Today kicks off the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival. I’m so there.

Come join me for the fun!

I haven’t tweaked my goals yet, but I’m stealing a page from Vivi Andrews, who commented that she reserved the right to reassess her goals come Feb. 1. I think that’s an excellent idea.

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As many of you know, I’m proud to be a part of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s Winter Writing Festival.

Sure, it hasn’t started yet. (The kickoff is Jan. 10.) And I just officially signed up here this evening. But I’m eagerly anticipating the kickoff — and I’ve been busy trying to craft a list of attainable goals that will still result in a big payoff when the party’s over.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

— Write at least 200 words on Beth & Cody’s story OR

— Do intensive edit of at least 1 chapter of Meg & Matt or Kenny & Kristi OR

— Read one article in one of the many unread issues of RWR I have on file OR

— Write a blog post of at least 150 words for this blog, Love & Laughter. Posts for the weight loss blog don’t count.

There you have it — a list of simple and attainable goals that will still add up to big progress.

I may revisit this list again before Jan. 10 to tweak my options. But I think it’s a pretty complete just the way it is.

Any thoughts? What would you like to see me do?

A couple of months ago, I wrote an article for my RWA chapter newsletter about the Do’s and Don’ts of Setting Writing Goals. I thought I could use a refresher course before I craft some very attainable goals for the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival.

So how does one do it? How do you keep going through writer’s block, the day job, life’s little interruptions? (Most of the content below is excerpted from the Nov./Dec. issue of NARWA’s newsletter, High Country Highlights.)

If there’s a key, it lies in simply setting the goal. You won’t get started until you have somewhere you want to go.

These goal-setting guidelines were originally set out in a “Do’s and Don’ts” list by the folks at Spark People, but they can be applied to writing just as easily as weight loss:

• Do create a plan. Don’t wait for “someday” to roll around.

Before I started to treat writing like my day job so it will become my day job, I had tons of story starts that I thought about working on but didn’t. I figured I’d get around to it “someday” — when I wasn’t busy with other things.

Well, believe me when I say “someday” never comes. If you don’t make writing a priority, you won’t get it done.

• Do start small. Don’t focus on too many things at once.

I’m struggling with this one right now. I have so many irons in the fire — writing about Beth and Cody in their island paradise, editing two Golden Heart entries and plotting my NaNo novel — that at the end of the day I haven’t done much of anything. I’ve probably written no more than 10,000 words in the last month. After cranking out 110,000 between January and July, that just seems pathetic.
This is as true now as it was back in October, when I wrote the article … though my projects have shifted. I’m no longer editing GH entries, I’m editing the NaNo novel — and still trying to get through the first draft of Beth & Cody’s tale. And I’m contemplating beginning the query process with “Beauty and the Ballplayer.”

• Do write it down. Don’t forget to give yourself a deadline.

“Deadlines turn wishes into goals,” the Spark People article said. Deadlines also give you something concrete to work toward. Just make sure it’s a deadline you can control. “I want to finish a 60,000-word novel in six months” is under your control; “I want to be published by the time I turn 40” is not.

• Do track your progress. Don’t fool yourself into failure.

I keep track of words written each day on an Excel spreadsheet. I also keep a list of agents I’ve queried and their responses.  My friend Mallory recently blogged about GoalForIt, an online goal tracking program.

I find the idea of GoalForIt intriguing, but it could prove to be too much of a   distraction for me. I can tell the days I spend more time playing online by the lower word count in my chart.

Why, oh why, can’t someone invent a program that beeps to remind you to get back to work every time you waste more than five minutes on Facebook or Twitter?

• Do find a support system. Don’t try to do it alone.

Yes, writing is a solitary pursuit. You can’t write by committee  — at least not well. You can, however, seek the company of like-minded people to keep you going when you feel like giving up. Attend your local RWA chapter’s meetings. Read and comment on your favorite writing blogs. Schedule a write-in at the local coffee house. Ask someone whose opinion you trust to read through your contest entry before you mail it off.

To wrap it all up: The secret to writing success is to make time to write. Set some small, achievable goals and start meeting them. With determination and a little support from your writer friends, your star will rise.

If I do say so myself, that’s some pretty fantastic advice. Now, I just need to practice what I preached.

Jan. 10 will be here before I know it. That means it’s time to craft my goals for the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival.

But before I do that, I feel a need to create some writing resolutions for 2011.

