Are you confident to change your goals?

DCF 1.0

There are times when we are part way along a path when we realise that it is not where we want to be heading. That a change is needed in what we are doing and where we are going.

It is not a failure to change your mind. Nor is it a failure to decide that this is not the path you want to travel.

When your needs change so should your goals.

I am not advocating that when it all gets too hard you should give up and work on something else. It is a matter of making sure you are working on the right goals. That the actions you take are enjoyable but also carry you along the path toward your long term goals.

My overall life goals or my long term goals have not changed. But how I want to reach this has changed a little in the last couple of weeks.

I have discussed publishing a non-fiction ebook about taking action on writing goals. This project means a lot to me as it was an area I struggled with a lot myself and I was keen to share what I have learnt. But it was not coming together as I thought it would and I have lost confidence in the market. I will continue to post hints and tips that I have learnt through my own practice on the blog and if you would like a follow up please comment on any post, or contact me via the Contact page.

I need to focus on my fiction writing and so I have changed my publishing plan for this year. Instead of the non-fiction I am working on another short story (Science Fiction this time) due out around Easter.

Changing my short term goals ensures I am on the right path to my mountain.

And I want to write what makes me happiest, because I believe that will produce better work that you, as readers, will gain more from.

Do not be afraid to change your goals because you never know what may present itself that you had not thought of before. And it might just be what you need. Are you struggling with your current action plan or goals? Take some time to revisit what you are doing, why you are doing it and whether or not it makes you happy.

Next Year’s Goal Setting

Goals

Next year is less than 6 weeks away and I must admit that I am finding the idea a little freaky. If next year is so close, then Christmas is closer and I’m not really ready for Christmas. Yet when I stop to think about it I have my list and my shopping plan so it will come together…

The same idea works for my writing – I have my list to achieve and my writing plans so there is no reason I can’t get done what I want to.

I believe that next year’s goals flow from this year. I wouldn’t just stop what I’m doing and start a whole new set of goals. This is because next year’s goals, like this year’s, are all part of my larger overall goals or long term goals.

All I do, in terms of my writing, is moving toward my goal of writing full time.

At the beginning of this year I made the decision to work harder toward my writing goals. And I have achieved far more than I thought I could. Although I have noticed recently that I have been slipping a little and I could achieve more with some more focused effort.

There is certainly room for improvement and for some projects a clearer plan is needed. Some goals were going to be met easily and now not so well or were a struggle and are now flowing. Others are completely out of my control, such as the edit for Snow which is still with the beta group for review and I can’t action til it comes back.

Now is the time, as the year draws to a close, to review the last year and ensure plans are in place so that the last 6 weeks are not wasted. And then set goals and plan for next year.

 

Review of 2014

In terms of reviewing we need to look not only at what we achieved but what we haven’t and the reasons behind that. This helps to focus on what is important and which goals we want to continue following. If something is a constant struggle to get done it may be that we don’t really want to do that or it may be something else.

I’m not going to go over my review of every aspect of my writing life, but as an example I’ll look at one goal: publishing a short story before Christmas.

This is almost complete. I have a good story that has been through my reading group several times and I only need to make a slight tweak to ensure one aspect of a character is clear and the story is complete. It does need proofreading, a cover designed and then I can press the button to publish.

This story could have been published weeks ago but I have put off making that final change. I have pushed it down the list of priorities in favour of my drafting. The reason for this? I’m not sure, fear possibly of actually getting my writing out there or that I might not do it right…But I do want to do this and so I need to ensure my priorities are in the right place and push myself to focus on this first and my drafting later.

Once the review is done and you have a clear idea of what you have achieved this year. Use this to determine how you can continue that momentum into next year or what needs to change for next year. Planning for the rest of the year can then occur, such as mapping out time for the final edit, proofreading session, cover design, launch date work and going live.

 

Next Year’s Goals

Once you have reviewed your current position goal setting for next year is a lot easier. You have a clear idea of where you are going and what you want to achieve. Take the time to think about your long term goals to ensure what you do over the next year is still part of the greater plan.

Once you have your goals write them down somewhere you can refer to them. I like mine in my diary, you might like them on the wall above your desk but they need to be somewhere you can see them. Start thinking about deadlines for each goal as well so that you can start now to plan for them.

Then as the New Year starts you are already working on your goals and moving toward where you want to go.

