Make 2012 Count, Part 3: the Rent’s Due on the First

Let’s face it. There are a few people in the world who internally drive themselves toward their desired goals. The rest of us just aren’t wired that way. If we don’t have a deadline, chances are we won’t finish the project.

Repeat after me: Deadlines are my friends. They will keep you with your patooty in the seat and your fingers on the keyboard. You have so many distractions in today’s world, without deadlines, you’ll never get where you want to be.

Think about it. Your rent or mortgage payment is due on the 1st. Because you know that, your purchases throughout the month are made with that in mind. You can’t afford to not have a roof over your head so you are diligent with your finances. The same is true with your writing. If you have deadlines, you’ll be more diligent with your word count.

Meeting deadlines earns you the reputation as a dependable author, something that is essential if you want a career in the publishing industry. Even if you don’t have an editor expecting your completed manuscript on the 15th, you still need deadlines. Otherwise, you’ll just be tempted to play board games or go shopping for the seventy-third pair of stilettos.

Here are a few reasons why it is so important to set self-imposed deadlines and to take external deadlines seriously.

Deadlines jump start your creativity. It’s true. If someone is in a cave and the entrance collapses, they automatically set this deadline for getting out of the cave: before they run out of oxygen. Their mind kicks into overdrive and they figure out a way to get through the stone wall. If you self-impose a deadline, it flips on the creativity switch and your story flows.

Deadlines are effort gauges. Let’s face it. Sometimes life gets in the way of our writing. That’s just how it is. What’s more, some days we can’t muster the physical or mental energy to sit at the computer and pound out prose. Sometimes we can push through. Other times we can’t. With the deadline circled in red on our calendars, we have a daily reminder that we need to pick up the slack from yesterday or last weekend.

So how do you set effective deadlines? Here are some suggestions. Continue reading “Make 2012 Count, Part 3: the Rent’s Due on the First”

Taking Stock of 2011

Time to belly up… how’d your writing goals fair in 2011? Did you set goals? Did you keep track? Did you succeed? Even a little bit?

I bet you did. Come on now, if you wrote one page toward your writing goal of completing a novel, you’ve succeeded a little bit. A very little bit, but you did something.

We have a tendency to stick our heads in the sand when we think we’ve failed at our goals. At attempting our dreams. Why confirm that silent but deep down fear: “I’m a failure.”

By taking stock of our goals, our success and failures, enables us to move forward with a better grasp of where we are and why. Often when reviewing a goal, we find we didn’t fail as much as we thought. We find the good in our attempts to achieve a goal. Or, we realize we failed miserably and must take stock in “why?”

Many times we set goals that are just not realistic. At all. If you’re the mom of newborn triplets, maybe you should wait until their walking… like through the halls of high school… before attempting to write that novel.

If you the dad of five, coaching two sports and serving as an elder at church in addition to working fifty hours a week… maybe that novel can wait a bit.

At the very least, give yourself a few years to write the first draft. Continue reading “Taking Stock of 2011”

Make 2012 Count, Part Two: On the Chopping Block

I’m sure that in the last seven days, you set several goals. Some of those you feel confident you can achieve. Others appear to be quite a stretch. It’s like trying to run a marathon on hot coals with no shoes. No way in blazes you’ll finish that race. Don’t worry. There is hope, so keep reading.

Now comes the fun part. You get to throw each of those goals on the chopping block and whack away. The intent is not to destroy those goals you worked so hard last week to set, but rather to chop them up into manageable pieces. You wouldn’t think of putting an entire tree trunk in the fireplace all at once. Neither should you think of doing that with your goals. You have to divide your desired outcome into nice, neat small logs that fit perfectly into your life.

Here are a few tips to help you at the chopping block:

Know your limits and chop accordingly. In other words, if you can’t write 10,000 words a day, don’t set that as a goal. It’s unattainable and when you don’t reach it, you’ll get discouraged. Perhaps a thousand words per day is a more reasonable goal. Over-extending yourself will result in disappointment, burn out and eventually abandonment of your goal altogether.

Time Critical logs get thrown in the fire first. If you have a deadline of March 1st to get your finished manuscript to the editor and you wait until February 25th to get started, chances are you’ll lose the battle. You’ll write under the duress, you’ll produce a story that is beneath your ability, and will disappoint your editor and agent. Take that writing project and divide it up into daily goals. It keeps you writing every day and you’ll instantly see that word count rising.

Contract with yourself. There’s not a writer alive who always feels like writing. Right now, it’s a gorgeous day in Central Florida. I’d rather be out on my bicycle. I don’t necessarily feel like writing, per se, but I’m passionate about helping you live your dream.  So, I compromised. I’m sitting on my deck at the lake creating this post. If I finish my writing assignments, I’ll go for a bike ride. If not, I’ll keep working. My treat at the end of the day is to watch the two football games I DVR’d.

It’s not difficult to be successful as a writer. Seriously. All you have to do is set realistic goals at the beginning of the year, chop them into bite size pieces and work toward your goal every day. If you do that, you’ll look back at 2012 with a completed manuscript to show for it.

Next week we’ll explore deadlines so that gives you a week to chop those exciting 2012 goals into manageable pieces. Over these next seven days, I challenge you to take each of your goals and divide them up into small, daily assignments. See you back here next weekend.

Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Member Care Coach

Make 2012 Count, part one.

Need help chopping your goals up into daily tasks? I’ll be glad to help. Email me at reba@mybooktherapy.com.

Reba J. Hoffman is the MBT Member Care Coach. She has a PhD in clinical counseling and is the founder and president of New Hope Institute of Counseling. Reba uses her gift of encouragement to help writers overcome negative emotions so they can live their dream of being a writer. Her works appear in publications such as Running for the Woman’s Soul by Road Runner Sports and The Good Fight by Donna Hicken. She is the author of My Book Therapy’s Dare to Dream, a Writer’s Journal. Contact her at reba@mybooktherapy.com.

Fabulous Friday Fiction: Reverse Santa Clause

What if….what if Santa really did give out coal?  Or worse…what if he took things away?

I remember one Christmas, back in my rebellious teenage years, when my parents, furious at me, took my presents away for a day after Christmas, just to teach me to be grateful.  True Story.  I deserved it, I promise.  They had the guts to teach me about gratitude and it sunk in.

I’m extremely grateful for the many, many gifts God has blessed me with over the years, especially the MBT Voices, and those who read this blog and my novels. I’m also very blessed to help aspiring novelists develop their stories as a writing coach.  Often, I will endorse these books when they are published.  Sometimes I even review them on my blog.

And sometimes, a book is just so cute, I have to stand up and say, GET THIS BOOK. 

About two weeks ago a client came to me with this fabulous manuscript about Santa’s brother, who lives in the South Pole and drives Penguins (instead of Reindeer…hilarious!) and who, instead of delivering Christmas gifts, takes them away.

For very good reasons, I assure you. 

The best part is this elf, named Marmel, who is the center of the story.  See, Marmel is in charge of giving out coal, and he’s finally found a family who deserves it, if only Santa would stick to the plan! But maybe it’s not the family who deserves the coal….

I was priviledged to work with the author, Dennis, giving him some input, and he produced a laugh-out-loud, delightful tale that is a perfect Christmas weekend read.  Light-hearted, easy to consume…and, it’s only 99 cents in the Kindle Store! 

 

It’s my Christmas recommendation this season – I hope you have a fabulous Christmas weekend, and may the Reverse Santa Claus never visit your home. 🙂 

With love and gratefulness for your support and friendship,

Susie May