Showing posts with label writing goals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing goals. Show all posts

Writing & Publishing Goals



Do you have writing and publishing goals? If you landed on this blog, I am guessing the answer is "Yes."

On today's GoalChat, I spoke with authors/educators Amy Friedman, Marita Golden, and Susan Shapiro about the topic. Amy Friedman is author of Desperado's Wife and publisher at Out of the Woods Press, Marita's fiction and non-fiction titles include The Strong Black Woman and A Woman's Place, and Susan's books include The Book Bible and The Byline Bible.

If You Want to Get Published

  • Susan: Research potential publications first. Read what they publish, before you pitch
  • Amy: Decide what you want, writing-wise, and then figure out what that means
  • Marita: You need to know how hard it is and how good you have to be

Watch Our Conversation:


Writing Goals

  • Susan: Write three pages about your most humiliating secret ... that you can put your name on 
  • Amy: Write three pages in a style or genre you haven't tried 
  • Marita: Write three pages from a point of view of doing something out of character
  • Marita's Bonus Goal: Write a letter to yourself, congratulating yourself for being a badass
Whether you write long form or articles - whether your specialty is fiction, non-fiction, or memoir - being a writer starts with a decision to write. It continues with education, research, revision ... and putting yourself out there. 

Go for it! We know you can do it! 

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

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What is your best writing tip? 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  #GoalChatLive aka The DEB Show podcast and Taste Buds with Deb. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


The 5 Rs of Refreshing Your Writing Goals

So much has changed over the last several months. In-person events have been cancelled, projects have been delayed, and many businesses and publications have shut their doors.

On the flip side, a lot of organizations have pivoted, a variety of virtual gatherings are popping up each week, and new publications are taking shape. People are writing their experiences, creating solutions through new businesses, and doing their best to adjust to this new world.

So, how are you doing? What are you doing? Are you ready to embrace your writing goals? Want to set new ones?

Here are the 5 Rs of refreshing your writing goals:

Revamp: When plans change, sometimes the easiest thing to do it roll with it. Did your live book-release tour get cancelled? Set up a virtual book tour of blogs and podcasts. Apply to speak at conferences. Or start a workshop of your own.

Reboot: When was the last time you spent time looking at your website, blog, or social media? I'm guessing it's overdue for a makeover. Make sure your social media and blog have a new-ish - professional - photo of you, and your experience is up-to-date. Don't forget the consistent blog posts and branding. Your online presence is most people's first impression of you. Make sure it's an accurate reflection of you, so you are ready for future work and new connections.

Revisit: Have your pitches-in-progress stalled? Has an editor not gotten back to you? It's all good. You know what you can do instead? Spend time on that passion project you keep meaning to go back to but never have the time. Whether it's a book idea, short story, or article, your fresh eyes on it may be just what you need to fast-track it forward.

Research: Trying new things is just as - if not more - important than revisiting old projects. Want to explore a new genre? Great. Ready to discover whether a podcast, videos, or a new social media platform is right for you? Fantastic. Unless you experiment with new genres, formats, and mediums, you don't know what's out there. ... And you could discover something that is a game-changer for you in the process.

Reach Out: Are you missing real-people connections and conversations? Want to know how old friends and colleagues are doing? Ask. Send an email. Schedule a Zoom. Or pick up the phone. People will be thrilled to hear from you. Plus, you never know what opportunities can come from a conversation.

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As a writer, there's no better time than now to take a good look at your goals and adjust them accordingly.

#ChangeHappens. However, when we embrace change, set new goals, and make a plan, it's a much smoother road ahead.


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How are you refreshing your writing goals? What new goals have you set? Please share in the comments.

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Read my post on 5 networking goals you can pursue from home.

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Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals. A writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of the D*E*B METHOD and Write On Online, Deb works with individuals and businesses 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: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and #GoalChat Live on Facebook, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

How and Why to Get Clear about Your Ultimate Career Goal

As a writer, it can take quite some time to come up with an ultimate career goal.

After months, even years, of writing and submitting, many writers decide the writer’s life is not quite the beautiful dream they thought it would be.

In fact, it’s really just a lot of hard work and, well, a lot of writing.

Other writers decide to stick with the writing, but they change focus along the way to the career of their dreams.

They suddenly “get” how they can narrow the focus of their writing, yet attract more readers, customers, and clients.

As they gain more publication credits, they branch out and search for more opportunities for public speaking, too.

The key to realizing your ultimate career goal is to get really, really clear as to just what that goal is.

After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, how can you possibly figure out how to get there?



Here are a few questions for reflection.

