Goals: Empower Your Writing Aspirations And Dreams

Goals: Empower Your Writing Aspirations And DreamsI remember back when I was in grade seven, being forced to sit at my desk and think about what to achieve during that school year. Each year, until twelfth grade, we had to fill out a goals form. I hated doing those forms. I’d rather work on an essay. It wasn’t until after I graduated from high school that I realized how vital aspiration is in life.

Goals are incredibly important in getting what you want out of life. For writers, goals for our writing are more than just important; they’re life. Without these aspirations, we have no motivation. We grow lazy and directionless. We accomplish nothing. Our personal and professional world closes in around us. We stop writing, which as a writer you know is a little like death.

I have been writing for a good chunk of my life but I had never submitted my writing to publishers. I’d never shared my writing with anyone. I write and then put it aside, in a draw, forgotten. Later I’d stumble on something I’d written months or even years before and wonder why I wrote at all.

One day my mother found something I’d written. After reading it, she asked me why I never tried to have my work published. I blinked with surprised. To be honest, it had never occurred to me. I never considered it. I’d never even thought of doing so. She suggested I make publication a goal of mine, and I did.

Goals can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. It all depends on who you are and what you want to achieve. I find many short-term goals helps me along the way to my main long-term goal. You know what, let’s do this together. Create a goal for your writing life, right now, with me.

First we need a main long-term goal. Mine is to:

  • Publish and produce screenplays.

Notepad with Goal ListBreaking this down into smaller short term goals I started with:

  1. Find an idea that excites me.
  2. Write the story.
  3. FINISH that story. – This is a tricky one for me because I tend to start many stories but rarely finish any.
  4. Edit and polish that story. – Editing not my forte.

These goals continue leading to the final to publication and production of my work.

Goal setting in this way might not work for you but it gives you an idea of how to begin planning ahead and setting the course for your own writing future. Your dreams and aspirations do not have to be elaborate. Some can be very easy to attain while others require more effort. Accomplishing a simple milestone makes me feel like I’m leaping towards the future I want for myself.

Whatever you’re striving to achieve, make sure to set your goals, write them down and place them where you will see them every day. Repeatedly reminding yourself of what you want to accomplish helps you focus and can increase your motivation. Go for it!

What writing-related aspirations do you have? What smaller goals and milestones do you create on the way to your primary goals?

Photo Credit: 07-11-08 © Michael Krinke
Image Credit: 08-05-09 © porcorex

Don’t Let the Back Burner Go Out!

Don't let the goals and dreams go out in the dwindling flames of the backburner.

“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” ~ Diana Scharf Hunt

Being a freelancer often means burning the midnight oil – at both ends – and sadly, by the time assignments are completed, invoices are sent in, files are up-to-date, the laundry and dishes have been tamed, we’re simply too exhausted to turn our attention to our own projects.

You know what I’m talking about, right? The novel that’s burning a hole in your soul. The eBook you want to share with the world. Stacks of poetry that’s crying to be assembled.

Don’t let the dreams and goals you put on the back burner because life – and work – comes first become so removed that the flame goes out.

There’s nothing worse than realizing one day that something you intended on completing years ago, is still left unfinished.

Don’t let your dreams collect dust in a drawer or on your hardrive.

Life is short. Our dreams are valid. And there’s always a few minutes to spare if we find them.

Here’s a few tips to help you move your passions from the flickering back burner, to the front:

  1. Wake up before the house does. Whether you live with roommates, a husband or wife, have children – or even pets – consider sneaking up while they’re all sleeping so you can steal a few moments (or an hour or so!) for your personal projects.
  2. Not an early bird? Okay then, stay up after everyone’s gone to bed. If you have to, sneak back up once they drift off to dream land. Enjoy the peace and quiet. Savor every moment!
  3. Leave the house. If you have a laptop, steal away to your local coffee shop or library. And if the weather’s nice, try the park.
  4. Evaluate your dreams and set realistic, short-term goals to help you achieve them. It can be done. You can find a few minutes here and there to work on your own projects.
  5. Create a vacation for yourself. You took vacations off work before you started freelancing, right? Why not enjoy a little downtime now? Allow yourself a couple days a week or even take off a week. Save up for it. Plan for it. Make it happen!

You absolutely do not have to give up on the very dreams and goals that made you write to begin with. Nothing says you have to write for everyone else for the rest of your life. Stand up, rare your shoulders back, but a confident smile on your face, and step in to your writing destiny. You can do it!

And as my good friend, George Angus, recently shared: It’s Never Too Late!


