Steps To A Successful New Writing Year

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freeimage.com, photo by Eran Becker

Every year it seems the best of intentions can turn into guilt and regret all over what we didn’t accomplish the year before. Even so, on New Years Day we roll out a whole new list of goals designed to get us motivated to achieve new heights.Stop the run away train!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting new goals for the year, but consider a different process of arriving at your destination. In the writer’s life there are plenty of times when we deal with rejection and defeat. New Year’s doesn’t need to be one of them. Instead try the steps below.

Steps to a Successful New Writing Year:

*Celebrate the successes of last year. Take a moment and make a list of the things you accomplished last year. Celebrate those with a favorite activity, treat, or small token.

writing-1560276-640x480*Reflect on the process. Journal your thoughts of what made the successes possible. Notice the motivational pieces that helped you reach your goals.

For example, if entering a contest helped you to work on editing your novel, enter another contest this year.

Also, identify the things that stood in the way of success. Be completely honest with yourself. It is only helpful to set goals if you can be honest with yourself about your own shortcomings, or calendar difficulties.

*Recognize your most successful seasons.  Some may write better in the summer when the weather is warm. Others may have more success when their kids are in school. raindrops-1594135_1920Identify when you are most successful and determine to capitalize on these times.

*Set seasonal goals reflective of your potential. This year don’t write goals for the whole year. It is easy to get lost in goals that are so long term. It is alright to have these goals, but setting seasonal goals can be more successful because the time line is in small chunks.

Divide the calendar into the seasons that follow your rhythms and assign the goals to each segment. Keep in mind your personal strengths and weaknesses. Goals are meant to be attainable with some effort, not impossible. Be realistic.

Allow yourself to have a less productive season when you typically struggle. Make this time about refueling your muse and doing smaller amounts of writing. This will help you to feel recharged and ready to go in your best seasons.

*Check in with your Goal Journal. At the beginning and end of each writing season writingyou’ve identified, check in with your journal. Write notes about what worked and what didn’t. Celebrate your successes for the season you were in. Check that the next season’s goals are reasonable and map out how you plan to get there.

What works for you in setting goals?

 

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10 Reasons To Keep Believing In Spite Of Mistakes – NFL Bloopers And Writing Gaffs

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Photo by j m Griffin

Have you made some mistakes that you are afraid you can’t recover from in your writing career?

When it comes to success, sometimes we can be our own  nemesis. We make mistakes, forget pitches, stick our feet in our mouths, you name it, it’s probably been done.

No matter what, Believe.

Here are some NFL bloopers that I’m sure the players thought they might not recover from, but they lived to play another day.

10 Reasons to Keep Believing in Spite of Mistakes:

  1. You Love To Write- At the end of the day, your voice won’t stay silent. You must write just as much as you must breathe.
  2. Editors Are Human – They have seen almost any mistake you have made before.
  3. Agents Are Human Too – They have heard almost every mistake in the book.
  4. Mentors Create A Lifeline – There are mentors in the writing community that will come along side you and give you get-back-on-track advice.
  5. You’re A Life-Long Learner – Writers are constantly learning new things about the trade. You never arrive. Just keep learning and be teachable.
  6. Someday You’ll Look Back And Laugh- Hold on to this thought. There will come a day when you see the humor in these moments.
  7. Everything Is Possible – Our Heavenly Father has promised that “All things are possible to those who love God.” (Phil. 4:13)
  8. You Are Not Alone – There are many on this writing journey with you. Find a local writing group or share with friends, but don’t go it alone.
  9. A Career Is Not Defined In One Day – Aren’t we all grateful for this?  One day will not make or break your career. Be patient with yourself.
  10. The Patriots Won The Superbowl – In an unprecedented comeback, never before seen in history, the Patriots won the Superbowl. If they can do it, against all odds and Superbowl past stats, so can you!

Who else has come back from sure defeat in their past, or can you think of someone in history that has made a huge comeback?

How To Survive A Writer’s Life Gone Rogue

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Photo by Gozde Otman

Do you ever feel your writing life has gone rogue, all kinds of chaos is following you and you can’t seem to get a handle on it?

I am right there with you! Being a mom can be chaos, but being a mom writer. . . absolutely bonkers.

Here is a clip that shows a bit what it is like to be a mom writer, assuming I am the officer and the people are all of the chaos that bombards me day in and day out. See if you can relate:

There are ways to survive the mayhem. I am not always successful, but this is a list that I have found helpful.

