Showing posts with label Goal Setting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Goal Setting. Show all posts

New Year, New Goals

I celebrate the New Year twice. Once in DEBcember to get a running start and again in January, which is the "traditional" start of the year. 

Anytime is the perfect time to rethink your goals and set yourself up for success. To help you start the New Year right, I'm sharing goals and insights gifted during my GoalChatLive show celebrations.

Watch my #DEBcember Conversation

with guests Chris Cherian, Annie P. Ruggles, and Keith Spiro

Watch My Happy New Year 2023 Show 

with guests Doug Bennett, Fallon Cryer, and Troy Sandidge


Want some inspiration? 

Here are my Guests' Goal Recommendations for 2023

  • Keith: Identify something you are passionate about and start working on it. Step one is making a plan! 
  • Chris: Call an old friend 
  • Annie: Say what you mean to say Troy: Define the scope of your goals, be honest, and be real – what can you do? what will you do? Then, execute! 
  • Doug: Turn up on time; that means 10 minutes early. Say please, thank you, and show respect! That creates trust! 
  • Fallon: Ask the first person you see every day how they are; look them in the eye and care about what they say. That’s how you develop relationships. 
  • Deb: Keep a daily win list in a dedicated notebook or Google doc. Then, when you need encouragement, you can read through your wins and give yourself a pep talk

Final Thoughts 

  • Keith: Pick a word - or three - for the new year
  • Annie: Self-advocacy
  • Chris: Set goals and don't forget yourself
  • Doug: Anybody can do anything, you just have to decide that you want to do it! 
  • Fallon: You matter ... as you are
  • Troy: A resolution is a statement of what you want to change. A goal is a statement of what you want to achieve. 
Pick one goal, pick three. Mix up personal and professional goals, easy tasks and aspirations that are a bit of a reach.

This year, every year, the power is in your hands. Set goals and set yourself up for success!

Happy New Year!

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For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin! 

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What are your goals for 2023? Please share in the comments. 

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Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A goal-strategist, corporate consultant, and project catalyst, Debra offers personal and professional planning, event strategy, and team building for individuals, businesses, and teams. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Featured Productivity Tool: Break the Rules

What does breaking the rules have to do with writing and productivity? Everything!

Thinking out of the box - and getting creative with your ideas, solutions, etc. - gets you inspired. Inspiration leads to motivation which results in productivity! 
In August, I invited John Chen of Engaging Virtual Meetings, Jennie Mustafa-Julock aka Coach Jennie, and Deanna Seymour, host of the “Eff That: Breaking the Rules of Online Business Podcast,” to talk about breaking the rules on #GoalChatLive. 

John believes that when you break stuff, you learn more than everyone else. "A lot of the time the world breaks you; there’s something empowering about choosing to break."
Jennie suggests breaking the mold of being around like-minded people. "It’s better to be around diverse-minded people." 

Deanna says breaking the rules is all about innovation. 

Watch our conversation: 

Goals for Breaking the Rules

  • Jennie: Don't wait for things to be perfect. Do the things!
  • Deanna: Be brave. Ask for something every day this week
  • John: Give something away. Share your gifts and talents

Final Thoughts 

If you think about it, writing is not just about breaking the rules, it's about creating your own rules: worlds, processes, characters - and then sharing them with the world.

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For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin! 

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How do you break the rules? Please share in the comments. 

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Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A goal-strategist, corporate consultant, and project catalyst, Debra offers personal and professional planning, event strategy, and team building for individuals, businesses, and teams. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Celebrate Your Wins and Start Making New Plans: It's DEBcember!

When do you set new goals and make new plans? Every week? Every month? Every year? All of the above? I do, too!

While many wait for January for their fresh start, I like to begin the new year in DEBcember! Approaching the next calendar year with a running start is the perfect way to set yourself up for success.  

While everyone is winding down 2021, you can start achieving your 2022 goals before January 1st!

Celebrate Wins

Before new year planning can begin, take an inventory of the last 12 months ... and celebrate all of your accomplishments.

How did you do on the goals you set last year?

What was your biggest win each month? Each season?   

Also, consider the challenges you faced and how you dealt with them. 

