Thursday, December 26, 2013

Goals: Setting and Metting Writing Goals, Big and Small

A week from now we will be in a brand new year, 2014. And as is the tradition with so many of us, we take this time to evaluate what we’ve done in the previous year and make new goals for the New Year. So what better time than now to talk setting and meeting your writing goals?

I have found it best to start big and then work your way down to the more specific goals. Again, I’ll use myself as an example here. A Big Goal looks like this:

I (Kricket) will publish a book by the time I’m 30 (in 3 years).

As you can see, there are two major components to that statement. There is the intention and a parameter. I intend to publish a book and the parameter tells me I want to do that in 3 years. Parameters are extremely important in goal setting and meeting.  Without parameters, without a time limit, we writers can just float in a little Writer’s Cloud and never get any work done.

Now, let’s move on to more specific goals, ones that will help you achieve your Big Goal.

To become published I must:
1.      Complete a manuscript by the end of 2014.
2.      Edit the crap out of that manuscript by mid-2015.
3.      Begin submitting the manuscript by the second half of 2015.

Believe it or not, we can break these goals down into even smaller bites. The smaller the better, you can’t eat an elephant all in one gulp.

To finish a manuscript I must:
1.      Come up with and develop an idea/plot/characters/world etc. by April 2014.
2.      Write at least 1000 words every day until completion.
I could continue with each of the other two goals above, but I think you get the point. 

The main point of setting goals for your writing it to keep you on track. To give you something to look forward to and to aim for. Otherwise, you’re just wasting a lot of ink and paper and time. So set achievable goals for yourself. Give yourself time and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t meet all your goals when you said you would.

Writing is a long game and it takes time to do it right. Setting goals and meeting those goals will help you build confidence in yourself and your writing. From the tiny goal of: I will write 500 words today! To the Big Goal of: I will be published! Have confidence in You the Writer and go forth and Write.

Again, thank you for reading! Leave a comment, share this blog with your writing friends, and all that jazz and of course, go write something! Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Your Routine: How To Make Writing A Part Of Your Daily Life

So before we get started on the main topic, I wanted to address the title of this series: Writing Tips For Beginners. I read a couple articles the other day about bad tips for teen writers and it got me to thinking, what constitutes a beginner? Who is a Beginning Writer? Well, dear reader, you are.

"But Kricket," you're saying, "I've been writing for X years. I have X books/articles/whatever published. I make enough money off of writing to pay the bills. I'm not a beginner!"

"Well good for you Neil Gaiman (and thanks for dropping by ;) )" says I. But if you're here, then you're looking for something to help you with your writing and I'm here to tell you that we are all beginners no matter how much experience we have. Because sometimes we find ourselves going back to the basics, starting from square one and reevaluating everything we do.

So, whether you just woke up this morning and said, "I want to be a writer!" or you've been doing this for 50+ years, all are welcome here and, hopefully, we can all learn something new.
And now, on to Your Routine!

Humans are creatures of habit. No matter what you do in your life, everyone has some kind of daily routine. Wake up, get dressed, eat food, go do whatever you do most of the day, eat some more, other tasks to further your existence, and then back to sleep. I'm here to tell you that, yes, you can fit writing in there. I don't care how busy you are, you can find time in your day to write.

Wake up an hour early, stay up late at night, sacrifice some of that time you spend watching TV or playing video games and learn to ninja write. We all have 24 hours in a day and we all have things that we want to do that require us to have 48 hours in a day. So the key here is prioritizing. To make writing a part of your daily life, you have to make it a top priority.

Your routine will be just for you. Just like your writing mojo is unlike any others, so is your routine. In fact, to start your routine, go back to your mojo and look at those last three questions, where, when and how. You probably already have an idea of when and where you can fit writing into your daily routine.

But, if you're still not sure how to start with this whole routine business, there are a lot of great books and resources out there that can help you prioritize and organize your time, and if you need one, go find one, they help. But here's some basic tips about starting a routine.

  • Start by writing down your current routine. See where you currently stand.
  • Then see if you have any spare time in there. Either totally empty minutes or if there are some activities (like browsing the internet) that you can trade for writing time.
  • Be flexible. Give yourself time to adjust to your new habit and don't feel like a failure just because you don't write for a day or two.

And finally, always look for opportunities to ninja write. Ninja writing is writing done on the fly, anytime, anywhere, even while you're at work (if you can pull it off). Being able to take advantage of every available minute in your day is a skill and it can be very helpful to learn.

And there you have it! Now go and figure out how you're going to make writing an everyday part of your life. And if you need some motivation, maybe this will help. ;)

Thanks so much for reading! If you like this, please share it and/or leave a comment.

Also, next week's update will happen on Thursday (the day after Christmas), so until then, have a Wonderful Wednesday and a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Writing Mojo: The Why, What, Where, When and How of Writing

Welcome to the first official installment of Kricket's Writing Tips for Beginners! Thanks so much for dropping by and I hope you learn something today.

