Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Do You Know This Harry Potter Quote?

So my daughter is on another Harry Potter kick. She just saw the last movie on Monday. She said that she almost cried during one of Snape's scenes.

Of course, Monday night after dinner I heard her say the following, "I can't believe it's over."

Yes... more Potter withdrawals.

With that in mind, she texted me another one of her favorite quotes:

"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

Yesterday I asked a colleague if she knew the quote and the context. She couldn't remember, but it's been awhile, she says, since she read the books. Do you recognize where this quote appears?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Writing Without Electricity

As a newspaper journalist, I developed the habit of always having a notepad and pen within reach. That meant keeping several pads and pens in the sedan and minivan, as well as, pads and pens in the living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathrooms. Even now, I carry a pen and two to three pocket-sized memo pads on me all the time. (My wife is tired of seeing pads everywhere, by the way.)

Enough background.

Those habits paid off this weekend, though. Hurricane Irene came at us weakly with a drizzle, but hit strongly with a wind that knocked out the electricity. Our power was restored last night. I must confess I was rather cranky. Maybe it was withdrawals. No computer. No Internet. The appropriate song for this scene would be R.E.M.'s "It's the end of the World."

 Once I got over myself, I learned a few things:
  • I have enough books in my personal library to weather several hurricanes.
  • It gets really quiet once night falls - even with a house filled with kids.
  • Reading by candlelight and flashlight is so doable.
  • I have a new stock of words and phrases to describe a darkness that just won't go away.
  • I can do research without the Internet.
  • I read longer and took three times as many notes when using a real book and handwriting my notes.
  • I pondered my sentences longer when writing by hand (this can be a mixed blessing).
  • My kids, who already read alot, with nothing else to do will keep on reading.
  • As long as I have a Blackberry, car charger and enough gas in the van, I can stay connected with my e-mail and Twitter accounts.
Just little things to note.

Friday, August 26, 2011

First an Earthquake, Now Hurricane Irene?!

Funny thing about "Acts of God." They sure make the phone ring.

Many of our relatives have been calling since Tuesday's earthquake hit us here in the Washington DC area. Now those same relatives are checking in to see if we're in the path of Hurricane Irene. I think so, by the way.

I don't think we are in any real danger of having to weather the brunt of the storm since we're inland a bit. Then again... I know enough about writing not to use one of those famous last lines that are often standard fair in movies... Right before something bad happens.

CLUELESS FRIEND (to worried friend)
Hey, relax. There's nothing to worry about. We're safe now.

WORRIED FRIEND (sniffling)
Are you sure?

CLUELESS FRIEND (smiling)
Absolutely! Everything will be fine.

WORRIED FRIEND
OK

BOOM!!!! ZAP!!!! The worried friend is incinerated by a laser beam.

Well, it usually goes something like that regardless of genre. So, I am hoping for the best, but we will prepare for the worst in case Irene is still angry when she reaches us.

List of supplies: canned food, water, candles, batteries, flashlight, first aid kit, notepads, pens and pencils, etc. Maybe it's the result of so many years working as a journalist covering news events, but I can't help but think of what sort of writing might come from this latest emergency. Guess it's a matter of perception.

Emergency = writing opportunity

Yes, I will make sure my family is safe. But after that, it's time to observe EVERYTHING with a writer's eyes. After Tuesday's earthquake, the first phone call I was on was with my wife to make sure the family was OK.

"OMG! Did you feel that?!" my wife asked.


"Yes, I did," I replied. "Is everyone OK?"


"The kids were freaking out!"


"Anyone hurt? House still standing?" I asked.


"Everyone's fine. Everything's fine."

Once we established everyone was fine, the rest of the conversation was what do you think? I'm sure like every other conversation going on at about that moment. Guess. Yep, that's right. We began narrating, retelling what had happened. We told our stories from our unique perspectives. And in the face of a frightening "Act of God" like an earthquake, we turned to humor in our retelling. In our case, humor is easy. We have kids who do the darnedest things.

I just kept asking my wife questions, and took it all in. Stuff you can't make up. It was beautiful. Rich images that are the stuff of vivid scenes in writing. Great potential for dialogue. Stressful events that brought out the true character of my children. Conflict. Obstacles. Surprising situations. Aren't these the very elements we as writers try to create in our fictional worlds?

Life = writing opportunities


Just a matter of perception.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

No More Harry Potter? My Kids Say 'Not So Fast!'

