Apparently I missed the first week of this Round of Words in 80 Days.
Just like last year, I underestimated just how busy Spring is. This year in my teaching job I’m re-using a lot more assignments than I have in the past. I need to do this more. In fact, it might be good to create specific assignments for the entire semester and re-use them every year.
When I started teaching, creating assignments was one of the most pleasant and fulfilling aspects of the job. I took pride in tweaking the homework according to what the previous assignment told me about my students’ understanding. Sometimes I’d realize that there was a topic I must not have covered well enough because the students weren’t doing it right on the homework. I’d make sure to re-touch with topic the next week (my class meets once a week) and the next assignment would include it.
Now, however, my creative energies go into writing, and that is where I want them to be. If I were to sit down and assess my long term priorities, I’d be working on writing and editing tonight instead of grading papers. However, my short-term priorities include the fact that I made a commitment, so…I grade away.
It took me a while to figure out “how” to teach a college course. For example, I love to design intricate, challenging exercises, but that doesn’t help my students gain a basic, beginner-level working knowledge of the subject. (I teach spreadsheets and databases.) I’ve learned that it is important to begin the semester with an easy assignment with an immediate due date so that students get used to turning in work on time, and so they realize that some assignments are very easy, but they still need to do them. I’ve been teaching for more than ten years now (with a baby break of a few years) and I’m still learning how to be a better teacher.
Now I’m learning how to be a better writer. Although I’d like to say I’ve found my groove, I think my career will be a constant journey of growth and change. My backlog of unedited rough drafts is a perfect example of how I need to alter the “groove” I’m in and make it something more productive.
Back in January for round one I made one of my goals to leave the recently-completed rough drafts of my two NaNo novels on the shelf for at least a couple of months. That was difficult, because my OCD brain wanted to stay in that world. I was, however, able to turn around and put my writing energies into a different story in the same world.
Then the day came (Ash Wednesday in March) when I allowed myself to go back to my rough drafts. This was supposed to be my priority; getting the stories ready to send to beta readers.
It didn’t work out that way. I only got a few chapters in before other commitments pushed it away. Short stories with deadlines, the aforementioned teaching job, kids, and other responsibilities took priority.
So, what should I say my goals are for this round? I have just three weeks left of teaching. Considering my OCD, it makes sense to let my brain stay in teacher-mode until the semester is over. And then…my priority will be to polish those two rough drafts. I’m not sure how that will translate into weekly goals. Perhaps devoting a specific number of hours or pages per week will be a good, measurable goal.
I need to thank both ROW80 and Tiffany Reisz. ROW80, because it keeps me regularly evaluating my goals so that I am both flexible and on-track. And Tiffany, because last year she told me “Pick one of those rough drafts, polish it, and query it.”
I’m working on it, Tiffany, I promise!
Just for fun, most Tuesdays I do Five Minute Fiction. In a week when I haven’t written anything, I can usually fit five minutes into my schedule to do a little flash. I’m a finalist this week (OK, only four of us posted and we’re all finalists lol!) so check it out and vote for your favorite!