Still Time to Set Resolutions
by LuAnn Schindler
We're not quite half way into the first month of the new year, so if you haven't taken time yet to develop a list of writing goals, don't worry. There's still time. But instead of procrastinating (do writers do that?), take a good look at what you accomplished last year and where you want to direct your energies this year.
Unsure where to start? Here are a few ideas I implemented last year and a couple I plan to complete in 2010. Consider it a productivity map.
- Submission / Time Tracker: I used to keep track of submissions and queries by creating a folder in the document section on my computer. Sure, it showed who I sent it to, but I wanted to be able to use a tracking system so I could list experts and interviewees, possible publications for submissions, type of submission (feature, how-to, FOB), time spent on research and writing, and publication and payment info. I revamped a query tracker previously posted on Premium Green (WOW!'s premium subscription newsletter) and it makes my life so much easier! I've used the system to come up with new article ideas based on information from experts, which increases the bottom line. It's a win-win! How do you keep track of submissions and amount of time spent on each article or work?
- Data Backup: I need to work on this one. Do you? I have CDs filled with photos and flash drives loaded with documents. Now, I need to get it all in one place. Thanks to the data backup program that came with my laptop, I will now be able to keep all my files safe and accessible. What do you use to backup photos and writing files?
- Project Deadlines: Do you have a large project that seems like you'll never complete? Don't worry. You're not alone. Unless we writers set a deadline for major projects, we'll likely let them continue throughout the year. That's not healthy for a writer's bottom line. Set deadlines, whether it's writing a set amount of words per day, a certain number of pages, or a certain amount of time. Use a planner or calendar to mark the deadlines. The brain makes a stronger connection and gives a stronger sense of urgency to those tasks we note as being important. How do you track deadlines?
- Network: Establishing relationships with other writers and editors is important. It's also important to continue to make new contacts. I plan to send three queries to new markets every week in 2010. I also plan to step up my social networking campaign. How will you build or increase your network?
- Website: Do you have a web presence? About four years ago, I started a website, but I wasn't happy with the design and eventually, I quit adding material to it. And then, I got married and I never updated the site to include my new last name. In 2010, I will create a new website and keep it updated. I'll keep my blogs updated, too. Do you have a website to promote your skills and expertise? If so, what's one new element you can add to market your skills and reach new audiences/clients?
- Skills: As a teacher, I have to update my repertoire of skills and learn new methods to reach students. As a writer, I have to update my repertoire of skills and learn new methods to reach editors and readers. I'm enrolling in a one-hour credit class for web design and animation. I'm also teaching a writer's workshop for a local community college. How will you improve your skills?
- Fresh Ideas: Ever feel like all your articles/blog posts/storylines are the same? Challenge yourself by tackling a new subject, writing from a different perspective, or trying a different genre. I've already written a piece and submitted it to a market I never would have considered before. But, once I saw the potential for earning money, I decided to try. And guess what. I enjoyed it! How will you challenge yourself in 2010?
Having a road map for the new year will keep you on the "write" track, push you to try new ventures, and make you accountable for your successes and failures. Set goals for a productive 2010.
Labels: building new website, data backup, deadlines, goals, LuAnn Schindler, networking, query tracker, setting goals, social networking for writers, time management, writing skills
Someday is today
"I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's."
Perhaps you've made some New Year's resolutions—big goals like writing a book, losing 20 pounds, or finally getting organized. So how do these goals come to pass? By daily attention.
The choices we make each day are what add up to a year-end result. Think: What could you give up in the next 12 hours to fit in some writing? How could you eat lighter just for this day? What if you set a timer for 15 minutes and cleaned up one space?
When you realize that your days are the building blocks of a year's dream, you won’t let them slip by. Doing something now, even a small change or a baby step, will add up. Over the course of twelve months—almost imperceptibly—real progress will be made.
What could you resolve to do today?--MP
Labels: goals, Inspiration, Marcia Peterson, time management
In fifteen minutes I can vacuum my living room well, using the attachments on my vacuum to get the dust bunnies out of the couches. In fifteen minutes I can clean out my fridge, discarding old food and wiping down some of the surfaces. In fifteen minutes I can do rotations of sit-ups, push-ups, wall-sits, squats, calf-raises and lunges. Well, let’s hope I can last even fifteen minutes doing these things.
