Tag Archives: goals

Setting Goals

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I don’t know about my fellow Twisted Writers but life has been sucker punching me left and right. There’s been a lot going on that’s out of my control and unfortunately, writing took a backseat to trying to pick up pieces the overturned snowglobe dropped into new places. Hence, the reason why I haven’t been posting on Mondays here or even on my home blog.

I’ve had some exciting news recently. I’m being given the opportunity to become a freelance writer for the company a friend of mine works in. It’s not overly creative but does give me the chance to work from home and get a foot in the door for better opportunities in the future. However, having not had the kind of experience most freelance writers have, I’ve been a little concerned about my ability to be successful and pull this off. I’ve not had the formal education most writers have. But I’m not going to let this deter me from trying.

The whole experience happened rather quickly and it made me stop and think about the first time I sat down and wrote anything after my dad died. I had a goal in mind then and I was determined not to let anything stop me from accomplishing that goal. The last year has been a hard one and I have let myself become distracted from my original objectives. That’s why this weekend I made the decision to accept the offer my friend’s company extended to me and see where it leads. I am also going to sit down and complete my first draft on my NaNoWriMo project from this past November. My goal is to have my first draft and edits done and a manuscript ready to go (whether self-publishing or traditional, I’m not sure yet) by the end of the year. Possibly the summer if I can manage that but I still have some  life issues that will affect my timeline. But I am going to do my best.

What writing goals have you set for yourself that haven’t been met yet? What will it take to meet them?

I know how hard it is to let life take over when things get out of control. Writing anything and completing it is a way to feel as if you are in control of something.

Set some goals, even small ones, and finish them. I guarantee the small boost of confidence you get from completing even something small is worth it.

Have a great Monday!

Jesi

Dreams with Deadlines

“Goals are dreams with Deadlines” – Diana Scharf Hunt

Do you ever wonder what life would be without dreams or goals? Would we just float along aimlessly, with no real gumption to move forward in life? It sounds boring.

Goals can be mundane, for example, like planning to make it to a destination on time for once. Or they can be a major plotting point in your life, like becoming a successful author.

One of my major writing assignments, due today actually, for one of my classes was to write an essay on my Life Goals. This included a three year, five year, and a ten year goal that I had to set out for myself. These things could not be something like getting married (though, check), or having children (again, check), but more like goals that I could accomplish on my own by pushing myself to reach them and not relying on another individual to succeed.

This sounds easy enough, but it wasn’t. Writing is a big part of my future, and I share my goals for writing every time that I make it to a writer’s meeting. It was difficult for me to come up with three attainable but meaningful goals and then write a paper explaining how I plan on reaching these said goals.

Writing this paper was horrible, not because I couldn’t do it, but because it had me hanging my head in shame. I am so swamped with trying to keep my head afloat that I am not getting the one thing done needed to reach my ultimate goal. Write! I mean, I am writing, but I am not getting to really write the fun stuff right now. Oh, I write. Essay’s upon essay’s! (If I never have to analyze another topic again, I wont be saddened.)

I need to write for fun for any of this to be worth it. This being school, blogging, and meetings.

At the beginning of next month is the start of NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in 30 days), I know that Jesi and CJ are already signed up to do it and have been planning profusely. I keep telling myself that I don’t have the time, and I really don’t, but I need something fun to get me back in the swing of writing for pleasure and not just for a grade.

 I guess I just added another dream with a deadline to my list .

So what goals do you have set for yourself? How are you going to achieve them? Let us know down in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,
~AJP

Rogue Muses or Overbearing Ones, We Got All Kinds Here

Last week Amanda talked about her rogue muse, Myrtle, and how Myrtle is driving her insane. (My word, not Amanda’s but I bet she’d agree with me.)

I don’t know if I’d rather have her muse or mine. Mine does not have a name because mine likes to change identities half the time. Mine is also being a little overbearing lately. And a workaholic. It isn’t enough that she’s got me participating in a poetry challenge, which I can handle just fine, but she also has me participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for those who need to have it spelled out). And that means prepping for a long month of writing. Oh, and let’s top that off with agreeing to write a short story (5-10k words) for a murder mystery novella with a deadline of December 1st.