Use your Success Journal to write down these questions and leave a page or so for each of your answers.

1. What is your ultimate career goal (what would your ideal writing career look like)?

Try to describe this in as much detail as possible.

Include what your writing schedule would look like.

How much would you be writing?

What would you be writing?

Where would you be writing?

How much money would you be earning each month from your writing?

Would you be doing any public speaking in addition to writing?

If so, where would you be speaking? Who would you be speaking to?

How much income would you earn each year through speaking?

2. What would be the big advantages of reaching your ultimate career goal?

List as many advantages as you can think of. Money shouldn’t be the only advantage.

3. What would be the disadvantages of reaching your ultimate career goal?

List as many disadvantages as you can think of – even fame and fortune have disadvantages.

4. How do you FEEL when you think of the disadvantages of your ultimate career goal?

Are these feelings keeping you from really striving to reach your ultimate career goal?

If so, do you need to change your goal or simply learn to overcome any negative feelings?

5. Take a look at all the actions on your marketing plan or to-do list.

Are these actions leading you to the ultimate writing career you’ve described in your answers to these questions?

Why or why not? Explain in detail.

Your answers to these questions should help you get clearer about your ultimate career goal.

With increased clarity, you should be able to create a more targeted marketing plan to move toward this goal.

Try it!


Suzanne Lieurance lives and writes by the sea on Florida's beautiful Treasure Coast. She also coaches writers.

For more tips and resources for writers visit www.writebythesea.com and get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge to receive a short email for writers every weekday morning.

The 5 Secret Steps to Re-Boot 2018


August can be a second start to the year for those that have children because the little ones are headed back to school.

Whatever you put on your new year’s resolution list you made way back in January that may have gotten pushed to the bottom of your to-do list, well, now is a great time to bring it back up to the top. Authors wear many hats and authors who are also parents have an additional rather important one. So, now that the unstructured summer days are behind you, things can get back into a routine.

Here to help you are the 5 secret steps to re-boot 2018.

1. Celebrate. Take a moment to celebrate the things you have done so far, even if they weren’t your original goals. Maybe you didn’t write as much as you would have liked, but you did write some. Maybe you got your book cover designed. Maybe you connect with a new author group. I know you did something these last 7 months, so feel good about those successes. We all need to show ourselves some love from time to time. You may enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or another beverage of your choice. You may take a long bubble bath. You may sleep in. Whatever feels like a reward for you, do it.

2. Evaluate. Look at what got in the way of you accomplishing what you set out to do. Evaluate whether you what caused you to not keep pushing towards your goal was because you got side tracked or because it no longer was your goal or because it was too difficult to do, so you let it slide. If you need to learn something to accomplish it, sign up for the class. If you need a coach, find one. Now is the time to do whatever you need to in order to make your writing and publishing goal a reality.

3. Replace. If the goal no longer fits for you, that’s okay. Let it go, but replace it with a better one. One that is reachable. One that matters to you. You feel excited to pursue. Find your passion.

4. Envision. Now, place your goal front in center in your mind and envision you have reached it. Studies have shown that visualizing a thing makes it more likely it will happen. Remember vision boards? There’s a reason for them. Envision holding your completed book in your hand. Envision signing your book at a release party. Envision signing a book contract. Whatever your goal, not only envision it in your mind’s eye, but using your creativity that you use to describe a scene, invoke all your senses. What does it feel like, smell like, sound like, who is with you, where are you, etc.?

5. Create. Finally, create a list of steps to get you to your goal. What’s the very first thing you need to do? Once you’ve completed your list, ask yourself what may stand in your way. And then make steps for handling those obstacles.

If you need help, seek out another author or a group of authors who will encourage you and maybe even be a resource to help you get where you want to be by the end of 2018.

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 5 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, Little Birdie, and Franky the Finicky Flamingo). A former National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral. She belongs to the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 23 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at www.wandaluthmanwordpress.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wluthman.



Writing Fun 101

When was the last time you wrote something because you wanted to? Usually on the priority scale, things tend to get done because it's deadline or time-sensitive, client work, a long-delayed project you had to wrap up, and in some cases all of the above. 

If you don't know the answer off the top of your head, then it has been way too long.

It summertime! And, while there is always work to be done, that shouldn't stop you from having fun ... both in real life and with your writing.

So, here is your assignment. Pick one of the following:

1. Have an adventure and write about it. It can be as simple as people watching or a fun afternoon out.
2. Start a new journal. How awesome is book full of fresh paper just waiting for you to fill it with words?
3. Write a pitch, essay, poem, song, or quick article.
4. Start a new long-form project, such as a book, novel, or screenplay.
5. Do anything you want. Haven't you been paying attention? This is your project. Your decision.