Let's jump right in. So, you might be wondering, what is Writing Mojo, Kricket? Writing Mojo is the very basic building blocks of your writing. Your mojo is going to be different from every other persons mojo, it is unique and only you can figure out what yours is.

Writing Mojo answers these five questions.
  1. Why do you write?
  2. What do you write?
  3. Where do you write?
  4. When do you write?
  5. How do you write?
The first question is the most important and might be the hardest to answer. Why do YOU write? What is inspiring or motivating you to think, "I want to be a writer"? There are a million answers to this question, unique to every writer.

Some examples are:
  • I want to tell stories
  • I want to share my thought/beliefs with the world
  • I want to get published
  • I want to be famous/rich (not the best reason, but we'll get to that)
  • The voices in my head tell me to
Okay, exercise time! Now, go grab some paper and a pen or open a word document and title it MY WRITING MOJO. Then answer the question: Why do I write?

I (Kricket) write because I want to create worlds and characters that people will fall in love with and enjoy spending their time with.

This is one of the most important sentences you will write, ever. This is the core of your Writing Mojo. This is your mission statement. This is the thought you will fall back on when the writing gets tough. If it helps, print your statement out and tape it to your computer or the inside of your writing notebook, somewhere you will see it as you write.

Okay, now that you know Why you write, lets move on to What you write. This you probably already know. You know what type of writing you want to do, short stories or novels or poetry or some type of non-fiction. You might even have an idea of the genre or subject of your writing, fantasy or mommy issues, or whatever.

Back to your Writing Mojo page: under your Why statement, state what you write.

I (Kricket) write fantasy and/or science fiction novels.

Of course, this can change. Hell, even your Why can change. But if at some point you decide that writing short fantasy stories just isn't doing it for you, then you can try something new. Never be afraid to try something new.

Now, on to the last three: Where, When and How. These are pretty easy questions to answer but still require some consideration. These things might seem super basic and silly, but if you don't think about it now, you might find your self a little lost.

So consider where you will do most of your writing. And yes, "Anywhere" is an answer. When will you do most of your writing? And How will you do the majority of your writing? Write this down with the rest of your mojo.

I (Kricket) write at my kitchen table, all throughout the day (but mostly mornings) and I use my computer and MS Word.

I know, it seems so silly to actually write it down like that, but this will become important for the next part of this series, Your Routine: How To Make Writing A Part Of Your Daily Life. Also, as you begin to write you will find it necessary to refer back to your Writing Mojo to see if there are any adjustments that you need to make.

So, now that you've figured out your Writing Mojo, GO WRITE SOMETHING!

Again, thank you so much for reading. Please leave a comment, or share this post if you liked it. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions, either in the comments, or you can email me using the form in the upper left hand corner. Have a great Wednesday and see you next week!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Did It! And New Things

Holy Freaking Cow, I actually did it. I finished NaNoWriMo. And my final word count was 57,091. I pumped a lot of words out the last couple days of November. I've done this thing off and on for about 5 years now and this is the first time I've come anywhere close to 50K. So you know, I'm pretty thrilled. :)

Of course, Moon Dragons isn't quiet done yet. I still have 20 scenes to write, but I'm in the home stretch and about 75% done with this sucker. I figure I can finish this first draft by sometime in January, so that's the new goal.

And now, moving on to some exciting announcements! If you turn your attention to the top of the screen, you will notice a new tab called "Writing Resources". In it you will find links to some useful writing related web sites and I'm in the process of compiling a list of writing books that I have found useful.

In the vein of useful writing help, I am also going to be launching a new series here called Kricket's Writing Tips For Beginners. I've been wanting to do something like this for a long time, but just didn't know how.

So, I want to start this series by introducing myself (for those of you who don't know me yet), because I know when I'm looking at someone giving writing advice, I want to know their credentials and their experience, to see if I deem them qualified to give me advice.

I have been writing since I was 13. I have two completed manuscripts under my belt. I worked on the school newspaper in high school. I'm an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction and I'm fascinated with the publishing process. No, I have not published anything, haven't even tried. I'm not at that step in the process, yet. So what am I qualified to tell you about?

Next to nothing.

Honestly. I'm not going to sit here and pretend I know everything because I feel I'm just at the beginning of the path to becoming a serious writer. BUT, I do feel like I've learned a few things on my journey so far and I want to share them, and that's what I intend to do.

So here's a layout of how this series is going to go. I'm going to post every Wednesday and here's a brief overview of what I'm going to talk about.
As this series goes on, please, please feel free to comment with your thoughts and suggestions. Also, if you know of any other resources out there for writers that I haven't mentioned, please share! You can either leave a comment or email me, there's a form just to the left.

Thank you for reading and I hope you come by again in the weeks to come! Happy Wednesday! Go Write Something!