How To Survive A Writer’s Life Gone Rogue:

  1. Call for Help. Have a list of emergency numbers for when you completely freak out. Have more than one number and be sure to represent the different kind of chaos interventions you might need. For example, you might want Grandma on speed dial, your editor or agent email handy, and the number of a few writing mentors to talk you off of the cliff.
  2. Just Breathe. Knee-jerk reactions result in random tasing that can cause all kinds of difficulties. Take a deep breath before doing anything rash that you will regret. My favorite song in moments like these is:
  3. Recognize Your Underlying Purpose. When chaos strikes it is easy to jump to generalizations about failure, but these usually undermine our self-worth. Identify your underlying purpose, the very thing you are pushing for, and how God has uniquely gifted you to achieve that purpose.

Life can bring complete and utter chaos. For the writer who must manage their own creativity, deadlines, and other obligations it can be overwhelming. These strategies can keep you sane and productive despite the struggles of a writer’s life.

What do you do to help you survive a life gone rogue?

 

 

3 Words Of Advice That Can Revolutionize Your Writing Journey

Photo by Stancu Alexandru

Photo by Stancu Alexandru

The journey of an author is never easy. There are the ups and downs of rejections, contest critiques, and writer’s block.

The profession itself is full of potholes, not to mention the crazy roadblocks that come with everyday responsibilities. Family, faith, friendships, holiday shopping, buying skiis for your high schooler. . . yeah, okay, that last one is all me.

My family has also struggled with health concerns and I deal with chronic pain. Sometimes writing seems next to impossible, but there are 3 Words Of Advice That Can Revolutionize Your Writing Journey.

Don’t take my word for it. Nope. These amazing words come from one of my writing mentors that has helped me along the journey.

Rachel Hauck is a New York Times Bestseller with several books under her belt. Here are just a few:

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Rachel is a brilliant writer. I absolutely love her metaphors and rich stories that tug at your heart. All of her craft expertise has brought her great success, but there is one thing she taught me that is pivotal to our writing journey.

Without these three words all of her Bestsellers would have remained an idea, unrealized. It seems simple, but without this no writer can be successful.

What are these 3 Words Of Advice That Can Revolutionize Your Writing Journey?

Simple Really.

BUTT IN CHAIR

When you don’t feel like writing and you want to play candy crush. . .

BUTT IN CHAIR

When you want to give up and burn your rough draft. . .

BUTT IN CHAIR

It may sound trite, but the truth is that most of my ideas waiting to be published are only going to be accomplished if I constantly commit myself to writing.

Everyday.

No matter what.

Even if it is just for a little while, the words add up to whole manuscripts and eventually I finish a book. It is the small moments, the two hundred words here, three hundred words there that push me forward.

Rachel has given me a lot of advice. Her craft teaching and spiritual encouragement have been a huge part of my journey, but these 3 words. . . if I follow this advice, I will finish books.

What do you do to help you keep your BUTT IN Chair?

 

 

How To NaNoWriMo Through the Holidays – 3 Cold Turkey Plans & Strategies

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Photo by kindhelper

So you’ve signed up for this crazy thing called NaNoWriMo and the holidays are staring you down, threatening to derail your whole plan. Take heart, there are ways to keep on track, even during the holidays.

It won’t be easy, but it is completely doable. Groan, right? Well, NaNoWriMo is not for the faint of heart. You’re a warrior writer, right?

During this holiday you can do some cold turkey writing to keep you on your word count goals for the month. The key is to plan now and pick the plan that works the best for you.

How To NaNoWriMo Through the Holidays –

Photo by Vaughan Willis

Photo by Vaughan Willis

3 Cold Turkey Plans:

  1. Prewrite your goal. This one is just like it sounds. Divide up the writing you would normally do during the days you will be vacationing for Thanksgiving to do in the days ahead of time.
  2. Schedule writing for your strengths. If you write earliest in the morning, ask someone else to prep the turkey. If you write best in the evenings, ask someone to clean up after the meal. Plan your writing time by your strengths. If you know that you will not want to write after the family comes over because you want to see them and chat until late into the night, then plan to write in the morning. Be purposeful to avoid failing to meet your goals.
  3. Post-write your goal. Take the word count you would have had during the holiday and divide it over the few days after the holiday is over. Try to get this all done within a few days after the holiday, or you will feel the task to finish the month is insurmountable.