My Writing Goals for 2015

  • I will continue to build website and blog for The Flow of Ink by posting more consistently
  • I will work on a greater presence on Facebook and Twitter by being more interactive with what I read.
  • Write and publish another short story by Christmas 2015
  • I will finish the final edit of Snow and investigate publishing options
  • I will finish the first draft and work on second of The Raven Crown Series
  • I will spend at least one hour every week playing with ideas for possible future stories or project ideas

 

Have you started to review how this year’s writing went and are you thinking about next year as a new world or continuation of this one?

Making a Scene

Main stage of the Palais Garnier, Paris

As I scribble away on my draft my main concern has been to get the main story points down. Over the last week I have been wondering if my rambling scenes are actually making sense as a scene. Are they achieving what they should? Am I just sharing information, or trying to show or learn a character’s motivation without that section actually progressing the plot?

What elements should be included in a scene for it to work?

Randy Ingermanson of the Snowflake Method suggests “Every scene within your story has two halves: the scene (in which characters are acting) and the sequel (in which characters are reacting).”

The scene includes:

  • Goal – what the character wants
  • Conflict – what is preventing the character reaching the goal
  • Outcome – whether the character overcomes the conflict and reaches the goal or not

The sequel then is the reaction to this scene:

  • Reaction – reacting to what has just happened
  • Dilemma – where the character considers the next move
  • Decision – making the decision that will move the character forward and sets up a new goal for the next scene.

Holly Lisle states that the essential element of every scene is change. There needs to be a clear place (setting) and timeframe for the scene to cover yet there must be a change that moves the story forward.

Susan Dennard is a YA writer with a wealth of useful information for writers of all levels…in looking at what she has described as the elements of a successful scene she listed four elements:

  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Scene Goal
  • Scene Conflict – what is preventing the protagonist of the scene reaching the goal

 

Everyone has a slightly different way of looking at this but the key points were goal and conflict to move the story forward.

Each scene must have a clear goal the character needs to reach and there must be some struggle or obstacle to reaching that goal. Often the goal is not reached which will impact on the next scene goal of the characters. Or it would be boring reading.

I like Holly Lisle’s idea that there must be a change and in trying to reach a goal I think there will be. Whether a character reaches it or not that attempt should produce a change that moves the story forward, whether that is in the character or where the character is…

Some of what I am currently writing is just be for me, to learn how characters work and act and interact with others and will not make it to the next draft. Everything I write at the moment is important even if it does not work to move the story forward.

There is much to consider when writing scenes and when I edit/rework/redraft my current project there will be more to consider as I focus on ensuring each scene works. At the moment I will continue to focus on the story points yet with the ideas of scene in my mind as I write I hope that each scene contains the elements required.

Many authors have written whole books on the subject of writing scenes, so I know there is far more than just making sure these elements are included…

Is it possible to consider all the elements required to make our writing work as we draft?

What element of your writing processes is slowing down your drafting at the moment?

 

Image by Joe deSousa via Wikimedia Commons

Courage to Write

the blank page courage

 

At the beginning of the year I read a lot of posts about taking the courage to do something this year; to follow through with a dream and no matter where I turned (or which blog I followed) everyone was sprouting the same message.

So I took a leap, yelled Geronimo, and launched my new website. No fear!

Well not quite, I was scared witless. But I did it anyway because I knew that it was something I needed to do as the first step to actually acting on my goal of being a full time writer. A bit of a slow start perhaps but a start all the same.

I have wanted to be a full time writer for a long time. Each year I only made tiny inroads on that dream, not really making the effort for it to become a reality. Then I discovered several communities of different people with different dreams all taking the action to do something about it.

I may have some self-confidence issues when it comes to my writing yet I am working on ways to get it out there.

I have the courage to try.

To advertise myself (here at least) and test my writing on others (so far in the safety of my writing groups/uni tutorials, and to an extent through this blog.)

I have the courage to do what is necessary to improve my confidence as a writer. I may not be very confident in what I’m doing yet I am still pushing through to do what is needed. Confidence might come later but I won’t let a lack of it to stop me now.

As I battle to work out the next step forward for my novel (once it comes back from readers) I plan to push myself a little further.