Yeah. She may have bitten off more than I can chew.

But that’s the fun/insane thing about being a writer. You never know what you’re going to find yourself getting into. Take for instance the poetry challenge I’m doing. Last year I joined thanks to CJ’s gentle nudging. (It really was-CJ is a subtle witch-she says “hey, you should do this” and then she begins writing some lovely words and I can’t resist.) I joined late but began writing two poems a day to catch up (because I could, not because I had to). By the time the challenge was coming to a close I was writing three poems a day. It was a lot of fun and I met new people and ended up with quite a bit of poetry in my repertoire.

Now take NaNo. I joined that last year as well, thanks to AJ. She’s not so subtle. She’s more like “you should do it because I’m doing it and you should do it.” Did I mention she was holding a sledgehammer at the time? (Okay, not really. She’s not that violent…or is she? 😉 ) During NaNo I began writing something I thought would be my first book. And I was doing well until midway through a bad head cold/infection cold-cocked me and took me out of the game for good. It was awful. You’d think that would put me off NaNo. But you’d be so wrong. I’m doing it again this year. What could possibly go wrong this time? (I know, I’ve just invoked the Writing Gods’ perverse sense of humor. What can I say? I like a good challenge.)

Amanda always asks us in group what our writing goals are. I may be one of the few that can look her in the eye without flinching, or fidgeting under her steely gaze, and give her an acceptable answer. I have more than enough goals and writing going on right now, and I think both Amanda, and my muse, should be happy with that.

And me, well, tune in next month to watch me become a sleep-deprived, raving lunatic.

Have a great week.

Jesi

The Write Stuff

If you’ve tuned in lately to all our Twisted Writer posts, you may have noticed an inadvertent recurring theme cropping up in some of our posts. We all seem to be touching on challenges writers including ourselves can be (or are) battling against. You’ve seen “Writer’s Angst” from Joe; “Getting Back into the Swing of Things” by Amanda; “The Hardest Part of Being a Writer” by Jesi and now you have me chiming in here with this post which touches a bit on all of those topics.

This week I posted on my personal blog about how in the last few months I have really been out of it with my writing, my blogging, my Twitter, my writing group attendance and well, pretty much anything besides work, back to school, and the new football season for my oldest. Despite getting off track, I am fortunate to have people around me who can help remind me of where I want to be and/or kick me in the behind to help me get back on track.

At this week’s critique group, our Fearless Leader prompted all of us to share our goals. I haven’t really been thinking about or following any real goals for my writing lately. No wonder I am so off my game! Without setting some clear goals and then following through with achieving them, how do I expect to ever have any success with my writing? Have I just been thinking if I kept ignoring the writing that I would just magically have a finished novel?

Sadly there is no  magic shortcut to getting to something I am proud to have written. To get where I want to go, I need to force myself to set some solid goals along with an action plans go with them.

I imagine I am not the only one out there who has reached a snag like this before. Maybe you are there too. Maybe you got mired down in the muck of a difficult work in progress and let things slide like I have. Maybe you have been busy and overwhelmed like I have been. Maybe you just fell out of the good habits like I have done. Whatever the case may be, the good news is that it isn’t too late to get back on track. It’s not too late to get back in the swing of things. It’s not too late to tackle our writer’s angst. It’s not too late to do that hardest thing about writing and just show up. It’s not too late to show that we have the “write stuff”. 😉

I will keep you posted on my progress. Please feel free to let me know where you are at, if you are struggling too, or how you have managed to get past the times you get off track. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Thanks and have a great week!

~CJS

Getting back into the swing of things

There are times in everyone’s life when everything has to come to a screeching halt. It doesn’t matter what the cause. The result is always the same. You have to focus on something important for a period of time to the exclusion of almost everything else. That’s been my life for the last month or more. Finally, it looks as if things are getting back to normal. Now the challenge is getting back into the swing of things and getting back on course.