Don't forget your personal achievements. Did you survive teaching your kids through Zoom school? Did you learn a new language, start a new hobby, or start a new writing project? Did you lose 20 lbs, even though you were aiming for 30? 


Note: If you had trouble remembering your wins, making the decision to track them in the new year is a great goal! At the end of each day - or week - write down one to three wins. Keep a dedicated notebook or computer document, so all of your wins are in one place ... and ready for you to look at when you need a boost!

Make Plans for 2022

Now, start planning for 2022. This time next year, what do you want to celebrate? Writing a new book? Getting an agent? Being published in a national magazine or three?

Write down your monster list of goals for 2022. These can be big goals, small goals, dream goals, easy goals, tasks, activities, projects. Include personal and professional goals. And also review - or rewrite - your mission and motto to make sure your action items and aspirations are in line with your big picture vision for your future.

Now, divide and conquer. Categorize all of your like goals and get organized. Look at your schedule and assign time each week (whatever is feasible with your busy schedule) to work toward your goals. Slow and steady gets things done. 

Final Thoughts

We have had so many changes over the last two years. Isn’t it time everyone gets a break? Get a running start to the new year. And, remember, you can do it!

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For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Twitter and Linkedin for your #Start2022Now Goal of the day!

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What's your greatest win from 2021? What's your big goal for 2022? Please share in the comments.

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Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, Deb works with entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's National Book Association; host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

'Tis the Season to Set Goals

One of the members of my critique group suggested that we have a separate meeting in January at one or our favorite coffee shops, away from our usual critique sessions, for an informal discussion about our goals for 2020. And to arrive with our goals in writing. Throughout the year we can check in with each other, see how we’re doing.

Yay. This method can work the way successful weight-loss programs work: by making ourselves accountable to someone. Why not do this for our writing? As a veteran of years of goal-setting and goal-breaking, I find myself excited and motivated by the prospect of putting my goals in writing and sharing them with my critique partners. This way my projects have an excellent chance of progressing, maybe even being completed.

Here’s what I plan to take to our meeting:
  • A 35x24 white board has sat in our garage gathering dust for years. I rescued it, cleaned it off, bought a brand new set of dry erase markers, found my old eraser, and propped it up in my office. The months are listed on the left, projects on the top; goals filled in now and will be updated throughout the year.
  • My goal plans were born on paper, typed up and ready to post on my goal board for the world to see. For my first book, about to be published, I typed up part of my marketing plan (the more detailed plan is kept in a three-ring binder), and to save space, I labelled its parts in phases. At the meeting I can explain the phases from my typed-up version, and throughout the year, as I go along completing my goals, I can erase them from the board and cross them off on paper.
  • Most of the goals I’ve set are short-term, aiming toward the long-term drop-dead goal.
Take a Step Back to Leap Forward
Another member found a terrific “Best of My Year” set of questions we can ask ourselves about how we did in 2019, which were recently posted on Emma D. Dryden’s blog, and can be found here:

What excited you this year about your art or writing?

What are you grateful for in the progress you’ve made in your art or writing and your goals?

What did you do this year to propel your story forward and/or to propel your career forward?

What did you do to invest in your art or writing?

What did you do to invest in yourself?

Emma’s last words:
Bring it back to you and your creativity.
That's what matters most.
Hard to do, I know, but worth it.
You're worth it.
(And separate from social media if you have to!)

Let's make a date to meet back here in December 2020 on my monthly post date, the 27th, and see how much we've accomplished. If we take the time to set our goals, put them in writing, and follow through with them throughout the year, I predict we will be pleased--maybe even ecstatic--at what we've accomplished!
Introductory image courtesy of: Pinterest
Biggie 2020 goal: Use less paper!
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter, and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

How to Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever with Jack Canfield

With 2017 winding down quickly, I came across a great 5 minute video by Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) that tells how you can make 2018 a great year. There are simple steps that will make a difference - it's worth watching.

Here's a breakdown of what I got from the video. See if you get the same thing. If not, please let me know your take on it in the comments!

1. Review 2017 - it will give you a map of your ups and downs and what needs improvement. Use a journal - what were the biggest accomplishments. What were your ups, downs, obstacles.

