowned upon.

Five Things I Love

I don't remember where I got this meme, but here it is. You may see it again in the future.

Also, you may notice there's a poll in the upper-right corner (some of you will have to click through to see it). I'm thinking of doing polls this way every once in a while, but probably not if nobody's voting. It's up to you guys.

Anyway, 5 things I love:


Rainy Days


Deep Fried . . . Whatever


Answers the First (or "Hi, This is What I Do")

Apparently 88% of us would rather be lonely (and smart) than stupid (with friends). I'm with you guys, but you should know this is how super villains are made.

You guys asked some fantastic questions! I'll be answering some today, some Wednesday, and on Friday we have a double sketch featuring a very special guest artist. Now, to the questions!

An anonymous visitor from Natalie's blog asks: Can I ask what your main profession is?
Believe it or not, the "About Me" description over there is pretty much it: I write and I foster kids. My wife and I have a heart to give a family to kids with nowhere else to go, and most of our income comes from folks who support that mission (though obviously I'd love it if writing could help with that!). In my previous incarnations, I programmed computers, led Christian worship, and developed computer games.

Yeah, I don't see the connection either.

Advice for people who did not study writing or English or anything related to that in university...and struggling on how to really "start". Is there a method?

Ha! As you might have guessed, I studied Computer Science in college, not English. I think I wrote a total of ten papers--none fiction--and I haven't read a novel for a class since I graduated high school. So no, I don't think a formal education is necessary at all to write good fiction.

Here's what I do instead:
  1. Write.
  2. Read.
  3. Get and give critiques.
That's it. I would (and do) read books on writing as well as fiction. I always recommend Orson Scott Card's Characters and Viewpoint and Nancy Kress's Beginnings, Middles, and Ends. But everyone's got their favorites. I bet they'll tell you in the comments (hint, hint).

And I'd love to know what a typical "day" or daily schedule is like for you (how you fit in work, writing, reading, eating, etc).

Yeah, I'd love to know how I fit all that in too.

Seriously, most days kinda look like this:
  1. Wake up (or get woken up) about 6 am.
  2. Get boys fed, girls ready for school, etc.
  3. Check e-mail and the rest of the internet.
  4. Write (my wife teaches the boys, and a helper takes care of the baby for a couple of hours).
  5. From about 11 am - 4 pm: watch/play with the boys, keep the baby happy, clean the house, fix the house, and (if possible) write blog posts, critique manuscripts, and maybe read or draw.
  6. Pick up the girls from school.
  7. Repeat #5 until bedtime.
  8. Bust out Secret Snacks. Watch So You Think You Can Dance until unconscious.
Today was a little different. Cindy took all the kids to a homeschool co-op, and one of our friends is leaving the country soon. So it was more like:
  1. Wake up.
  2. Check e-mail.
  3. Play Agricola.
  4. Eat bacon and ham sandwiches.
  5. Visit Lutiya's school.
  6. Play Agricola.
  7. Write blog post.
  8. Pick up girls.
  9. Play Agricola.
  10. Pass out.

Myrna Foster asks: Have you written a ninja story?
Sadly, no. I've got ideas for one, but it still feels too much like Batman Begins (which I guess isn't a bad thing). Later this year, I expect to choose a new project. We'll see if the ninjas make the cut.

How many children are you guys raising at the moment?
Nine. And we're in the process of adopting a tenth. This is what we look like now (click to enlarge):

More answers on Wednesday!

Hey! Writing's Actually Useful!

I love writing, but aside from crafting novels doomed to obscurity, it's a skill I rarely find useful. Knowing how to write a query letter doesn't keep my boys from killing each other. And being able to describe the smell of coming rain doesn't help when the toilet's clogged (that requires a different scent entirely).

But every once in a while...

So my wife teaches dance. You probably didn't know that. I love seeing her do something she loves, but of course I can do nothing to help her since all my dance knowledge comes from watching Center Stage.

But the other day she was trying something new. She wanted to choreograph something with sort of a story, about a girl with no self-confidence, who fails no matter how hard she tries. To me it felt a lot like Hagai's story (the song she's using was even part of my own inspiration).

She had a problem, though, because what she had so far made it look like the girl was just trying to fit in to the rest of the group, even succumbing to peer pressure. I suggested she do what I do when one of my good guys looks like a jerk: show them doing something nice. Make the group sympathetic by showing them trying to help the girl -- that it's the girl's choice to give up, not the group excluding her.

My wife loved it, and we started talking about other ideas for the dance. I got so excited I didn't realize I was trying to outline the whole thing for her. I completely forgot that anyone who's seen a single season of So You Think You Can Dance is more qualified to choreograph than I am.

Fortunately, she forgave me.

I don't know if she'll use everything we talked about, but for that moment I felt useful. Like I had exactly the skills needed to help her. Who knew fiction was good for something besides, well, fiction?

Have you ever used your writing skills for something other than writing?

Crash Bugs

Fresh out of college, and knowing very little about the Real World, I got a job making computer games. I learned a lot there: how to estimate schedules, why I should make smart goals, how taking a vacation during crunch time can get you fired.*

And I learned about the computer game equivalent of beta reading: playtesting. I remember one tester reported a bug that crashed the game, but none of us could reproduce it, meaning we couldn't fix it. So we let it go, until one day our manager asked us about it.

