Set Goals That Excite You!

I don’t know about you but when I’m excited about anything I put my whole self into doing it. Almost to a point of obsession, I devote myself to that task. For example, bullet journaling. I told myself that I wanted to bullet journal so I made sure I had the perfect one and the prettiest markers and I was going to bullet journal every day!

It was something that I knew would make me happy and I was excited to start my day journaling. You need to find that goal. Something where you wake up and that is the first thing you want to try and accomplish for the day. It could be working out, listening to 30 minutes of an audiobook, or jotting down new book ideas. Basically anything that won’t give you the mentality of ‘oh, I’ll just do it later.” 

Your goals are waiting to be reached! And we want to help you get there! Follow us for more Monday motivation on here, Instagram and Facebook!

Happy Monday!

Writing To Finish

I’m not sure what the whether is like where you are today, but here it is dark and rainy. If I didn’t have anything I needed to do today, I would welcome the gloom with open arms. There’s no better excuse to snuggle in bed all day with a good book. But in reality, on most rainy days, we all have stuff we need to do. We all have jobs we need to attend and goals we need to meet. Bad weather is just another thing to add to the ‘excuse list.’

Writers… you know what I’m talking about.

Some days we look for everything and anything to avoid picking up the pencil or sitting down at the keyboard. The ‘scaries’ become ever more prominent the closer you get to finishing your current project, book, or novel. It’s like there is some extraterrestrial force pulling you away from the very one thing you should be doing or working on. Procrastination is one of the biggest obstacles for writers. Writing is a long process that takes a lot of stamina and determination. It’s very easy to get distracted or discouraged after months of writing, especially if you feel like you aren’t getting any closer to the end product. You aren’t alone in this feeling and it’s something that everyone of us struggles with at one point in our lives (or maybe a few points). The good news? It’s a fixable problem.

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The Huffington Post published an article this morning about some helpful ways to combat our unlucky procrastination. Of course, it’s easier said than done. Nothing worth having comes easy. That’s why it’s called an accomplishment. If we want to reach those accomplishments, we need to find ways to work through those hurdles. We need to find a reason to pick up that pencil on those rainy days. Here are some of the suggestions from The Huffington Post, maybe one will work for you:

  1. Plan a reward. 

Give yourself something to look forward to. You would think the gratification of writing an awesome novel would be enough, but in most cases it’s not. It’s not something tangible and it’s in our human nature to thrive on physical gratification. Plan a treat for yourself once your book is completely ready for publication- take a mini vacation, get that yummy dessert you have been eyeing for months at your favorite restaurant, or buy yourself a new outfit or pair of shoes. You deserve it.

2. Make a list of benefits. 

Take a break and make a list of all the benefits to finishing your book. You’ll get to finally publish it, which brings in book sales. You get to move on to your next big idea. You can focus on other leads for the project- such as a possible audiobook or movie deal. So many more doors open when you have a finished product. In fact, no doors are open until that finished project is in your hands.

3. Completion avoids failure.

Every new sentence puts you that much closer to actually finishing. It might sound like common sense, but think about it. Every day you don’t sit down to write another sentence, paragraph, or chapter increases your chances that you are never going to finish. And we don’t want that now, do we?

4. Ditch the perfectionism. 

Having polished work is important, but you don’t want to overthink it. Once it prevents you from progressing then it has become a problem. Editing, rewriting, and revisions are good but we need to do them tastefully. As soon as you find yourself questioning how other people are going to react to a certain sentence or the tiniest of details, you have gone too far. Write the story you want to write and people will either love it or hate it.

5. Imagine the worst. 

Imagine the worst thing happening to you upon completion of your book. Is it a bad review? No sales? Nasty comments? Whatever it is, picture yourself surviving it. Because guess what? You will. If that’s the thing that is holding you back from finishing, just know you will survive (and yes, the Destiny’s Child song is now permanently stuck in my head for the night).

6. Aim for your best effort. 

Rather than focusing on perfection, focus on creating the best version of your book that you can. Aim to make each book of yours better than the last. Focus on growing as an author, learning from your own mistakes and triumphs. Don’t strive for someone else’s perfection because you will never get there. Become the best writer you can be and then next time, become even better.

7. Please yourself.

Make sure that once you put that last word on the page, your story is exactly how you set out for it to be. Sometimes people’s opinions and criticisms along the way change the course of our writing. Most of the time we don’t even notice it, or we think it’s the best choice at the time. At the end of the day, you need to be happy with your finished product. There’s no guarantee it’s going to sell. The only guarantee you can have is that your proud of it. And plus, if you are writing something you want to write it’s much more likely you will finish it.

Write on.

Creating Your 2016 Action Plan

The new year always brings lots of talk about goals. We often get so wrapped up in where we want to go this year that we forget that we need an action plan in order to get there. It’s great that you want your book to land on the New York Times bestseller list, but how are you going to get it there? It’s most likely not going to appear there by itself. That would just be too easy. Once you have your goals lined up, next step is to create a plan. Formulate tools that are going to help you reach those goals. A good action plan turns goals into reality.

