Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In



This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.

Today is Monday, January 31, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 334 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 83500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 167000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 250500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 334000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 417500 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Quick FYI

Hi, all.  I'm just throwing in a quick extra post that there's a good interview with Holly Blanck, editor at St. Martin's, up at:  http://fivescribes.blogspot.com .   Good market for those with YA books and commercial romance books.  St. Martin's is a tough market to crack, but this editor sounds really enthusiastic and sounds like she's willing to read partials.

Traveling the distance for writing pals

By Tawna Fenske, author of Making Waves (Sourcebooks Casablanca, Aug. 2011)

I'm late getting this post up, but I have an excuse. It doesn't even involve naked men with greased abs and jumper cables (which is unfortunate, but I digress).

I flew home very, very late last night after a week spent roaming Georgia, Florida, and Virginia in what was probably an overly ambitious writer meet-up.
(left to right) authors Elizabeth Flora Ross,
Cynthia Reese, and Tawna Fenske
The trip started simply enough as a plan to travel to south Georgia to meet up with longtime critique partner Cynthia Reese. We've swapped manuscripts and moral support for over six years, so it seemed wise we should meet in person before it's time to choose our retirement homes.

Things snowballed from there. When I realized several other writer pals resided in the same region, I cobbled together a series of three-legged flights and long layovers that allowed me to meet up with Harley May and Elizabeth Flora Ross (both of whom I know from Twitter) and the hilarous Linda Grimes (my "agency sistah" who's also represented by the amazing Michelle Wolfson).

I'm too jet-lagged and exhausted to give you a blow-by-blow account of the trip, and that would probably be boring anyway. What I will say is that I hear a lot of writers lamenting the difficulty of connecting with critique partners and beta readers. How do I find them? Does it matter if we're in the same geographic realm or the same place in our careers?

I can tell you from experience that the answer to the second question is a resounding no. I have a collection of critique partners and beta readers I've worked with for years, and I very rarely see any of them. Until last week, I couldn't have even told you with 100% certainty that Cynthia was not a martian.

Agency Sistahs Linda Grimes (left) and Tawna Fenke
We swap manuscripts electronically, brainstorm on the phone, and occasionally communicate via mental telepathy if the mood strikes. That's all it takes, really.

As for how to find them, you could try standing on a street corner holding a cardboard sign, but I don’t recommend it. One of the best online resources for finding critique partners and beta readers is the forum at Absolute Write devoted to this purpose.

Another great option is trolling online discussion forums for your specific genre. I met Cynthia in the eHarlequin discussion forums when we were both newbie writers learning the ropes. Check out blogs and chat loops for your genre to find other authors in your shoes (which is a little gross, so spray some Lysol before putting your feet back in them).

Organized writing groups are another good resource. If you write romance, your RWA chapter can help connect you with other writers in your genre. Sisters in Crime (SINC) offers an online group for new authors called The Guppies.

As for beta readers, all three of mine are former co-workers. It’s a perk of 10+ years working in marketing & corporate communications that I’ve connected with smart, savvy folks who like words, but you can find good betas in many places. Belong to a book club? Search it for betas. Got a co-worker with his nose in a book on lunch breaks? Maybe he’d like to help an aspiring author.

Bottom line, don't let a few miles keep you from meeting some really great writing pals. I'm glad I didn't!

Tawna Fenske writes romantic comedy. Her debut novel, Making Waves, is the first of three books scheduled for release with Sourcebooks Casablanca starting August 2011. She’s the author of the popular daily blog Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing and a member of Romance Writers of America. She was honored to be chosen to blog weekly at The Debutante Ball, a group blog now in its fifth season that chronicles the debut year of five authors from different genres. Tawna lives in Central Oregon with her husband and traveling companion, whom she married at center court during a Portland Trailblazer game in front of 21,000 screaming sports fans (who, sadly, did not bring gifts).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My External Editor is a Real Drag


Current Project:Status: Inching forward


I’ve decided my main problem in writing is not my Internal Editor; it’s my External Editor. One of my critique partners pointed out last night that I was a technical editor for over four years. ‘Editor’ was my role and my mindset. No wonder I have trouble turning that off and finishing the damned book! (And no wonder I was driving my poor critique partners crazy with line edits!)


