Posts Tagged ‘Goals’
Posted on January 16, 2013 - by Rose Ross Zediker
It’s mid-January. By now you’ve read many blogs posts about the importance of setting goals for your writing career. You’ve set a specific and attainable goal like writing a historical category romance novel and marketing it to agents by the end of December.
So now what? If you want to really complete that novel and send it to agent by the end of the year, you must follow through on your goal.
Here are a few tips that I use to keep on track so at the end of the year I’m happy with my progress:
1) Breakdown the goal(s) into twelve month increments. Nothing is worse than realizing its December 1st and the last time you worked on your novel was May.
2) Write down your monthly goals. I use a journal but a spreadsheet or calendar works great too. Use whatever works best for you.
3) Keep your monthly goals visible. Remember out of sight, out of mind.
4) At the end of the month honestly review your progress. I do this in the same journal that I use to list my monthly goals. The key to this is not to gloss over the undone tasks. Note why you didn’t get the tasks done. Did you blow them off to go to the movies? Or did the flu put you in bed for three days? Illness is not something you can control however you control your social life. It’s okay to go to the movies but use that as a reward when you complete your monthly goals.
Setting your goal(s) seems to be the star of the show. In reality, it’s the follow through plan that’s important and helps you score that goal.
Implementing a follow through plan that works for you takes time. Have you found a follow through plan that works for you?
Posted on February 28, 2012 - by Shannon Vannatter
* The author has never been to a writers’ meeting or conference—who cares.
* It’s the first book the author has ever written—who cares.
* The author’s craft isn’t up to par—who cares.
* This genre isn’t selling well—who cares.
* It’s not Amish—who cares.
* It’s not Historical Romance—who cares.
* It’s not vampires—who cares.
* It’s not werewolves—who cares.
* It’s not zombies—who cares.
* Book sales overall are down—who cares.
Yes, just one day, where anyone can get just one book published. Let’s not think about how badly written the books might be. Or how much the author has to learn. Or about platform. Or about web presence. Or about sales. Let’s just dream big.
Posted on January 5, 2012 - by Shari Barr
Don’t quit. Those two words are the most important ones I’ve heard as a writer—especially in the prepublication days.
Even after story and article acceptances began trickling in, I was tempted to just chuck it all when acceptances didn’t come my way as often as I thought they should. But I am so glad I didn’t. Perseverance is an essential trait to finding success as a writer. (A bit of stubbornness comes in handy too.)
Those days of just plugging along, selling an article here and there, and wondering if my ship was ever going to come in, led to opportunities I had never considered.
My dream had always been to write fiction, but when I got a chance to write non-fiction, I not only added credits to my resume, the door eventually opened to my first book deal.
Switching gears to the world of non-fiction was one of the best things I ever did in my writing career. Not only did it open my eyes to a new genre, it gave me incentive to keep writing. It’s really hard to quit when you know someone depends on your muse and sends you a paycheck to show how much they appreciate you.
In my early days as a writer, God had a different plan for my writing. He knew I wasn’t ready to write a full-length novel, so He opened up a door for me to write Sunday school curriculum for middle grade kids. This was more creative than I ever thought possible. No, I wasn’t writing fiction, but I was teaching God’s word and hopefully making it fun for kids in the process.
Out of this opportunity came two non-fiction book deals with the same publisher. These credits gave me confidence and experience, helping pave the way for several books in a mystery series for middle grade girls. Need I say more about why I’m glad I didn’t quit.
Even if your dreams don’t include becoming a writer, perseverance is the key to achieving your goals. Satan is the one putting those negative, self-deprecating thoughts into your head. God never whispers the word “quit” into your ear. Satan, however, loves it when people give up on their dreams, especially when those aspirations involve spreading the word of God. God may not provide a straight shot to the pot at the end of the rainbow. He may take you on a little detour first.
