One Writer’s Journey

March 9, 2015

Setting Goals: Combine both short and long term goals

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:56 am
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goal postsAre you a writer who sets goals?  I am but it may just be a byproduct of my somewhat anal personality.  When I enter my office Monday, I want to know what I’m going to be working on over the course of the week.  Not that that is always what happens but if I don’t set any goals, I don’t tend to get anything done.

If you haven’t been particularly productive, why not try setting some goals?  You might also consider setting goals if you’re writing income isn’t what you want it to be.   I use a combination of what I consider short-term goals and long-term goals.  I have both short and long-term writing goals as well as short and long-term financial goals.

Long term writing goals are big projects like a book.  This week, I’m finishing up the book that I will workshop at the upcoming Missouri SCBWI writers retreat.  I just agreed to write another book for Red Line.  That’s a long-term goal.

Short term writing goals are the steps to these long-term goals as well as shorter projects like brief articles or single craft activities to submit to a new market.

Then there are my short and long-term financial goals.  Short term financial goals are the ones that will bring in one check and one check only.  Red Line is a short-term goal because that is a work-for-hire project.  The writing a do for falls under this same category.

Long term financial goals pay in royalties.  This money is less certain because the sales have to be there for the check to come in but there is also the potential for long-term gain.  Because I can earn royalties on these sales, they hold the possibility of multiple checks into the future.  The books I have coming out from Schoolwide?  Those are long-term financially because they pay in royalties.  I want to be able to pay my bills nows but I’d also like to have money coming in to pay next month’s bills.

Do you set long and short-term goals?  If not, what kinds of goals do you set?



February 5, 2015

Try Try Something New

pathWhat goals are you consistently failing to meet?

For some writers it is the amount of writing they want to do.  They can’t seem to reach that word goal or the number of pages.

Other writers want to break into a specific market.  It could be picture books or children’s fantasy.  Yet, they are earning nothing but rejections.

Or it could be an earning goal.  Maybe you want to earn enough to pay your son’s tuition but you aren’t anywhere close.

Whatever it is, I’m asking you to take a look at your approach.  Consider the first time you tried to meet this goal.  What steps did you take?

Now think about the second attempt.  What steps did you take that time?

And the third attempt or the fourth attempt or the eighth.  What steps did you take?  Were they the exact same steps or very similar steps each time?  If so, shake things up.

For many of us, try, try again means try the same way time and time again.  We don’t change our approach in any meaningful way because we’re sure that we just didn’t try hard enough, weren’t lucky enough or somehow missed the big break, the secret handshake or the golden ticket.

I’d like to challenge you.  If you’ve been trying to meet a certain goal and failing, shake up your approach.  Can’t reach your word count goals?  Quit putting off your writing until you get home from work.  Maybe you’re a morning writer.  Try writing before work or during lunch. Can’t break into your chosen market?  Don’t just set word count goals or a goal to send out a certain number of queries.  Take a class.  Go to a conference and network.

Come up with a new approach.  It just might take you someplace new.



September 24, 2014

Goal Setting

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:20 am

Goal trackingHave you reviewed how you set your goals lately?

I turned an inexpensive picture frame into a dry erase board where I make a list.  I organize it by Deadline Paying, which is generally contracted items and my Muffin posts; Deadline No Pay, for blog posts and assignments etc for any classes that I’m taking; and Slush which is pretty self-explanatory.  That works pretty well because things with deadlines don’t get lost on those week where I have 6 video lectures to watch, a quiz to take and a mess of blog posts to write.  As I worked through the list,  I would mark things off with a black dry erase pen.

The problem I’ve noticed is that unless I have a deadline, I’ve gotten really bad about getting to things.  Even deadline items lag.  No, I’m never late but I end up working like mad for a few days before a deadline.  This has been an issue for about 3 months now.

Last week, I updated this system.  Each day, Monday through Friday and sometimes Saturday, I mark things off with a single color.  That way I can see how much I got done in any one day.  If I make sure I get a lot done on Monday, purple this last time around, then I push myself to get a lot done on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Fortunately, I’m competitive enough that I’m willing to compete with myself.

The good news is that my productivity has greatly increased.  For more on this, read my blog post for today at the Muffin.


June 6, 2012

Goal Setting

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:28 am
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My bulletin board for scheduling my weekly goals is still working well although I do need to reevaluate how much I can expect to accomplish on a weekly basis right now.

The problem isn’t so much that my son is off school — he’s very good at letting me work.  The problem is that he’s on swim team.  Can you say “daily practice” and “weekly swim meets”?

Not that I’m giving up on my writing.  I just need to get a realistic idea about what I can accomplish.

My word count for last week was something over 9000 words.

But I no longer consider only word count in meeting my goals.  I also have to get a certain dollar amount in submission each month.  Yes, yes.  I have to love what I do.  But I also have to pay the electricity bill.

Some people may function best with one clear cut goal whether it is words written, submissions out or time spent writing.  I seem to work best with these dual goals.

The word count goal keeps me writing — even when school is out.  The dollar goal means that I get a certain amount of work submitted each month.  I’m not just writing things that never cross an editor’s desk.  I have to submit it for it to count toward this last goal.

For some people, this would be too complicated.  For me, at least for now, it is functioning well.

What kinds of goals do you set?




December 31, 2009

A New Year

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:46 am
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As we near the end of December, we inevitably near the end of another year.  Have you accomplished your goals for the year?  I haven’t looked at my goals for 2009 for quite some time.  Late this summer my writer’s group, the Ladies of the Gordian Knot, decided to set monthly/weekly goals as a group.

