Goals for 2017

In the past, my January posts have generally been about how to accomplish as much as possible in the new year. I hate resolutions. In this post, in which I detailed how important it is to set a measurable goal, I said:

[Resolutions] tend to mask a lot of self-hate pretending to be good for you.

I’ll never not feel that way, I think. However, as I said previously, I do believe in commitments and measurable goals.

I have lots of writing goals for this year. I’m writing a 40k novella in January, a full-length from March-July, and finishing a partially complete full-length from August to November. I’ve learned over the last two years of increased productivity that I need December off. Not just because life is so busy, but because I need a break. I’ll be doing lots of editing over the coming year, as well. All those first drafts have to be shaped into something useful.

Personally, I have two main goals. One, I’m giving up my beloved sweet tea. I’m going to miss it–a lot. But, I’m going to replace it with water to make a healthier choice.

Second, I’m going to Dirty Dance. Yes, you read that right. I bought this DVD from Amazon and plan to use it every day, slowly increasing my exercise time over the months ahead, to rebuild the muscles that have stagnated over the last few years of my illness (I have fibromyalgia).

I’m excited to start getting healthier and I believe if I apply the methods I’ve used to increase my writing productivity, I’ll have a lot of success.

Tell me all about your New Year commitments. You can even use that horrible “R” word (resolution).

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Not quite Three Weeks Left

School. School is what’s on my mind. The Rhodes family has spent the entire summer in upheaval. We are finally in our new home, and the kids are looking at me and complaining they are bored. BORED! After all we’ve done!

I want a little bit to knock some heads together and say, just sit and do nothing! See how nice that is? But, it doesn’t quite work that way, does it?

Luckily for my kids, school starts in 2.5 weeks. August 8th.

But really, it will be a very long two and a half weeks. Too late to sign them up for stuff… And me, the queen of content while sitting at home. Ack!

So, tell me what you do when you’re at the end of your rope. Do you give in and spend money where you wouldn’t normally? Do you add one last visit to a friends or family’s home?

But, this is just a quick break for me… now I’m off to do some grocery shopping for our dinners for the week!! 😀

IMG_2177

New Office Space!! It’s so filled with light. 😀 I’m happy and looking forward to lots of time in here while I edit and write this fall.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Ringing In The New ~ @oddlynn3 #LynnCrain #PCers

Resized-Goals

Just like when we run around before the holidays, many people decide on their New Year’s Resolutions during the month of January. I have read many things that people are going to do, or hope to do, for the coming year. Some are so specific that there appears to be no wiggle room whatsoever.

Unfortunately, I know me, I have to have that wiggle room or I feel crushed by responsibilities both personal and professional. With that in mind, I did a little research on just how to approach things this year and what I learned is amazingly simple.

This year, I’m planning everything around a series of goals without getting too much detail on how to get it done. Let’s face it…if you put a goal down…you have a very good idea on how you can accomplish it or it never would have made your list.

What I did was come up with seven categories that are important to me: Writing, Health, Financial, Family, Learning, Social and Other. Under each of those I put down 4-5 items I’d love to do throughout the year. For example, under writing I put down that I wanted to work on one big novel every month. I also want to work on and finish one short story, one novella, and write 2000 words a day. For health, I put down things like exercise daily, portion my food and so on. I did this for each of the seven categories.

I then went one step further to try and ensure I keep on track this year. I put together this chart for the current month and I plan to fill it out for two months at a time. This way, I can be flexible enough if a project has to run over into a second month. Plus I don’t feel so boxed in that there isn’t light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s an example of what I did for January:

Writing
Novel: HeartSword
Novella: Magical Intentions
Short Story: One True Love
Edits: Captive Illusions
Words: 2k per day
Health
Walk/Jog Daily
Log Food
Financial
Look at places to retire.
Family
Plan possible family trip for when you get home.
Learning
Finish the ‘Developing A Language’ online class          .
Social
Blog Daily
Plan a MSS boxed set.
Other
Don’t forget to crit!
Work up a workshop/talk.
Self-Pub 1 item.

Everything listed is something I want to work on for completion by the end of the month. They are specific enough that I know what I’m doing but general enough to be flexible should something need to change. Plus, I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t do everything on that list.