The world is such a different place now that we won't be dying to see the next installment of Harry Potter. My teen-aged daughter spent much of her life reading the series. I remember standing in lines in the middle of the night waiting with her to buy the next book. By the time I was home from work the next day, she was usually almost done with it.

So...now what? I just read a Wall Street Journal article, "Conjouring The Next Harry Potter." WSJ Online video version here. Google "next Harry Potter," there's plenty of speculation. Inquiring minds want to know!

My daughter, by the way, hasn't heard of that book in the Journal article. Just an FYI. It was my daughter who coaxed me into reading the Potter series to begin with. It took me several years before I did. I'm now glad I did. Call the Potter books what you want. One thing's for certain. They were entertaining... and profitable, or else publishers wouldn't be stressing to find the next Harry Potter.

My daughter reads so many books, I can't even keep count. She often passes the good ones on to me. I'm trusting her to tell me what's worth reading. Sorry publishers. Sorry WSJ and everyone else. I'm not into speculation.

Which brings me to the question at hand: No more Harry Potter? My teen-aged daughter and my other kids say, "Not so fast!" They are reading other books faster than I can count, but none (so far) have even come close to taking the place of Potter in their hearts. Even as they read other books, they are re-reading Potter.

Congrats Rowling. Brand loyalty.

By the way, my kids are sharing their favorite Potter quotes. Here's the first:

"I hope you're pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed - or worse, expelled. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to bed."
Can you identify it?

Do You Have 30 Minutes To Improve Your Writing?

The correct answer is "yes."

I know time is always a problem when you're working a day job, raising a family, trying to stay healthy and trying to write. But 30 minutes is manageable. Don't think you have 30 minutes? Maybe you need to perform an inventory on your time. Do it for a week. Kinda like you'd do if you were monitoring your spending.

You should see patterns in your weekly schedule - some maybe you can manipulate. Do you spend an hour a day commuting by bus or subway? Forget about catching a few extra Zs. Write. Use note cards, a small notepad and pen. Dollar stores have all these supplies now for you to stock up on. Wanna geek out? Use your smartphone to write.

The other day I was furious about something. The writer in me realized I could capture the raw emotion of anger if I jotted down my feelings. No pen. No paper. I was walking. So I pulled out my Blackberry and using the MemoPad I tapped out some strongly-worded emotional dialogue.

It took me 5 minutes. Tops. This is another example of using extra time for writing. I think I was arriving home from work when I pulled out my phone. By the time I unlocked the front door to my house and walked in, I had tapped out the dialogue.

There are precious moments like this hidden throughout your day. Find them and write.

Now do you think you can find the time for your writing?

If so, check out the WritersDigest.com blog post, "25 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 30 Minutes a Day."

Lots of good stuff here from five masters of the craft. I'm personally bookmarking it and referring back to it often.

Earthquake Hits East Coast!

I'm sitting here at my computer desk grading papers when I feel a rumble. It just keeps rumbling, slowly building intensity. Then people started freaking out. It was indeed an earthquake that struck only minutes ago in the Washington DC area.

I was a little worried there for a few minutes when my co-workers ran for the halls and away from the windows. I have a huge wall of windows to one side of my desk. Figured I should follow. Then the writer kicked in. I took a few steps, then reconsidered.

I turned around, grabbed my Blackberry, which was charging, and my netbook. Thoughts that came to mind. I can update my Twitter status: EARTHQUAKE!! And, my novel draft is in my netbook. If the building goes down, I can't lose that.

I left the papers I was grading where they were. Funny how your brain works in a crisis.

Setting Successful Writing Goals Takes Regular Reflection

Four weeks ago, I began this blog series discussing my take on setting successful writing goals.

I started by explaining the difference between writing vague and specific goals. Then, I laid out the three-part process of setting writing goals in several time frames: long-term goals, mid-term goals, short-term goals. After that, my last blog dealt with the concept of setting goals in other areas of life to help your writing.

Today, I'm sharing the final step, which consists of Reflecting On Your Writing/Life Goals. This is a simple step. Like many of life's simple things, however, this step is often overlooked. The shame of it is that reflection only takes a few minutes a week. That's it. A few minutes a week to reflect on your writing goals.

How do you reflect? I'm a guy who sometimes has a problem understanding my feelings. Yet, that's where it starts in the four-part reflection process straight out of the book, "From Master Student to Master Employee":

  • Check in with your feelings
  • Check for alignment
  • Check for obstacles
  • Check for immediate steps
Here's how it works with my twist for writers...

