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Posts from the ‘writing goals’ Category

The Best Moments (as a Reader and a Writer)

This happens to me all the time. It gives meaning to reading, writing and life…

The Best Moments

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Happy 2013

Happy New Year to everyone! Make 2013 your most productive year yet. How?

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What’s the Word? – One Little Word Project

Ali Edwards is a mother, photographer and documenter of life.  I’ve followed her blog for some time. Her digital scrapbook layouts are inspiring without being cheesy, and I could only dream of finding the time or inclination to document my own world quite so beautifully. In 2006, Ali began the One Little Word project – choosing one word for herself each January.

a word that I can focus on, mediate on, and reflect upon as I go about my daily life. I invite it into my life. I live with it. I let it speak to me. I might even follow where it leads.

Ali says, “Choosing a word each year came about as an alternative to a list of resolutions. I wanted something I could hold close and actually develop a relationship with over the course of the year.

Some years my word has made a major difference, and other years it’s been a more silent companion through the challenges and celebrations in my life.

The action of choosing a word (or having a word find you) is full of potential and possibility. And here’s one thing that’s totally interesting: sometimes a word pops into your brain and it doesn’t make any sense right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our hearts speak to us in very unique ways. Maybe it’s a word you need to hear, but you just aren’t ready for it yet. Again, be open to the possibilities.

Your word can be tangible or intangible. It can be a thought or a feeling or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. It might be silly or serious. It might be something you want to bring to your life. It might be something you want or need to change.”

A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can be sharp and biting, or rich and soft and slow. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother’s word, or your spouse’s word, or your child’s word – this is YOUR word.

I thought I’d choose my own word this year.  Something simple to carry with me and reflect upon.  I chose:

INTENTIONAL

in·ten·tion·al/inˈtenCHənl/

Adjective:  Done on purpose, deliberate

Synonyms:  Deliberate, wilful, willful, purposeful, intended

There are days when I feel like I’m floating through life – sucked up by the immediate needs of others (my kids, the school, my husband, the dog, the house) or the hedonistic needs of my psyche (sleep 30 more minutes, eat one more cookie, it’s too cold to go for a run.)

In 2012 I want to live with intention.  I want to write with intention, parent with intention, take care of myself with intention and take care of others with intention.

I want to get haircuts with intention so that I don’t look like Mr. American Apparel.  I don’t have a problem with emo-chic.  But seriously, have you seen my photo?  I can’t pull off that haircut.

What’s your word for 2012?

When to dig up that dusty, old manuscript… and when to let it die

Sunrise at my house yesterday – Beautiful!

On Monday, I mentioned that one of my writing goals for 2012 is to resuscitate Sliver of Souls. Sliver of Souls (SOS) was my 2009 NaNoWriMo project that I threw into a drawer promptly upon finishing it.  Here are the misguided reasons why:

  1. No one sells their first novel. SOS was my first completed novel, and who gets their first novel published?  I believed it was a training-ground – the perfect experiment in discipline and long-fiction writing so that I could dip my toes into the world of novels. I figured I would write a few more to build my skills and then try to sell my second or third novel.
  2. The subject matter doesn’t fit my personality.  SOS could be called a paranormal romance.  No ghosts or vampires, but it tells the story of Maggie, a girl who believes she’s displaying early signs of long-term schizophrenia, but is actually experiencing visions from her past lives.  I’ve always wanted to write literary fiction or historical fiction or historical literary fiction, but never dreamed of writing paranormal fiction, let alone a paranormal romance about a 19-year-old girl.
  3. I’m not a YA author. How would I spin it? Young Adult? Paranormal? YA Paranormal? I never set out to write a YA novel, and technically SOS doesn’t have to fit into this category.  However, the age of the protagonist and the “coming of age” themes that are woven throughout certainly lend themselves to this genre. To be clear, I love YA fiction, I just never thought of myself as a YA author.
  4. It’s too complicated.  It’s too cliche.  Every writer fights this fear.  It’s that damn internal editor again.  Of course it’s cliche.  It’s a first draft!  Three-quarters of the content in first drafts is cliche drivel that is cut and reworked into something more original. And, yes it’s complicated, but the ideas were clear in my mind when I set out to write it.  So with some massive revisions, couldn’t it be reworked to make the ideas more clear.