Photo: djcodrin

Resource: Tumblemoose.com

Writing Through Life’s Roadblocks

The Real Life Road Blocks To A Writer's Dreams and Goals.If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you know all-too-well about roadblocks. They come in many forms, shapes, and sizes – but we all have them.

For some of you, it’s roommates, husbands, wives, children, out-of-the-home jobs, or a myriad of other things.

For me, it’s getting lost in cyberspace, real-life stress, and trying to accomplish a gazillion things at once.

So many times, it’s easy to get frustrated, discouraged, and beaten down by these roadblocks, but you can find ways around them – or even through them.

And, sadly, as I mentioned in my previous post (Trashed By Traditionally-Published Authors) there are even times the roadblocks come from our own writing colleagues.

Life is full of distractions, of noise, of negativity, and people who want to see you fail. But you don’t have to bow beneath the weight of life’s pressures; you don’t have to prove them right!

If you’re serious about your writing, you’ll be creative in finding ways to succeed.

5 Ways to Plow Through Life’s Roadblocks

  1. Tune it out. Remember when you were a teen and turned a deaf ear to your parents’ endless “talks” and “speeches” or “rules” – yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Tap into that talent and use it in a positive way to fuel your writing dreams.
  2. Find your writing zone. A while back, I blogged about ways to find your writing zone. Once you’ve found it, amazing things happen. Keep looking; it’s there!
  3. Encourage yourself. Sometimes there is no one else to encourage you – so you just have to do it yourself! Post notes in places that you’ll come across each and every day. Any positive quote or inspiring message will add a glimmer of hope and help you keep chugging along.
  4. Steal away. When it gets to be too much and you can’t handle the loud chaos or someone’s negativity, steal away. If you have a laptop, sneak off to the park or a coffee shop. Even if it’s only for an hour or two, you’ll be able to focus on your writing and just breathe for a while. And if you don’t have a laptop, take old-fashioned paper and pen!
  5. Dig deep. You may not realize it, but there’s a reservoir of strength lying dormant, deep within your soul. Yes, it’s there. Trust me. Search for it and bring it to surface. Muster up all the motivation, courage, determination, and vision that you can. Hold on to it for dear life – don’t give up!

And don’t forget: You’re most significant relationship is with yourself. Nurture it. In doing so, you’ll be nurturing all areas of your life – and it will help you find the strength and determination to handle any roadblock life throws your way.

What is your biggest roadblock(s)? How do you climb over them – or plow through them?

Photo Credit: 06-10-08 © archives

2010 (Can) = Freelance Writing Zen

peace, Zen, 2010, resolutions, beginnings, freelance, balance, workPeace: such a simple, short, one syllable word. Yet, this one word represents the difference between a calm heart, and a tortuous soul. Isn’t that the battle we freelance writers are always enduring?

We all yearn for peaceful lives, don’t we? The desire for peace unites many people who otherwise wouldn’t be in the same room together, right?

Peace (or Zen) is also something we writers desire. I don’t know about you, but I fantasize about waking up after a long, peaceful night’s rest, finding my way to the kitchen, grabbing an oversized hot mug of tea (sometimes coffee), heading to a giant chair that swallows me up, cuddling up with my laptop – and muse – and lounging around in my pajamas all day, while writing ’till my heart’s content. Ah, it sounds so very nice. Don’t you think so?

Okay, back to reality for me!

With the new year, comes endless opportunities for new beginnings.

I’ve decided that one (important) thing I’m going to focus on incorporating in to my life, is Zen. I actually started before 2010, but I feel like I cheated myself – and others – because I never really applied Zen living like I originally planned.

5 Ways 2010 (Can) = Freelance Writing Zen

  1. De-cluttering my e-mail. I started doing this before 2009 ended, but I’m going to continue in 2010. (I had subscribed to a lot of stuff!) This includes unsubscribing from newsletters (or blogs) I never read, updates I subscribed to because of contests, etc. There’s no reason to waste time deleting e-mails every single day.
  2. Practicing yoga often. This might not mean daily (although I’m going to shoot for that goal), but I’m definitely going to put forth more of an effort to make yoga a big part of my life. (Others even told me that my writing became much more prolific when I was practicing yoga daily!)
  3. Reflecting on where my freelance writing journey began, so I can stay focused on where I’m going. What a blessing to look back on where I came from so I can encourage myself that I can make my writing dreams come true!
  4. Staying organized. Organization is crucial for not only keeping stress down, but for maintaining a feeling of control – and a fresh (visual) sense of cleanliness.
  5. Nipping procrastination in the bud. One of the worst things we writers can fall into is procrastination. Acting on thoughts like “Oh, I’ll just dive in to Twitter for a while until my muse visits again” or “I’ll get caught up on my blog reading” can prove fatal to your deadlines. It’s fine to reward yourself with social media or other Internet “play time” once you’ve polished off a chunk of your work, or met deadlines for the day/week, but don’t procrastinate until you hurt your business.