Check in with your feelings - How did setting your writing goals make you feel? Can you anticipate the satisfaction you'll get from writing that fantasy novel? You should. Maybe that goal of writing a fantasy novel doesn't connect emotionally. If that's the case, you may need to reconsider that goal of writing a fantasy novel. I'm not saying give it up. That would be too easy. But it might mean setting that fantasy novel project aside for now.

Check for alignment - This part of the reflection process is all about checking on whether your goals are on target in several time frames. Are your short-term goals helping you meet your mid-term goals? Do those mid-term goals pave the way for your long-term goals? It's easy to start compromising. Don't, though. Compromises in either time frame will spill over to the others, and eventually your writing projects will be forgotten.

Check for obstacles - This one is tough. The older you get, the more you realize obstacles are a fact of life. Still, life's troubles can discourage even the strongest of us into abandoning our goals. One of the biggest obstacles for aspiring writers can be the need to maintain that day job. Gotta pay the bills, right? The obstacle might take the form of a person who doesn't understand your need to spend precious time writing. Every semester I tell new students to anticipate obstacles to their education. Writers must anticipate obstacles, too. Expect obstacles so you can start looking for solutions. For example, expect to keep that day job. Figure out how to write anyway.

Check for immediate steps - Here's where you get out the calendar. Start with your short-term goals. Create a To-Do List to meet those goals. Recall how specific goals are tied to clear actions. Your To-Do List should consist of clearly-defined steps you can achieve during your day. If you are planning out a To-Do List for goals next week or the week after that, jot it down on your calendar. With each passing day, check that calendar and your To-Do List to gauge your success with those immediate steps.

The ultimate goal is to write. Isn't it? We write because we need to. Setting successful writing goals will focus our efforts and increase the chances of us finishing that novel, publishing that short story or writing that collection of poems. Another thing I tell students is that we are good at setting goals, but not at following through to meeting those goals. I hope this four-part guide helps you follow through to writing success.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to let me know. Would you like to suggest a series topic? Send me a message. If you can support my blog, please donate $1 using the button at the top right of the page.

Good luck with your writing!



Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Elements of Style - Back to Basics in Writing

I think it was my afternoon chore that made me go there. Old Skool, baby!

VH1's tribute to the 80s is a fave!
Since I had a Friday off (love it!), I promised my wife I would caulk our bathroom. Home handymen unite! So, I figured I would work to some tunes. I fired up the upstairs PC, logged onto Pandora and selected 80s tunes. Journey's "Open Arms," The Police's "Every Breath You Take," MJ's "Thriller." Classics.

I was in high school in the late 80s. Good times. All over my house I have reminders of those glory days: my books. I have loved books all my life. Some special ones scattered at random on my shelves have memories attached to them. On the bottom shelf I noticed my copy of The Elements of Style, 3rd Edition (1979).

Microsoft Office Images
When I was first learning to write, it was the book I relied on. It was required reading in my English class. Its pages are now yellow, the cover a bit frayed, but the wisdom inside it remains evergreen. The book's sections  read better than a list of 80s music hits:

  • Choose a suitable design and hold to it.
  • Make the paragraph the unit of composition.
  • Use the active voice.
  • Put statements in positive form.
  • Use definite, specific, concrete language.
  • Omit needless words.
  • Avoid a succession of loose sentences.
  • Express coordinate ideas in similar form.
  • Keep related words together.
  • In summaries, keep to one tense.
  • Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.
And these are only from the Second Section: Elementary Principles of Composition.
So, I think I will log onto Pandora again, select 80s and revisit the writing hit list above. If you've never read it, or like me simply haven't read it in awhile, dig it up and spend some time honing your craft.

Link
Elements of Style on Bartleby.com

Monday, August 15, 2011

Setting Successful Writing Goals By Focusing On Other Areas of Life

This is the third part of  a four-part series on Setting Successful Writing Goals. And, well, this part involves setting goals in other areas of your life outside of your writing. Did you miss the other two parts? Glance back at Part One; check out Part Two. Now that we're all caught up... You must not ignore other areas of your life when setting goals. If you do, your writing can eventually suffer.

Here's why...

You are more than your writing. You may be a son, daughter, father, mother, husband, wife, etc. I'll say it again: You must not ignore the other areas of your life.


Source: MicroSoft Office Images
 "People who set goals in only one area of life - such as their career - may find that their personal growth becomes one-sided." - From Master Student To Master Employee

As much as I need to set goals for my writing, I can't neglect setting goals in my family life, social life and spiritual life. So, pay attention to these other areas. Maybe you can think of more. Good. If you are like me, accomplishing goals in other areas will help you write.