Posted on December 6, 2011 - by Shannon Vannatter
Our Christmas season is even more stressful and hectic than usual this year. My husband is transitioning from bi-vocational pastor to full time pastor. This transition affects our finances, our lifestyle, and his mental peace. It’s scary to put your finances in the control of a hundred people. Christians are just people. Humans. Our finances are in the control of a hundred humans. Yes, I earn a little with my books now, but publishing is very inconsistent. My income would get us on food stamps fast.
This was our plan. We had some spendable money in savings. Grant needed time off after leaving the dental lab where he’s been a technician for 26 years. We planned for him to have two weeks between his last day at the lab and his first day at the church. Two weeks with spendable money. At the time, since Heartsong Presents was ending in December, I didn’t have any deadlines. We were going to relax, spend some time together, and enjoy ourselves.
We planned a trip to Texas for Thanksgiving. In Rodeo Dust, my hero’s ranch is in Aubrey and he rodeos at the Fort Worth Stockyards. We decided to stop in both places for book signings. It was perfect timing since Aubrey was having Christmas on Main—a festival with booths, crafts, and lots of people milling about. Aubrey’s city secretary got all excited and put my signing in several newspapers. It was during the day, so I could be at Fort Worth that night. Then we’d go on to San Antonio to see family. We wouldn’t have to worry about funds and we’d do some Christmas shopping when we got back.
Reality turned into a mixture of good and bad:
- Heartsong Presents extended the line.
- My car went kaput. The bill $1200.00.
- The booksigning in Fort Worth didn’t come together.
- Grant ended up with three checkless weeks off instead of two.
I’d cried over my two seemingly dead books, so miraculously having them resurrected was a blessing. Suddenly, I had a deadline, plus edits. But I had to work during Grant’s time off.
Our spendable money had dwindled. At least we had the money to get my car fixed, but we had to limp to Aubrey since it had already been in several newspapers that I was coming. We couldn’t afford to go on to San Antonio.
In the two weeks after we got back, we couldn’t Christmas shop or even eat out much.
How it turned out:
It was an awesome day in Aubrey. Nancy Downes, the city secretary had outdone herself with a 4′ by 8′ poster of me and the book. It was much bigger than it looks in the picture. The people treated me like royalty. My signing was in Moms on Main, the restaurant where my characters eat after church in books 2 and 3 of the rodeo series. I got to eat a yummy Philly Cheese Steak sandwich there and see where the peanut festival is held, which is in all three books.
For Rodeo Dust, I’d written blindly, since I’d never been to Aubrey, so Nancy critiqued my scenes to make sure I had Aubrey right. It was great meeting her and the Murrays who own Moms. They bought 30 copies of Rodeo Dust to sell in their restaurant and a small Christian bookstore bought copies also. In the end, I sold 58 books, some at full price and some for resale.
Though I sold books, the trip cost way more than I made. But the research was priceless. Actually being in Aubrey was so worth the trip. I can capture so much more for book 2 and 3 since I’ve actually been there. The Christmas tree decorated with American flags at the top of this post was in Moms. It’s definitely going in book 3.
The family member we were going to see in San Antonio ended up in the hospital during the very time we’d planned to be there for our visit. It would have been nice to be with her in the hospital, but it wouldn’t have been a very good visit. She’s fine, but still tired and sore, so having company would have been an added stress once she got home.
My contact from the Stockyards e-mailed me the week we got back. She’s missed my e-mail, but said I was welcome any time. Oh the irony.
We spent the two and a half weeks after the Texas trip with me working and Grant bored. But every year, our son gets a week out at Thanksgiving. With Grant off work, we got to share it as a family this year. And I worked after they were in bed at night, so I enjoyed the week with them both.
An added bonus, Saturday was the annual Christmas parade where we live. Our church always enters a float.
In 2009, our huge, 8′ by 16′ King James Bible won second place. In 2010, our blue lit city of Bethlehem won 1st place. This year, we had a live nativity in blue lights on one end. An empty cross, Roman soldiers and mourners in the middle with red spotlights. Then a red carpet leading up golden stairs guarded by sword wielding angels at the foot of the throne where Jesus sat. We won first place again. Our prayer is always that we touched souls with our message. The banner along the side of the float said, “Believest thou this?”