2. What was the overall recurring theme of 2017.

3. Don't make New Year resolutions. Set goals instead. A resolution is a promise you keep indefinitely. A goal is an objective that's achieved by a certain date. It's a measurable achievement.

4 Create a breakthrough goal for the year. It must quantify something and have a deadline. Write a book. Lose 35 pounds. Eliminate a medication. A breakthrough goal has the power to change your life. It's powerful.

5. Your goals should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.



Fall Fresh Start: 5 Tips

With fall comes the new school year. That means a clear desk, fresh pencils, and cool new projects. 

I say: Why should kids have all the fun? Whether or not you have kids - or are in school yourself - is not important. The new year means a fresh slate. Take advantage of it.

Here are five things you can do to start the school year off right.

1. Clean your desk. When was the last time you purged extra papers, filed old projects, and saw the bottom of your desk? Take 15 minutes a few days in a row and clear things out. When you clear the clutter, you clear your mind. A fresh start begins with your work space.

2. Get new supplies. You really want some new pens, don't you? Maybe a fresh notebook or two? This is the time of year to replenish your supplies. Take advantage of all the back to school sales. And buy yourself a treat or two too.

3. Review your goals. It's important to review your goals on a regular basis. It's important to look at them daily or at least weekly. How else will you know what you want to achieve to keep it in the forefront of your mind? No judgement. Take out your goals from the beginning of the year. Note what you have done and what has changed. Celebrate wins, and move on from what is no longer relevant.

4. Set new goals. Now that you know what you have and still want to achieve, reset your goals for the rest of the year. Is there a project you've been avoiding? Something new you want to write? Fantastic. Write it down. Put your goals in a place you look at regularly. And set yourself up to achieve them.

5. Create a plan. Make appointments with yourself to work on your writing projects each week. Think of it as your personal class schedule. If you only have time to write once a week, that's fine. Just commit to it and write it down. Put all appointments in your electronic calendar, and when your alarm goes off (think school bell), sit down and write.

Kids are starting a brand new year, and you should too. You'll be amazed at what you can achieve when you clear out the clutter, put yourself on the right path, and follow through.

What do you think? How are you going to prep for a fantastic fall? Share your thoughts and tactics in the comments. 

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Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. 

She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. 

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Happy New Year!

Last month I reflected on 2015 goals, today it's time to set the goals for 2016. 

For some of you, you wrote goals in January of 2015, they were specific and you reviewed them easily in December and so know where you stand in your writing life. For others the goals and the end results might be less clear. So in 2016, let's clear things up.

First, why do goal setting? Change is difficult and setting goals helps us to keep our eyes on the prize. 

Step one: Determine your 2016 goals.
     Write each writing goal that you would like to achieve down on paper. Be specific, include measurements, make it realistic - ex: finish writing 260 page novel, edit the complete edition for both plot/story and grammar by October 2016.
     Create goals that include time editing, writing, researching, and marketing yourself or your work.
Goals also speak to your space. Perhaps 2016 is the year to get your space figured out. A place that allows you to work creatively without distraction.

Step two: Figure out the Why.
     Recognize that changing habits is hard.Write down at the end of your goals why you are establishing these goals. Understanding why is key to making things happen. ex: I am writing down goals because I am a great writer, but I'm terribly inconsistent about sitting down on a regular basis and working through difficult periods of my life.

Step three: Reward
     Write down how you will reward yourself if you achieve your goals in 2016. Having a reward to look forward to is an important part of goal setting. 

Step four: Hide
     Place your goals in a special container and place in a special place where they will not be disturbed until December. 

Now that you know where you are going and why - it's  time to get started. Good luck!

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Serieswas written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception.The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook.

Goal Setting: It’s Not About Ideas – It’s About Making Ideas Happen

“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” —Scott Belsky

We’re into the second quarter of this year. It’s time to think about where you’ve been and where you’re heading. It’s time for ideas.

According to Business Dictionary, an idea is “a thought or collection of thoughts that generate in the mind.”

They’re usually derived from intent, but they can also be unintentional.

Ideas are the foundation of all advancements. And, they’re at the foundation and growth of your business.