That’s why it took me three years to write my first First Draft. I’d learn a new piece of the craft puzzle, then go back and fix what I’d already written—in other words, EDIT. That’s also why trying to write a Textnovel and doing Nano were so good for me. Writing a First Draft at breakneck speed emphasizes to my subconscious that I am a WRITER, not an editor.


Speed sets my creative, big-picture right brain free. Revisions are the place for my dominant, analytical left-brain (affectionately known as the Big E.) to come out of the closet and do its editing thing.


Now that I know this about myself, I’m learning to keep my editor in check and stay focused on my goal of writing first drafts all the way through to the Happily Ever After. I make notes of the things I notice in passing, which helps to quiet the Big E.


If you have a Big E. attached to your identity like I do, remember that any way you can trick her into going against her nature and embracing the Stillness like this swallow (Have you noticed swallows seem to fly constantly?) is a good thing.
All's fair in love and writing!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Quote of the Day


Today's quote is actually a blog post from the inimitable Miss Snark:

"When to give up.

Never. Publication may be nice but it's not the only reward. The very act of writing is its own reward. It teaches you (if you pay attention) how to see the world through different eyes; how to wield language skilfully; how to organize a persuasive presentation. You recognize that writing is a creative art and brings you joy. You recognize that doing something difficult over and over again, and trying your utmost to improve is a worthy endeavor even if you fall short of your goal. You recognize that these moments of despair or frustration or fear are part of the process, and will make the achievement of your goal just that much sweeter."

If you haven't read the Miss Snark archives, they are highly recommended--there's a lot of good info in between the sarcasm.  You can check out the archives here:  http://misssnark.blogspot.com/

I love this post from her.  Yes, getting published is terrific, and I suppose we'd all like to give Nora Roberts a run for her money on the New York Times list, but it's too easy to lose sight of the writing itself in all this goal setting.  

This post is a reminder to enjoy the writing itself, both for the work you produce and for the lessons you learn by writing.  You are a better person for learning to tell your stories, and others are better for having a chance to read them.

I like to pull this quote out when I get too caught up in the business side of writing.  It reminds me where my desire to write came from in the first place.

Do you agree with Miss Snark's assessment?  Would you write without outside rewards (or the potential for them)?  If you never were published, would you still feel the writing was worth doing, or would you give it up and learn to play canasta instead? 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Are You Afraid Of?

I'm afraid of spiders.

Seems kind of silly when I see it in black and white like that, but I can't help it. I've been scared of spiders since I was a kid. Creepy-crawly eight-legged little predators that skitter around in the dark and hidden places--what's not to fear?

Except...

I'm not afraid of spiders when I encounter them outdoors. They only make me shudder when I see them inside. What's up with that?

I think it's because spiders belong outside. When they're in the yard I see them for what they generally are -- beneficial pest eaters. When they're in my house, well, my fertile imagination assigns them all kind of strange and horrific motives for being where they don't belong (and, oh, how the skin between my shoulder blades is crawling right now just thinking about it!).

The thing is, I'm adult enough that unless a spider jumps out at me unexpectedly (don't laugh, it's happened), I can usually talk myself through capturing it and dumping it outside (or stepping on the icky thing like it deserves...ahem). But the first sight of a spider crawling across the floor, along a wall or, worst of all, on the ceiling still gives me a little twinge of that old "eek, there's a spider in the house!" feeling. I doubt that'll ever completely go away.

I'm starting to call the fear that's kept me from finishing a novel as my spider-in-the-house fear. It's the fear that creeps around the dark corners of my mind and whispers in my ear that I'm writing crap that no one will want to read; that I'm doomed to failure so why bother trying. Totally irrational, I know. What I'm writing right now may indeed be crap, but I can't improve if I don't write. I'm getting better at squashing that fear-inducing arachnid with a metaphoric rolled up newspaper whenever it waves it's creepy little legs in my direction. I might not be able to kill it dead, but I can keep it subdued long enough to reach my goals!

How about you? What are you afraid of?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In




This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.


Today is Monday, January 24, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 341 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 85250 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 170500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 255750 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 341000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 426250 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Goal Setting

Current Project: April Fools Day Anthology
Status: Character Analysis
Goal Setting

I have always been an avid goal setter. Yet in setting my goal each day, I would strive not to meet it but to do more. I am highly successful with this method. Even today, when I am editing a book, I will strive to read X number of pages and then will try to edit one more and then again one more. Most of the time I finish ahead of schedule.