So how do you do it? Me, it’s a struggle. I am having to train myself not to jump at every sound that isn’t quite ordinary. I’m more attuned to what is going on around me — having a loved one seriously ill will do that to you — and that means the distraction level is off the chart. All the usual techniques to getting into my writing and editing aren’t working. So I’ve had to find workarounds and, in at least one instance, they have me shaking my head, wondering how long before things get back to normal.

Of course, that assumes the life of any writer could be classified as normal.

The first thing I’ve had to do is get my work laptop back up and running. I’m one of those folks who love tech and who have multiple laptops and tablets. My work laptop is an Acer that I’ve had for about four years now. It’s a great machine. Or it has been. But in the middle of everything going on with my mom, the hard drive decided to start failing. Before I could pull everything off, it went kaput. Fortunately, most of my work was backed up. Unfortunately, a couple of things weren’t completely backed up and I now have to redo them. It’s my own fault. I’m usually obsessive about doing multiple backups but real life interfered.

The new hard drive arrives today. So, by Sunday, everything should be back up and running. That’s step one. Until then, I’ve been working on a different laptop, a MacBook Air. It’s a good machine but the screen is smaller and for someone who doesn’t use a Mac all the time, I have to stop and think about what the hotkeys are. That interrupts the flow and frustrates me.

That means I have to get back into the habit or work. Oh, I’ve scribbled notes here and there. I’ve tried to sit and write or edit. But, as I said, the distraction level is high, especially at the house. I’ve tried changing the time and location in the house I work. Nope, that hasn’t helped. I’ve tried changing the music, TV on/off, etc. Nothing has seemed to work. That’s left me with one choice, find someplace nearby I can go and try to work for at least an hour or two a day.

Again, I’ve found the distraction level high when I’ve gone to my usual haunts. The other day, I wound up at the last place I would normally go, no matter what the reason. I stopped at the local McDonalds for a Coke. You have to understand just how rare that is. I doubt I’ve been to a McDs more than half a dozen times in the last 10 years. So you can imagine my surprise to walk in and find it comfortable, quiet and not overrun by screaming kids.

Instead of taking my Coke and retreating to my car, I sat down and pulled out my tablet and an hour later had written more than I had in the last three weeks. I’ve been back a couple of times since then with the same result. I have also discovered that it isn’t the little kids who are the problem now. It is the middle school and high school kids who come in after school and who seem completely unaware of others being there. That just means I don’t go when they will be there, at least not if I want to work.

I guess the whole point of this rambling post is to remind each of us that we have to be flexible. Flexible in our writing — and in accepting that the more we write, the more our craft will improve and that, in itself, is sometimes scary. Flexible in how and where we write. Flexible in understanding that sometimes we have to change our habits in order to help the words flow.

I’ve talked with too many writers who have suddenly hit the wall and can’t seem to find a way to get the words to flow. Instead of altering what they are doing — whether it is when or where they write or simply working on something else for awhile — they continue to try doing the same thing, day in, day out. When nothing happens, they claim they have writer’s block and use that to excuse the fact they aren’t producing anything.

That’s the easy thing to do. But it is also an excuse. Yes, writer’s block does happen from time to time. However, when we usually claim we’re experiencing it, we aren’t. We’ve simply hit a point in our work where it is difficult but not impossible to push the story forward. It could be because we are uncomfortable with what we know is about to happen. It could be our subconscious telling us that we’ve taken a wrong turn and need to go back and look to see how to fix it. It could be that our craft has taken a step forward and the change scares the crap out of us because our writing no longer feels familiar. That is when you just have to push through, listen to your gut and not give in to the call to give up.

It is the same thing with the no time to write argument. Yes, we all have those points in our life when there simply isn’t a spare moment to do anything other than what is necessary to put food on the table and make money for rent. But usually when we say there isn’t time to write, it’s an excuse. We might not recognize it as one and we won’t until we start turning a critical eye to what we are actually doing each day.

I can hear some of you — heck, myself included — saying that there is no wasted time in your day. Really? How much time do you spend playing video games? How about Candy Crush on your phone? That is time you could spend writing. Do you take walks each day? If so, and if you have a digital voice recorder or a smartphone, you can record notes or even dictate your story as you walk. There are programs that will then convert your dictation into text. You can do the same.

