Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 1--can you believe it?

Today is the last day of 2010.  And if you've joined the challenge I offered 100 days ago, and wrote 100 words a day each of these past days, you'll have added 10,000 words to your WIP. That's no small chunk of word change, folks!
It's been a challenge for me to present a blog to you every day. But I loved finding all the quotes and pictures of those who said or wrote such inspirational words. Straining my brain to fill other days with some sort of interesting chatter was, for the most part, fun as well. I hope you've enjoyed.

If anyone's stopped by every day for the last 100--thank you. Let me know how you've liked the chatter.

Here's to a great 2011!
Have a happy and
prosperous New Year!
Write well!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 2--Reflection

Only two days left in 2010. How amazing is that? Use these days to reflect on this past year as you prepare your goals for 2011. Did you accomplish what you had set out to do? How did you overcome those inevitable roadblocks and creative lulls? What will you do differently in 2011?

Give yourself due credit for your accomplishments, even if you don't feel as though you've moved in your right direction. Remember each step builds upon the one before. Take the lessons you've learned--or ignored--and start this new year strong in determination and courage.

I like that--strong in determination and courage. A successful writing career--in fact any goal--requires both. Because achieving a goal requires change. As Cheryl St. John says, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you always got."

So, what changes do you plan for 2011?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day 3--Robert Cecil Day-Lewis

First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

day 4--smarT goals

T for Timely, Time-based, Tangible and Trackable.

When you create a goal, there needs to be an end point to give a clear target for you to work towards. If you don't have a Target (hey, another T word), your goal is no longer SMART--it becomes vague. Why is this? Because without an ending, you can start any time. There is no built in urgency, so why start now?

When choosing a time frame, use many of the same aspects of a SMART goal. Your time must be measurable, attainable--and realistic. It would be great to start and finish a novel by the first day of spring, but how realistic is that for most of us? Is it attainable--oh, perhaps--if I don't go to my day job, interact with family and friends, or take showers. However, it is a reasonable, stretching goal for me to say I will write one chapter a week to take to critique.

One of the more difficult aspects of the T is striking a balance between having enough time to achieve and giving yourself too much time. Planning for too much time has the same result as not setting a time frame at all. Take my weekly chapter. Doable. I've done it before--just not consistently. But what if I change my goal to say I'll do one chapter a month for critique. How much you wanna bet I wouldn't even start that chapter until the last week of the month? There's no urgency until then. And, such a goal wouldn't stretch my abilities at any time--except that one week.

Monday, December 27, 2010

day 5--smaRt goals

Lots of Rs today: Realistic, Relevant, Reasonable, Rewarding, Results-oriented.

Much of what I said yesterday about Achievable goals is Relevant today. Your goals should fall within your personal resources, knowledge and time and should push you--your skills and knowledge--but not be so unReasonable that it breaks your writing spirit.

Having Realistic goals, doesn't mean you've made easy goals. If you aim too low, or don't frequently review your goal success and build upon it, you are sending the message to your subconscious that you aren't capable. It is difficult to reach a balance though, since making your goals too difficult is a simple set up for failure. Review your goals, over and over. Weekly is excellent, but take the time at least monthly for some serious goal review and consideration.

Continually set the bar high enough to give yourself the satisfaction of achievement.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day 6--smArt goals

Attainable, Achievable, Action -Oriented

First you create goals that are important to YOU, then you figure out the ways needed to make them happen. In writing, this means you develop the attitudes, abilities and skills needed to reach those goals. One good way to do this is to make one of your goals each year a concentration on one aspect of your writing. Maybe you need to work on transitions so the reader will easily understand how much time has passed. Or you need to work on your layer of adding the five sense. Or using action verbs instead of writing passively. 

Each goal should stretch you. If you've consistently written 100 words a day this past year (theme alert) then your stretching goal could be 125 or 150 words a day. Then each day when you meet that goal, you give yourself a mental pat on the back and the encouragement to do the same thing tomorrow.