Now comes the fun part...

After you finish reading this article, stop what you are doing, set a timer for 15 minutes, and start writing one of the above. If you can't freeze time right now, that's fine. You may do it later today ... or if necessary within the next 24 hours. Then schedule at least two 15-minute appointments each week to work on it. 

The point is this. You will always have things to do, deadlines, and other responsibilities. Yet, on most days 15 minutes is totally doable. Take time for yourself and your passion projects, in small increments of time. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you prioritize the things you enjoy. Oh, and bonus: you will likely be happier too!

What fun thing will you write today or this week? Please share in the comments.

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Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Successful Writing Strategy: Know Your Intent


Intent is a crucial factor in success. But, what exactly does this mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, intent is an aim, a clear and “formulated or planned intention.” It is a purpose, “the act or fact of intending.”

Intent is a necessary factor on any path to success, including your path to writing success. You need to know what you want, what you’re striving for. And, that knowledge has to be clearly defined.

An unclear destination or goal is similar to being on a path that has very low hanging branches, an assortment of rocks that may hinder your forward movement, uneven and rugged terrain, branches and even logs strewn across the road; you get the idea. You kind of step over the debris, look around or through the branches, you don’t have a clear view of where you’re going.

A clear-cut goal is akin to walking on a smooth and clear path. No goal related obstacles to hinder your forward momentum or vision.

But, let me add to the sentence above, while intent is crucial, it’s an active and passionate pursuit of your intent that will actually allow you to achieve success. It reminds me of a passage in the Bible at James 24:26, “Faith without works is dead.”

While the intent is there, if you don’t actively take the needed steps to get from A to B, walk-the-walk, rather than just talk-the-talk, you’ll never reach your goal.

To realize your intent, it would be beneficial for you to create a list of questions and statements outlining the specifics to that intent.

A few of questions you might include are:

- What is your ultimate success goal?
- What does the obtainment of your goal mean?
- After picturing it, what does success look like to you?
- How will you reach your goal?

So, how would you answer these questions?

As a writer, perhaps your goal is to write for one or two major magazines. Maybe you’d prefer to be published in a number of smaller magazines. Possibly you want to author a book a year and have them published by traditional publishing houses. Or, maybe you want to self-publish your own books at a faster or slower pace.

Maybe success to you is to make a comfortable living, or you may be very happy with simply supplementing your income. Maybe you want to be a professional, sought after ghostwriter or copywriter. Maybe you want to be a coach, a speaker, offer workshops, or present teleseminars. These are just some of the potential goals for a writer.

Whatever your vision of success is, you need to see it clearly, write it down (it’d be a good idea to also create a vision board), and take the necessary steps to get you where you want to be.

If you find you have a realistic success vision, and are taking the necessary steps to achieve your envisioned intent, at least you think you are, but you still can’t seem to reach the goal, then perhaps your efforts aren’t narrowly focused enough. Maybe your success vision is too broad.

Wanting to be a writer is a noble endeavor, but it’s a very broad target. There are so many niches within the writing arena that if you don’t focus on one or two in particular, you’ll be known as a ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’

Try narrowing down, fine tuning your goal. Remember, it’s essential to be specific and focused.

It might be to your advantage to create success steps that continually move you forward on the path to reaching your ultimate goal.

For someone new to writing, the first step on a writing career would be to learn the craft of writing.

You might give yourself a year or two to join writing groups, take advantage of writing workshops or classes, write for article directories, or create stories.

You should also be part of at least one critique group. This would be your first step to achieving your intent, your success vision.

Instead of trying to go directly from A to B, it might be more effective to go from A to A1 to A2 to A3 . . . to B. But, again, for each step, the intent, a clear-cut vision, and the driving passion all need to be front and center.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact me at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

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Four Tips to Keep Your Writing Momentum

Writers can have a difficult time maintaining momentum. Many writers seem to write in fits and spurts. They may write consistently for a month or two, and then their inspiration towards their manuscripts seems to dwindle and they don’t get to their desks for weeks or months. It seems that something always gets in the way of their writing. Before we know it, months have gone by and we have not done any writing on our WIP. 

    This is quite common for many beginning and intermediate writers. It is also common for writers who work full time and have so many other things to do every day such as family, kids, caring for parents, and other issues. There always seems to be something that bulldozes their intention to get to their desks to write.

    One of the most important things that we have to remember is that unless we get to our desks to write every day or most days, we won’t be as productive and therefore we won’t be successful in our writing careers. Not only that, but we will also be frustrated because we can’t seem to manage our writing life effectively.