2010 was a very successful year for me. I wrote more than 180,000 words, entered the Golden Heart in not one but two categories, successfully completed the NaNoWriMo with a 53,000-word story and scored my first-ever contest final.

In 2011, I want to build on that success and keep the momentum going. After all, I’m now less than a year away from the big 4-0 (the arbitrary date I set for myself to get published).

But how? That’s a very good question. I wish I knew the answer — but I don’t. All I can do is try to set some goals for myself.

Keep writing. I wrote 180K+ in year because I sat down to write most days. I can’t say every day, mind you. However, I did write more often than not. I treated writing like a day job … a part-time one, at least. I took myself to Starbucks (where, until July, I did not have access to the Internet. Am I the only one who thinks free WiFi at the Bux is a bad idea?)

Continue my search for the right agent. At our last NARWA meeting, I stated the intention to send out at least two queries a week. Hopefully my agent search will become easier in April, after I final in the Golden Heart. (A girl’s nothing without her dreams, right?) Speaking of GH dreams, I already requested the week of Nationals as a vacation week so I can go when I final. 😉

— Finish the first draft on Beth & Cody’s story.

— Edit Kenny & Kristi, my NaNo novel. I started reading through it again last week and still thought it was excellent … meaning, of course, I haven’t been away from it long enough to see its flaws yet.

— Take at least two online classes/workshops this year, so I can can continue to hone the craft.

Read more. Writers read. Conventional wisdom says you should read as many books in your genre as you can get your hands on. Now that I’m concentrating so much energy on writing, I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. BW (before writing), I could devour two to three books a week. Now, I’m lucky to finish two a month.

Hopefully, that will change soon. The Boyfriend is getting me an e-reader for Christmas. I’m hoping access to cheaper books will encourage me to read more. (Then again, I have shelves full of still-unread books, and that hasn’t been an encouragement. It just adds to the clutter in my room.)

Build up this blog. My weight-loss blog is moderately successful, even if my weight-loss efforts have faltered. It’s doing so well that I pulled in more than 1,000 hits for two of the last 12 months. Love & Laughter, on the other hand, gets between 100 and 150.

One big difference is posting frequency. Here, I’ve been lucky to post once a week. There, I sometimes put up multiple entries in a single day.

Any other suggestions for me? What about you? What are YOUR 2011 writing goals?

 

The gals at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood have just announced the details of their new Winter Writing Festival and I can’t wait to dive in.

The gist: You set the goals that will work for you and check in with the Rubies once a week to let them know how you’re doing. You earn 1 point a day for meeting your personal goal, and anyone who earns 50 points during the festival is a winner.

The challenge starts on Jan. 10. Now all I need to do is craft some goals.

Get more details here.

I figure there’s one sure way to beat Golden Heart anxiety: By keeping myself too busy to think about the elusive Call that I could get sometime Thursday.

That’s at least one of the reasons I’ve set down not one, not two, but THREE goals to accomplish before our next NARWA meeting. (Our chapter has a “goal book,” in which we write goals. The entry fee is $1 per goal, and if we accomplish our goals, we’re entered in a drawing for the goal book cash at the next meeting.)

The goals I chose are fairly straightforward:

  1. To finish the first draft of Meg and Matt’s story. (I’m so close it’s not funny. I figure the only way this won’t happen is if I get the Call and am too distracted by GH festivities to focus.)
  2. Send queries on Brad & Erin’s story to at least two more publishers.
  3. Write a synopsis for Kari & Damien’s story, “Blind Date Bride.

If that sounds overly ambitious, it’s because it probably is … but on its own, not one of those goals is too terribly difficult to reach.

I have less than 10K to write to finish Meg & Matt’s rough draft.

The query is written — all I need to do is find a few  more agents I want to query (and maybe re-do my synopsis. Those contest judges said there wasn’t enough conflict. Maybe I just didn’t emphasize the conflict that’s there enough in my synopsis).

The toughest will be to write Kari & Damien’s synopsis. They were the reason I signed up for the RWA Online synopsis writing class, though. I might as well do the work and get my money’s worth.

All these projects should keep me busy until our May meeting. If I hear from RWA on Thursday, great — maybe I’ll only get two of the three accomplished. But if not, at least I’ll have something to do besides sobbing into a vat of Ben & Jerry’s.

After all, a girl’s gotta have goals, right? 😉