I jump into worlds that I know little or nothing about and write about them like I've lived in them all my life.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

7 Ways to Help us Reach Those Long-Term Writing Goals, with a little help from our friends, #Hemingway and #StephenKing.

Hello!

I've read plenty of posts from bloggers/writers/authors sketching out their resolutions for 2014, promising that this will be the year they're going to write more, submit more, get that novel finished...

I always have a creative burst at the beginning of the year, no problem, but maintaining that creativity is the problem. I don't speak resolutions out loud, knowing I'll break them for sure, and I'd feel more of a failure that way. I've been called a 'quiet achiever' by those who know me well, and I quite like that handle. I have my goals firmly in sight, but I don't like to articulate them, even to myself at times!

Writing goals take months, even years, to accomplish, and it's hard to keep that initial enthusiasm burning brightly over a long period, isn't it? Here are some tips I've discovered recently that may make achieving our goals easier:


  1. Focus on the writing process rather than focusing on a long-term goal which makes it harder to reach the end point. 
  2. Have a well-articulated goal in mind; it will then be easier to get to the keyboard/notepad and start writing towards that goal. Writing a five-minute outline each day before tackling your writing can help. (Hemingway said he never stopped writing each day until he knew where he'd start next day.) Perhaps jot down a short outline so your mind has a map.
  3. Learn to embrace the process - get satisfaction from doing the things that make up your writing career, rather than focusing on where it can take you long term.
  4. Make your writing satisfying. Take pleasure in the routine. Improve your daily word count; this will move you towards your end goal.
  5. Track your word count visually - you could put a progress meter on your website. This is part of the success of NaNoWriMo - daily word counts push participants towards the end point. If you can write 1,600 words daily for NaNo, you can certainly write 500 each day! This is a little more difficult when you have more than one project cooking! I'd have a half dozen progress meters clicking away!
  6. Have a regular check in. This is another reason for NaNo's success - writers form communities and gather writing buddies around them to shout about their up-coming novel, or bemoan the fact that they aren't reaching their daily word count. Writers need other writers to share their successes/failures with.
  7. Up your creativity by considering Stephen King's comment - "...life is not a support system for art; it's the other way around." It's through living and working and struggling and thinking and feeling that we develop those aspects of our personality that seek expression through writing. Write, by all means. But don't forget to live.  
And for a great article on the Goal of Writing go to Karen Woodward's site



A sculptured writer in a Paris gallery in a little street off the Champs Elysee. Getting on with the task at hand.

One goal I always have front and centre is to write constantly, as this is the way to improve. As Ray Bradbury said, we all have millions of bad words to get out before the truly inspired ones begin flowing. I write short stories and travel articles for magazines and the occasional newspaper profile. I've written several novels while learning the long-term  process of novel writing - only one is finished, but I've embraced the whole experience and I'm not in a hurry to submit until I know it's the best it can be (You don't get a second chance to make a first impression...)

To keep writing I need fresh motivation. I find that by hosting/writing for Write...Edit...Publish, the permanent monthly blogfest hosted by Yours Truly. This way I am challenged to stretch myself, write in genres I wouldn't have dreamed of otherwise, and receive feedback from other writers. To me it fulfils No 6 - it's that regular check in.

If you're struggling to keep writing this year - you're welcome to join WEP. It's like a monthly NaNo - those who post flash fiction or non-fiction or poetry, are writing upwards of 1,000 good, proofread, edited, polished words a month that they probably wouldn't have written otherwise. Some of those stories may form parts of a WIP, some written solely for WEP may be improved after feedback, broadened, then submitted to magazines etc.

Here are six month's worth of Write...Edit...Publish challenges. The next challenge - What's in a face? can incorporate Valentine's Day themes if you wish. Join us on February 14 with a story, a poem, an artwork, a photograph or two...whatever strikes you as appropriate for the theme. Visit the WEP website to learn more. The linky is up! You can sign up here in my right hand sidebar.
 

21 comments:

  1. Art supports life. Our life.
    Daily word goals help me. Then I feel like I'm making progress. Oddly enough, I gain excitement the more I write. Beginning is so difficult, but once I am about a third of the way into a manuscript, I am really on a roll.
    Like now!

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  2. ...#2 is the goal that I yearn to improve upon. Finding more time in one's day can be as much a challenge as the process itself...myself very much included.

    Loved the post, Denise ;)

    El

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    1. Thanks El. Finding time/inspiration is always the thing!

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  3. Like Elliot says, finding time to write even bad words is getting harder all the time! Funny, I have the ghost of Hemingway in my post, too. His ghost, along with the ghosts of Mickey Spillaine, Mark Twain, and John Steinbeck play poker with me and strike sparks off of each other. :-)

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  4. Smart minds thinking along the same lines - Denise and Roland!
    I'll stick with WEP for the next few months, it sounds more manageable for me.

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  5. Great tips, Denise. I so agree that it's important to embrace the process of writing. It's the one thing we can control in the process so we should focus on it and enjoy it.

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  6. Good tips. Embracing the process means enjoying journey rather than just focusing on the destination.

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  7. I found this a very inspiring post. So I'm not the only one resolving to write more this year? LOL.

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    1. Certainly not Karen. I'm going to write my fingers off!

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  8. Great tips! My problem lately has been the weather -- so many knee-jerk changes -- that I'm not zoning in as I should.

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  9. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now. Thank you so much for writing this post.

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  10. Great timing, Denise!! I've had to refocus recently after finishing an edit on an old manuscript. I went to give it a final read through before I started submitting, and sigh. It's STILL not ready. That first chapter is giving me no end of headaches, lol.

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    1. I'm glad the timing was right for you Lyn! All the best when you do submit. Chapter One is sooo important as we know!

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  11. I like that you don't articulate your goals! "Embrace the process." Thank you for some great tips.

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    1. I'm glad you agree with me Nila. Many wouldn't, lol!

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  12. I love the visual trackers. I use tickers for my word counts and they are great motivation for me. Embracing the process is something I need to do more of for sure.

    Great advice all around.

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  13. Hey, Denise,
    Awesome post, as always. Have to agree with you on the 'clearly articulated goals' part of things. You can get much more detailed than that and it forces you to stick with those targets because you know exactly what they are.
    I fear signing up on the linky and then not being able to post. We'll see.

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  14. I've always set goals, but try to be careful where and when I voice them - too many folks like to hand out negatives instead of the providing support.

    My current WIP sits at 126,000 words - and what I consider still in first draft format. I've been re-writing and re-working the first 10 chapters looking for perfection. I set a goal last year to have it done by Jan 1st. and I'm sure I'll be even more surprised by the fact that when I finally get those chapters right the next 10 will take even more time. It's the nature of the beast for me - no rushing - no matter how often I set a specific date for completion. The date isn't the goal.

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  15. It really does help to have motivation. I participated in one of those "100 words" challenge where you had to write 100 words for 100 days without breaking the chain. It really did work! Interesting...I can write 3,000 words for clients during the day as a freelance writer, but sitting down to write fiction brings in all those fears of failure!

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  16. Hi Denise .. obviously good points here - I really need a clean slate which just makes my whole life easier and the last few years ... I've been in a mess .. now it is coming together thankfully ... clean slate it nearly is - then I can get on ..

    Cheers and good luck with the writing .. Hilary

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