I welcome this month of goal setting and focusing. I have been mulling over in my head thoughts of writing once again. An April Fools shorty looms in my head. I have pondered what gimmick to use for this intrepid story. What joke? What ploy? How can I make this interesting without a cliché? So how many words a week do I want to write? Hmmm…. I think I will go with a mini outline first. What you say? Chris is outlining? Yes, I have begun outlining each scene. And my characters—who will they turn out to be. I must begin…

Thank you MVRWA for helping me find my way back to my beloved writing. I had pretty much written it all off, at least until this summer. But why wait? Why enable? I can make excuses forever but when I have time to play Cityville, I must have time to write.

Focus…focus…focus

My apologies ladies. I scheduled this post, wrote it last Sunday. I checked on the edit post pages and was sure I saw that it was listed. But I never had a chance to check the blog until today and to my sorrow, my post was not there. I will strive to do better. "?Can't figure out what went wrong!"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

GETTING TO WOW!

Current Project: A ST. PATRICK'S DAY TALE
(written with Christine Young and C.L. Kraemer)
Status: Release date set for March 2011

As I'm wrapping up house projects and peeking out at the world again, I'm a different person than I was a couple months ago. Perhaps not on the outside, but on the inside. (Though a definite benefit of working on my house was the movement and emotional clearing helped shed more of the weight I gained a couple years ago.)

I'm eager to apply the lessons I learned about focusing and meeting goals to my writing. The goal-setting process wasn't anything that hasn't been around for years: set a specific goal; set a deadline; break the goal down into small, manageable chunks; do the work.


Sounds simple, right? For me, intensely living that process was a bit more involved. The stakes were high and very important to me. I drove myself to the brink of anxiety attacks more than once with the fear I would fail. Yet I couldn't fail!


So I took a deep breath (or two or three), tweaked the goal, adjusted the deadline, and went back to work.


Time after time I ran into unexpected delays. If you've ever remodeled a house that's about seventy years old, you've discovered that the settling and aging process means nothing is square or level or built to today's building codes. So it's a constant process of adjusting what you thought could be done quickly into creatively making the finish work cover up any imperfections.


Oh yeah, did I mention this was during the holidays when the grandkids expected at least a passing acknowledgement that it was Christmas and their birthdays? And couldn't that family crisis have waited until I wasn't in the middle of something critical?


More deep breaths, more tweaking, more deadline adjustments, and back to work!


Now that I'm in the finishing-up stages of my house remodel, I am pausing to look around. My house has never looked so good. Fresh paint, cracked tiles replaced, in some cases entire rooms stripped to the studs and redone. More than once, I've thought, "Wow!"


Is every little project done? No, I'll always think, "Wouldn't it be nice to…" However, I'm definitely ready to settle at my computer in my spiffed-up office and immerse myself in the world of my LEGACY series of stories.


The goal is set and so are the deadlines. I still need to break the goal of finishing these books down into manageable chunks, and do the work.


Yes, I expect life to intervene at times. I also expect to take time out for family and friends and promotion. But I've learned to take really deep breaths, tweak my sub-goals, and get back to work. And I'm solidly confident this series of books will reach the "Wow!" stage where I currently am with my house remodeling.


So how are you doing with your goals? We're past the middle of January. Are you still flying high on enthusiasm? Or have you had setbacks already? Had to adjust your original goals? Abandon your goals and set new ones? Or tossed out the entire goal-setting process and decided it wasn't so bad to play games on your computer for half the day…


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How I stay focused...or not

Current Project:Spirit of the Sky Status:Chapter five


My goal this year is to stay focused. Having a penchant for research I decided to research the word focus and this is what I found. There are seven definitions for the word.

1)a point at which rays(as of light, heat, or sound) converge for which they diverge or appear to diverge: This could be my thoughts. They start at my mind(focus) and go in different directions. I need to learn how to send them all the same direction.

2)a Focal Length b. adjustment for distinct vision: the area that may be seen distinctly or resolved into a clear image c. a state or condition permitting clear perception of understanding d. direction Direction. This is what I need. To set my sites on ONE project at a time and work to its end before skittering after a new shiny.

3)one of the fixed points that with the corresponding directrix defines a conic section Huh? I never understood geometry.