Our horizon isn’t any less hectic. Grant went to the church today for his first week as full time pastor. I still have half a book to write by January 16th. I’m trying to get the first draft done by the 20th when our son gets out of school for Christmas break.
- Tonight is our church association pastors and wives dinner.
- Tomorrow night is our ladie’s prayer group Christmas party.
- Wednesday night is church.
- Thursday night, we’re loading up in the church van to drive 45 miles and see a live nativity and city of Bethlehem.
- Friday, my family is going to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas concert. Our 7 year tradition.
- Saturday, my guys are going with the church to Branson to see The Miracle of Christmas. I’m going 45 miles to a book signing I’d already committed to before the church trip came up.
So things aren’t perfect in Arkansas this year. But life is good. We’ve prayed for Grant to go full time at the church for several years and never dreamed it would happen this soon. I have two more books coming out in 2012. We should have more family time since Grant only has one job. And in the end, we have to put our finances, stresses, and peace on God’s shoulders and trust Him to handle it all for us.
Posted on November 8, 2011 - by Shannon Vannatter
Dear Teenage Shannon,
Be yourself. Stop trying to mimic others. They’re not any cooler than you are, so stop feeling bad about yourself. God made you the individual you are.
Don’t worry so much about what others think of you. Your audience is an audience of one. It only matters what God thinks of you.
You don’t have to dress immodestly to get the boys’ attention. They’ll notice, no matter what you wear. And if it takes immodest clothing to attract him, he’s not the kind of boy you need. (Your parents won’t allow it anyway, thank goodness.)
Stop being embarrassed by your parents. Some day, you’ll be in their shoes and realize how wise they are. And how much they love you.
Start an exercise program now. That way, it’s second nature and when you’re older, it will already be part of your routine.
Don’t go to cosmetology school. You’ll only waste your parents’ money and get stuck doing your mother’s hair for life. Hairdressing isn’t glamorous. It’s hard, nasty, and exhausting. Stick with your first instinct: computers.
Even better—they’re books. Those stories in your head that you never know what to do with. Don’t wait until you’re thirty-three to figure that out.
The move to rural Arkansas. Stop fighting it. Embrace your new home. You’ll grow to love it, never, ever want to live anywhere near a city again, and meet the love of your life there.
In fact, you’ve already met him. That new boy that lights your fire–the rumors are true–but be patient, God is working on him.
Pay more attention to young boys. Someday you’ll have one. The things he does and dirt he can find will astound you.
Always remember. No matter what happens or what life throws at you, you’ve got Jesus to get you through.
Posted on October 25, 2011 - by Shannon Vannatter
GMC. The first time I heard of it, I’d signed with an agent. Back in 2002 with my original version of White Roses. She told me I should read GMC. I thought car. She patiently explained that it’s a book—GMC: Goals, Motivation, & Conflict by Debra Dixon. It was out of print, but I found a copy for $19.95. I was a stay at home mom and it wasn’t in our budget to pay that much for a used book.
Shortly afterward, the agent downsized her list and I was one of her clients that got cut. Looking back, I don’t know why she signed me. She’s a good agent, still in the business, and has sold a lot of books. All I can figure is that she saw promise, but soon realized she didn’t have enough time to polish a diamond in the rough. And I don’t blame her. I know now that my writing wasn’t anywhere near publishable then.
Fast forward to 2008. I went to the ACFW conference in Minneapolis, where I had a paid critique for Rodeo Dust with Margaret Daley. In my original version, my heroine is at the State Fair of Texas, touring livestock barns with a co-worker/date. Even though, she hates farm animals and she has a rule about not dating co-workers.
Margaret: “Why would the heroine go to place she doesn’t enjoy with a co-worker on a date when she has a rule not to date co-workers?”
Me: “So she can meet the hero there.”
Margaret: “You need to read GMC.”