But if you've been writing 100 words a day then decide your goal needs to be 1000 words a day--you may be reaching too far. If your goal seems out of reach, will you really commit to it? Your subconscious will constantly remind you that the goal is out of reach (hmm rather like our internal editors, huh) and those reminders will undermine your goal by keeping you from doing your best.

If you do want to build to 1000 words a day, make smaller goals. Perhaps you will writer 150 words a day for two weeks. Once you discover you can do that easily, reevaluate your goals and set a new goal for 250 words a day for two weeks. Success will build upon success and keep you motivated.

As with so many things we put on our goal lists-- decluttering, losing weight, reading a certain number of books--building our writing career is best taken in small, manageable steps. Once you're used to taking those steps, you'll be amazed at how much faster you find yourself moving forward!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day 8--What do you want for the Holidays?

I love this song because I've been collecting hippos for years! If you don't like this version featuring the original music by Gayla Peevey, you can find youtube versions sung by everyone from the Chipmunks to the Jonas Brothers to folks you've probably never heard of.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 9--sMart goals

M stands for measurable, meaningful and motivational.

"If you can't measure it--you can't manage it."

In order to measure a goal you need to know if what you set out to accomplish is obtainable, as well as how far away the completion is. Otherwise, how will you know when the goal has been achieved?

One of the pitfalls of goal setting is making your goal too vague. For instance, your goal states 'I want to finish the damn book'. Sounds overwhelming doesn't it? When is the book considered finished? How will you see the changes that occur, the progress you make on the FTDB challenge?

Establish concrete criteria to measure your progress. How about something like... 'I will write X words a day (sense a theme here?) to complete a chapter each week to take to critique.' You can measure this easily by the words you write. This is a meaningful goal--you're working on your career. Motivational? Of course. When you measure your progress, it's easier to stay on track to reach your target completions. And, don't you feel good when you review your goal and see you wrote that weekly chapter? That excitement and exhilaration can carry you forward into the next week. And the one beyond that. 

Before you know it, you've reached your major goal!

How cool is that? 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 10--Smart goals

The S of SMART goals stands for specific, significant, stretching.

Your specific goals should be well-defined, straight forward and emphasize what you want to accomplish. It's where you want to focus your efforts.

Specific is the What, Why, and How of your goal.

What: easy--what are you going to do? Use action words. Hmm, that's rather like showing rather than telling, isn't it?
Why: why is this goal important to you?
How:  how are you going to accomplish the goal. Here is where you really need to be specific by giving a timeframe. Having a 'finish by' date helps further along in the SMART goal process, so you might as well be ready for it.

As an example--instead of making your goal to finish a book in 2011 (which only really generally gives a hint of what you want to do and by when...) a SMART goal might say something like : I will write X number of words a day (Hey! That sounds familiar!) to complete name of manuscript by this date.

Significant? That's pretty simple, too. If your goal wasn't significant to you, you probably wouldn't be thinking about it.

Stretching? Don't make your goal too easy. If you normally write, oh, say, 100 words a day--stretch to 150 words a day. Stretching isn't always easy (in either the mental or physical sense). Maybe you'll be a little sore, but the end results will be well worth the stretch.

So have a good stretch and start thinking seriously about your SMART goals.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 11-Joyous Yule

It's the first day of Winter. Some parts of the country are probably already tired of snow and wintery weather, but here in Nebraska it's been pretty pleasant. Sure, we've had some icy times and snow here and there, but nothing to keep folks in their houses. Snow is in the forcast for later this week, so a white Christmas is a good probablility.

Doesn't it just seem more like Christmas if there's at least a little snow for the reindeer to leave tracks in?

Use your 100 words today (you are still writing them, aren't you?) and write about a favorite holiday memory. This could be your memory--or one of your characters. What a great way to get to know a little more about your story people!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 12--Are Your Goals Smart?

Go to your favorite search engine.

Type in something like goals, or goal setting, or goals worksheet.

Become overwhelmed by the number of sites devoted to goals.

How do you know which is best? What works? Should I pay for that book/download/podcast? Why even bother?

I'm not going to answer any of those questions for anyone but myself. Nor should I even try. Like our goals are individual, so are our ways of decision making, creating, listing and sharing.  And sometimes it takes a few trial and error moments to find what works.

