Delusions of Power

On cognitive behaviour therapy and creating rational writing goals.

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My car accident really put into perspective the fact that I have a problem with control (see My Lucky Day to read about how I almost died on Friday). I never recognized it before because I thought of someone with control issues as a high strung busy body who needs to be the boss of everyone. That’s definitely not me.

My problem manifests itself differently: I beat the crap out of myself mentally for things that aren’t in my control. Especially if they are things that don’t work out. This in turn, often results in horrible depression and low self esteem.

Proof of my control delusion was posted right here on my blog under the heading, “The Write Goals” pictured below. I can now see that these goals are not “write” at all, but very wrong indeed. Oh the irony.

wrong-goalsSince sliding out into oncoming traffic and realizing that whatever would happen to me and my car was completely out of my hands, I’ve been working really hard on my mental health. This has included Cognitive Behavior Training which is essentially recognizing irrational thoughts and correcting them. A lot of my irrational thoughts revolve around things that aren’t in my control.

A few of the goals listed in the picture above are rational goals (ie things in my control), like attending a writer’s conference, starting a creative writing club (someday I will actually do this), and even publishing Joe, my novel, but only if I take the self publishing route.

However, the majority of the items on this list are things out of my control, like getting an agent, going to a writer’s conference as a guest speaker, writing a best seller, and getting 1000 followers on Word Press. Even getting my novel published if I were to take the traditional route is not in my control. Every single one of those things sounds awesome, but the problem is that for them to happen, it’s in the hands of other people. It’s the agent’s choice whether to take me on as a client. It’s the writer’s conference who chooses their guests. It’s the the world that decides what becomes a best seller. It’s the people of Word Press who choose which blogs they want to follow or not follow. It’s the editor’s choice to either accept or reject my manuscript. Of course there are things I can do to direct my life towards those dreams, but the reality is that if they happen or not really wouldn’t be up to me. They’re not rational goals; they’re evidence of my delusions of power over things I’m not the boss of. Maybe I am a bossy pants after all.

Recognizing that has really been a huge breakthrough and to set myself up for success, I’ve crafted new Rational Writing Goals:

  • Create a system to organize queries and short fiction submissions
  • Query 100 agents about my manuscript
  • Submit my short story “What Counts” to 50 literary magazines
  • Have my serial killer story peer reviewed and polished
  • Submit the polished version of the serial killer story to 25 literary magazines, especially looking into ones with a mystery focus
  • Write my story about the convenience store
  • Write a new story specifically for the magazines that haven’t published me, but have asked to see more of my work
  • Write 24 blog posts (that’s two per month)
  • Research self publishing
  • Read 30 books in 2017 and continue to catalogue books finished in the 50 book pledge

Unless some sort of catastrophe happens (catastrophic thinking is also another form of irrational thinking!) and wipes out all technology like a belated Y2K bug, these are goals that are in my control. These goals (aside from the 50 book pledge) don’t have a time bomb attached to them, like they need to be completed in 2017 or I am a failure. Life happens. Car accidents, medical problems, and depression happens. Sometimes it can’t be avoided. That’s also why I’ve only pledged to read 30 books instead of 50 for the one goal that does have a time stamp. If I do more than that: awesome. But if I meet my goal, I’ve completed what I’ve set out to do. I’m setting myself up for success.

I am so proud of myself.

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