While ideas may be the initiating force behind success, they’re powerless without action.

Action is the implementation of an idea. Action is taking deliberate steps toward an end. Action is what makes dreams a reality.

So, how do you turn an idea into an actionable plan?

Four basic steps you will need to take to get started.

1. Create a plan.

First: Take that idea and actually write it down, don’t just type in your laptop or computer, actually write down what you’re idea or goal is. Then you can put it in your computer.

This idea should be considered your long term objective.

Second: Divide your long term goal into short term goals with actionable steps you can take to reach your objective.

Suppose your objective is to boost your social media marketing in order to build a large and loyal following with conversion potential. Divide that into sub-categories. They may be:

• Two to three social media channels to devote more time and effort into
• Who will handle this strategy (if you’re a solopreneur, it’ll be you)
• Time to be allotted to this new strategy
• Budget for this new strategy
• Create user engagement and connections
• Actionable steps needed to accomplish this new goal

Why write your goals and action steps down?

According to an article in, “Warren Buffett has described writing as a key way of refining his thoughts.” And, “Richard Branson once said, ‘my most essential possession is a standard-sized school notebook,’ which he uses for regular writing.” (1)

Along with this, another article, 5 Reasons Why You Should Commit Your Goals to Writing, explains, “Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, did a study on goal-setting with 267 participants. She found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.” (2)

Writing goals down takes more thought than typing away. This makes you more conscious of what your goals are. It adds, if you will, emphasis to what you want.

So, it’s easy to understand that writing your ideas / goals down is a key to fulfilling your goals.

Finally, keep your goals and action steps front and center. You need to see them daily (throughout the day) as a reminder of your intent.

TIP: Make sure your action steps are realistic and doable. Nothing will squash your motivation and efforts more than not being able to fulfill your action steps.

2. Implement your plan.

Your goal and actionable steps are on paper and in your computer. Now it’s time to actually take action. Follow through and post more to the social media channels. Engage with other users by Retweeting, Following, Liking, Sharing, and so on. Take all the actions you’ve listed in your plan.

3. Keep it up – persevere.

Whatever action steps you do, do them wholeheartedly and regularly. Don’t give up because you don’t quickly see results. Give it time to determine if the steps you’re taking are the right ones for you and your business.

4. Analysis and Revise.

While you do need to give your actions time to generate positive results, you also need to test what you’re doing.

Determine what’s working and what’s not. Then revise your plan accordingly.

Don’t waste time on efforts that aren’t working. Try a different approach or marketing strategy.

Your time and effort will be much more productive if you regularly test your results.

There you have it, four basic steps to creating and implementing a business plan. Take the time to write your ideas / goals down and create and implement actionable steps to help you achieve them.




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New Year Wishes

We wish you and your family a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!

With the new year comes new possibilities, renewed hope, and the ability to start fresh. Let go of 'bad' habits you may have and embrace making small but consistent changes to better health, better relationships, more happiness, and more productive work efforts, including your writing and book marketing efforts.

You Deserve It and. . .

In line with  improving aspects of your life, I have a powerful goal setting and achieving ebook for you. It's free and you can (and should) share it. It absolutely worth reading. Here's the link:

The Importance of Rest

Are you feeling the holiday "let-down" yet? Go with it!

The hustle and bustle of preparing for holidays has always been enjoyable for me. But when it's over, I'm left with feeling, "Now what?" or "Shouldn't I be doing something?" 

Rest. The only one who can get off that treadmill is you.

Now is not the time to rev up your engine for January 1st. Goal setting can be over-rated. Are we driving ourselves too hard? 

My challenge for you busy writers out there is to give yourself the next 10 days to rest. That means to purposely set aside a routine.

It's going to look different for each of us but here are some tips:

  • No cooking. Purchase lost of wonderful sandwich and salad fixings and let everyone know the kitchen is closed. It might be a good time to even have a 3 day juice fast.
  • Don't be in such a hurry to pack up the Christmas tree (if you had one). Linger awhile longer with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and cozy up in your favorite spot and enjoy the warmth of candles and lights.
  • Read a book. 
  • Stay in your pajamas all day.
  • Limit or ignore all emails, social networking, and anything that will make you tempted to take care of business. 
  • Watch movies.
Be lazy!