    In what follows, I will offer you a few tips, that when followed will ensure that you keep your momentum on your writing project until it is complete.

Writing–of any kind–takes great commitment and self-discipline, and there may be times when you find it difficult to carve out the hours you need or to find the energy to devote to your writing. Here are some suggestions to keep you moving forward:

1.    Write every day

There is no more important piece advice that any writer can give another writer than to show up to your desk and actually do some writing every day. Think in terms of output rather than time–set your goal at one page a day instead of one hour a day. That way, you have concrete evidence of your progress.

2.    Set aside a particular time of day (or night) to write

In order to create writing momentum, writers must make it a habit. Like any other learned skill, writing requires practice. We learn by doing. If we schedule our writing time–the way we would a piano lesson or a work-out at the gym–we’re giving our writing the priority it deserves.

3.    Stretch your 24-hour day

It can be hard to always find time to write. There are always a thousand other things that need to be done. The fact is you probably won’t find the time to write unless you make time for it.  Here are a few tips:

•    Get up an hour early, set the coffee maker and get right to work.
•    Resist the urge to take a nap when you put the baby down.
•    Shut your office door and write through your lunch hour.
•    Decide that an hour of writing time is more important than an hour of television.

4.    If you can’t write, think instead

Thinking is an important part of the writing process. If you’ve established your regular daily writing time, as we suggested above, make the most of that time by preparing yourself mentally beforehand. Start thinking about your manuscript a few hours before you sit down at your computer, so that you’re ready to write when you get to your desk. Even if you can’t set aside time to write every day, you should at least make thinking about writing a daily activity. By thinking about writing even when you aren’t doing it, you’ll make writing a natural and necessary part of your life.

By taking these steps, you will be gaining momentum in your writing career.  There is no better way to ensure that you develop the self-discipline to write and get to your desk regularly. Not only will you build self-confidence, but you will also build on your skills as a writer and get a lot of writing done.

For a lot more tips on how to be a healthy writer, double click on this link: Healthy Writer.

About the Author

Irene S. Roth, MA writes for teens, tweens, and kids about self-empowerment. She is the author of over thirty books and over five hundred online articles. She also writes articles for kids, tweens and teens and her articles have appeared in Encounter, Pockets, Guardian Angel Kids Ezine, and Stories for Children Magazine and Online. She also has four hundred and sixty published book reviews both online and in print.

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Top 5 Reasons Many Writers Don’t Reach Their Writing and Income Goals



As a writing coach, I work with dozens of writers every week, and new clients come to me all the time. So I’ve gained some insight as to why writers often don’t achieve their writing goals and income goals.

Here are what I have found to be the...

Top 5 Reasons Writers Don’t Reach Their Writing and Income Goals


1. They aren’t clear about what they want and how they will get it.

Many people who say they want to make a living as a writer aren’t clear enough about what they want. They usually simply say something like, “I want to quit my job to be a fulltime writer and I’d like to earn at least $50,000 to start."

That sounds pretty clear.

At least the income part is clear. They want to earn at least $50,000 to start.

What isn’t clear is HOW they plan to earn this money.

In other words, they aren’t clear as to what they will write to generate this income and who will pay them to write it – so they have no plan.

Without knowing exactly what they want to write and who will pay them to write it, they can't go after clients or writing assignments. Instead, they tend to hope work will find them. But it usually doesn't.

2. They aren’t consistent.

Even writers who are clear about what they want and have a plan to get it are often inconsistent when it comes to taking the steps to get what they want. They don't consistently follow their plan. Succeeding as a writer usually means taking the same steps over and over again until these steps start producing results.

3. They aren’t focused or they don’t stay focused.

Many people who say they want to be successful writers aren’t focused enough to make this happen. They do one thing one day, then drop it and start something else the next day in the hopes that it will work better. If they stayed focused and stuck to their plan, they'd be much more likely to reach both their writing goals and their income goals.

4. They are afraid to STOP doing things that don’t work.

Most writers (like most people) develop habits that are pretty comfortable. They might love to blog, for example, so they write articles for their blog several times a week. The only problem is, they don't monetize these blog posts, so there is little possibility of these posts generating any income for them. They'd be better off spending their time trying to find clients or writing assignments, but that isn't so comfortable. So instead, they just keep blogging like they've been doing, but they complain that they don't have any (or many) clients or assignments.

5. They don’t expect to succeed.

This may seem strange, but when it gets right down to it, many writers don’t really think they can pull off making a living as a writer. It’s fun to dream about it. But it’s more comfortable to dream than it is to take steps that are a bit scary. So they continue to dream, but that's about all they do.

