Structure = productivity (but is it the productivity I want?)

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It is the end of week two of not looking at the novel. I’m flailing a bit. I thought a list of things to do was enough to keep me motivated and productive, but I’m finding the lack of a larger plan difficult. I have managed to get two things from my month off list done (just hit L8 today, w00t), but I’m not experiencing a sense of satisfaction at finishing them. I’m supposed to be taking this time to explore and stretch and check out new things. I’m just not feeling like I am meeting those goals.

Big project structures give me a boost for being on time, on track, and hitting milestones. All those lovely squirts of accomplishment elixir that make me feel like I’m doing something right. That I’m taking writing seriously. Structure is great when the goals are quantifiable: making my word count, finishing a chapter, or proceeding to the next plot point in the outline.

But something has been nagging at me. How do I make a structure that supports qualitative goals? Is it ridiculous to want a set of goals I can tick off at every stage of my writing process? Is structure an ego crutch? Or worse: a straight jacket?

I want my writing to evolve. I want it to get better. I’m just not sure if my tried-and-true markers of productive achievement are going to help me get there.

I might have fallen too deeply into the Lisa Simpson vortex and checked boxes have become my gold stars.

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