There are, however, some constants in good goal setting. One of the best ways is to make your goals SMART goals. Here are some of the meanings for the acronyms.

S - specific, significant, stretching
M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T - time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

I think, perhaps I'll talk about these further in the next few days. That sounds like a good way to finish up some of these last 100 days posts.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fay 13--Written in Stone

Along with oft mentioned Chocolate, writers have a touchy-feely love relationship with paper. In fact, at our group's Holiday party, paper was the star of the show. And not just any paper. Paper made from stone!

Kim Louise wrote about the moment in her blog here.

And not long after that moment, a number of local writers headed to Target for stone paper.

The next week at critique, Eve handed out pages taken from her stone paper notebook. And not just so we could once again ooh and ahh over the silky smooth texture. These pages are for us to write out goals for 2011.

So... our goals are...

I'd take this permanence a step further by using one of Sharpie's new liquid graphite pencils. Erasable at first the lead becomes permanent in 24 hours.  Perfect for writing your goals... in stone.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 14--Focus and Goal ADD

I was asked last night what my writing goals for 2011 are. My honest answer--I haven't really thought that much about them yet. I need to do the review work I talked about here a few days ago.

One thing I do's really easy to make this long list of goals, both professional and personal. But then, when you look at that list, it can look daunting. Scarey. Overwhelming. OMG, I can't do all this.

Take a long, serious time of consideration when you look at your goals for the coming year. It's fine to have a detailed list, but how do you focus on the whole thing!

You can't. Goal ADD doesn't work. Choose two or three goals--no more! Put your focus, your full attention on these objectives until you've completed them. Look at them every day. Even better, write them down every day. There is something in the act of writing something down that makes it real. Seriously considered these goals--every day. Every day!

Taking the simple action of consistently focusing on just a couple goals will inspire you to success!

So. Make your list of goals. Choose the two most important. And Focus!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 15--John Jakes

Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 16--Chocolate Covered Anything Day

Isn't it great? A day to celebrate chocolate covered anything. (wink)

Writers and chocolate just go together. The melty goodness is inspiration, assistance, celebration and consolation.

I know there are those who don't care for chocolate or understand the deep love affair some of us have with Hersheys/Godiva/Dove/etc... Sometimes, I feel sorry for them. But then again, if they don't want the chocolate, then there's more for the rest of us.

I haven't prompted for your 100 words in a long time. (Hey, remember when all this started--almost 100 days ago. You know, the Power 100--write 100 words a day for 100 days?) So here ya go...

There's been a series of programs on what life would be like if the entire population of this planet just disappeared--Life after People. (Great shows, btw) So my challenge to you is to write at least 100 words on Life After Chocolate!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 17--Grateful for another day

I love lists, and have a fresh one nearly every day filled with what I want to accomplish. And I use this list as well to make notes of interesting tidbits I want to remember, places I've been online, a great quote, an idea for an upcoming blog/story/whatever.  There are times, however, I think I need to make a list of my lists so I can keep track of all those slips of paper.

But, that's not the list I want to mention today. Yesterday I wrote about making a list of your accomplishments, great and small. Today, the attitude is gratitude.

At the end of each day, take a few moments to be thankful. Some days, when nothing is going right, finding something to be thankful for can be difficult. Really? No, not if you take a deep, calm breath and think. Writing down that first thankful moment will open your heart and mind to gratitude, and another will fill your mind.

Don't worry about how silly or trivial your gratitudes may sound (I'm thankful I found new Sharpie pencils that are fun to write with). Each breath of thanks (Wow, I'm thankful for a second place 'win' in a contest) will have you breathing in another. You'll smile (I'm thankful for friends who share beautiful pictures of their families) and the day will fall into place. (I'm thankful my helper showed up for work today)

And with that smile, and a peace-filled attitude of gratitude, how can you not write the best of words, and share the greatest of stories? 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 18b--Celebrating Accomplishments

It's important to acknowledge each little step you take on your way to achieving your goals. Whether slowly or quickly, these small accomplishments add up. And, isn't it easy to build upon each success?