Okay. I gave in. You don’t have to beat me over the head with it. When I got home, I ordered the book. By then, Debra Dixon had gotten the rights back and I got a new copy for $19.95.
I read it from cover to cover and discovered a whole new world. A world that makes everything your characters do—make sense. I changed it to where my Rodeo Dust heroine went with her brother to the fair because she wanted him to date her best friend. So she accompanied them, so it wouldn’t seem like a date and they could realize how much in common they had. See how much better that is?
I also worked out the GMC for White Roses and every other book I’d been reworking for years. Now, I carefully chart out my GMC before I start a book.
Most of the time anyway. I jumped into a story not too long ago, just because it had been bugging me for a long time. I wrote the first three chapters in a hurry, then had an editor express interest when I showed her the One Sheet. I sent it to my critters, Brenda, Lorna, and Jerri.
Brenda: “I don’t understand her goal.”
Me: “Oops. I just dashed it off and forgot to do the GMC.”
I worked out the GMC and made changes. Brenda liked it. And so did I
So for a short lesson:
G – Goal: This is what your character wants.
M – Motivation: This is why your character wants the goal.
C – Conflict: This is why your character can’t reach their goal.
My heroine wanted her brother to date her best friend because she wants them both to be happy, but they wouldn’t agree to go out on a date.
Thus my Rodeo Dust heroine tours the livestock barns, hating every minute of it. But her brother and best friend love it, proving that they should live happily ever after, just like she knew they should. It makes perfect sense for her to be there. And while she’s there, she meets the hero.
This is only the GMC for the first scene. Your GMC for the entire plot needs to have much more at stake. Something like, if the heroine doesn’t get her brother and best friend together, her brother will accept that job offer in China.
I could get into a lot more detail, but I believe that’s called plagiarism. In short, your story should have an over-arcing internal and external GMC. But each scene should have GMC also. If you work out the GMC for every scene, everything your character does will make perfect sense.
Maybe if I’d have gotten the book back in 2002, I’d have sold White Roses in 2003 instead of 2009.
To get into all the intricacies of internal and external GMC, I highly recommend the book. This is one of the few craft books that doesn’t make my brain glaze over. It’s all laid out in a simple, easy to understand format. Debra Dixon is now an acquisitions editor at a publishing house. And since 2008, I’ve had editors actually ask me about my characters’ GMC during pitch sessions.
Posted on January 25, 2011 - by JerriLynn
I’m not an adrenaline junkie. I’m not a spotlight hound. I’m also not super fond of having the attention of anyone in the room, let along everyone. But I deal with it. Over the years I’ve trained myself, through schooling and personal efforts, to deal with it. It’s not that I ever really expect to be famous. Tech writers can be the most accomplished writers you’ve never heard of it.
No, the reason that I push myself into situations that really aren’t in my comfort zone is fear. It’s that great paralyzing moment when you sit down at the computer, put your fingers on the keys, and then your brain starts in on you.
“Are you sure you want to try to do this?”
“Of course. I have this really great story to tell. And I know there are people who will want to read it.”
“I mean, really? I could understand it if you had some talent. But you know you don’t right?”
“I have talent. My mother says so.”
“She only says that because she has to. You’re her child. What if she’s lying and you really don’t. And what if you make a fool of yourself, huh? What then?”
And so the internal argument goes. That fear monster pops up when you’re least expecting it. Like when you have a story in your mind that you know you can write. The fear monster pops his head up and makes you being to doubt. Or after the first book is published (or any book, for that matter). Fear will make you begin to doubt that you have another book in you.
The only way to take away the power of the fear monster, at least for me, is to ignore it. Push through the fear. I know, it sounds a lot like a self-help manual. But there are reasons that so many have been written. Fear is the leading emotion holding most people back. Fear of failure. And fear of success. Because success comes with it’s own set of responsibilities.
I wrote my first book (like many other firsts in my career) as a fluke. When it was all said and done, my agent (whom I also found through some cosmic coincidence) wanted to know what I would do next. Next? You’re kidding, right? I have to write another one? I can’t write another one! What if everyone hates the first one?