If you work outside the home, schedule this time on the weekends and/or after work. If you have children at home, get on the floor and play with them. The key is to do the opposite of your routine. Make the changes.

Consider what marathon runner, Jeff Gaudette says:
"Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes new runners make is not taking enough rest, or downtime as it is called in running circles, between long training segments or after marathons. Not only does resting for seven to 10 days have little negative impact on your current fitness, the long-term gains you will be able to make will enable you to continue to make consistent progress, year after year without overtraining."
Writing is like a marathon. With the finish line in sight we know how to faithfully stay the course. Taking this time off will not have a negative impact on your career. If anything, it will have a positive impact. 

Part of our success will come from recognizing the need to schedule in rest. We have to take care of ourselves. If we're in it for the long haul we will acknowledge the necessity of scheduling it. And the last week of the year is naturally a great time to do it!


Kathy Moulton is a freelance writer. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts -

Finding Inspiration through Words and Pictures with Sarah E. Sauer

When I was little, I dreamed of one day owning my own horse and being a vet at a zoo. I felt a special connection to animals. However, all that changed suddenly when I was diagnosed, at age seven, with brain cancer. The surgery, chemo and radiation treatments were horrible. In fact, in order to get me to cooperate during my treatment, my parents promised me an animal at the end of every treatment cycle. It was from my animals that I gained strength to endure my illness. 

Animals have helped me in ways that no person ever could because animals aren't judgmental. They don't care if you have hair, can't walk that well or whatever the reason might be. They just love you for you and not for your appearance or abilities. 

My high school photography teacher first noticed my talent and encouraged me to share my love of animals through my photography. She told me I had the potential to tell stories through my pictures. While attending classes in early childhood development, I was given an assignment to create something that would show how I saw my role as an early childhood teacher. Even though I knew my dream of being a vet was over, I would not let go of my dream of working with animals. I wanted to combine my love of animals with my future career in early childhood education. I decided to put together a children's book that would develop an appreciation in children to see the beauty and detail of all animals. I want children to look further and see more than just an animal and see the smile on the elephant's face or the tear in the horse's eye. 

The cancer and its treatment left me with limitations. Despite the fact cancer took many things from me, it did not take my love for life, especially my love for animals and wildlife. I hope I can tell stories through my pictures and words that will teach young children how precious life is and how we need to take care of the world we live in.

Sarah E. Sauer is a childhood brain cancer survivor. She is also an animal lover. Sarah’s love of animals was something she drew on for strength throughout her illness. In her first children’s book, Sarah shares her love and respect for wildlife animals through her photos she took for her high school digital photography class. Sarah is currently studying early childhood education and hopes to share her love and knowledge of animals to promote and develop an appreciation of wildlife in young children. She currently lives in Corydon, IN with her family and her horses, llamas, donkey, cats and dogs.
Sarah E. Sauer’s animal photography children’s picture book, What Do You See When You Look at Me? engages her young readers with bright and colorful photos and invites them to see more than just an animal but to look at the beauty of each creature in detail.

Find out more about Sarah E. Sauer and her book at the World of Ink Author/Book Tour, visit

End 2012 With a Great Plan for 2013

As we celebrate the holiday season of 2012 and take time to enjoy family and friends most of us will also be planning ahead for success in 2013. Setting writing and publishing goals will be a big part of the plan.

The key is to look closely at what has worked this year and what has had you spinning your wheels. I mean an honest and critical view of what you have done right and what you need to do to get better. It can be similar to revising your work and it can be difficult.

When we revise, sometimes it is hard to cut out a character that we have grown to love or delete words that we just have to put in there because we like them even when they don't move our story along. The same goes for our goals. Sometimes we hate to cut out an activity or delete a routine even when it isn't moving our career along.

Now is the time to cut, hack, redo, undo, delete and make drastic changes to the way we do things especially if we don't have the results we long for.

Start with a clean slate.
List projects that need to be finished.
List projects that you have planned and decide if they are viable.
List your financial needs.
List outrageous possibilities for your writing.
List realistic possibilities for your writing.
Begin your plan.
Set specific goals for 2013.
List action steps for each week to attain those goals.
Schedule these action steps on a brand new calendar.