3 Cold Turkey Strategies:

  1. Write crazy family dynamics into your story. Be inspired by the crazy family dynamics during the holidays. Use a quirky family member to build on a character. Use someone’s dialogue patterns to make one of your characters more unique. Let the characters you interact with, even that crazy lady who almost ran you over on Black Friday in the Walmart parking lot, inspire uniqueness in your story.
  2. Add a festival or community activity into your story. Community is built in your story through its culture. Add a touch of what makes your story character unique by adding a community activity or festival to your novel. It can be the May Day Parade, or Cat Fish Days, as long as it is part of what makes your community unique.
  3. Build the sensory details in your novel. Scientists have discovered that smells are the strongest memories. What does your character’s story world smell like. Think of all of the wonderful holiday smells and foods. Add some of these sensory details into your novel to expand your creative pallet.

What is your favorite part of the holidays?

How To Add Real Life Conflicts To Your Novel – Help! I’ve Fallen Into The School Bus

Photo by Holger Selover-Stephan

Photo by Holger Selover-Stephan

If you are reading this blog, chances are I survived the back to school rush of 2016. Whew!

Four kids make back to school a challenge. There’s all of the Open Houses, school supply lists, clothes shopping, and new schedules. As luck would have it, my four children are attending three different schools, making it even more chaotic.

If you are a last minute shopper, or forgot a few items, you just might be duking it out Jingle All The Way style in isle ten. And if you are looking for a TI 84+ calculator. . . sorry, we got the last one.

This past week has been full of real life conflict that is enough to make any mom want to move to Australia with Alexander. Just like us, our characters’ lives are full of real life conflict, too.

Have you built that into the ebb and flow of your novel. Characters seem real when we give them the experiences we go through every day and they must navigate the potholes.

Here are a few tips on How To Add Real Life Conflicts To Your Novel that make it easier for readers to identify with your characters.

How To Add Real Life Conflict To Your Novel:

*Brainstorm a list of real life situations your character might face at the time of year your story takes place. It helps to focus in on the time of year when your novel takes place. List holidays, professional busy seasons, personal hobbies that might draw a character away from their goals, and even key times for other characters when they are not as supportive due to outside pressures.

*Select the events that are highest in conflict in conjunction with genre suitability. At Christmas, a chic-lit novel might have shopping woes and complicated to shop for mother-in-laws. Although those might work in a suspense, it would be much more helpful to make a character more vulnerable, having to shop after dark when there is a chance their stalker would wait for them in the parking lot while their arms were weighed down with packages. (For more on plot conflict and escalation techniques check out my book here.)

*Intensify the conflict by making us care even more. If a character has to chose between the dangers of facing that parking lot when your life is at risk and not finding a special gift for your mom’s last Christmas, the tension increases. The reader cares about the character’s safety and the last Christmas for a mom and her daughter. Using these competing values is a trick I learned from Susan May Warren in her book Deep And Wide: Advanced Fiction Techniques.

What was the crazy part of your back-to-school season?

3 Brainstorming Idea Sparks to Start Your Writing Day

Photo by esra su

Photo by esra su

Have you met someone who talks in monotone?

I’ve met a few. We’ve all been subjected to speakers who made us yawn from the moment they started speaking.

Imagine the last time you sat with your family or extended family around the table. Think of the different words and tones they used to communicate.

From the hippie, to the teenager, to the toddler, to the politician, they all have a unique choice of words and tone. The politician may strive to be politically correct and not offend anyone. The teenager’s words may ooze sarcasm.

Who are voices in your scenes?

Do you have enough different tones and unique word choices? These differences create an auditory pallet for your novel’s dialogue. The more diverse your auditory pallet, the more unique each character will feel to readers.

In creating dialogue today, think about how you can add richness to your story through voice. Use these 3 Brainstorming Idea Sparks to Start Your Writing Day.

3 Brainstorming Idea Sparks to Start Your Writing Day:

Tell your writing pal or a friend one of the most unique individuals you remember for their tone and word choices. Review what you wrote yesterday in the final scene. Then answer the following questions about your cast of characters.

  1. What are the different auditory palettes of my characters? You should have at least a few different varieties, if not, go back and add them in.
  2. What can I do to enrich these or add secondary characters to make a scene’s auditory diversity more obvious? Put characters with different dialogue styles in the same scenes together. This will create greater interest in your scenes. That is why we often see a side-kick character very different than the hero or heroine.
  3. How can I more clearly define my hero/heroine’s word choices and tones? Make your hero/heroine the only one who sounds like they do in your novel.

If you are looking for more Idea Sparking Tips like these, you can find them in my book- Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month.

One of my favorite author’s for dialogue is Mildred Taylor. Another favorite is Susan May Warren who once used the phrase, “How do you like your yellars?” (Eggs) Her newest release is: Where There’s SmokeBoth of these authors have very rich dialogue in their novels.

 

What are some of your favorite dialogue characters?