4)a localized area of disease of the chief site of a generalized disease or infection Disease, yes, I have the disease of always detouring from a project to write the illusive book to capture the agent's heart and contract.

5)a center of activity, attraction, or attention; b. a point of concentration Concentration? You mean I have to concentrate on one thing??

6) place of origin of an earthquake or moonquake Hmm.. Don't think I can apply that to anything. Oh, wait. Is that the feeling the heroine has when they finally fulfill their craving for one another?

7)directed attention I have come up with a fantastic idea for a mystery series. It has a middle-aged cafe owner, a sheriff, and crazy Lil...

And that readers is how you stay focused on your goals...or not.

www.patyjager.net
www.patyjager.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kicking out the Internal Editor


Current Project:Status: Approximately 72,000 words


Most Recent Read: Allan Dean Foster, Icerigger

Current Read: ADF's Mission to Moulokin. It is so old and fragile that I've been carrying it around in a protective bag, to keep it from falling further apart.



Planned Next Read: ADF's The Deluge Drivers (finish out the series) All three books are in my personal library.


I am an early morning writer, by which I mean my strongest, most creative writing occurs when the house is still silent, my brain is not yet filled with the challenges of the day, and the birds can be heard welcoming the sunrise. I love sipping a cup of tea, lighting a small tealight candle and watching the sky over the fir trees slowly lighten to a pale gray, shift to a light rose, then burst into a multi-hued palette of colors.
(Photo courtesy of http://freefoto.com/)



My current writing project, Ghost Girl, is 72,000 words strong in its first draft stage. This is the first book I have written. Although not my first attempt. I have many, many false starts saved to disc and handwritten in notebooks. The closest I have ever come to this word count is 88 pages.


You know that pesky Internal Editor? The one that creeps into your thoughts and says, 'Who do you think you are, thinking you can write? This is trash, and any self-respecting author will laugh if you dare show it to anyone!'


Yeah, you know the one. Well, I got mad at my Internal Editor. And I slammed the door in its face. Basically, I told it, "Who do think YOU are, trying to corrupt my lifelong dreams and goals of being a published author? NOONE can tell me I am unable to succeed at something - especially YOU!"


Now, this doesn't completely keep the Internal Editor from cracking the door and sniffing the air, testing my resolve to ignore it. But everytime I feel its presence sneaking up over my shoulder, I shove it back out the door and firmly lock it out. Because you know what? That rude, bellicose Internal Editor is nothing more than my Self Doubt. Which means it is really ME ruining my desire to be a published author. And Momma is not buying.



So, yes, I am going strong with my first draft of my first full-length book. I don't expect the book to be perfect - there is so much to learn while perfecting my writing skills. But in compensation there is also the thrill of learning and applying those skills to my work in progress.


I tell my fellow MWVRWA members that I view this as a 'training wheels' book. Of course I am giving it my best (which for me means 125%, plus) , but I recognize that as a first attempt there is a lot of learning involved. But this time, with this book, the door is slammed on the Internal Editor. I know that when this book is completed, when even the first draft is completed, I will be a much stronger writer than when I started. I can already see the difference, from the beginning of the rough draft to where I am now, building up to the final climax, and the strong improvements made. I can hardly wait to read the end!




So my question to you is, how do you close the door on your Internal Editor? Is it a monster in the closet? Or an insidious internal voice trying to disguise itself as a friend? How do you kick it out?

Goal Setting 101

Current Project:Status:
April Fools Anthology. Character analysis.

I have always been an avid goal setter. Yet in setting my goal each day, I would strive not to meet it but to do more. I am highly successful with this method. Even today, when I am editing a book, I will strive to read X number of pages and then will try to edit one more and then again one more. Most of the time I finish ahead of schedule.

I welcome this month of goal setting and focusing. I have been mulling over in my head thoughts of writing once again. An April Fools shorty looms in my head. I have pondered what gimmick to use for this intrepid story. What joke? What ploy? How can I make this interesting without a cliché? So how many words a week do I want to write? Hmmm…. I think I will go with a mini outline first. What you say? Chris is outlining? Yes, I have begun outlining each scene. And my characters—who will they turn out to be. I must begin…

Thank you MVRWA for helping me find my way back to my beloved writing. I had pretty much written it all off, at least until this summer. But why wait? Why enable? I can make excuses forever but when I have time to play Cityville, I must have time to write.

Focus…focus…focus

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In





This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.