I have previously discussed the idea of publishing my short stories in a collection. But my confidence was quashed somewhat when I read the dangers of, or at least mistake of, publishing collections of short stories that are not necessarily very well linked. Given that my collection covered both fantasy and science fiction with no shared theme I started to agree with what I read.

So instead I am considering publishing them individually (at different times). As the first one will be a real test it will be free when it hits the shelves (electronic shelves).

I’m going to be testing this on my writing group first, then some playing with cover design and then a lot of courage to put it out there. It is still a little way off, but keep your eyes peeled because it is coming.

Please share your stories of courage or what you wish you had the courage to do.

Mid-Year Goal Check

 

Image courtesy of Pauline Eccles via Wikimedia Commons (originally published geography.org.uk 2009)
Image courtesy of Pauline Eccles via Wikimedia Commons (originally published geography.org.uk 2009)

As we approach the shortest day of the year (or the longest for those lucky folk experiencing warm weather) it is a reminder that the year is racing past. We might be at the half way mark, but are we half way to our goals for the year?

There is a lot I had on my list of goals for the year, but at the moment I’m trying to be a little less goal focused. Not because I don’t want to achieve but because I was killing myself with the guilt of not achieving, or meeting deadlines and plans and goals.

It might be time to revisit that list of goals: to check that the right path is being followed, they are your goals and not someone else’s, and not a list so long that it cannot possibly be achieved in a year.

My goals changed very early on this year as I decided this was the year to focus on making writing my life, not just writing around my life.

I have already reached one goal – to complete my Master of Arts (Creative Writing). It was hard work but worth every moment and I’ll be displaying my testamur prominently when it arrives.

I have refocused on my fantasy novel. I wanted to get the first draft of my next novel underway but I knew that it wouldn’t happen. It is no good starting the next one when I haven’t finished this one. I have been spending some time planning so it will be easier when I do start drafting.

I have created a website and started my blog, which is still a work in progress and I’m learning all the time. My initial plan was to blog once a week and there have been times when this was a bit difficult. After some reading and refocusing I have decided to try to write more frequently, so far increasing my posts to two a week.

I worry that I’m not reading enough but I’m reading more non-fiction this year. I’m certainly on my way to reaching my quota, just not by fiction. It was what I needed this year to help me on my way.

And I’m working hard at the gym, trying to eat well and slowly moving towards my goal weight. Like anything it is a matter of putting my all into it. That doesn’t mean all my time; I can’t be at the gym 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. But I can ensure I am fully focused when I am there. And I take that commitment into my writing, ensuring that when I sit down to write my writing has my full focus.

I recently sat at the kitchen island typing away knowing that there was a large, and very hairy, huntsman spider watching my every move from the pantry door behind me. As scared as I was I knew the writing was more important and focusing on that I forgot the spider was even there until someone else got up and found it. They then very kindly helped it outside for me. There was a time when that would have put me off completely and I would have gone back to bed. But knowing I can deal with such big distractions makes it easier to deal with the little ones.

In my review of my 2014 goals I haven’t tweaked that much.

Refocusing my goals has helped refocus me. I know I’m on the right path. I know what I will achieve this year and where that will lead me next year.

As the solstice approaches do you find yourself half way down the 2014 goal track? Or have you wandered from the path? Refocusing your goals might be just what you need to continue your journey.

Story Magic

magic-wand

I have been drafting a short story – just little bits when I can. The idea is that it will be one of the stories for a collection I’m playing with.

I seem to have spent so long editing and planning that I had forgotten how a story can unfold across the page. I have talked about trialling some planning/outlining for my next novel but I’m deliberately pantsing this one. It might be a bit disjointed and there are times when I worry about what should come next.

Knowing that I will need to rewrite parts, or most, of it hasn’t slowed the writing at all. The first four of five paragraphs will disappear without a thought. I used them as my introduction, to expand and explore the main character as an exercise in getting to know them and not required for the story. Really it was just a place to start, to get the words flowing and see where it went. And I have had some nice surprises along the way, even though I’m only a few pages in.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing all this…trying to write. Whether I am any good at it; whether I will ever be able to sell any of it or make some form of living from it. Then there are moments, like when I’m surprised by the words that flow across the page and I am reminded of the joy of writing.

And that is something to hold on to.

Allow yourself a little of the joy to keep you going when it seems a bit hard. Writing can be hard work. When it feels too hard I try to remember that I started writing because of the magic of the first draft. Where is your magic?