Writing Journal 60: From Goals to Plans

Writing Journal 60: From Goals to Plans

My writing journal for Saturday, October 11, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

It’s Saturday, so it’s a short writing day for me. I have a couple of coaching calls this evening.

I start with the mystery novel, which is still flowing right along. Only 1,400 words today, because I plotted out a few more scenes, so that I could build the sleuth’s arc.

Next, work on the two nonfiction books, which went well, with another 1,300 words.

Then Honey’s breakfast. I need to hide her monthly worming tablet in her breakfast. She’s fussy, and won’t take tablets; I need to mix them in her food and hope they dissolve so she doesn’t see them.

Lots of email this morning; the backlog is building up. I’ll need to deal with some of it late this afternoon, if I get back in time.

An interesting message from a coaching client asked about goal-setting. I tend to have a “whatever works” attitude. If you’re achieving your goals, you’re doing it right, so don’t mess with a process that works.

If you’re not working happily towards your goals, here’s what works for me, and for my students.

From goals to plans

Here’s my basic method:

Intention => Goal => Plan

Your intention is vital — what do you WANT? Why do you want it? One of the many reasons I journal daily (obviously this journal is highly expurgated :-)) is that it helps me to set goals that I really want to achieve, and which have real meaning. For most of us, it’s a real challenge to cut through the noise in our heads, and discover meaning in our lives.

Your goals grow from your intentions, and your plans grow from your goals. As someone said, all plans are useless, but planning is essential. Without a plan, you just stand still. A plan gets you moving.

Initially, your plan is fuzzy. It will come into focus, as long as you take the first step. Sometimes, all you can see is the first step. Take it, with confidence, and the next step will become obvious. Take another step, and you’ll see another few steps to take. You’re moving, headed towards your goal, and that’s all that counts.

Your comfort zone

Try to take ONE small step outside your comfort zone every day. It doesn’t matter in what area you choose. My latest steps outside my comfort zone are into art. I love art. I watch artists’ videos on YouTube. I can get completely lost in images. But it’s my firm belief that I can’t make art. So, I’ve decided to step way outside my comfort zone, and do a small sketch each day for a week.

Ghostwriting the company history book

The client reviewed the first draft of the company history book. I also sent a scope of additional material I thought would be effective. We’ve reached an agreement for the additional material, so it’s full steam ahead on that.

I slotted it into my schedule; then it’s time to leave to run errands.

More blogging

I’m back. I catch up on some emails, and review my clients’ blogs.

Blogs are like rabbits. They multiply. I always seem to take on more than I should, because I get excited about a new project’s potential. A couple of my blogging commissions will end soon. If the clients want to commission me again, I’ll subcontract the work. I need to cut down, to focus more on coaching, my own fiction, and my own blogs and websites.

I’ll do more blogging tomorrow; Sunday is my big “blog planning” day.

With my daily review done, it’s time to prepare for my coaching calls.

After that, I’ll catch up on my reading.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 44: Creativity Tools for Writers

Writing Journal 44: Creativity Tools for Writers

My writing journal for Thursday, September 25, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

The first draft of the client’s novella is done; now for the editing. In preparation for that, I compiled it from Scrivener to MOBI, so that I can read it tonight without distractions.

That just took a couple of minutes, so I’ve got time to write a quick draft of a short story for my Christmas collection of 25 stories; I managed 1,500 words. It will grow to around 3,000 words at a guess. I’ve just sketched in a couple of the big scenes. I created a graphic of how many scenes you need for various types of fiction projects. Students have found it useful.

Next, onward to the company history I’m ghostwriting. This went slowly this morning, only 800 words. I need to get more information, and I need to backtrack too. Whenever I feel uncertain about a project, it’s always wise to go back. As I tell my students: you can’t have a strong book without a strong beginning, and it may take you a while to get there.

I fix Honey’s breakfast, then have my own, while reading email. I caught up on some email last night, but there’s still a backlog. I need to deal with some of it before it gets out of hand.

Then it’s time to get to work on the company history, and check my draft blog posts until lunch.

Readers have asked about productivity, and how to stay creative.

Creativity tools: clustering, free writing and doodling

You can’t push creativity. However you can use tools which will help you to be creative. My favorite creativity tools are clustering, free writing, and doodling.

Vital: give yourself space. If you’re working with clients, you’ll be tempted to push yourself hard, so that you can meet deadlines. When you do that, you risk burning out. Years ago, I went through a burned out period, and once was enough. I always pull myself back if I feel that I’m pushing.