For example, I may have a specific goal to write 5,000 words of a short story on a Saturday. Great. But, what if I also know my wife wants to go out on a date? If I only focus on the writing goal and ignore my wife's needs, then my home will not be a happy place (to put it mildly). Neglect your marriage one too many times, and, well... you run the risk of ending up alone.

So, to meet my writing goal as well as my goal of maintaining a happy marriage, I must get creative. What that may mean is I wake up earlier or stay up later (or both) to write. I also set up a baby sitter and take my wife out on a dinner date. If that doesn't work, then a lunch date. Other appointments preventing you? Then it's a coffee date. Whatever it takes. C'mon! You're a writer. Be creative.

Now, I will do this because my relationship with my wife is important to me. I can not sacrifice my marriage for my writing. At least for me, I need to have someone there by my side to celebrate my writing success.

Another area of life could involve physical fitness. I mention this, because it is an area I am trying to focus more attention on. My goal is to lose 25 pounds. Maybe I will have to cut into my morning routine to include an hour for a jog or bike ride. So be it. I will feel better about myself if I can lose the weight. If I feel better (self-esteem), then that positivity will transfer to my writing.

Win-win situation.

So, you must set specific writing goals. You must set them in several time frames (long-term, mid-term, short-term). But you also must set goals in other areas of your life. Do it to be a better writer. If for no other reason than this: paying attention to other areas of life will add to your experiences, which can add depth to your writing.

NEXT ARTICLE IN THE SERIES:
AUGUST 22, 2011: PART 4 IN THE SERIES - REFLECTING ON YOUR GOALS

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dealing With Fatigue, Malaise As A Writer

For the past week, I have forced myself to do the things I need to do... at home, at work and at my writing desk. (Lots of headwork on my Mall Demon Urban Fantasy Series.)

I am fatigued. I sense of malaise has plagued me. I am thinking my recent cross-country trip to care for one of my parents who has been stricken with a life-changing health condition has affected me more than I thought.

This emotionally exhausting crossroads in my life has now affected my production. It's been a challenge to work on my writing projects. I simply haven't had the desire to do it. I firmly believe that writing involves actually writing whether you feel like it or not. So, it's kinda like giving yourself a pep talk.

"I know you don't feel like it, but get your butt in that chair and write 2,000 words. Now! Mister!"

But during the past week, that voice didn't really help much. As I get back into my normal schedule this week, I have forced myself to tap out thoughts on my WriteMonkey screen (fewer distractions that way). It is almost like I needed that week "off." Still. The not writing doesn't sit well with me.

Maybe it's my Catholic upbringing that's channeling guilt for my lack of production last week. I'm not sure. (I'm no longer Catholic by the way...but the effects on my psyche have stuck.) One thing's for sure. I hate that I wasn't productive. Not even vatfuls of coffee last week helped. Writing this blog post is like a cathartic "in your face" expression to that fatigue, that malaise. Or maybe, the most fitting expression is one borrowed from cinema: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

I'm not gonna take it anymore... at least, not until next time.

Can anyone relate? What do you do when you're too fatigued to write?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Plan Writing Goals in Three Time Categories: Part Two in the Series

Certain songs remind me of my childhood. These songs, like Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle," recall visions of my parents when they were young (That's another story).

Listening to that song recently, I thought of this second step to Setting Successful Writing Goals: Plan Writing Goals in Three Time Categories. Croce repeats the following lyrics:

"But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them..."

H-e-l-l-o! That's exactly how I felt this past week. Deadlines fast approaching. Responsibilities at work (for those who have day jobs outside of writing, you know what I mean). Then there's the pull at home. It's summer. Each of the kids wants time with daddy. And my wife needs my attention, too. I'm glad we don't have a dog that needs walking!

Can anyone relate? If you can, keep reading. The bottom line is that all the things I listed above that we need to do must get done. But as aspiring writers, we also must make time to do the things we want to do to finish our writing projects.

We can do this by Setting Successful Writing Goals. The second step to doing just that is to Plan Writing Goals in Three Time Categories. Before I explain, let's recap from last week when we learned the first step to Setting Successful Writing Goals. That first step begins with writing specific goals which include details that force you to take action (And that means making a deadline and/or word count, or other quantifiable result, and sticking to it).