Ok, I confess.  I’m the only one setting monthly goals.  Four weeks gives me some wiggle room in case I get a new job.  Remember, jobs strike when you least expect them.  Like Christmas Eve.  Seriously.  I applied for a position late evening of 12/23 and by the morning of Christmas Eve there was an acceptance in my in-box.  Since I look forward to the occasional surprise acceptance, I prefer the flexibility of monthly goals.  Still, I do tend to aim a bit too high judging by what I don’t accomplish.

Here are some things I try to remember when setting goals:

1.  Make sure they are manageable.  Don’t decide you can write a novel in a month if you can’t get a page written a day.

2.  Make sure they are something you have control over.  You can’t control whether or not you sell a novel in 2010 but you can make sure you submit it.

3.  If your goal encompasses a habit, work on one at a time.  Remember it takes about 7 weeks to develop a habit.  It is also easiest if you focus on one at a time so don’t plan to develop 10 fabulous new writing habits in 2010.

I’m not sure yet what my goals will be.  I want to work on improving some of my work habits (putting things away as I print them, writing first/e-mail and blogging second).  But I also want to set some goals in terms of specific (why is that still on my desk) projects.  I may take a few days to noodle this over because I want my goals to suit me and how I work and think.  That way I’ll have a much better chance of success.

Keep safe and have a Happy New Year’s Eve.  I’ll see you all on Monday, January 4th.  Hopefully, I’ll have a new set of goals in hand.


December 21, 2009

Goals: December, Week 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 5:36 am
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Last week was pretty productive in spite of everything.

The picture book went out to the agent.  Check!

The middle grade went to the editor.  Check!

I obviously need to finish pulling that workshop together.  And I would like to do a bit more on four picture books.  A bit.  Not taking anything to final.

But good luck to me because Christmas vacation started last Thursday at 4 pm.  My son tells me that he wants to write a story over break so I should be able to pull together some writing time.

But I’ve also promised him something fun every day.  That will be amazingly good for both of us.


December 14, 2009

Goals: December, Week 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 4:33 am
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Hurray for me!

Tonight I outlined the workshop that I’ll be giving in January.  It is a multi-genre workshop for newer writers so I was having problems narrowing the focus.  Two of us brainstormed tonight after dinner and now have an outline (more on that later).

Saturday, I finished the rewrite on my chapter book.  I’ve been putting it off because I knew the ending needed a fix but wasn’t sure just hot to do it. Fortunately, a critique partner’s comments game me a nudge in the right direction.

That means that both submissions are ready to go out as soon as I get the cover letters done.

So what will I be doing this week?  Writing the cover letters, working on the writing workshop and various picture book writing tasks.  I still have a list of things to wrap up this month so I’ll see what else I can accomplish this week.  It is just such a relief to have the ending on my chapter book finally come together.  I’ll post more on that later this week.

Off to play a quick game and then early to bed.


October 27, 2009

No No NaNo

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:58 am
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As a writer who blogs, I felt like I was breaking a sacred covenant by keeping silent while the writing world gears up for NaNoWriMo.  Why write about it?  I’m not doing it this year.

I tried it last year so I do know what I’m missing.  That’s not the problem. NaNoWriMo works really well for some people.  I know writers who swear by it.  Not me, I swear at it.

I am an immensely goal oriented person.  If I set a goal, I will do my utmost to meet it.  So if I commit to NaNoWriMo, I’ll work at it really hard.  But I already have a ton of writing to do including taking some projects I already started to final.

Hmm.  Rough out yet another one or take something to final?  For me, the answer seems pretty obvious.

If somewhere deep inside, you know NaNoWriMo is just not the path you need to take, then don’t.  Write what you need to write. Write what will move your craft forward.  It really is that simple.


October 26, 2009

Goals — Some Weeks the Universe Just Laughs

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:56 am
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Yep.  I set ’em all right.

So much for that.

The problem came when I realized that I had misunderstood one of my editors.  Sure I almost had one of two articles finished.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t the one she needed first.  This meant that I switched gears, quit working on the article that was nearly done and swooped down on the other.  The good news is that I’ll turn it in tomorrow.

The bad news is that I got little else done.

Because of this, my list of goals for this week looks remarkably like my list from last week.

  • Finish activity list.
  • Finish the second interview based article.
  • Write the handouts for my first talk.
  • Write my second talk.
  • My husband’s surgery went well and he’s recovering nicely but he will also be home all week but can’t do much for himself.  I also happen to like spending time with him.  But, like I said before, all of the above needs to get done and the deadlines are now that much tighter.

    Oh, joy.

    It really is a good thing that I love what I do!


    October 12, 2009


    Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:10 am
    Tags: ,

    I feel like I did a bit better on my goals this past week.  They were:

    • Write the first interview based article.  I wrote and submitted this article.
    • Gather interviews for the second and do some of the other research.  The last interview should be done Monday.
    • Write the interview questions and start gathering interviews for the third.
    • Write the book review round up.  I’ll rewrite this and submit it Monday.
    • Make my next craft pitch.  Started but it grew on me (read below).
    • Work on one of my talks.  Outline done.
    • I also rewrote one of the picture books and got some helpful feedback on it.

    I had some successes last week, one of which will impact my goals.  Gryphon House accepted 7 of my activities for one of their series.  The pieces will appear in three books that will come out next summer/fall.

    I also got editorial feedback on the activity that I submitted about two weeks ago.  The editor asked me to submit a specific number of ideas for additional projects.  This job got much bigger.

    My goals for this week are:

    • Come up with the list of activity ideas that the editor asked me to do.
    • Write the second interview based article.
    • Get the interviews going for the third.
    • Write my first talk.
    • Outline my second talk.

    Maybe, just maybe, I can accomplish more than that but this is what I’m going to start with.  Fingers crossed!


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