This is the beginning of a successful 2013. Having a plan with realistic goals goes along way to providing success. Having a plan with at least one outrageous goal that you would love to attain gives you power to succeed.

We are only held back by our own fears so make a plan, set goals, and soar.

Writing and Assessment

Assessing Your Writing

Quality assessment is now one of the most important strategies in education. Good assessment techniques are in play from the start of every course or project undertaken by students. And the intention behind this is to promote learning rather than to demoralise by testing before a student is ready.

To explore what benefits this could bring to writers, consider the methods of assessment commonly in use and see how some might help improve technique and time management.

Decide on the Criteria.

This may be self assessment but we need standards to aim for, standards to attain.

Goal setting for writers usually focuses on words per day. If the focus is moved to the standards you want your book to reach, you can create SMART targets (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound) to ensure improvement scene by scene, chapter by chapter, book by book.

The SMART target could be to cut down subject-verb sentences by two per chapter.

Try varying sentence structure till it becomes automatic not to start too many sentences with he did, she did subject-verb sentences. 

I'm a participle my -ings lol. Realising this is one of my many defects, I try not to do it too often. Let's hope that's the last example in this blog.

Yes, writing tricks and habits may be part of your author's voice, but repeated too often they bore the reader through familiarity.

How many authors did you once love but now don't follow? Ask yourself why.

Question and Answer

Fiction writers use question Q&A from the start when creating their characters' biographies, when asking "what if....?" to move their plot points forward.

In the main, the questions are closed--asking and expecting straightforward answers...Where was the hero born? What is the inciting incident?

But if you read through the day's work and ask more open-ended questions, then stronger solutions may appear.

What is the underlying theme of the scene? And make no mistake, each scene should be locking on to one of the themes of your book.

What other possible outcomes could there be? Take time. Ensure you have the best possible outcome.

How is this scene similar to the ones before? Vary the scenario,vary the emotional tempo, the pacing if you like. Vary the outcome to give an unexpected player the upper hand.

Key Principles

With so many e-books now outsourced to ghostwriters, your book will have the advantage of authenticity. If you've adhered to your self-imposed targets, it will be valid in assessment terms. But is it sufficient?

In education-speak, this means it covers all the assessment criteria. In reader-speak, this means it tells the story, the whole story and nothing but the story.

In today's fast-read world, there is no advantage to padding out books unnecessarily. Prune viciously. Harlequin and many other romance publishers look for novels around 55,000 words. They're still in business. They know what sells.

 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution was to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011. Could do better--much better. :-(

Before Setting Goals…Plant Seeds of Joy

As the year comes to a close, many people begin setting goals for the New Year.  If you are a goal setter, I challenge you to delay creating your writing goals until you engage in what I call “Planting Seeds of Joy”.   In a writer’s life, there are many facets to the writing process.  Some parts are easier and then there are the aspects that we’d rather avoid.  If you really want to nurture your writing life, try the following exercise.

First, take some time to contemplate what part of writing brings you joy.  I love generating new ideas, finishing that first draft, sharing my work, seeing it published.  I’m not too fond of revision number 75, but I’m thrilled when I am happy with a final draft.  You get the idea.  The things that you enjoy about writing are your “Seeds of Joy”.  Now plant these seeds by jotting them down and posting them where you write.

Later when you are feeling frustrated with your progress, act on one of your “Seeds”.
Since I know that for me working on the 20th revision can at times be tiresome, I intersperse my revisions with a writing activity that makes my fingers dance on the keyboard.  For example, when I’m really feeling bogged down, I’ll take ten minutes and generate some new picture books ideas.  This revives my enthusiasm and helps me get back on task and work on one of my goals.

If you “plant seeds of joy” in your writing life, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to watch your writing goals grow.   You might even consider “planting seeds of joy” in other areas of your life.
Mary Jo Guglielmo is an intuitive life strategist that helps clients push through their blocks, envision their path and take the necessary action to live their true north.  If you are interested in an Artist Breakthrough session or a Personal Mentoring Program go to

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