Today is Monday, January 17, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 348 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 87000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 174000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 261000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 348000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 435000 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Our Next Online Workshop: STORY, THEME AND VEHICLE



The Mid-Willamette Valley chapter of the Romance Writers of America will be offering several fabulous online workshops this year. 

We are lucky to have multi-published and award-winning author Susan Meier as our instructor this February:

Story, Theme and Vehicle
February 1-25, 2011 (4 weeks - $25 non-MWV-RWA Members)
Instructor: Susan Meier

Have you ever written a book that was good, but simply didn't seem good enough? Or one that wasn't cohesive? Or one that should have been wonderful but seemed to fall flat? In STORY, THEME AND VEHICLE, Susan Meier explains how knowing your book's story type, story question, and the difference between its theme and its "vehicle" will keep your book focused. Learn the five easy steps to a synopsis and the four steps to a one-paragraph pitch.

Instructor Bio:  Susan Meier is the author of over 45 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader's Choice Awards and Cataromance.com Reviewer's Choice Awards, and nominated for Romantic Times awards. Her book, HER BABY'S FIRST CHRISTMAS won the traditional category in the 2009 More Than Magic contest. THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS is a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence! HER PREGNANCY SURPRISE, her first release for the Harlequin Romance line, made both Walden's Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan. In 2011, her BABY IN THE BOARDROOM series will be released in April, May and June.

Our own members get to take these workshops for FREE (if you've been waffling about joining the chapter, this is a great incentive!).

Space is filling quickly.  Don't miss out on this great workshop.  Nonmembers can sign up at our web site:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Counterintuitive Goal Setting


Current Project:Status: 52,000 words


Last year I wasted a lot of time and effort setting yearly, monthly, and weekly writing goals. I read lots of articles on goal-setting, most of which repeated the same basic, sensible advice:


  • Set realistic-but-not-easy goals

  • Begin with your Big Goal and then break it down into sub-goals and sub-sub-goals so you won’t feel overwhelmed.

  • Track your progress and make adjustments where needed.

Why sensible? Because it seems to make sense, right?
Then why is my success rate so appalling? Why didn’t I achieve more of those detailed, reasonably-difficult goals? They’re intuitive and sensible, right?
For me, not so much.

It’s a mistake to assume that, like a magic bullet or a secret handshake, one method of achieving goals works well for everyone: extroverts and introverts, plotters and pantsers, visual learners and auditory learners and kinesthetic learners, lefties and righties and OMG what about the ambidextrous?

There are a number of reasons the above method doesn’t work for me. I’m an analytical thinker, a left-brainer. Give me something to analyze (say, a Big Goal) and I’ll spend days breaking it down into miniscule chunks of future achievement. Analyzing gives me the illusion of control and an excuse to procrastinate rather than Do the Work.

Never forget that writing is the most dangerous profession. Words are important and risky and scary.

Doing the work requires me to anesthetize my analytical right brain and turn loose the creative left side of my noggin. Who knows how much of what that produces will be embarrassing, imperfect twaddle? Twaddle that I’ll need to submit to my critique partners, and ultimately to agents, editors, and Susie next door. That’s a looming landslide of potential criticism, rejection or ridicule. Of course it scares me!

You’ve probably guessed by now that one of my many faults is a tendency toward self-criticism. Having lots of goals to potentially fail to achieve feeds into this negative aspect of my personality. And giving me free reign to reassess and make adjustments to the goals I spent days setting is like plugging my brain into an eternal procrastination feedback loop. It’s a prescription for failure.

This year, I’m trying a couple of new methods to help me progress toward my Big Goal. Both have shown documented results for many people.

One is Intention. Each morning, I focus for a few minutes on my intention to accomplish a couple of small steps in support of my current Big Writing Goal.

I’m also following writer Lynne Johnston's blog Small Steps to Big Change: A Kaizen Approach to Personal Growth at http://smallstepstobigchange.com/ . This blog leads me through learning a Zen approach to life, change, and achievement (including goal-setting).

Will this approach help me achieve more this year? Tune in next January for a progress report.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Quote of the Day




I'm going to be discussing writing-related quotes and words of advice this year.  I thought I'd start with some quotes about goals, since we're all working on goal-setting for the year.