Does any of this sound like you?

If it does, change your behavior so you WILL reach your writing and income goals by the end of the year.

Identify what you hope to write and make a plan for finding people (clients, publishers, editors, etc.) who will pay you to write these materials.

Once your plan is made, consistently follow the plan. Take the same steps over and over again to reach your goal and follow through with your plan.

Stay focused. Remember – all you have to do is follow the plan. You don't have to keep creating a new plan. But do make sure the things you are doing are working. If they aren't, then it's time to revise the plan just a bit.

Finally, expect to succeed.

That makes all the difference in the world.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books.

If you need a little help reaching your writing and income goals this year, get your free subscription to her Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.

10 Tips to Achieve Writing Goals in the New Year


It's just over a week into 2016. And, odds are, most people have either set goals and forgotten about them OR forgot to set goals. Regardless, there's still time to set yourself up for success in the new year.

Here are 10 things you can do to set and achieve writing goals in the new year. (Yes, this works for other types of goals, as well...)

1. Write down all of your writing goals for the year. Do you want to write a book, a screenplay, or novel? Would you like to create a certain number of songs, poems ,stories, or articles? Is starting a blog on the horizon? Or do you really need to develop a full-on marketing and social media plan to get your writing out there?

2. Chose two or three projects you want to accomplish by the end of the year.

3. Then on separate pages (one for each project), write down everything you need to do to get each one of them done. Brainstorm benchmarks and tasks in any order. So for a book or a screenplay, each draft might be a benchmark, while each chapter, act, or a certain number of page counts as a task. If your goal is to a book deal, perhaps your first benchmark is to find an agent, and then tasks would include researching agents, networking for recommendations, sending X number of queries a month.

4. Now, prioritize. Determine what more important: Starting a blog or finishing your book? Self-publishing that chap book of poems or finding a publisher for your novel? The reason you want to have more than one project going at one time is it's inevitable at some point (or at many points) you will get stuck. It's nice to have a secondary project to work on if you need to give your mind a break from the primary. Also, when you get moving on one project, it will likely inspire you to propell the other one forward.

5. Determine how much time you have each week to dedicate to your projects, and put appointments in the calendar as the time you work on them.

6. Set deadlines for your primary project. If you want to get a complete draft done by December, how much progress must you make each week and each month? Put the due dates for your benchmarks in your calendar and set reminders to keep you on track.

If you would like, set deadlines for your secondary project(s), as well. But be realistic. It's better to set and exceed realistic goals than to overwhelm yourself. It's common for people to just give up when they feel like they are falling too far behind. And no one wants that.

7. Put your goals in a place you look at every day. Also, create a visual representation of the finished product and display it where you write. For example, tack up the last page of your manuscript with the words "The End" or mock up a book cover. If you have a constant reminder of what you are working toward, you are more likely to achieve it.

8. Track your progress. Remember the appointments you set? Each day, after you complete your writing time, add what you did that day to your calendar. This way, if you ever feel like you are not progressing fast enough, you can look at the time spent and accomplishments and realize you are doing pretty well.

9. Don't give up. If life gets in the way and you get off track, take a second, catch your breath, forgive yourself, and move forward. Things happen. Adjust any deadlines and get back to work. It may take a little longer, but it's all good.

10. Celebrate the small and large wins. When you reach an benchmark, celebrate. When you reach a goal, really celebrate. Treat yourself to something to acknowledge and appreciate all of your hard work.

Remember, achieving goals is a snap if you look at your goals every day, constantly put in the time, and work toward the finish line. You can do it!

Good luck!

Let us know your goals for the year in the comments. You can also post and report on weekly goals on the Write On Online Facebook page.

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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.


Pacemaker Press--a Word Count Graph

Last month I talked about the motivational power of NaNoWriMo's word count graph, but since it's only live in November, I decided to try another online word count tracker:  Pacemaker.

I don't find Pacemaker as satisfying or user-friendly as NaNoWriMo's site, but it's still a great tool for tracking progress.  I also really like its flexibility.  You can set up different types of goals, including editing/revising plans, and you can count by word, scene, chapter, etc.  I tried to set my December goal by counting scenes and ended up changing it to word count because it was easier to tally.  However, I think the scene idea might work in another situation.    

If you're looking for a progress tracker to help get your New Year's writing goals accomplished, try out Pacemaker and see how you like it.  

NOTE:  If you use Pacemaker, don't forget to click the green "save plan and progress" button after adding your progress, even though you've already clicked the "apply progress" button.  It's a seemingly unnecessary step, but it won't save if you don't.