KEN:** What's with this crash bug? Tester reported it like three months ago.
DEVELOPER 1: It's a random bug. Nobody can reproduce it, but it doesn't seem to happen very often.
KEN: You guys need to track it down, top priority.
DEVELOPER 1: Even Tester doesn't know what causes it. You want us to work nights on a bug we might never fix?
DEVELOPER 2: It's not a big deal, Ken. There are like ten playtesters who've never had the bug, and nobody can reproduce it. It probably won't be a big deal when the game goes live.
KEN: Then think of it this way. If the game crashes for one out of ten playtesters, then when we sell 100,000 copies that's ten thousand people who will get mad and return our buggy game.

Long story short, we fixed the bug, and I learned a valuable lesson about percentages.

This is why it's important to listen to your beta readers too. If only one of them says your villain is a cardboard cliche, it's possible they just don't get it, but it's also possible they represent a significant percentage of your future readers. (And anything two betas agree on is a virtual certainty).

So in general, unless you KNOW why you wrote something a certain way and you KNOW the commenter is wrong, listen to your betas. Chances are they're not alone.

* Not me. Another guy. And it wasn't so much the vacation that got him fired as the fact that his code never worked, no matter how much he insisted it did.

** We had 2 or 3 managers over the course of the project. They were all named Ken. Not joking.

The Ocean

I'm sick, so today's post is short. This picture is from our recent trip to the US, in which my son sees the ocean for the first time (that he remembers).

"That's the ocean, Isaac. When you grow up, the Earth will be covered in it, and you'll be the most famous pirate in the world."


I feel a little weird just jumping back in with a post on writing, so here are some things I accomplished in the last two weeks:
  1. I did not die. Surprisingly, no one else did either.
  2. I discovered the most awesome Lando Calrissian ever:

  1. My wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. We even got to go out!
  2. I learned that no matter how many toys you have, Children A, B, C, and D will always fight over the one Child E has. (I already knew this, but I learned the theorem scales to any number of kids).
  3. J. J. DeBenedictis enriched my life with this tiny, fully-functional cannon.
  4. I discovered this guy's videos. They're kinda hilarious.
  5. I had a weird/awesome dream about Dr. Horrible.
  6. I learned how to say "Don't be bossy" in Thai. Repetition is key.
  7. After a month's forced vacation (that only partially had to do with the new kids), I finally added 2,600 words to Cunning Folk.
  8. I did not hear from a single agent.
There, I hope that's thorough. If it's not, we can do an informal question/answer session in the comments.


Those of you who follow me via other means may know we recently added to our family. That is, we added FOUR KIDS to our family.

Being as fatherhood is my primary job, and as these kids are far more important than writing, blogging, or even (dare I say it?) reading your blogs, I'm going to focus on them for a couple of weeks. So the blog will definitely be quiet. I probably won't be commenting on your blogs (though I'll try to read them when I can, honest), and my Twitter/Facebook updates will be focused on letting people know that I and the kids are still alive (so remember that a comment about Nathan eating trash bags means we're well and in good spirits).

Two weeks. I plan to be back on August 23rd, if only to say, "Hey, guys, I need another two weeks to love on these kids."

If you want to know how the kids are doing, what they look like, or how long it takes for five little boys to turn the rest of my hair gray, you can follow my other blog, Facebook, or Twitter (depending on your surfing preferences). I'll still be checking my e-mail too.

Otherwise I'll see you all in a couple of weeks.

Making Smart Goals

If you've spent any time in the corporate world, you've probably heard about SMART goals. I hate corporate buzzwords as much as the next guy, but seriously making smart goals is hugely important for writers (and, really, anyone who ever wants to achieve anything). It's an acronym: good goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.

You can't meet vague goals. "I want to be a writer" is not a good goal. How do you know when you've done it? Even "I want to write a novel" is kind of vague (how do you know when it's finished?). Good goals are clear and unambiguous.

This goes along with being specific. If you can't measure success, how do you know you've achieved it? How many words/pages are you going to write? How many drafts? What IS a draft (the first draft is obvious, but does running a spell and grammar check count as one revision)?

Making attainable goals is a matter of practice. A good goal is realistic, but it also stretches you. If a goal is too hard, you'll give up and throw your goals away. If it's too easy, the goal becomes meaningless.

A good practice is to start small. See what you're capable of. When you can hit small goals consistently, increase them.

This should really go without saying, but you'd be surprised. If my dream is to get published by a big publisher, I have to look at each goal and decide if it contributes towards that dream.

Selling short stories to professional markets? Relevant.
Publishing stories for free in a local newsletter? Aside from the writing experience, probably not relevant.
Publishing with a small press? Yeah, probably.
Self publishing? Probably not.

Tobias Buckell counted his number of rejections as a goal. On the surface, this would seem irrelevant -- you're not making progress if you're getting rejected, right? But to him, getting rejections meant he was producing and getting his work out there. Because "making a sale" was not in his control, he chose something that was, and it worked.

The most important way to make a goal measurable is to put a time limit on it. Without a time limit, there's no urgency. That goal could be taped to your computer monitor forever and ever, neither failing or succeeding.

The thing is, you can gain just as much from failure as from success. Maybe your time limit is too tight, or maybe you just have too many blogs to read or Facebook games to keep up with and you need to cut something (irrelevant) out. Whatever it is, if your goal has no deadline, you'll never evaluate and you'll never know.

So what are my goals, you ask? I'm still working on the larger goals (specifically the deadlines), which is a lot of the reason behind this post. But I keep daily goals with the idea that any kind of steady progress is progress. I try to do 500-800 words a day depending on how much planning/revising I have to do (I still have to figure out how to make a measurable goal out of "planning"). And I usually pick three or four things from my real life todo list to finish in a day. (That's about the best I can do, since most of my job is parenting. And if I've learned anything about parenting, it's that you can't plan it.)

So how about you? What are your goals, daily or long term? Do they fit the SMART criteria?