Today's quote is from Andrew Wood:  "Where many people go wrong in trying to reach their goals is in constantly looking for the big hit, the home run, the magic answer that suddenly transforms their dreams into reality. The problem is that the big hit never comes without a great deal of little hits first. Success in most things comes not from some gigantic stroke of fate, but from simple, incremental progress."

This is a good quote for me, because I need to work on setting concrete, achievable, SMALL goals.  I tend to think of my overall goal ("finish the book") instead of setting small goals ("write two pages today").  I end up getting frustrated when life (inevitably) gets in the way.

My goal this year is to set small, incremental goals that will build over the course of the year.  This month, I will write 1000 words per day (about four pages).  That's it.  No fancy overall goals, no kicking myself if I fall short.  Just sit down and write 1000 words.  If I don't succeed one day, then start over again the next day and try to write 1000 words.

If I do this, by the end of the year I'll have completed several books.

Do you set goals for yourself?  If you do, how do you do it?  Do you do it yearly, weekly, or at other times?  How do you keep on track toward achieving your goals, and what do you do when you run into roadblocks on the way to your goals?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hello, 2011!


It's great to see this blog revitalized! And we're starting things off right talking about setting goals and focusing on attaining them, aren't we? I mean, that's what you do in January, isn't it? — figure out what you want to accomplish in the coming year and put it out there for the whole universe to see. I don't know about you, but it always makes me feel organized and somehow virtuous after I've listed all those important things I plan to achieve.

Of course, there's the flip side of goal setting at the beginning of the year (I refuse to call it a new year's resolutions) — the inevitable accounting at the end of the year. I don't know about you, but there have been more than a few years that I've cringed in December at having to admit that I didn't quite meet my own expectations from the previous January.

Sad to say, 2010 was one of those cringe-worthy years. In January I started off raring to go, ready to tear into my writing projects and finish them ahead of even the ambitious schedule I'd set for myself. And then...Life Happened...and 2010 became the year I'd rather not talk about for many personal reasons.

In December—dear God, was that only last month?—I found myself lamenting the fact that I hadn't managed to accomplish a single writing goal that I'd set for myself in January 2010. My husband, patient and supportive man that he is, asked me an unexpected, albeit honest, question that quite took me aback.

He asked me if I really wanted to write.

You know that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when something isn't right or you know something bad is about to happen? Yep, that's how I felt. But it was a very good (and well-meant) question. Had I been secretly sabotaging myself? Did I really not want to write? What if I'd been fooling myself all along?

I sat myself down and had a long, serious think. The answer I came up with surprised me a bit. Not only did I want to write, I couldn't not write. And, while in some ways I'd let fear hold me back, I concluded that most of my problems in 2010 really were things happening that were out of my control. I just needed to find a better way to deal when life happens, because life is always going to happen.

Whew!

So, here's what I decided to use as my single writing goal for 2011: 2011 will be the year I finish my first novel. That's it. I plan to finish at least one novel in 2011. If I write more than one, yay, me! I'm going to check-in every Monday on this blog with my progress, and perhaps make a weekly goal (though not always). And by the end of this year I have every confidence that I'll be able to raise my head high and proclaim that I met my writing goal for the year.

How about you? Do you have a love-hate relationship with writing goals? If you always meet your goals, how do you manage to stay on track? If you don't, what tends to trip you up? I'm always on the lookout for tips and tricks—even ideas about what not to do!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In





This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.


Today is Monday, January 10, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 355 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 88750 more words by the end of the year.

If you write
 2 pages per day, you can write 177500 more words by the end of the year.

If you write
 3 pages per day, you can write 266250 more words by the end of the year.

If you write
 4 pages per day, you can write 355000 more words by the end of the year.

If you write
 5 pages per day, you can write 443750 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Current Project:Status: I wish I had one. Maybe in 4 months.Making Time: Is that the same as focusing?

I’m late, I’m late, I’m late for a very important date, as the white rabbit said.

My focus, at least for the next 5 months is not on writing. As I move toward retirement, I am focused on teaching as many students math who are willing to learn. As many of you know, I teach students who view math as an enemy and at best as a challenge they don’t think they can overcome.

When June hits and I am free, I will be looking toward writing, finishing a couple of books that were begun i.e. pickpocket dog and perhaps an April Fools Anthology then also working on Ghost Dance which was really the first book in the series that began with Dakota’s Bride as my first published book.