I’m also going to work on just being. Do you have a problem making that happen, too? It seems that even when I’m away from the computer, all of the unfinished “tasks” haunt me. It’s like a little devil sits on my shoulder, whispering: “You should be writing this” or “You could finish that.” Freelance work is always, always sitting there. We’re never finished are we? Work – even if it’s our own, personal projects -  is always calling our writerly soul.

So, yes, in 2010 I’m going to do my best to make time to just be, like the gal in the photo up there. It’s high time I actually stop to smell the roses!

Here’s to a successful, blessed – and very Zen – 2010!

Did you enjoy this article? Feel free to visit the other articles Michele has written for Writer’s Round-About–or contact her to write for you.

How are you going to bring Zen living in to your life in 2010? Have you already started? Do share; I might want to add it to my life!

Photo Credit: kudumomo

Evaluate Your Business In 2010

With the new year upon us the fiscal year comes to a close. As a business owner, December and January is where all profits and losses are carefully examined in preparation for taxes in April. The hours of sorting receipts, tracking expenses and riffling though payments leaves misery to hold. If you are a wise one, you’ve kept great records and have a mature filing system for such items. Life sometimes happens and playing catch-up is necessary. Now is the time to begin that process.

While preparing a financial report of your freelancing business, consider this your time to evaluate what has worked, what has brought in successful funds and what has left you pinching pennies. As you track good months and bad, pull out your business plan and see where changes can be made, ensuring you have more good months in 2010. If you haven’t taken the time to write out a business plan, that time is now!

In examining the financial backbone of your business, take note of companies that brought in more financially and the type of work you performed. Pull up your old assignments. Recall the process of that work. Weigh the payment received with the time spent. Was your overall hourly wage in your targeted ballpark? Did you fall short by more than one or two dollars?

While surfing through those details, also pay attention to clients bringing in regular work.

Make a list of those clients and be sure to send a short note, thanking them for the opportunity to work with them, for them and beside them. This is a great opportunity to also bring your name to the front of a client’s mind. In the new year, businesses begin a strong drive to achieve success. Along side a new-found ambition, work loads are increased and freelancers have the exciting chance to make a jump towards their financial goals.

As you look through your clients and the genre’s of work performed, ask yourself if one niche market better serves you than others. Do you have clients that fell short of your hourly rate that you would like to continue working with? If so, ask for more pay per assignment. A pay increase as minuscule as three cents per word could make your financial goals.

Take your time, but act fast! 2009 is already behind us and 2010 offers you more opportunity as an entrepreneur. What are you going to do for yourself and your business in 2010?

4 Work At Home Roadblocks: How To Overcome Them

Overcome These Work-At-Home RoadblocksWorking from home presents benefits: being closer to family during the day and setting your own hours. But with the good side of working from home also comes some obstacles. Below are four common roadblocks that many writers experience working from home and how you might overcome them.

1. The Roadblock: Feeling Isolated

Even though writing can be a lonely career, it’s important to know where you can turn when you need some human contact. Since most of us write from home the internet is a great place to talk to others. You can choose from forums, chat rooms and e-mail. You might prefer one over the rest or you might like to do a little of each. Sometimes chatting to people in “real time” makes you feel less alone. If you’re someone who needs to get out of the house more you might schedule a weekly afternoon with a friend where you go out for lunch and a walk. And while you’re working at home, make it a habit to open up the curtains.

2. The Roadblock: Phone calls and visits

Yes, it does seem like if you were feeling isolated that getting phone calls and visits from family and friends would be a savior. Unfortunately, it’s not. Often, working from home gives the people in our lives the impression that we’re able to take a break whenever we want because we can “catch up later.” Of course we know that’s not true. We have other responsibilities to take care of. If there is someone in your life who seems to call during your work hours for more than a two minute call or a neighbor who drops by without notice or someone who assumes that you can baby-sit because you’re at home anyway, you need to take control. You need to be able to say “no.” If you do not get calls that are work-related, don’t answer the phone while you’re working at all. If you do get work-related phone calls, invest in caller ID. Though you want to have human contact, you don’t want to be taken advantage of.