Now let me dispel those misguided myths and fill you in on the reasons that SOS has been pulled out of the vault:

  1. Lots of people have sold the first novel they ever wrote. Google “authors who sold the first novel they wrote” and you can read multiple success stories.  Take The Help by Kathryn Stockett as an example.  It was the first novel she ever wrote and she banged on doors, sent out queries and revised until she was blue in the face. Look at the success that book has had.
  2. Maybe I’m not giving my personality enough credit.  During the four busy and tenuous weeks of 2011’s NaNoWriMo, I thought back to 2009.  It should be said that I cleared the decks for my novel project in 2009, and this year I was juggling multiple projects. However, SOS came easy to me back in 2009.  I was excited to sit down every night and write.  Maggie and her band of present-life and past-life cohorts flew onto the page.  In 2011, I was excited about Ivy and her quirky mother Delilah, but it was much more like a dental extraction to get them out of my brain and onto the page.  I chalked it up to the challenge of writing about events that occurred 25 years before I was born.  But, there may be more to it than that.  I woke up a week ago with a whisper in my brain, “Maybe writing SOS was easier for a reason.” Maybe I shouldn’t pigeon hole myself as a literary/historical fiction writer.  Who says I can’t or shouldn’t write a paranormal romance? Stranger things have happened.
  3. I’m not a published fiction author – so who am I to say that I’m not a YA author? I’m a published non-fiction writer, but this fiction thing is new to me.  So again, why should I limit myself in the fiction world before I’m even out of the gate?  Maybe YA is my niche and I didn’t even know it.  I had a realization a few months ago that the majority of my fictional protagonists are females between the ages of 16 and 20. I currently have six fiction projects either on paper, in notes or swimming in my brain.  Four of the six protagonists fit into that 16-19 year old category.  Hmmm… maybe there’s something to this YA genre after all.
  4. Revision can solve many problems.  Maybe the story is too complicated – right now.  Maybe parts of it are a little cliche – right now.  But SOS also has some gems hidden amongst the blather. As much as revision terrifies me (such an overwhelming project), I also love it.  There is nothing better than pulling out my red Uniball fine-point pen and my stack of Post-it notes and getting to work tearing apart a manuscript and putting it back together.  I love the fact that I get as many chances as I want to get it right.   In the case of Sliver of Souls, I think it’s time to take advantage of those second chances.

What about you? Have you ever revived a retired project? Do you struggle with defining your perfect writing genre?

Setting Your Writing Goals for 2012

I mentioned last week that I spent an afternoon in late December setting a few writing goals for my 2012 writing career. As I looked back over the list, it turned out to be more than a few goals. I’ve seemingly created a complete strategic plan for the next 1-3 years of my writing life. Stick around for a while and you’ll find that this is my modus operandi. I dream big and bite off a lot more than I can chew. The dark side of this is that I’m constantly busy …juggling 8 million more things than are humanly possible. The silver lining is that I’m a prolific worker. Even if I don’t accomplish all 900 things on the list, I get a heck of a lot more accomplished than I ever thought possible.

So without further ado, the next 1-3 years of my writing life.  I’ve divided this up by focus area to keep it a little more organized:

NON-FICTION

  1. Plan editorial calendar for newspaper columns. (The worst feeling in the world for a columnist is to feel like you’re phoning it in and generating sub-par articles because you didn’t plan ahead. I always try to start off the year proactively. 2012 is looking good with articles planned consistently through the end of May. There are a few holes to fill, but those last-minute stories are always easier when I feel on top of my game with the rest of the articles.)
  2. Finish articles on Thursdays.  (My newspaper articles are technically due on Sunday evenings.  Sometimes I even push this deadline to Monday mornings.  In spite of all my planning in life, I’m a consummate procrastinator when it comes to deadlines.  I usually spend every weekend stressing about finishing [or starting and finishing] my article(s) for the week.  This makes family time less than fun.  A stressed mommy is an inattentive mommy.  In 2012, I’m committing to finishing my articles on Thursday.  I can submit on Friday mornings and have the weekends be dedicated family time.)
  3. Expand client base and publication list for non-fiction writing.  Including my regular newspaper gig, I have five clients for which I consistently write.  I’d like to expand this list to include at least two new outlets or clients this year.  How? See numbers 4-6.
  4. Focus expertise areas (My current areas of focus include performing arts, visual arts, mental health/suicide prevention, dogs and cats [scientific and human interest], Colorado history and architecture/engineering.  Pretty broad, eh?  I told you I’ve had quite the writing journey.  Jack of all trades and master of a few.  In 2012 I’d like to focus more closely on a few of these areas and expand my client base within my established markets.
  5. Research and pinpoint at least five targets for the three areas in which I’d like to focus my efforts.
  6. Query at least 10 publications/clients in each of these three markets
  7. Write proposal for next non-fiction book.  (I’ve been mulling over ideas for two non-fiction books.  There’s one in particular which seems realistic and in line with my goals of finding that balance between the writing life and the family life.)
  8. As part of the proposal, create a marketing plan for the book including a list of comparable/competitive books