See my original post:  The Magic of Word-Count Graphs  



Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go NomadInternational LivingElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

The Magic of Word-Count Graphs


I am not generally a particularly fast writer.  But in November, which is National (or International) Novel Writing Month, I can consistently pump out 50,000-60,000 words in 30 days.  This is my sixth year accomplishing this feat, and despite the high word count, it's always been good-quality draft.  I have never been able to write so much in any other month at any other time of my life.  So I got to thinking about why.

Part of it's the togetherness of it, the belonging to a group of people with like goals, the support from the organization and friends who are doing the same thing. 

But another big factor, for me, is one simple thing:  the word-count graph.  On Nanowrimo's website, you can update your word count as often as you want (and I often do it more than once a day).  It shows your progress on a nice little bar graph and calculates how far behind or ahead you are.  It's magic for me, this visual representation of concrete progress on a concrete goal.  So I thought:  why not try to apply the same thing when it's not November? 

I did an internet search and found an application I'm going to try:  pacemaker.press.  It lets you set goals by word count, by scene count, and various other measurements.  You can also set different pace styles:  steady, front-loaded, increasing, random, etc.  You can set it for higher workload on weekends or other days.  It tracks your progress with graphs.  It seems like it might be a great tool for me.

So I'm going to test it this month and report next month.  In Nanowrimo, the goal is words.  I got my words in November:  58,000 of them.  But I didn't quite finish the novel.  I calculate there are about 15 more scenes I need to write.  So I'm going to try pacemaker by scene count, and finish by Christmas.  We'll see how it works. 

If any of you know of similar word count trackers you've used and like, please add them in the comments below.  Happy writing!

Update, 1-3-16:  See my report here:  Pacemaker Press--A Word Count Graph


Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go Nomad, International Living, Electric Spec, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Midsummer's Nightmare



Yes, you heard me right - write! As I'm putting together this post I'm realizing that the summer is at a midpoint, and my writing goals for the year are not.

While under the best of circumstances summer is a distraction - vacations, visitors and all, this summer has undermined me in an unexpected way. I rise each morning, eager to begin the day, only to find the minutes and hours creeping by without me sitting my behind in the chair - which we all know is the secret to getting the job done. So what to do when this occurs?

1. Join an accountability or critique group: Becoming accountable to others can help with keeping you on track with your goals. In the past I've belonged to critique groups who have encouraged me to submit pages weekly, bi-monthly or monthly. An accountability group may be more diverse in its makeup - some will be attending hoping to improve their home business, while others may be looking to just improve their marketing skills. Either type of group can be beneficial depending upon where you are finding the challenge currently.

2. Set strick limits with family & friends: Writing time may need to be scheduled and committed to by not only you, but by those you love as well. Schedule yourself "out" as you would if you had an important commitment, because it is important.

3. Turn off the phone, don't check Facebook or your email: Internet distractions can undermine your ability to be creative and productive. Telephone calls are really only an excuse to not do the job needing to be done.

Midsummer, mid year 2015 - now is the time to review your yearly goals and gain control over your writing.


____________________________________
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 www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.

6 Tips for Creating Healthy Writing Habits

Getting on track with your writing can be a daunting task, creating healthy habits can make this a bit easier.

1.  Anything that we do for 21 days becomes a habit, so step number one is to make a commitment to yourself and your writing -  give yourself this amount of time to develop your habit without feeling bad if you find you skip a day or forget, just get back on track and keep going as soon as you remember.

2. Schedule writing time. Yep, put it on your calendar and honor it like you would any other important appointment. Choosing the same time each day may make this easier for you - get up earlier in the morning, commit to working each evening, or during the kids' nap time.

3. Write no matter what. Sometimes all of us arrive at our desk without something to write - otherwise known as writer's block - pushing through this stagnation is the only way out. That means write something about anything. If you are unable to write the article, the chapter, or the poem - write in your journal about your inability to write and soon you may find the words flowing.

4. Remember to stay fed and hydrated. Water is your body's friend. So is food. Make sure to have some easy and healthy snacks handy and water beside you so that you can take a break and then quickly get back to your work.

5. Exercise. For some, sitting at the computer all day is normal. To keep from getting stiff, take periodic breaks to stand, stretch and walk.

6. Be distraction free. Make sure that you are clear about when and how long you will spend on the internet doing things unrelated to your writing - social networking, answering e-mails, etc. You may find it easier to keep your focus if you put in your time writing first and then get on-line. Also, writing time is not to be used to catch up on telephone calls.

Establish healthy writing habits and see you work propelled to the next level.

__________________________

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 Series was 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 www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.


A Writer's First . . .



