Are you heading in the right direction?

The first month of the year has slipped by already.

‘We tend to wish our lives away, wishing for something better,’ someone said at the water cooler this morning. ‘Nearly another weekend.’

‘I’m not wishing mine away,’ I thought. ‘I’m working toward something better.’

Are you wishing your life away or do you know what you want? Where you want to be?

This year marks some big decisions for me. This has meant some big changes and maybe some hard times (including squashy times as I’m living in my parents’ spare room) but I think the sacrifice is worth it to move closer to what I want.

The first step (actually made late last year) was to think about whether I was on the right track. Was I going where I wanted to go?

The answer: Not quite.

I was losing belief in ever reaching my goal, meandering toward it on a path that was becoming overgrown and hard to navigate.

Thinking about where you want to be involves asking yourself a lot of important questions. Thinking deeply and meaningfully about what is important to you and the way you spend your time, and how that impacts on those around you. (There are times I consider spending my life living in a shack on a beach somewhere scribbling away in the sun, living off the change I earn collecting flotsam – but probably not ideal for my daughter.)

It is important to note here that there is a difference between dreaming and goal setting. But I think dreaming is a great place to start, or maybe that is because I’m a day dreamer. And don’t worry about whether you have the skills for this ideal life, we will discuss that in a later post.

At a talk presented by fantasy writer Lian Tanner, last year, something she said stuck with me: She had met writers she felt were better writers than she. Yet she was published and they were not.

The reason: Lian was determined. Pure tenacity. She wanted to write and so spent the time and energy writing as best she could.

Anything you want to do will require you to work at it. Finding something meaningful will mean life will be far more enjoyable and dedication will be easier.

 

Action: Where do you want to be? What is your ideal life in five or ten years?

Spend some time thinking about…

  • Your values
  • What you enjoy
  • Where you are happy
  • What is important to you
  • Why it is important

Make a list or mind map or diagram and define your destination.

Mine?

I want to write engaging stories that pull readers into another world. And I want to do that full time, spending my days lost in the worlds I’m creating.

When you know the destination, you can map the path to get there…and that is a story for another time.

Writing Every Day

keyboard flat

Every writer writes differently.

Yet every writer writes.

I find that the more I write the more likely I am to write and the easier it is to enter the flow. Therefore I’m a firm believer that it is important to write every day.

Even if it is only a sentence.

Not everyone agrees with me. There are writers out there only writing weekends and achieving a lot. But I know that too long a gap between writing sessions only increases my anxieties about writing and it takes me longer to find my flow. The writing doesn’t have to be world shaking, or even good. In fact some sentences may be downright bad.

Your writing does not have to be written in a leather journal or into a top of the line writing program. It could be written in your head, or the back of an envelope or be part of the shopping list. The important part is to write.

I was recently trapped alone in a car on a long trip for my day job. Spring was ending and summer was starting and it was a sunny day. I spent the journey trying to describe the grass that grew along the side of the road. The hours of writing various descriptions in my mind while I drove achieved something: I still have the strong image of the grass now, months later, nodding heavy seeded heads as I drove past.

Despite wanting to write every day I haven’t always manage to do it. Something would prevent me doing what I love and usually that was me.

This year I have set myself a challenge: To write at least a sentence every day.

I am trying to write this sentence before I write anything else. But the only rule is that I write every day. There are a lot of other variables:

  • Sometimes the sentence is part of my current writing project,
  • Sometimes not,
  • Some are short,
  • Some expand into paragraphs,
  • Some are punched out and abandoned,
  • Others are edited at length
  • Written at the end of the day
  • Or the beginning
  • At my desk or the dining table or a cafe…

It all boils down to me writing every day and I hope by the end of the year to have 365 days of sentences.

 

I would like to set you a challenge:

Think about when you are or were most productive in your writing. Was it during a particular period, time of day, emotional space or only on a Sunday afternoon when you sit in a particular chair?

Now, what was special about that time or place? And what could you do to replicate it?

Hit reply to share your response.

Goal Setting for a New Year

Goals

Setting Goals

I set my goals for the coming year well before the bell tolls in the New Year. Yet so many leave it until that last minute to think about it.

For me goal setting is an ongoing process and not static from year to year. Each goal leads towards the larger or longer term one, which all boils down to:

Where I want to be and what I need to do to get there.

Once you have the where determined, it is time to think about the what.

I have my goals for the following year drafted by August/September and finalised (written down) by November/December. That way I’m continuing on, rather than starting whole new goals.

 

Reviewing Progress

At the end of each year I review how well I went at achieving my previous year’s goals.

It is worth reviewing:

  • The goals set
  • What was achieved
  • What processes worked well
  • What didn’t work well

For each of the above points, the question why needs to be asked. Where they the best goals for me? Why did I achieve some things but not others? Why did certain processes work and what can I do to replicate them?

This reflective process helps keep focus as well as determining what will work best over the coming year. I also review the year’s goals midway through the year to ensure they are still relevant, achievable and on track.

I will look more closely at goal setting over the next few months but for now I will share with you my writing goals for 2014.

I will write at least a sentence every day…

I will complete my fantasy novel to a polished standard

I will complete a first draft of next novel – Sisters Book 1

I will develop my website and post at least once a week

I will write and publish an ebook via website

I will read more – at least 15 minutes a day of fiction

Some of these goals are continuations of what I started last year, or even before. Some are new and some are definitely pushing my writing limits. Yet I believe they are achievable and all lead toward my ultimate goal – to write full time.

 

What is your ultimate writing goal?

What are you doing this year to work toward it?

(I would love to hear your responses, please hit reply and share.)