So here’s the challenge: how many of you are willing to get back into the swing of things with me? Set a goal of how many words or how much time each day/week you want to write. There is no right or wrong number. It is something you feel is doable. Keep track of your progress. Use it as preparation for NaNoWriMo which starts next month. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your goal, just renew your determination to do what you can when you can and then carve out the time. However, if you see that you are writing more than you thought, increase your goal.

Now get back to work. That’s what I’m going to do.

Let’s Play A Game

Copying and sharing yesterday’s post from my home blog because I had the Grandest Idea to Inspire people to get writing. There are a few changes…

Dear Writers,

It has come to my Attention that there is a disturbing lack of Creativity within Contemporary Society as a whole. There is a sore need for Sparks of Imagination, especially for the young, those Dreamers of Dreams, Painters of Artful Things, Writers of Inspiring Works, and Creators of All Things Especially Wonderful. This is a sad State of Affairs, and I feel that something must be done.

Therefore, I have put on my Thinking Cap and have had the Most Wonderful of Ideas. I want to play a Game-one most Fun and Creative and Imaginative. I call it The Game of Wonderful, Sparkly Fun. The Objective: to bring to Life worlds most fantastic by writing stories.

The Rules (for there must be some Boundaries, or else Things That Might Not Need To Be Known happen, and that’s just Bad Manners):

1. You must address your story to someone as if you were writing a letter. The story does not need to be a letter but IS the letter, e.g. “My Dearest Lizzi, You will be astonished at what occurred to me today….I have discovered a plot against the Queen. Vickie is just beside herself in indignation at how anyone could possibly want to dethrone her.”

2. There are NO Rules as to subject matter. This is to Spark Imagination and Be Fun. Your Mind is your Limit. Whatever Thinks you can Dream, no matter the impossibility/improbability, are Encouraged.

3. Wanting to add/extend someone else’s story is not only Encouraged but Excitably Supported.

4. Good Taste must be applied as there are Things That Might Not Need To Be Known and Eyes that do not need to read/see Things That Might Not Need To Be Known.

5. Good Times must be had by all and sundry. Laughing is Wanted. So are Smiles, Hugs, and lots of Happy Faces.

Any and all are invited to Participate and will only add more to the Fun. Please feel free to send Invitations to play The Game of Wonderful, Sparkly Fun (to be known as The GWSF hereafter).

All “Letters” must be posted to your Blog and should be Shared Among All Things Social.

My dear Friends Through the Wires, I appeal to your Good Sense of Fun and your Sparkling and Glittering Nature to help Encourage this Endeavor of Magnificence.

I await your reply in Anticipation, and remain your Most Sincere Friend,

Jesi, M’Lady Poet,

Queen of The Light Fantastic (and Lovely Words)

 

Post Scriptum: Come join us on Facebook and post your “letters” there!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/thegwsf/

No More Excuses! My Son Is Making Me Look Bad

My eldest son doesn’t realize it yet, but he has become a writer. He just spent the last week writing a story. He has over thirty chapters. He would wake up every morning and get on my laptop and write. No matter when I’d see him, I would always find him on my computer writing. He is so excited about his story.

And I’m a bit jealous.

He found it so easy to write, and his excitement was palpable. He couldn’t wait to share it with me. We talked about editing, and just getting what’s in your head written down and then going back later. We talked about people commenting on your writing and how a writer has to have thick skin. It was great.

It reminded me of when I had that same passion at his age to be published. I didn’t know what I was going to publish, just that I wanted to be published. What really struck me was his enthusiasm. It got him sitting down every day to write. I realized that if I am ever going to reach my goal then I have to find that same enthusiasm. And sadly, it’s been missing recently.

And then, my son asked me to come read something. He had reached out to one of his favorite writers in this group he’s become a part of and she responded. He wanted me to read her response and help him because he wanted to respond back. So I read it. I was incredibly moved. This writer I don’t know suffers from the same thing most writers know well. She thinks her writing isn’t good. She was very humbled by my son’s comments on her writing, and she was glad he enjoyed it. But she seems to struggle with thinking her work is creditable, that anyone reads it and likes it.