3. The Roadblock: Chores and Errands

It is so easy to become distracted by things that have to be done around the home. We sit down to write an article and look over and see a scuff mark on the floor. Better get it right away. Then we pass the kitchen sink where the breakfast dishes sit, practically begging to be done. At least it seems that way when there’s writing to be done. Set aside specific times where you will do house chores. Knowing that you will get them done will take that off of your mind so that you can write. It also helps to have your work area away from these distractions, if at all possible. Like they say, out of site, out of mind.

4. Roadblock: Time Management

Tying in everything discussed above, time management is a must. If you begin your day without a plan, chances are you won’t get as much done as you could. Try to create a to-do list the night before of everything you have to do. This will keep you on track. Instead of writing every little thing that you would like to accomplish (our lists would all be a mile long) write the things that you have to do (writing and non-writing). If it helps you to assign time limits/times for each activity, do that. Whatever helps you to stay on track and get things done is what you should use.

Learn to prioritize your life, the things you do and even the people you spend time with. Unfortunately, we can’t do it all. Simply because someone asks you to do something, doesn’t obligate you to doing it. Set limits and goals for yourself and you’ll surely succeed.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guest post from talented freelancer, April Aragam. What freelancing roadblocks have you come across and how have you overcome them?

A Journey of 50,000 Words

All hail those who are already treading the National Novel Writing Month Marathon. It’s officially the half-way mark and I want to offer up sincere kudos to anyone who has come this far. Even standing at the starting line of NaNoWriMo is an accomplishment. Choosing to commit to your writing for a month, 50,000 words is remarkable. We, as writers, often promise to dedicate ourselves to the true art of the page but find reason after reason standing in our path.

Each year, NaNoWriMo gives thousands of writers an escape from life clause. For one crazy month we’re permitted to let all other of life’s “priorities” fall away. This one month we are going to write and not feel guilty. It’s only for one month after all.

So, how is your NaNo journey going so far? Are you with us at the official half-way mark? I’d love to hear about your progress! Now is a great time to share!

How to March into March!

It’s obviously important to Aim High and Shoot Low when setting goals, but how do you set goals you know will take you where you want to be? How do you follow through to accomplish your goals and discover what you really are capable of achieving?Setting a resolution, like those that abound in the early days of January, simply isn’t enough to give you a focal point to work towards in your every day life. As a freelance writer, my primary goal and resolution for 2008 is to transform my writing hobby into a fulltime career with a fulltime income.

Is it as simple as declaring intent? Of course not.

Each step along the path to success is made of small stones, little leaps of faith that stretch between where you were and where you are going. Every goal has unique steps and every person can take a varied path to similar goals.

The way YOU earn a full-time income will differ to the way I do it. Even your interpretation of ‘full-time income’ may vary depending on your upbringing and standard of living. My expectations are modest, but that doesn’t mean I set the bar so low that accomplishing this goal feels effortless.Define the purpose of your goal and then focus on the stepping stones. It may take a few stern talks with yourself, perhaps a session or two of freewriting, to work out your true reasons for wanting to achieve this dream. Push for the heart of the matter and tie yourself to the goal with as many emotional connections as you can determine.

You could even draft your journey like you might outline a novel. Sometimes it helps to set deadlines, work from a time-line, or keep lists. Track your progress and examine your failures and successes.However you progress from now to your future remember to reward yourself for every leap of faith you take. Closing your eyes to take that jump, however small, is a challenge worthy of celebration. Rejoice, and then set your sights on the next stepping stone just around the corner.

SG1 Series Part Two: Character Development

Characters are an elemental part of every story. An intriguing plot with a good story-arc is important but without approachable characters your story will never connect with an audience. Readers need characters. Characters are the socket for your stories power supply. It is through your characters that readers can plug into the plot and experience the life of your story.

The Stargate series introduces a multitude of characters in various stages and of differing quality and consideration. Some play bit parts as extras or body count but others grow into the story, we come to love them or hate them, we come to care for the part they play in the story, their injuries and deaths bring anguish and grief or heartfelt cheers.

SG1 – Jack, Daniel, Sam and Teal’c

The original SG1 is a team of four diverse characters. Their differences create an initial challenge; they struggle as a unit until they learn to use each others strengths to counter their own weaknesses. It shows the importance of bringing opposites together. These characters are unique in their own fields. It is their united purposes, each individual to their character, which brings them together. A bond is formed that gives this eclectic community a solid friendship. We see the bond develop and grow with the characters as the series progresses.