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This afternoon I came across an article on Poynter that handed out some pretty refreshing suggestions for productive writing. Sometimes the action plan seems so overwhelming that we quickly start to doubt that we will even make it past step two. That’s why I loved this article so much, it makes productivity sound easy. The article provides five doable solutions to having a productive writing year. It’s something we can all do without too much hassle. It makes our goals seem within our reach, which is half the battle. We need to believe in ourselves before others will. While creating your 2016 action plan, try incorporating some of these tools:

  1. Create a to-morrow list.

Slim down your “to-do” list every night. Make a smaller list of 3-5 things that you know you will be able to accomplish tomorrow. Often there are many pending jobs left on our ever expanding “to-do” lists that we constantly have the nagging feeling that we are doing so much but we aren’t moving anywhere. Feel your progress with shorter lists meant for success. Tomorrow never felt so good.

2. Dream Big.

This one might just be my favorite. 2016 is the year of big changes. Big changes means big goals. Take a moment to picture your wildest dream ever. Don’t be afraid to get a little crazy with it. Draw a quick picture of your ultimate success and hang it in your work space. Yes, I said it- draw. It doesn’t need to be the next Picasso, but visual reminders are often the most effective. A take a look at that drawing every day before you get to work. Use that energy to make your day the most productive it can be.

3. Build your own ladder. 

Create your action plan in chronological order. Start from the bottom and work your way up. What needs to happen before you can take the next step? Don’t get ahead of yourself. Live within the moment and savor every step of the journey.

4. Just do it

We can only plan so much before we want to rip our hair out. Sometimes we just need to sit down and write. Get all your thoughts out of paper then go back and revise, polish, revise, polish. In order to create something, you need to have a product. Get your baseline product done early so you have the most amount of time possible to make it the best version of your product out there.

5. Set a timer. 

It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed when writing, especially when nothing seems to be working out the way we had envisioned. Work in smaller spurts. Set a timer between 30 minutes to a couple hours. Work until the buzzer goes off, then take a break. If you are really feeling what you are writing, keep going. If not, it’s the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button.

Happy writing! Write On.

Purposeful Writing

Everything we set out to do in life has a purpose. The purpose of getting in our car in the morning is to go to work. The purpose of going to our children’s sporting events is to show support. The purpose for pushing yourself out of bed for that morning run is to stay healthy (and maybe so you won’t feel so guilty about that candy you ate the other day). Writing is no different. Every time we set out to write a new novel or story, we need to have a purpose- a goal. When you work towards something in particular a certain passion and dedication comes out that you may not even realized you had. The end seems more tangible, something that you can reach rather than just a figment of your imagination.

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In a recent article on The Huffington Post blog, Paul Bishop talks about just how simple this goal can be. When you initially think of what a writer’s goal should be our prestigious side comes out. Bestseller lists, writing awards, six-figure publishing deals, and producers wanting to turn your book into the next summer blockbuster movie are just a few things that come into our mind. Yes, all these things would be nice but what about everything else that gets you to that point? What about writing in the moment? What about sitting down and pouring your heart out the page, smashing it to a billion small pieces, and patching the story back together to make the best possible product? What about producing work that you are most proud of?

Goals don’t need to be outrageous. Simple goals are often the most rewarding. The next time you sit down to write, think first about why you set out to write this story in the first place. Was it to bring light to a certain issue? Was it to express the endless creativity that flows through your brain daily? Or was it simply to just produce the best possible work you can at that moment? Keep your goals within a realistic reach and stay true to them. If you end up on the bestseller list, nominated for multiple awards, flush with cash, and collaborating on a movie well then just look at where all those simple goals led you! Success is measured by what you set out to do, not by how famous you have become in the process of doing so.

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One of Paul’s ‘successful’ writer friends also gave him some writing advice. I share a lot of advice on this blog so I am sometimes hesitant to overload you with more tips that may or may not be useful. But, his advice is fresh and new. He talks about things we often don’t hear very much about:

Never use a dollar word when a nickel word will do. Don’t use “cacophony” when “loud” makes your point.

Short sentences. Short paragraphs. Short chapters.

Never over describe a room. Pick out one feature and move on.

The same applies to what a character is wearing.

Use dialogue to drive your story.

Cut exposition to an absolute minimum.

Simplify your plotting, then simplify it some more, then some more. If a reader has to backtrack to figure out what was going during their last reading session, you’re doing it wrong.

I really enjoyed his words of advice because he is talking about writing for the masses. You don’t need to use impressive words, create deep imagery, or calculate elaborate sentences to write a bestseller. Readers aren’t looking for that. What they are looking for is accessible and entertaining stories. The best way to write a story geared towards readers is to stick to those simple goals. Focus on writing the best story you can, not about which synonym for ‘loud’ you are going to use. Write on.