The new year is upon us. Last month I talked about a review of 2014, but now it's time to look at 2015 and think about the future. With that being said, January is the first month of a new year - let's get it started off on the right foot.

Start your new year off by looking at your creative space. Are there things that are cluttering your work area and distracting you from getting the words down? Now is the time to clean up your space.

1. Make sure that unnecessary clutter is removed.
2. Create places for those things that keep you moving forward - books, calendars, motivational items, etc.
3. Organize your workspace so it's easy to grab pens, pencils, notepads, clips, etc.
4.  Review your space with a critical eye - are there things that would make your space more comfortable, easier for you to concentrate or improve the ergonomics?

Now that you are comfortable, it's time to do a review.
1. Update your author's bio and photograph - bios should be updated at least yearly. Photos every 3-5 years.
2. Review your website, social media sites and blogs. Are they in need of an update? A fresh look?
3. Don't forget to review your on-line bios in places such as Goodreads, Smashwords or Amazon.com.
4. Is it time to order business cards? 

Finally, let's think about what we want to accomplish in 2015.
1. Set long term goals - ones that may take more than a few months.
2. Set some short term goals too - monthly  or even weekly goals are great!
3. Look at how you can improve personally: are there classes you would like to take, a writer's retreat you would like to do, a writer's conference you'd like to attend, or some other way you could grow as a writer?

2015 is the time to take your writing to the next level - start now and get on track.
__________________________
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 Series was 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 www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.

End of Year Wrap Up


In January we tend to focus on goals and resolutions for the new year, but have you taken the time to review 2014? Just as important as establishing new goals is the process of evaluating where you are now, in fact, this will help you when the time comes to think about 2015.

Some questions to help you:
1. What is the most important thing you've learned this year? 
           Is it a grammar rule that you previously found confusing?
           Is it a marketing tool that helped you to expand your audience?
           Is it a way to develop good writing habits?
           
Any of these will help you move forward with your writing. Assessing and prioritizing the lessons learned will help you to determine where to focus your attention in the future.

2. What was the most difficult thing you had to overcome?
          Was it balancing work, family and writing?
          Was it budgeting for a writer's conference or other retreat?
          Or perhaps it was just getting past writer's block.

We may not have finished the book in the time we thought we would, or perhaps the editing process was more challenging than we had anticipated. Stuff happens, but focusing on our achievements is important to encouraging us to keep moving ahead with our work.

3. Where do you feel you could use the most improvement?
           In grammar?
           In plot or character development?
           In marketing?
           In editing?

Knowing where your weaknesses are can lead to many choices. You can choose to get a book, take a class and get better, or you can begin to search for others to do the things that come hard for you so you can focus on the areas where you are the most proficient. 

4. Finally, if you were to update your writer's resume from last year, what are you adding?
   
Take the time to acknowledge your large and small triumphs - and celebrate these. Assess your strengths and weaknesses - and determine the direction you'd like to go next. Be honest with yourself. Then update your writer's resume and begin thinking about 2015.

____________________________________

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 Series was 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 www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.
  


Beating Procrastination and Increasing Productivity

 Procrastination by definition is the act of avoiding an action or activity. It can creep in when you least expect it taking up valuable writing and marketing time. Spring is one of the worst times for me when procrastination hits full force. After all, there are windows to clean, yard work to do, Easter to plan, sunshine to enjoy and the list goes on. There will always be "things that need doing" or "places to go" but what about the writing time? And marketing and promoting is one of those activities that I definitely procrastinate at. So how to beat procrastination and increase productivity while still enjoying time to do other things becomes a life skill necessary for writers to master?


Schedule writing and marketing activities first. That may sound easy but I am sure you will agree that it is anything but. The act of putting writing/marketing time on the daily calendar is the first step but it takes discipline to stick to the plan. Although the calendar is not written in stone, it helps to make it a practice to follow a schedule. That being said, avoid over scheduling. Making an unreasonable plan of action will lead to more procrastination and a backlog of work.


Set Goals. Setting goals has been a lesson for writers in every genre. While authors may disagree about outlines versus story arcs, character sketches versus writing free form, or the importance of theme versus plot most agree that setting goals for a successful writing career is invaluable. The key is to  make them attainable and to revisit them often to test your progress.


Rest. Students get a spring break to rest, take a break, and to rejuvenate for the remainder of the school year. It is usually a rest period from sports practices, testing, and homework. Writers need the same kind of break. Schedule not only a rest period for the story or article you have written so you have a clear eye to revise, but schedule a rest from writing altogether. It may be only a day or even a few hours but take time to get clear away from the act of writing and marketing and enjoy something different. Here is where you can do that gardening, window washing, or shopping with the grand kids. Take advantage of rest periods and notice how fresh your work looks when you get back to it.