Guess what? Some of my books have been terrible. Honestly. I’ll own up to it. But I pushed through the fear, whichcaused me to doubt, and I wrote those books. And others, too. I wrote training materials, and then got in front of audiences and taught them about the things I wrote about. I didn’t want to, but I instinctually knew that if I didn’t, the fear would win.
I always think of it as being a linebacker. You have a goal in mind. Whatever that goal is, you have to focus on that and barrel through whatever is standing in your way. Because if you don’t, that six-foot-five linebacker that you’re facing will scare the color out of your hair! He’s got a goal, too, and if he is more determined than you, he’ll go right through you to reach his goal. If that means you’re left laying broken and bloody on the field…well, it’s a casualty of the game.
I wish I could say that I’ve leaned on Jesus through this whole journey, but that’s not true. It’s only been the last few years that I’ve had the comfort of Jesus and knowing that everything is in His time. But even with His support, I still have to move forward of my own free will. It would be easy to allow failures to mean that it’s not His will. But I don’t buy that. I think He’s just preparing us for tomorrow and the next day. So, I push forward. Uncomfortable. Afraid. Sometimes doubtful. I still keep moving.
Posted on October 26, 2010 - by Shannon Vannatter
Our ladies prayer group at church set a goal of thirty shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Some of us have struggled financially this year. Some could only afford to fill one box, some no boxes, and some several boxes. We decided to all buy however little or much we could, then bring our gifts to the church and fill the boxes together. We ended up with a closet full of donated toys, jewelry, crayons, coloring books, school supplies, and hygiene products.
Before everyone arrived to fill the boxes, we decided we didn’t have enough items for older kids. Some people had donated money, but the treasurer hadn’t arrived yet, so we didn’t know how much. On faith, a couple of us went shopping and ended up spending more than we thought we should. When the treasurer arrived, the donations amounted to almost exactly the money we’d spent.
By the time we ran out of boxes, another donation had come in to pay for more. Another shopping trip only brought in four more boxes. Apparently several of the churches in my town are participating in Operation Christmas Child. Once we find more boxes, we should be able to fill a total of fifty.
We didn’t make any plans on who would buy what, how many, for a boy or girl, or what age group, but it all worked out above and beyond our goal. See what happens when you surrender the details to God?
Posted on January 15, 2010 - by Kav
Have you ever heard of a Round Tuit? It’s an invaluable little device and if you can get your hands on one you’ll be amazed at what you can get accomplished – you know all those things you’ve been putting off doing? Like the chapter-by-chapter synopsis for your book – I know, I haven’t gotten ‘around to it’ yet myself. Or carving out that invaluable niche of time necessary for writing. Hard to get ‘around to it’, isn’t it? And then there’s the research that needs doing – haven’t got ‘around to it’ either. Woe is me! How will I ever get around to achieving all my writing goals if I don’t get ‘around to it’?
That’s why I have enjoyed this blog session so much. You have all inspired me to do better with my own goal setting. I’m amazed at how diverse a group we are and yet can still be connected by so many common threads. As I have read and reflected on your blog posts these past two weeks, I’ve been reminded that I have had many examples of dedicated goal achievers in my life. They inspire me as I hope they will you.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” Laurence J. Peter
I have a friend who is backpacking around Vietnam right now. She took a minimal amount of clothing and larger amount of first aid and emergency supplies and won’t be back for five weeks. Why? Because it had always been a dream of hers and, at fifty-eight, she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to make it a reality unless she finally got around to it. So she set a goal, started saving and when the opportunity presented itself she was ready.
“Obstacles are those things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” Hannah More
Celeste is a nursing student at the college I work part-time at. An immigrant to Canada, she has overcome many obstacles in her desire to become a nurse. That yearning began when she was a young girl treated at a mission health clinic in Haiti. She credits those missionaries with saving her life…and changing it. She wanted to be just like them, so she set a goal that everyone thought was unattainable.