I gave my son some advice about how to respond and he did, and I was very moved by it (he let me read it, too). He goes away to college soon and I am doing my best to encourage him to continue writing even though he’s not looking to make it his major. He has a real gift for it, and his excitement and interest in it sparks my own. I have been struggling myself lately with finding the desire to write. Granted, I’ve had a lot going on lately in life, but that’s not really an excuse. My son has been helping his dad and step-mom get a house ready for sale, helping with household chores, doing yard work, going through his aunt’s estate after she passed away a few months ago, and getting ready to go to college. During all that, he found time to write twenty-six chapters of a story he had in his brain. This past week he was here with me visiting and he wrote ten more chapters non-stop.

So what’s my excuse?

Last week, I wrote about accountability. Now, I’m going to hold myself to it. I have plenty of ideas in my head. My goal is to get at least one chapter written by my next writing crit group meeting which is in two weeks. I may not have it ready but I will have something down so I can look Amanda in the eye and say “why yes, Amanda, I have been writing.”

Time Perception

I have 15 minutes.

This does not seem like a long period of time. In the grand scheme of things, I guess it is really not. But to me, right now at this very moment, 15 minutes has become an excruciating amount of time. The seconds are ticking by ever so slowly.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Depending on what you were doing or where you’re going, this will greatly determine your perception of time consumption.

10 minutes to go…

For my birthday last month, my family went to see a movie at the theater. It was one that had been much anticipated and we were excited to finally be able to get to see it. We were not concerned with how long the movie was, or what time it was playing because it was this movie.

With our popcorn, sodas, and seats, we were ready!Soon enough it became apparent that our excitement and anticipation was no match for this movie. At  forty minutes in, I glance at my watch sure that two hours had passed. Ninety minutes in, my little one started fidgeting, 120 minutes in, the popcorn was gone, the sodas watered down, and three of us were bursting at the seams and had to take a break.

As we  returned, my husband grumbled that we had not missed anything. And we still had half an hour to go before the ending.

The problem wasn’t that the movie was bad per se. Or that the script was necessarily bad either. No, it was just that the movie was all over the place. It almost felt as if the writer had A.D.D. in some parts. We would be traveling along the storyline and then BAM!, shiny fight scene. Or a mid-action, kick-ass, hear-me-roar type of scenr, then queue violins for the random (and awkward) love scene. There were storylines that felt under developed, that sometimes had you thinking, “huh?”. Then there were subplots that drug on and on and on some more.

Dear Lord, it felt as though it was never going to end!

We found out later that the reason for some of the issues were because the movie/script had gone on too long (ya think) and they had to cut parts just to get it down to the two and a half hours. In my opinion, there were enough plots and subplots, storylines and innuendos to make this in to two movies. They crammed too much information into just one and it made a lot of the experience feel long and borderline unenjoyable.

There is something to be said about keeping it simple, as CJ posted last week. When your storyline has too much going on, your ideas become chaotic and muddled, even difficult for the reader/viewer to really enjoy or understand sometimes.

In the end, make sure that you are making a point, and actually getting there in the end. Being long-winded in your storytelling might have your readers eyeballing the clock.

My 15 minutes are up, that was quick! Or long, depending on who you are.

Till next time,

~AJP

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Habitual Bliss

This morning I got into my SUV, to go to work, and proceeded to take the wrong route. I was about three streets into the drive when it dawned on me that I was headed in the direction that I take to go to my grandmother’s or the library (both are on the same road). Now I can still get to my new job this way, but it is not the preferred way due to go due to I have to turn onto a main road and the visual for on coming traffic is limited.

I laughed at my mistake and continued on but it had me thinking about my habits. I travel to the library and my grandmother’s at least 3-4 times a week. Sometimes more. Okay, mostly more.

However, I have only driven to my new office once. That being yesterday morning. So it has not become much of a habit just yet. It is not even a route that I have driven more than a handful of times in the past two years.