Look honestly at the activities which cause more procrastination than others. Usually those are the types of things that you don't like to do or that make you uncomfortable. For me, it is definitely the marketing or promoting myself. For others it might be the business side of writing, tax and record keeping, or even the research. Schedule those activities that you don't enjoy but are necessary first. Get them over with so you can move on to the writing and creating, the one activity all of us love to do.


Scheduling the tasks in a manageable order and allowing reasonable increments of time to accomplish each item will help beat procrastination and increase productivity. Target each task towards a specific writing goal and those action steps will lead to success.


Happy writing and Happy Spring!



How to Build Your Online Authority With Focused Writing Goals


By Karen Cioffi

We’re in the last month of the first quarter. It’s time to reassess.

As each year comes and goes, you need to put your writing focus and writing goals under a microscope. Take the time to analyze if you’re known for who you want to be known for.

In other words, if you ‘really’ want to be known as a top-notch ghostwriter is your focus and goals leading in that direction? Are your actions leading in that direction? Or, are you here, there, and everywhere? Are you lacking online authority in your niche?

You don’t want to be known as a ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’

While it can be that you have a number of different areas you’re involved in, you need to pick and choose to be ‘master’ of one or two.

It’s this focus that will enable you to gain authority in your niche and to attract customers or clients.

It’s this focus that will motivate you to take the necessary steps to reach your goals.

So, how do you focus in on who and what you want to be known for?


This is interesting, because it can change as the years come and go. For example, I started out as a children’s writer, and while I still love this aspect of my writing, I have evolved into a freelance/ghostwriter (specializing in business incentive and health writing) and an online marketer (specializing in helping authors create and build their online platform).

Taking my freelance writing and marketing skills a bit further, I created a new business, the Article Writing Doctor.

Finding my focus, I took the time to analyze my actions and revamp my websites to reflect what I want to be known for.

While I have three businesses going, they’re all very closely connected – my focus is intact.

Updating this article, there are times when your 'calling' or what you should be doing pushes you in a certain direction.

As I mentioned, I started out as children's writer and veered off in other directions. But over the past two years or so, I've marketed myself as a children's ghostwriter and people have been coming to me to ghost their stories. I could have four or five clients at one time. So, obviously, my focus is back on being a children's ghostwriter.

Fortunately, I'm passionate about writing for children so it works out well.

I still do marketing e-classes, but it's separate and I don't market them. I work through sites like WOW! Women on Writing.

What about you?

Maybe you write for children. Maybe you're a romance writer, a technical writer, or business writer. Maybe you're a freelance writer or ghostwriter. Maybe you're all these things.

But, what do you specialize in? What are you known for?

Do you have online authority in a particular niche?

To help determine your area/s of focus you need to write down the questions below and answer each one (write your answers out):

•    What writing arenas are you involved in?
•    Do you find yourself leaning toward one or two more so than the others, if so what are they?
•    Can you effectively market yourself in these areas?
•    Are you writing and marketing as a hobby or to earn an income or a supplemental income? If your goal is to make money, write down how much?
•    Did you have a writing/marketing goal for last year? Did you reach it? If not, why?
•    What does success mean to you – what does it look like?
•    Do you really want success? If so, is there anything blocking your path to it (often we sabotage our own success)?
•    What do you want to be known for?
•    What can your new ‘signature’ tag be?

You’ll need to think about these questions. It might be helpful to actually have someone ask you each question and quickly give answers. Sometimes this helps you get a glimpse of what’s going on subconsciously.

Once you have your goals in sight, write them down; be sure to include the tasks of increasing your online presence and mailing list. You’ll need to keep those goals front and center and read them every day. The reason for this is our ‘intention’ can quickly be sidetracked if we don’t continually keep it in sight and in mind.

After you have your goals in place, write down action steps to get there. It’s advisable to have a yearly calendar with goals to reach each month. Then prepare a weekly writing/marketing plan to achieve those monthly goals. Again, you need to keep those goals and action steps visible. Remember: out of sight often really does mean out of mind.

Creating focused writing goals and implementing focused action steps to reach them will definitely help you increase your online authority.

This works even if you switch niches as I have. It just takes more focus and work to become known as an authority in a different niche of field. But, it can be done.




MORE ON WRITING

Tips on Writing Humor
Borrowing from Superheroes
Trust Your Readers (Part 1)

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By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Over the years, I’ve met many passionate writers. One brand new writer told me, “My book is going to be a best...