Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Do You Have Writing Goals for 2010?

Have you set your writing goals for 2010 yet? Setting goals is easy when you use the SMART format:

S= Specific. Identify a concrete product that you intend to create, e.g., a novel, a nonfiction book proposal, a short story, a memoir.

M= Measurable. Goals should include something you can count on a daily basis, e.g., finish five pages per day or two chapters per week.

A= Achievable. Set goals you know you can reach. Most people set goals too high, get discouraged, and quit. Setting goals you have a good chance of making sets you up for success.

R= Realistic. Again, set goals that are do-able for you and your lifestyle.

T= Time Limited. Give all goals a deadline and track your progress using some type of log.

Once you have goals, create action steps that you will take on a daily basis to reach these goals. This can include setting aside time after dinner each evening to write, going to the library on weekends to do research, or taking classes to improve your skills. I call this your Writing Action Plan™.

Post your plan somewhere that you will see it every day, and reward yourself weekly for making progress toward your goals.

Learn more ways to set and achieve writing goals in TIME TO WRITE: More Than 100 Professional Writers Reveal How to Fit Writing Into Your Busy Life-- No Excuses, No Distractions, No More Blank Pages (Adams Media).


What are your writing goals for 2010? Leave a comment and be entered into a drawing to win an autographed copy of BREAK INTO FICTION by bestselling authors Dianna Love and Mary Buckham.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Where is Your Thinking Place?

A Thinking Place is a private spot where you can go, undisturbed, to think, create, and make plans. Many creative people have several Thinking Places that they retreat to on a routine basis. One of mine is a comfortable chair in front of a window with a scenic view. A Thinking Place is important because it allows you to access your subconscious mind and helps build a bridge to your innate creativity.

For an excellent book on the various Thinking Places of famous people, check out:
Thinking Places: Where Great Ideas Were Born by Jack and Carolyn Fleming.

Where is your Thinking Place?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Don’t Let the Holidays Mean a Holiday from Writing

Every writer has to deal with distractions on a daily basis, but the holidays present a unique challenge. It’s easy to get so consumed by the parties, shopping, cooking, traveling, and visiting with family that your writing suffers. People tend to work less during the holidays no matter what their line of business, and writers are no different. The result is that you lose touch with your work-in-progress and slow the momentum that had been pushing you along the previous ten months.

Here’s how to stay on track with your writing and enjoy your holidays, too.

Modify Your Writing Schedule. Unless you’re emulating Stephen King and decide to write every day including Christmas and your birthday, accept the fact that you are not going to get as much writing done during the holiday season. Plan accordingly by taking a proactive stance. Decide now, before the holiday chaos begins, what your writing schedule will be for the next six weeks. Take out monthly calendars for November and December and pencil in a scaled back version of your typical writing schedule. If you normally write five hours a week, plan on three. If you normally write three times a week, plan on one. Identify the days that you already know you will not write and cross them off your calendar. This exercise will alleviate guilt while also ensuring that you will get some writing accomplished over the holidays.

Modify Your Writing Goals. Along with your modified schedule, temporarily lower your word and page count goals. If you normally write 2000 words a day, lower it to 1000. If you usually shoot for five pages a day, aim for three.

Review Your Progress. The key to achieving any goal is to continually monitor progress. If you feel like you are getting totally off track as the holidays move forward, set aside five minutes and review your modified goals. Did you bite off more than you could chew? If you scaled your writing schedule back to three times a week but discover that you simply can’t do it because of holiday obligations, scale it back to twice or even once a week. Your aim should be to retain some semblance of your writing schedule—what that looks like over the holidays may be dictated by forces you cannot control.

Incorporate Writing Into the Holiday Lifestyle. Just as you weave writing into your day-to-day life at other times, strive to do the same over the holidays. Keep a notebook nearby to jot down witticism ms and snappydialogue exchanges that you overhear. Maybe eccentric Uncle Fred will spout out the perfect comeback line for your hero. Be alert. Families are steeped in tradition and complex relationships that all writers strive to get on the page. Take advantage of the dynamics swirling around you.

Touch Some Part of Your Writing Every Day. Even on days that you do not plan to write, touch some part of your writing life by making notes about your work-in-progress, thinking about a difficult plot point, or reading a paragraph or two in a craft book before you go to bed. Stay in touch with your writing self.

Be Present. When you’re writing, write. When you’re celebrating, celebrate. Be completely present with whatever you are doing at the moment.

Plan Your 2010 Work Now. Setting long range goals before the hype about resolutions begins often results in saner, more achievable goals. It also helps you avoid overextending yourself when the post-holiday slump sets in. The reason most people don’t keep their resolutions is because they set completely unrealistic targets. Setting yours before or right after Thanksgiving gives you a smooth jumping off point on Jan 1, 2010.

Taking a break for the holidays doesn’t mean you have to take a break from your writing life. Use these tips to stay in touch with your writing life and enjoy your family’s festivities, too.

©Kelly L. Stone. All rights reserved.

Question for comments: How do you plan to stay on track with your writing during this holiday season?