BLOG AND SOCIAL MARKETING

  1. Blog 5 times/week for 50 weeks.  I started off strong on this blog and then faltered when the going got busy.  You can trust in the fact that posts are planned, and I’ll be cranking out the content and keeping you updated on the writing life more consistently in 2012.
  2. Continue to discover new writing blogs and let you, the reader, know about them.  Two months ago I started WWW(W) – Writing on the Web this Week about Writing.  I’d like this to become a weekly feature on Fridays.  Not only does it give you a great place to find out about people and places in the writing world, but it keeps me inspired and makes the writing world a little more like a community one week at time.
  3. Figure out my place on Twitter and Facebook.  I’ve experimented with Twitter and my Facebook fanpage, but I’d like to feel like those social outlets are useful to me rather than time sucks.

FICTION

  1. Write 1000 words/day on fiction manuscripts (This is always the daily word goal, but things falter over the holidays and when non-fiction work gets busy.)
  2. Finish SBU* Draft #1 by March 15. (SBU = The Spaces Between Us, the working title for my “failed” NaNoWriMo project. Failed, but certainly not forgotten. Ivy and her post-WWII family are too interesting to abandon now.)
  3. Edit and revise SBU Draft #1 by June 30. (This also includes time for my first readers to take a look and deliver initial feedback.  If this sounds fast to some of you, you can trust that I’ll be editing for months after, too.)
  4. Query at least 30 agents regarding SBU finished manuscript. (The second half of 2012 will be spent sending the manuscript out into the great big publishing world to see how it stands on its own two feet.)
  5. Finish revisions on Sliver of Souls* (This is the working title for my completed novel banished to the dark corners of my virtual drawer. The reason for resuscitating this previously abandoned project deserves a separate post of its own. For now, let’s just say that NaNoWriMo 2011 made me realize a few things about my first long fiction darling. More on this later in the week.)
  6. Start outlines, notes and binder for Book #3.  No working title for this book yet, but the story has been kicking around in my head for about a year.  Once the smoke clears on my writing and revising frenzy, I’d like to spend November/December throwing together the first round of notes for this book.
  7. I know that I said that the musical would be finished in 2012, but I never intended for Sliver of Souls to come back to life.  Given this development, the musical is getting pushed to 2013. November/December will be a great time to revamp the scene outline and get organized for completion in 2013.

CAREER DEVELOPMENT

  1. Attend 2 writing conferences.  Already signed up for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado Springs in April.  Now I need to find another one that fits my budget and my family scheduling.  Any suggestions?
  2. Start writers group.  My “writers group” is a virtual group scattered across the country.  Much as I love the intermittent camaraderie that this far-flung group provides, I’ve been feeling the need for a local group that will challenge me and hold me accountable in the fiction world.  I’m reaching out to my local contacts to see if I can find the “right” group that will gel and have common goals.
  3. Re-print business cards.  Sounds simple, but there is so much thought that goes into the design and printing of business cards.  I’ve been putting it off because I suffer from analysis paralysis when it comes to designing my cards.  (What’s the right color?  What’s the right paper? You get the gist…)
  4. Compile print/digital clips.  My portfolio is very alive and very disorganized.  I’ve spent the last few years writing, but not collecting and compiling in a user-friendly portfolio that represents my best work.  With the above non-fiction goals, it’s time to get this marketing tool organized.

Let’s talk about you.  Have you set any writing goals for 2012?  Any great writers’ conferences you can recommend?  How do you juggle family time, writing time and “other” time?  Have you found Twitter and Facebook beneficial to your writing life?

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