This brings me around to my train of thought and to today’s post.

Habits.

Here lately, we are all struggling with finding time to do what we need to do. Amanda wrote about accountability on Monday, and she is right. We have to be accountable for making the time to write. We have to stop treating this as a hobby and take it serious as we would any other job. Albeit, some of us have jobs that require 40+ hours at the office, families, school and so on.

BUT. If we can carve out an hour a day, or two hours a day during the weekend, and make this part of our daily routine, in no time writing will become a habit. It will no longer feel like a chore trying to find the time to do what we love doing anyway.

It goes along with the goals we should be setting for ourselves, pick a goal, pick a day, pick a time slot, then just stick to it. Eventually it will be our normal routine, the road more driven that we are most comfortable taking.

Some of us are already doing a bang up job at writing daily, or whatever their routines are, and if so – bravo! Good for you. But how much time do you spend wasted before you buckle down and jump to it? Do you browse the net before you start? Or scan your Twitter/Facebook feed before buckling down?

Honestly, how much time do we waste when we could actually be putting words on paper/the screen?

So let’s make writing a habit and not a chore and see where we end up.

Is writing already part of your daily habit? Or has it become a struggle? Let me know in the comments.

Till next time,

~AJP

habits

Show, Don’t Tell

My house has been overrun. I am under attack and have tried to batten down the hatches, build foxholes, and all that military terminology describing hiding in my closet. I have way too many people in my house demanding my undivided attention. My nerves are frazzled, no, wait…they are not frazzled. They are cut electric lines spitting out sparks and looking for something to ignite. I am currently devising a plan to get me the heck out of here for a few days next month (I hope-I really need a break.) because someone is going to get hurt, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be my brain.

I am not doing so well on my writing goal, although I have been writing every day, which is great. It’s mostly poetry, but I am writing several a day and I can feel the inspiration flowing. I have been coming up with ideas and taking extensive notes because I really am trying to stick with one project at the moment. But, it’s been hard to find any time or peace and quiet this last week. I haven’t been the only one up in the early hours, which means there is no quiet because (sorry for the stereotyping here-just understand I’m speaking in generalities) you men cannot be quiet at all. I don’t care if it’s closing a door or taking a shower, the men in my house have no idea what “shhh, people are sleeping” means. And when I say “early hours” I mean “early”, as in “did you even go to sleep?”

One of the things I’ve done to try and get some story writing done is I’ve turned back to this book I love called The Practice of Poetry (which I mention a lot because…LOVE) by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell. It is filled with some very good exercises. And today I wanted to share one which stood out recently. I haven’t done it myself yet, though I am practicing it with my current work in progress.

The exercise is called Intriguing Objects/”Show and Tell”. You are supposed to grab an object, any object, and talk about it. Tell it’s story because it has one. Where did you find it? What drew you to it? How did it come to you? Then, after telling it’s story (this is a group exercise) you are to write about it in some way (poetry, prose, play, etc). Unfortunately, I’m not in a group setting so I thought about it differently. It brought to mind a common writing mantra-show, don’t tell.

One very common mistake most beginning writers make is in their descriptions, whether for a character or setting. “The tree was tall and had green leaves, which blew in the wind. Diane saw the tree. She put her hand on the trunk and looked up. She could see the sky through the leaves.” Do you see what I mean? The description is boring. It reads more like stage directions to me. And, yes, people do actually have manuscripts that read like this.

What if it read more like this:

“The tree towered over Diane, and she could see the leaves dancing in the breeze. She put her hand on the rough bark of the trunk to steady herself. Just looking up at the soaring height of the tree made her dizzy, so she focused on trying to spot the azure sky through the canopy of leaves.”

See the difference? In the first one, you are being told every little thing. There’s no imagination, no creativity. In the second, there’s more description, it’s active. You get a sense of who Diane is. Does she get vertigo? Where is she? How big is the tree? You want to know more about the story, don’t you?

Show, don’t tell. It’s such a common mistake but easily fixed. Go find yourself a dictionary and a thesaurus, and practice writing descriptions. That’s your exercise for today. 😉

Jesi