It is important to blend characters but avoid carbon copies. Each character should be unique and individual. Distinguish them with separate goals, established histories, areas of interest and technique.

The SGC and General Hammond

The Stargate Command is an entity in its own right. It is actually a collection of individuals that work in regulated ways to create a standardized base of operations. There are many faceless characters lead by the General. Most of the time we don’t connect with these individuals but General Hammond represents the unity. His personality molds the actions of the SGC.

Larger forces need a strong head character to represent their interests. Armies can seem like a long column of faceless men but a charismatic leader will show a distinguishing command of his forces. Each of his men is ultimately the voice of this man and a solid leader is one whose men will lay down their own lives to support the orders he puts forth. This is true of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ guys.

The Goa’uld

While the Goa’uld are a nasty bunch in their own right they are an ideal antagonist. They aren’t evil. They have solid reasoning and a collection of emotional reactions that allow readers to associate with them. The Goa’uld act entirely out of an arrogant sense of self preservation and domination. As a people (um… symbiotic race) they act with rational, intelligent thought. They are challenging but not insurmountable.

Antagonists should be normal people. You can create more impact with a sympathetic antagonist then with a diabolical freak. If a reader can see themselves in a protagonist you have a good story but if readers can see themselves to some small degree in the antagonist then you have a charged situation that will keep a reader tied to the outcome.

There are many more characters involved in the Stargate series. Each new person (or group of people) is shown in snippets. Base motivations appear and personality traits are revealed but characters always have an element that remains unseen. It is impossible to know everything and it is important that characters can still do something unexpected or unpredictable.

Over time, we get to know the main characters. Their own personal stories are revealed and delved into. The primary characters are challenged with personal situations forcing them to make choices that distinguish them. Whole episodes play a vital role in adding depth to these characters and introduce situations that push their qualities forward.

  • Use time in your story to slowly reveal your characters.
  • Allow their actions and reactions to portray the depth of their beliefs and desires.
  • Each scene should use your characters strengths and weaknesses.
  • 3D characters have sides we cannot see.
  • A characters relationships reveal vital clues to their personality.
  • Characters always continue to grow and change based on the situations that occur in each moment of their lives.

Finally, just because your story has reached ‘The End’ does not mean your characters have. Characters should still be imperfect in the final scene. Their growth remains incomplete. Some of your characters may have died but most will live on beyond your closing paragraph and while they began at one point and progressed to another in this story there should always be another world to save, another enemy to fight, another day to live and another dream to follow.

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When I COULD be writing…

Procrastination, again… I COULD be writing but I keep wanting to do anything else. ANYTHING ELSE. There isn’t even a reason why I don’t want to write. It’s not painful, I’m not blocked, I have topics I could write about, lots of them, it’s just any time I start thinking I should write I get this niggle.

Do you get that niggle too? That whining little voice that says, “But…” “wouldn’t you rather play The Sims?” “wouldn’t you rather watch a movie?” “shouldn’t you rotate the laundry?” “you’d do better to go for a walk while it’s not raining.” “if you want to lose weight you should spend 30 minutes dancing instead.” “you still haven’t finished reading that library book.”

It’s hard not to listen to that voice. I want to give into it. I don’t understand why I want to not write more than I want to write. I know how much I’ll hurt, how I’ll hate myself, how I’ll regret hours wasted, how I’ll feel guilty and horrible if I don’t write and yet at this moment, not writing feels safer, better, more comforting.

Life passes in these circles. So many of my writing projects could be finished if I didn’t keep slamming into this wall every time I think about beginning them. Every time I sit at the keys. Every time I start letting my mind wander on where I want to go. Every time I THINK TOO MUCH!

I know how easy it is if I DON’T THINK! If I could cut my brain out and just act. Don’t think about writing just write. Don’t think about sitting down to write just start writing. It’s the mind, those evil insiduous thoughts that put walls up before my goals. Those thoughts, this mind that wanders too much, that conspires against me. Why does it do that? Why can’t my body, mind, spirit, all work together to accomplish what is best for me?

Even when I’m writing, like I’m writing right now, I’m forcing myself to be here. My mind is still spinning through my head telling me all I could be doing instead. All I should be doing. All I’ll be doing if I just stop, now. I have to force myself to finish.

This is why writing gets painful. It’s not the words, the story, it’s not the pain of telling a tale or the agony of not knowing my characters. When I’m there, writing it, living it the whole thing is laid out before me and I just write it down. It’s the thinking about it that trips me up.

How can I get my HEAD out of my writing? I just want to write.