Add up your accomplishments. Even something that seems so insignificant--like buying that needed ink cartridge--pushes you toward a completed goal. How can you have your weekly pages to show off at critique if you can't print them?

Use your calendar, or keep a journal handy, and each week take some time to think about your accomplishments--large and small. Then write these moments down. Yep, do it each week! Continue to build your list of 'I did it' s.


There will come a time when you need a boost. Writing is hard work. You'll get tired. Discouraged. You'll wonder why.  At those moments, pull out your calendar, journal or list and read. Re-Discover the joys and successes of your small accomplishments... you may find just the bit of encouragement you need to go on.

Who better to cheer you on--than yourself?
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Day whatever--I keep losing track

Whether you believe in Santa or not, what bit of joyous writing fun do you hope to find in your stocking?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 18--Collaging Goals

Many of us have cut and pasted and created amazing collages to help us plan our stories. The simple act of taking pictures, arranging them with other found objects then stepping back to see what your subconscious has brought to the party is a remarkable act of creativity in itself. Then to use what you've discovered to bring your story to life... wow.

And many folks create vision boards that encompass the broader spectrum of their entire, career, daily living, places they want to go... and so much more.

Have you ever considered making a collage for a specific goal? Like finishing a manuscript and sending it off to agents and publishers? Think of this as a map leading to where you intend to be. Cut out pictures and words that express how you'll feel when you have achieved this goal. Take some time and write out scenerios as if you already have completed this goal. Fantasize! Like with your writing, engage all your senses! Keep this map active and moving in the right direction--just like your manuscript.

Use this map like you would any book collage. Put it somewhere you will see it often. Then look at it. Often. Visualize yourself on this path--taking the last steps to find the treasure of a completed manuscript in the hands of your target editor--or whatever your goal may be.

Got a goal? Make a map. And get there.

**This blog thanks creative coach Anisa Aven.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

day 19--Scott Adams

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 20--Goal Reflection

The end of this year approaches, and of course, that means a new year beginning. And for those who set goals (and that should be everyone!) the new year means new goals written in the back of our desk calendars. Or on a sheet tacked to the bulletin board. As long as they're written down somewhere you can look at them and be reminded.

Now is a really good time to review your 2010 goals. Seriously consider those goals, the actions you took to achieve them and how they compare to what you envisioned as the result. Look at each goal separately. What did you do well? What could have been done better?

Most importantly, consider what prevented you from accomplishing an incomplete goal. Is there a price you weren't willing to pay or changes you weren't willing to consider to make the goal happen?

Are your goals still important to you? We are constantly and continually changing beings. What we want, or think we want, changes along with us. Do you continue to put a goal on your list because you think you should--or is it something you really want?

Use these last days of December to reflect on this year's goals. Then when you turn your calendar to the first of January, you'll be better able to achieve your new goals.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 21--Leo Burnett

When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 23--Natalie Goldberg

The muscles of writing are not visible, but they are just as powerful:
determination, attention, curiosity, a passionate heart.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 25--Leslie Nielsen

Doing nothing is very hard to do...
you never know when you're finished.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day 26--249,671

249,671! That's the number of words reported from eight Heartlandian writers during NaNoWriMo 2010. What a great accomplishment. Brilliant work, ladies!

Special CONGRATULATIONS to our NaNo winners!
Barb B

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 27--Truman Capote

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 28--Russell Lynes

(More quotes? Yep--I still have some on my list to share with you.)
No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day 29--NaNoWriMo is over! Ray Bradbury

(So... how did your NaNo go? Did you meet your goals? Or were you like me, discovering this isn't the way I feel comfortable writing at this point in my life? Or did you simply fizzle? I admit I did a lot of that too.  No matter! If you wrote 100 words a day for the month of November, you have 3,000 more words now. If you made a goal, NaNo or not, take a deep breath, congratulate yourself and begin again. There's a few more busy days left in 2010. Write those Power 100 words. Keep going.

Follow the advice of today's celebrity...)

You only fail if you stop writing!