She struggled through poverty and lack of adequate education before immigrating to Canada and enduring more poverty while she worked at menial jobs and upgraded her high school education so that she could finally enroll in the nursing program. She will graduate this May and has always intended to return to Haiti and serve the country and the people she loves. I saw her just days after the earthquake and with tears in her eyes, she told me her resolve hadn’t wavered now that her ultimate goal is in sight. She will still go home in the spring. Haiti needs her more than ever now.
Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it. Rene Descartes
My friend, Mary, died of cancer several years ago but I still remember (though find it hard to apply) her example when it comes to resolve. After her initial diagnosis she resolved to beat the cancer ravaging her body. They gave her months to live; she thrived for years. They told her she couldn’t go back to work; she continued counseling high school students in her capacity as guidance counselor until the last time she was admitted into the hospital.
I think she actually accomplished more in those two and a half ‘cancer’ years than I have in ten ‘healthy’ years. How did she to do it? She made mini-goals and broke them down even further. She didn’t get overwhelmed at the thought of going into work on a ‘bad’ day because she eased into it in stages. First she’d work on the sitting up part and then on the getting her feet into slippers part. Then she’d shuffle down the hall and have a shower. Each small feat was an accomplishment and all of them made the end result entirely doable…getting to school and working with her kids.
Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new beginning. Author Unknown
I’m ready for a new beginning and the promises it will bring…how about you?
Posted on January 14, 2010 - by Regina
I always approach reading each day’s Inkspirational Messages blog with excitement, and, I admit it, a bit of trepidation. Why? Because I know that while they all make me smile, they also make me THINK.
I’m saying that like thinking is a BAD thing? Well, it’s not, but sometimes it FEELS like a bad thing. Especially when you start stepping on toes—particularly MINE!
Goals, resolutions . . . these have always been scary to me, because, like some of you have said, many times they’re destined for disappointment. When I think of goals and resolutions, I prefer to think of them like the Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean) approach to the pirate code. “They’re more like guidelines, really.”
But then I get to the nitty-gritty. What am I afraid of? Why do I approach my life’s call the way I do? What is my purpose? Can I really DO this ?
After reading Kim’s blog the other day, I was finally, after about three weeks of writing little to NOTHING, inspired to write what was on my heart. What was on my heart was a spirit of fearfulness. The only way to face it was to do what a writer does—pour it out on paper.
I have this friend who knows me better than I know myself.
She’s not someone I really like to hang out with,
But she’s always there, hovering in the background, making herself comfortable
When I’m having a good day, she’s standing there, arms crossed, ready to argue
That it’s NOT really a good day, after all.
She’ll give me that “look,” that tells me I’ve got it wrong all over again.
She doesn’t say anything on those days,
But simply shakes her head in disdain as my heart fills with doubt.
Why do I put up with her?
Why do I call her “friend?”
Why don’t I just call a halt to this out-of control relationship?
Because she’s me.
She’s that part of me that never REALLY thinks I can do it.
That is always afraid “they” will find out I’m a fraud.
That I’m not really as good as “they” say I am.
Her name is fear, also known as self-doubt,
Also known as insecurity, also known as defeat.
How can I overcome this part of me?
Can I pray it through? Yes.
Can I count on God to take this annoying little voice away? Yes.
Then why is she still here?
Because I keep calling her back.
I keep on reaching out to her,
Just in case she’s all I have when all is said and done.
So, I continue to nurture her.
I send her away,
Only to have her face flash in my mind at the most inopportune moments.
I don’t let her win;
But I don’t make her lose, either.
What am I afraid of?
At times, pretty much everything.
Are you fearful? I know I am. This is a journey unlike any other I’ve faced before. It threatens to expose the innermost part of me that before now only God has seen. That’s scary. But it’s also the only way I can truly open myself up to God, truly trust and depend on Him, and truly become a usable tool for Him.
May we all, in this year of our LORD 2010, become the tools HE wants us to be.