Example: I want to write a novel. (vague) OR  I want to write a novel in 30 days (specific).
Miss the first article in the series? Read how to Make Specific Writing Goals here.

OK... still reading? Good. You're serious about your writing. You can make time in your busy schedule for writing projects by planning goals in three time categories. These categories should be familiar. They are Long-term goals, Mid-term goals, and Short-term goals.

I am borrowing again from my experience teaching at the college level with the book, "From Master Student to Master Employee."

This three-pronged approach is especially useful for aspiring writers who must fit their writing into already busy schedules. Here's a breakdown of the three time categories:

Long-term - means just that. Think of these goals as ones that could take five years or longer to achieve. For example, one of these goals might include wanting to write a series of novels based on a particular character. Think Harry Potter.

Mid-term - these can fall in the one- to five-year range. It is important that mid-term goals support your long-term goals. So, if your goal is to write a series of novels based on the same character, your mid-term goal might be to write a new installment every year or every two years.

Short-term - this is where the metal meets the meat. You should see these goals as ones to accomplish in less than a year. These are the goals that require immediate action. Write 2,000 words a day. Create a character sketch for your protagonist this weekend. Create a character sketch for your antagonist next weekend.

The important thing is to plan short-, mid- and long-term goals so they support one another. If you make the effort to plan out goals in three time categories, share them with your family. Your loved ones will see that you are serious. This could get you the support you crave at home. And support means the kids might give you that hour on Sundays to work on that character sketch (especially if the character is a super hero or something cool like that).

Questions? I'm sure. Share your thoughts by e-mail or comment below. I will continue outlining the four parts to Setting Successful Writing Goals through August. The next two parts are as follows:

  • Include goals in areas of your life (outside of writing)
  • Reflect often on your goals

NEXT ARTICLE IN THE SERIES

AUGUST 15th, 2011: PART 3 IN THE SERIES - INCLUDE GOALS IN AREAS OF YOUR LIFE (OUTSIDE OF WRITING)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Empire Avenue and Social Media for Writers

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With nothing else to do last night but try to check on my social media connections, I checked out Empire Avenue. It's an interesting concept where you invest in others instead of simply "friending" them. It's much more detailed than that.

Bottom line is that it can help expand your reach to people. If you're trying to create an audience, then you want to get your name out there any way you can. I will let you know how it goes. This is still day one of my Empire Avenue adventure.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing Fiction To Heal: When A Parent Suffers A Life-Changing Illness

This post is about how writing can heal. Writing as therapy for tough times. I also share a quick 298-word piece of Micro Fiction that helped me deal with an emotional situation I'm in the midst of now.

If any of this interests you, read on.

One of the benefits of being a writer is that you can rely on the cathartic nature of writing when confronted with life's challenges. Case in point. One of my parents was struck by a life-altering illness.

If you have ever experienced similar situations, you know how challenging that is: a loved one has a stroke, heart attack, is diagnosed with cancer, is the victim of a horrible car crash. You are the one who has to pick up the pieces. In the case of a son or daughter who now must care for a parent, the transition is emotionally overwhelming. Think role reversal.

As a writer, I can release some of that emotional steam by telling stories. The other day I pounded out the micro fiction story below. I say pounded out as if it took a lot of effort. But it didn't. Because I was feeling so many emotions, the story flowed out. I dare say it was nearly effortless.

Now... it may not be the best example of fiction. That's OK, though. It served its purpose for me. I dealt with my feelings. After writing it, I felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. So, I share this to those new to writing, or anyone dealing with grief as an example.

Writing can help you heal - even in a small, temporary way. If you have had the same therapeutic experience through writing, please feel free to share it by messaging me or commenting below. If you're curious about trying writing to help you heal, but don't know where to start, message me, too.

Here's the story I wrote. Although I was dealing with a very real situation, this story is fiction:

Into the Fire
By Pedro Ramirez III
This was it. Love Street, where I almost died 30 years ago.
The tears welled. I placed the truck in park.
"Dad, why we stopping?" My son craned over the dashboard. "I don't see the hospital."
I was about his age when it happened. Can't help thinking my son wouldn't be sitting here if they'd left me on the kitchen floor. They wouldn't let him inside the house. He pushed, pulled, powered through them to get to me. I thought he could do anything.
"We're almost there, mijo." Fewer words to control the tears.
"Where are we?" my son asked.
"Daddy used to live here," I told him.
"Where?" He scanned the street.
The neighborhood had changed. The corner store was boarded up. An auto repair shop was occupying another corner lot. A third corner lost was vacant with sun-scorched, yellow grass. It had been vacant back then, too.
"I don't see a house."
"It used to be there." I pointed across him out the passenger window to two squatty, city lots lined by curb cuts and three tired trees.
"There's nothing there," my son said.
"Grandpa's and grandma's house used to be there," I explained, "before it burned down."
"It caught fire?! Were you inside?"
"Yes, mijo. I was." The tears were welling again. "Grandpa carried me out."
"Were you scared?" he asked.
"Yes…Yes, I am."
A tear fell. I wiped before my son saw.
"C'mon, let's go get grandpa," I said.
I took the truck out of park, inching it three long blocks to the hospital. It felt like 30 blocks, 30 years away.
"Grandpa is gonna live with us?"
"Yes, mijo."
The rest of them want to leave him. Too heavy a burden. But, I'll be damned if they'll keep me from taking him out.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Make Specific Goals: Part One to Setting Successful Writing Goals

The Rolling Stones had a hit when they sang "Time is on my side." Mick Jagger sang "Yes, it is!" But as many times as Jagger said it (and yes, it was cool), truth is time is not on my side or yours. Time is against us. The sooner we understand that as writers, the better we'll be.

As a journalist for more than a dozen years, I learned to respect time. As a college educator, I am trying to teach students to respect it. When you're 20 years old, it may seem time is on your side. Before you know it, however, you'll look in the mirror at a 40-year-old staring back at you wondering, "Where'd you come from?"

OK, enough trying to establish the importance of time. If you're still reading, then you are the type of person who knows this. You're reading to get help with your writing goals. Right? Then keep reading.

So we're clear, time and goals go together. Let me explain.

In my classes, I tell students they should know what they want and how to get it. That is why Step One to making successful writing goals is so important.

Step One: Write Specific Goals.

Writing specific goals means you must know what you want. Sounds simple doesn't it? Fine. Who has a goal like the following:

I want to write a novel.

or

I want to be a published writer.

Sound familiar? It does to me. I've written down similar statements over the years. But the two goals above are not specific. They are examples of "vague goals."

They are vague because they lack the kinds of details that will force you as a writer to take daily actions to make them a reality. You see, a vague goal like "I want to write a novel" is easy to manipulate. A year goes by and you say, "I'll do it next year." You hear Mick Jagger singing? "Time is on my side!"

So how do you transform this vague goal into a specific goal? Try this:

I want to write a novel in 30 days.

"Hold your horses!" you say. "That's ridiculous." If you think so, then you should visit our friends over at the National Novel Writing Competition, better known as NaNoWriMo. True. It is a daunting goal to write a novel in a month, but many have done it (including myself). I will admit it was an excruciating exercise. Yet, I learned plenty about setting specific goals and meeting them (and somewhere in there I learned a little about novel writing, too). This is just one example. Instead, a specific goal might be "I will write a 300-word Micro Fiction story today." That was my specific writing goal two days ago.

Now let's recap...

Time is not on our side. Time and goals can't be separated. Vague goals are evil. Specific goals are good and make everyone smile. Changing a vague goal to a specific goal involves adding details that force you to take action (And that means making a deadline and/or word count, or other quantifiable result, and sticking to it). 

 So, this first step in Setting Successful Writing Goals begins with writing specific goals. Spend 10 minutes brainstorming as many writing goals as you can. Then examine them. Are they specific? Do they include details that force you to pull out pen and paper or your laptop and start writing RIGHT NOW!?

Give it a shot and message me your goals, your thoughts. Try it now. Don't believe you have time to do it tomorrow or the next day. Time is not on your side. Do it now. 

Maybe you want more guidance. Good! This is just the start. Over the month of August, I will outline the four parts to Setting Successful Writing Goals. The four parts are as follows:
  • Make specific writing goals
  • Plan writing goals in three time categories
  • Include goals in areas of your life (outside of writing)
  • Reflect often on your goals 
As I explain the strategy, you may recognize parts of it. Truth is I adapted it from general goal setting strategies I have taught to college students using the text, "From Master Student to Master Employee," edited by Doug Toft. So, if you are serious about setting successful writing goals, be sure to read my article series this month. For more immediate help, send an email or leave a comment. I will respond.

NEXT ARTICLE IN THE SERIES
AUGUST 8TH, 2011: PART 2 IN THE SERIES - PLANNING WRITING GOALS IN THREE TIME CATEGORIES

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