I hit a road block a couple weeks back on writing my book. Seems I have a few important things about the world to figure out before I continue plotting and writing my book. Some of the things would even effect how my characters react to situations, so I really need to figure them out before pressing forward.

Due to the road block, I spent some time programming my writing software instead, but started feeling guilty for not writing. So, rather than getting discouraged at not figuring out all the important things yet, I’m writing some short stories to fill my writing time until I figure it all out.

One type of short story is called Flash Fiction. Flash Fiction is a bit ambiguously defined, but I like the definition of: Complete stories at no more than 1,000 words. Short stories have looser length requirements and could even range up to 10,000 words, though they tend more toward 3,000 – 5,000 words in length.

One nice thing about Flash Fiction, is you can write an entire story in a single evening. You can also have several stories in the works at a time, so you write one, revise another, write a third, revise the first, etc. Also, the short length make for excellent blog posts.

One final note. I’m not giving up on my book, just working on other things while I figure out those important details, so I keep in the writing habit and develop my skills for when I finally am ready again.

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Goals are a funny thing. There are many kinds of goals. Goals are most frequently referred to as “long term” and “short term” which effectively implies that goals are a) time oriented, and b) categorized in only two ways (ie. long or short term). I see it differently, as I’m sure many people do if they think about it longer than the time it takes to spout the above quoted words.

In my mind goals split into many categories, priorities, and classes. For example, there are the life long goals: get an education, have a family, have a career, etc. These are nice to have and you can never really check them off because they are sort of on going. There are also the goals you set for things you want to do at least once in your life. One of mine is write a novel (that I can be happy with). I don’t feel like I have to get published or earn a living at it, I just want to develop my writing enough that I can write a novel that I can polish enough through revision and editing that I myself can be happy with it.

Another goal I have is to develop and keep talents. This is a sort of short term goal that is perpetual. Each day or week I have to set aside time to practice instruments, sing, create art, program games, or work at whatever else it is I want to have an ability to do. This is where priorities and classes of goals start to muddy my resolve to accomplish these goals.

You see, when I work hard at a series of my perpetual goals, (say, playing piano) I don’t have time to work on some other goals (writing a book). So it’s that time equation again.

I bring this up because last October-November, I was getting back into writing after having done little with it since college. I started writing a story I’d had developing in my head for many months in October and decided to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. NaNoWriMo is a challenge to writers to write 50,000 words toward a novel during the month of November. I succeeded at the challenge but feel I failed at the spirit of it.

As I neared my 50,000 words, I discovered my story was “all wrong,” which is to say in order to deal with everything I want to deal with in the story and with these characters I’ll have to split the book into three. That basically means I have to start over eventually to get it “right.” However I’ve heard the dangers of doing this, particularly if I don’t at least see the writing to the end before going back and fixing it, so I’m trying to figure out where the story should be going for this first book before I continue writing. So far, so good.

Except that NaNoWriMo is November. Which means right after it, there’s the Christmas holiday, our kids’ birthday, New Year’s and a host of other stressful and time consuming things. I’d hoped to start up my story again in January, but so far no dice.

Instead I felt a resurgence of another goal, creating games. During the week before Christmas I started to feel the urge to remake a game I’d done long ago (and others have done many times), the classic board game “Battle Ship” (called Naval Battle in my version). It took a bit longer to get the game written this time, but I am much happier with this version than I ever was with the one I did years ago. I also remade another popular game that I’ll release some time soon.

But I find I’m at a crossroads of priorities again. I’ve satisfied my game making itch that comes up ever so often, but I have momentum now that I could use to pump out another two or three games without them taking so much time or effort. Or, I could get back to my writing and complete my story (something that had momentum but has since lost it).

It’s not an easy choice, and I may not even have to make it; I go back to school again next week. If this term is fairly easy (as the last 2-3 terms have been) I’ll still have plenty of time for either writing or game making, but if it’s hard I may not have time for either…