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Posts tagged ‘writing buddies’

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?

5 Tips for Finding the Right Writing Buddy – Novel Prep Part #3

I bet after yesterday, you were all a little concerned that I’d jump ship.  Worried that NaNoWriMo and the Novel Prep series posts were all taking off with me on a plane to the Seychelles islands where I could soak up the sun and drown my failed fiction sorrows in a fruity drink.  Believe me it was tempting.  But, one bad day doesn’t make a writer.  You’re going to have thousands of them, and the true writer is the one who knows how to keep typing in spite of the dreck. In fact, here’s how the emotional rollercoaster breaks down for me – and I would guess many of us who make a living writing:

Writers’ Spectrum

After NaNoWriMo Day #1 I was definitely hovering in the purple section. 

So what do you do when you’re thinking of tossing the writing life and taking up residence in a cave with no electricity?  My answer to that question is Tip #3 in our Novel Prep Series:

Call your writing buddy!

Writing buddies are those people who keep you going when the going gets tough.  Your internal editor is screaming at you and your spouse has gently kissed your head, but walked to the farthest corner in the house because he knows the signs of a writer’s fit.  You’re pacing in front of your computer with Chips Ahoy crumbs flying from your mouth and ranting about how you’ll never make it as a writer.  What, that doesn’t happen to everybody? Oh…  Well, if you ever catch me stocking up on chocolate-chip cookies at the grocery store, you’ll know to steer clear of me for the next several days.  I’m preparing for a writing frenzy. 

How does my spiral into writer’s insanity relate to you.  Well, after I vacuumed up all of the cookie crumbs and safely secured my computer so that I wouldn’t toss it out the window, I called my writing buddy.  My writing buddy is a dear friend who’ve I’ve know since college.  She is an amazing writer in her own right and juggles kids, husband and a job of her own.  She knows when to listen, she knows when to push and she knows what my hot buttons are when it comes to writing.  The key to most writers’ success is having a person like this who can keep them going. I was lucky enough to fall into this relationship with my Writing Buddy thanks to the close confines of a college dorm room.  Some people aren’t quite so lucky.  Many people have to search for a writing buddy.

Here are five things to keep in mind when you’re trolling for a Writing Buddy:

  1. Consider your geography:  Is picking up the phone or trading a few emails with this person enough to calm the writer’s storms?  Or do you need a buddy who can drive to your house at two in the morning and whisk you away to a coffee shop for a pep talk and a latte?  You might consider a local pal if your tendency to disappear into the hermit cave requires physical yanking to get you out.
  2. Swallow your pride:  My writing buddy has known me for years.  We’ve cried over lost loves and celebrated marriages and kids together.  We’ve known each other’s writing for years, too.  To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, “I’m not afraid to be stupid with her.”  Your writing buddy needs to be someone with whom you’re not ashamed to say, “I suck right now.”  It’s tough enough to bare your soul on the page.  Admitting to someone that all those words add up to a pile of dreck is even more difficult.  This is not the time to buddy up with someone you need to impress.    If you’re searching for a new buddy, this type of relationship needs to evolve.  Take it slow and listen to your gut.  Trust comes with time.
  3. Know your temperament:  Sometimes I respond to emotional coddling and other times I need someone who tells me to quit being self-indulgent and gives me a swift kick in the pants.  My writing buddy does both of these things for me.  It took me years to admit that I needed both of these things from my buddy, though.  If you stick around you’ll learn that I don’t deal well with “stewing in the muck.”  Sitting about and licking my writer’s wounds doesn’t work all that well for me.  I need a plan.  I need goals.  I need action to make me feel better.  But after many years of plans and goals, I finally had to admit that a little emotional coddling feels good (for about five minutes).  After that it feels like a hug from your giant great-aunt with the sweaty biceps and perfume that singes your nosehairs.  But nonetheless, my writing buddy dutifully coddles for five minutes and then tells me to get over myself and get on with it.
  4. Set some goals: Concrete goals are best. After the coddling has subsided, it’s time to get to work.  Create a plan.  I’ll write 2,500 words before Wednesday.  I’ll create three scene outlines and write two character sketches before I’m allowed to freak out again.  I’ll call you when I have two chapters drafted.  Hold each other accountable.  A writing buddy should be someone who will encourage you, but also make you feel the slightest bit guilty if you have nothing to share at your mext meeting.
  5. Do not make this person a first reader, critique partner or anything besides a writing buddy: In my world sharing with my writing buddy means telling her, “Yes, I executed the plan.  Two chapters are down on paper.”  It doesn’t mean shooting those to her in an email the minute they’re finished.  You will have lots of partners on this writing journey – critique groups, editors, first readers – and they are all useful members of the writing team.  It behooves you to have one person who can stay out of the fray and cheer from the sidelines.  The minute your let your Writing Buddy into the specifics of your story (particularly if it is still in rough form), is the minute the relationship can fall apart.  Given a new manuscript from friends, it’s human nature to offer up opinions and ideas.  However, if your Writing Buddy starts a conversation with, “Have you thought about changing this..” she will quickly join the ranks with your Internal Editor.  Your first draft is still a fragile creation.  It’s not time to rip it apart; it’s time to get it done.  Your writing buddy’s job is to make sure that happens.  Allow yourself one individual who offers up nothing but unconditional support on this writing journey.  When it’s time for the manuscript to bleed red ink, don’t call your Writing Buddy.  Call your critique group, or better yet, your editor!

NaNoWriMo Day 2 Wordcount: 3,338

Morale: Off the charts – the words rushed like a water from a broken pipe and Chapter 1 is complete. (Can you believe I the “broken pipe” simile just came out of my mouth? NaNoWriMo has reduced me to comparisons like that!)  

Have you found your perfect writing buddy?  What is the most important thing this person does for you?

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