A tip: have fun. I can’t emphasize that enough. That’s not a frivolous statement. New writers tend to think “having fun” is the last thing they should be doing, but as Carl Jung said:

“the creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by play.”

If you haven’t discovered this for yourself, you’ll soon learn from experience.

When you stop having fun with something, take it as a warning that you’re pushing yourself too hard. Step back.

Another tip: take BREAKS. I use timers, and after every 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the project), I take a five minute break. I’ll do a crossword, or listen to some music. I might make a coffee, or take Honey outside. I might send a couple of texts. Whatever — I get up, move around, and clear my mind.

Yes, sometimes I get so involved that I don’t do this, but I know that I’ll be more productive when I take regular breaks. I use various timers, my current favorites are Repeat Timer Pro, and Tomatoes.

Lunch at my computer today, while browsing social media. I didn’t get a chance to walk this morning. It’s raining.

A full afternoon

I start off the afternoon with the company history, and do 2,800 words. I’m pleased. However, it’s taken over three hours. I didn’t want to stop. I knew I’d have trouble getting into the right frame of mind for this section again.

Next, the Kindle ebook for my coaching client. I made notes and did some research an managed 1,000 words on that.

I had to break off to return some calls, and respond to an urgent email message.

With that done, it’s time for the daily review, and totaling my word counts. Tonight, I’ll need to catch up with email, and read the MOBI of the novella.

Team Up: yes, it’s the final one for the year

We’ve received some questions about Team Up.

Yes, this is the final program for the year. Once we hit October, we’re coming into the very busy holiday sales period. It usually means a rush of copywriting projects, so look for the next Team Up to be scheduled for March or April 2015.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 29: Ghostwriting a Company History

Writing Journal 29: Ghostwriting a Company History

My writing journal for Wednesday, September 10, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Another ghostwriting project came in late yesterday, which means there’s no time for my fiction and nonfiction ghostwriting projects this morning. I’ll get to them later today.

I enjoy ghostwriting projects which are different. This one’s a company history. The 50th anniversary of the company’s founding is coming up in two months. The company history will be part of the celebrations, and is also for historical purposes. My client’s considering a small book, plus a glossy magazine. I’m writing the book; the material for the magazine will include excerpts from the book.

Once I accepted the project — which I did, immediately, because it’s fascinating, and I know I’ll enjoy it — I needed to do some quick research, and planning. I’ve got a meeting this morning, so on the way back, I’ll pop into the library and do some more research. I want to look at newspapers from the 1960s, just to get a sense of the era.

By the end of the day, I’m hoping that I’ll have some questions for my first interview with the client.

Time to catch up with email

I zoom through email. Last night I read through the Christmas stories I’ve done so far, and planned a couple more. I also caught up on student emails a little. I need to do some more of that tonight, so I can get it under control.

With that out of the way, it’s time for Honey’s breakfast and my own. I make some notes too; I need to rearrange projects to deal with the company history. If I spend more time on the nonfiction book each day, I’ll be able to wrap it up sooner. Just last week I was congratulating myself on being ahead on it.

The product-launch website content, and the pitch presentation are slotted in for this afternoon, along with the novella and nonfiction book. So, a busy day ahead, which is great. I enjoy having lots to do. It’s Wednesday already, so I’ll try and get another Christmas story done by the weekend.

Newsreader apps

I’m loving Leaf. (Mac.) I’m leaving it running as I write, and it picks up posts instantly, just minutes after publication. My best newsreader by far.

Getting book reviews

Over the past weeks, writers have been asking about book reviews. Reviews are basically just marketing. If you only have one book on Amazon, focus on writing, rather than reviews— here’s how to get reviews.

Time to head out…

An afternoon with fiction and nonfiction

Back again, so it’s time for my usual daily fiction novella, and nonfiction book. Just over an hour on each, for 1,000 words of fiction, and 1,800 words of nonfiction.

Next, I need to focus on the Web content for the product launch; but I want to leave a little time for the pitch presentation too.

It’s almost three hours later, and I’m tired. Running around broke up the writing day. That’s as much as I can handle without a long break.

I’m planning on catching up with with student projects for a couple of hours later, so that should get emails up to date. I also need to work on the questions for my first interview for the company history.

Daily review done, word counts done… time for a break. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.