So where do these thoughts of fifteen-minute-productivity come from? I’m reading what I think will prove to be a great book, Pen on Fire
by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. In her book, DeMarco-Barrett encourages us to find “stolen moments” in our day. “Somewhere during your day,” she says, “you have at least fifteen minutes you can use to write. Start there. Try the first thing in the morning, the last thing at night. When are you the most lucid? The most creative? See what works.” The author also says that if we can’t find fifteen minute chunks of time to write, maybe we need to re-evaluate whether writing is something that can fit in our lives at this time. Ouch, that’s a reality check.
When it comes to writing, fifteen minutes can be powerful. I’ve bought into the school of thought that I need an hour or two or a weekend away to accomplish anything for my writing. But I have a husband, two small children, friends, volunteer and house work and frankly I need time to shower. If I choose to write only in those times when I have an hour to myself, I will either never sleep or never write, and the need for sleep catches up to you. So it will be writing that goes out the window.
Let’s crunch some numbers. In fifteen minutes I can write about 500 words if I’m typing. If I find fifteen minutes a day, four times a week, over the course of the year that is 104,000 words. That equals a good sized novel or a hundred average length feature articles, hundreds of poems or a basketful of short stories. And all that comes from committing only an hour a week to writing.
I, and I think many people, have an all or nothing mindset that paralyzes us. We feel that if a little of something is good, then a lot of it is better. I say, “If I could get 104,000 words written in a year, doing just 15 minutes, what if I did 30 minutes?” After I raise the bar for myself from a reasonable goal, I inevitably get distracted or behind and then guilt or pressure sets in. What was once a fun thing, my writing, becomes a chore. It joins the ranks of my to-do list along with folding the laundry and going to the dentist. Wow, sounds fun.
by Susan L. Eberling
Labels: balance, goals, writing practice
The Importance of Goals
With the new year right around the corner, I've started thinking of what I'd like to accomplish next year, with my writing. I sat down to start a list and as I wrote down different goals I want to meet, I wondered if I wasn't being too easy on myself. One of my goals is: write a rough draft of a novel. Well, it wouldn't necessarily take a whole year to do that, so I wonder if I should shoot for a rough draft of one novel and the beginnings of another. Instead of a rough draft of one story per month, maybe I should try and complete a finished draft within the month.
I try to be realistic, however. Like many of you, I have obligations that keep me from the writing I want to do most. So I don't get to sit down each day and work on a Masterpiece of Fiction. Instead, I write articles, essays, blog posts :0) ...all the while with ideas running through my mind, desperately waiting for their chance.
But writing down my goals reminds me of what I want to accomplish, even if it takes all year. Like Sue noted in Strikethrough Momentum
, I love crossing tasks off my list, noting "goal met" by some responsibility I placed on myself.
So why don't we try this: write a list of goals you want to meet in 2008. Look them over and then add something to make each one more difficult, even if by a small amount. Say you want to "Query one print market per week." Now make it two. Want to earn a set amount from your writing next year? Up it by five percent. I'm not saying to shoot for something outrageous, like "Be the next bestselling author of chick lit," but then again, who's to say you shouldn't aspire to something like that? Whether you make your goals simple and easily attainable or whether you try for more lofty pursuits, make that list. Put it where you'll see it every day. And as you meet each goal, cross it off, note it "Goal Met" with the date or however you want to celebrate each milestone and consider yourself one step closer to being the writer you
want to be.
Labels: goals, writing
I'm a list maker. No way around it. And most of the time, most of the things get done. Usually the ones that are most important. Or at least the ones with deadlines looming. I'm getting better about meeting deadlines. In this business, you have to be.
However there was a time when my favorite thing about deadlines was the "whooshing" sound they make rushing by.
I've done the goal setting thing, the resolution thing, the do it and reward yourself thing and failed at all of them. I want to share what works for me. It's a little thing called DUH!
D - Do it first or as close as humanly possible.
U - Understand it may be inconvenient and/or difficult and do it anyway.
H- Hurray, celebrate! You did it!
Here's why it works for me. There isn't much worse than going to bed with things that needed to be done still needing to be done. The guilt robs me of sleep and I lay there berating myself for not getting things done. By applying "D", I don't have to dread doing it or the results of not doing it.
The "U" also reminds me it may not be fun. For example, exercise. Not fun but definitely got to be done.
My favorite is the "H". We should celebrate our accomplishments everyday. No matter how small they are.
I'd love to take credit for this little system but just can't. I found it on Margie Lawson's website. Here's the link
. Give it a good read over. She explains it very well.
Now, apply as needed:--)
Labels: DUH, goals, Margie Lawson