I envy those of you who can find the time to write. For me, there are not enough hours in my day. Between work, exercising and working on my new business, I don’t seem to have the time to put words on paper. Well, I can put words on paper, I just can’t put together a plot for a book. I don’t even have characters in my mind who can take over the written page.

I wish everyone a happy, prosperous and healthy new year.
P.S. I apologize for my tardiness today.

Christine Young

Thursday, January 06, 2011

FOCUS? ME TOO!

Current Project: Nine-book LEGACY series
Status: Over one-third of the series completed

This past month as been one of the most intense, traumatic, productive, anxiety-ridden and life-changing that I can remember. Many of the events and emotional changes I went through will become part of a nonfiction book I am journaling to write in the next couple years. Smaller chunks may become fodder for a politically incorrect blog I'm considering--written under a pseudonym to prevent the guilty from tracking me down too easily. :)


Flexible was not just my middle name, but my first. Several of my long-held beliefs were challenged. Those that no longer serve me have been discarded, such as the desire to please everyone. Some were strengthened, such as the belief in a Universal Source that can work miracles large and small. And some new beliefs were forged, such as the knowledge of how very much I can accomplish when I am obsessively focused.


It's interesting that Paty blogged about finding her focus on Wednesday. I found focus last month and discovered that obsession came at a price. I'm now stabilizing at a reasonable insanity and cautiously peeking out at the world again. However, I'm also zealously guarding the ability to focus lest it once again become buried under the hundreds of mundane interruptions we face very day.


What this means for my writing--other than providing material for a couple of projects that have been brewing in my mind for some time later--is the drive to accomplish my 2011 goal of having the nine books in my family saga series substantially completed. I haven't broken that down into the number of words I need to write each month, week and day yet--it would distract from the focus of my current project. When you see actual numbers on check-in day for me, you'll know that my current project is complete and I'm writing, writing, writing!


Happy 2011 to all! It's great to see the blog up and rolling again, and wonderful to see comments from cherished friends.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Focus


Current Project: Spirit of the Sky Status: Starting Chapter two

My only resolution this year is to remain focused. I tend to traipse around not only with my writing genres but promotion and even things in my non-writing life. I have half started quilts, scarves, afghans... I get a new idea and I move on without finishing what I've started.

The same has been true of my writing. I didn't get results with historical westerns, so I wrote a contemporary western. I hear they are looking for historical paranormal, I write a historical paranormal but not a one time book--I come up with a trilogy. Then I get the bug to write an ongoing historical western romance series. Then I write a contemporary action adventure romance series. Now I have one more book in the trilogy to finish, the last book for the Halsey brother series, and then when the series get picked up, I have three more of each of those to write. And that doesn't include the two projects sitting at Harlequin which could bring in more writing options.

This is why my resolution for 2011 is being focused. I'm starting with writing the third book in the spirit trilogy, then the last book of the Halsey series (except that in coming up with the heroine I've added a twin brother who may need a book). Then I hope to be able to write more short stories for Harlequin Undones and have an agent who is clamoring for more books of the series.

So another form of focus for me is getting an agent who believes in my series and gets it in front of an editor who likes it.


But right now...I'm focusing on the release of my second contemporary western romance, Bridled Heart. See-I can't stay focused!

What is your focus this year?

Paty Jager

www.patyjager.net
www.patyajger.blogspot.com

Monday, January 03, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In


Welcome to the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly progress post.

This is the first weekly check-in of 2011. We will be checking in every Monday throughout the year.

Set a goal for yourself and then come back weekly to post your progress. 


PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powell's, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Here are some calculations to get you thinking about goals:

A standard double-spaced manuscript page is about 250 words.
A category-length manuscript is generally 50,000-80,000 words (depending on line).
A single-title manuscript is generally 75,000-125,000+ words (depending on market/genre).

How many pages would you like to write this year? How many books?
1 page per day = 250 words per day times 365 days = 91,250 words written in 2011.
2 pages per day = 500 words per day times 365 days = 182,500 words written in 2011.
3 pages per day = 750 words per day times 365 days = 273,750 words written in 2011.
4 pages per day = 1000 words per day times 365 days = 365,000 words written in 2011.
5 pages per day = 1250 words per day times 365 days = 456,250 words written in 2011.

A little writing every day adds up to a lot accomplished by the end of the year.

So, what's your writing goal in 2011?