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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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 Have Olympic Writing Motivation – Tips from Bronze Medalist Dana Vollmer’s Story

Photo by lotus head

Photo by lotus head

The writing journey can be a roller coaster of ups and downs. It is hard to stay motivated at different times along the way, but we are not alone in chasing a dream.

Bronze Medalist Dana Vollmer is a dreamer just like us. Her story of coming back to win a Bronze medal in the 100 Butterfly after having a baby inspires me. Looking at her story, made me think of what takeaway I can learn from her experience.

More than anything I wanted to figure out How To Have Olympic Writing Motivation on my journey. Here are a few tips from her story.

How To Have Olympic Writing Motivation – Tips from Bronze Medalist Dana Vollmer’s Story:

Vollmer spent two months on bedrest in the final trimester of her pregnancy. Her son Arlen was born in March 2015. Six weeks later she showed up at the University of California, Berkeley pool with baby and nanny in tow to start swimming again.

*After being sidelined on the journey SHOW UP. Vollmer got back into the pool to work on her dream. Whether it is planting yourself in your writing chair and setting a timer, or going to a writing workshop, get back to work. Even if you only write one thousand words a day it becomes five thousand by the end of the week.

“I’ve always had to set extremely lofty goals,” she said. “So to come back and say that I wanted to race Sarah Sjöström, that’s setting it at the absolute top bar. Just having each of the little steps, I felt like I really appreciated every day, not knowing if I was going to be able to get there.”

*Set the bar high when setting long term goals. Dana Vollmer recognized the importance of reaching for a long term goal that was sure to be a challenge. Reach for big goals that are measurable in some way. You cannot control winning a Christy, but you can control finishing your novel or several.

*Set small steps in between. The big goal is something we aim for, but the everyday small steps are what get us there. Be sure you have the short term goals in place for success. Weekly and daily goals are helpful.

*Celebrate each day of the journey with its own challenges. Part of the beauty of the writing journey is the process of getting to the big goal. Let yourself celebrate and enjoy each milestone.

Which Olympian inspires you?

 

 

How To Set Monthly Writing Goals That Work – Crazy Little Thing Called Time

Basic RGBWinter is the most difficult time for me as a writer. I struggle to get things done. The lack of sunlight makes for a  depressing creative pallet. Come spring I am looking for ways to get back to my intense writing schedule of summer.

Summer is here and my most productive writing season is calling my name. Maybe you are in that same place, but feel frustrated because setting goals never seems to work out for you. You have great intentions, start with a passion, and slink into the embarrassment zone before week two of your self-imposed deadline.

You are not alone.

Every year I hone my goal writing style to bring better success. Some tips are in the graphic above. I don’t have it all figured out, but I have learned a few tricks along the way.

How to set monthly writing goals that work:

*Be Realistic. This is the make it or break it rule that determines if you will have any shot at success. Goals that are so lofty it is a constant struggle to meet them will almost always result in failure. Still, there must be some challenge in each week.

Find a balance of challenge by variating your most challenging element each week. It shouldn’t always be word count. Every other week might be word count. In between, challenge yourself to have a week with stronger verbs, or scenes that are more complete, or concise.

*Set Weekly Goals. Each week should have a word count goal and a crafting goal. This allows you to challenge yourself in different areas. Also, it should not require each day to be a marathon. Recognize that a week’s ebb and flow is a more practical way to set goals, allowing for flexibility when life gets in the way.

For example, a weekly word count goal of 8,000 words could be paired with the goal to show more instead of tell. From there I can break down about how much is needed each day. If I write five days a week, then that means about 1600 words a day and maybe I will read a chapter about show not tell on Monday.

When my schedule pops up with two baseball games on one day, which crazy as it is does happen, I can adjust to 600 words that day and add the other words into my other days.

*Create Rewards. Find ways to reward yourself each week if you make your weekly goal. It is essential to celebrate the small victories. At the end of the month have something amazing you have earned like a spa massage, or something you really want.

*Have An Accountability Buddy. The writer’s journey is very solitary. We need to make sure that we are not facing each step alone. Talk to someone who can help you. Lean on one another and talk often.

What are some things you do to set monthly writing goals that work? What are some challenges you face as you set goals?

5 Tips To Sorting Your Writing Ideas

Photo by Andrea Kratzenberg

Photo by Andrea Kratzenberg

Laundry and I have a love hate relationship. It loves to grow. I hate to do laundry. You can laugh if you want, but a house of six, three of which are young boys who love dirt, dares and sports can challenge even the most dedicated laundry expert. Which. I’m. Not.

In all my mommy wisdom, I have begun to teach my kids laundry basics. Hey, it sure beats my husband wearing pink socks whenever the kids help out with the laundry. As you can guess, the first major piece of wisdom I shared with my kids was how to sort colors before putting them in the washer.

As writers sometimes we come out with pink plot, just like my husband’s socks. What am I talking about? The simple mix-up that occurs when we sort our ideas incorrectly and place them in the plot.

Brainstorming is a powerful tool for writers, but sometimes we don’t know what to do with the ideas we have during a brainstorming session. We either put them in the wrong part of the book or add them to a book they don’t fit in.

5 Tips To Sorting Your Writing Ideas:

*Create a Dumping File on Your Computer. You may have some fabulous ideas while brainstorming that have nothing to do with this story. Put those ideas into an idea file to be used later. Recognize that writing is a long-term pursuit. You don’t have to use all of your great ideas at once.

*Create a Three Act Structure Grid on Paper. (It can also be on a white board.) As ideas come to your mind determine which part of the book they fit in the best. Stick the idea on a post-it note and place it under that Act of the book. Don’t worry about individual order at this time. If you prefer, Scrivener can be helpful in this process.

*Create a Character Scene Page on Paper. As you have ideas for individual scenes, put these ideas on a post-it note and place it on the page. After you have completed plotting your ideas from tip one, then you can create a story grid from these using a three act structure chart. (Once again, this works well in Scrivener.)

*Create a Dialogue Idea Page. As you brainstorm, if funny comments come to mind or powerful phrases. Write them down on a piece of paper with the initials of who will say them. This will help you come up with creative dialogue and a general sense for the way you want a certain character to talk. If a particular bit of dialogue stands out to you, but doesn’t belong in this book, save it for later.

*Sort Your Ideas By Point of View. It is important to ask yourself who would be the most powerful POV perspective for each scene. Also, giving each character’s POV a different colored post-it will help you to visualize immediately if you have a balanced number of scenes per POV.

What sorting techniques have you found helpful while brainstorming?