I am always looking for new and better ways to get things accomplished. I am also the type of person who has to stay busy in order not to be bored. And to be honest, so far it’s working very well. My novel is about to be turned into my agent, I’ve written more than 2k per day plus I have both my edits and short story nearly done. All the other goals have accomplishments in their area as well. This is a very good thing!

How do you approach the New Year? Do you set goals or do you just plunge right in, hoping it will all turn out okay?  I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time…

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Autumn Magic

Vienna-Fall-Resized-4-WebThere is something magic about fall, which is hard to explain. The green leaves turn into brilliant shades or red, orange and yellow. The air is rich and crisp, sometimes even foggy here in Vienna and that reminds me of being in London or in a US west coast city.

As a kid, Halloween intrigued me to no end and as an adult, the books I love to write the most are paranormal in nature. Today, I write about witches and warlocks, sorcerers and sorceresses, angels and demons or even the common person who somehow has the inside scoop on keeping us all safe and sound.

While some people are bothered by what I write occasionally, I know it’s the product of my hyperactive imagination and the never ending question of what if…what if demons really did exist? What if God needed help in keeping them in check? What if my heroine had to travel back in time to right a wrong without disrupting the space-time continuum? You know, typical writer-type questions.

For whatever reason, like I said in my last column, I tend to be rejuevenated during the fall. I plan stories, I start writing more and I keep to my plans better. I am a lifelong learner and have decided to add some classes into the mix as well. There is nothing wrong with a writer learning about things that will make their writing stronger.

Along with those classes, I’ve been reading more craft books than usual as well. By craft, I’m talking about the craft of writing books. I recently read a great one from Steve Windsor about the fear of writing called Authorphobia. Yeah, the title is exactly how the book is and if you don’t mind a rather sarcastic approach, I’d say check it out because the author has some good points. I’ve continued on with his series with a book on writing a complete novel in nine days. That’s even a little fast for me but I’m sure there are techniques in the book that will help any writer.Tree-Alley-at-Praterstern-F

I’ve also discovered Udemy where you can find a lot of online courses, some of them even free. So far, I’ve found ones on proofreading and designing your own book covers. There are hundreds to choose from and since I love taking classes, this is another win-win for me.

Then there is one more place I love to look for classes and that’s at edX. Here you can learn all sorts of things from leading university’s such as Berkley, Harvard or Rice University. I took an incredible course in Genetics from Rice University as research into on zombies. Basically, I was looking into if zombies are actually possible. Guess you’ll have to wait to see what I learned on that one…LOL!

With all this planning and class taking, I’ve also found time to write more, faster and in my mind better. I love fall with all the newness it brings to learning and doing more to enhance my writing.

What do you do in the fall to enhance your life? I’d love to hear from you and see how autumn is special to you.

Until next time…

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

End of Summer Funk ~ @oddlynn3 #LynnCrain #amplanning #PCers

By this time next month, fall will have begun and summer will be fading into memory. But in this moment, I can say I have what I call an end of summer funk.

It’s the time right as school starts, when one is planning out their next moves and how to accomplish them. It is also the time of new beginnings, maybe it’s the end of a special summer or even just starting a new school. Every fall, something begins and something ends.

This year, it has made me reflective and almost sad. My kids are all grown and out of the house, we’re in Austria as life moves on. I noticed it in the pictures of my grandkids at their first day of kindergarten. They were full of happiness for new adventures. Full of those things that had somehow slipped away from me over the hot summer.

With the heatwaves here in Europe, I felt a little more defeated and aimless in my efforts. Then I saw the boys and realized that maybe I wasn’t so aimless but more lost because of my lack of focus. Heat with humidity does that to me. And I just didn’t realize how much until this year. But somehow, somewhere, I know I was thinking along the right path because of a few steps I’d taken earlier in the month.

Before any of the above happened, I had a moment of clarity where I ordered planning materials designed to help me focus and maintain my momentum. I have a lot of writing to do this fall through next spring and unless I can keep on task, it won’t get done. Now this is hard because I can’t use anything from here because it’s all in German. I don’t know enough of the language to think in it and that’s what one needs when using a planner.

I was in luck as my husband’s work was having a working group where a lot of Americans come to Vienna for updates and training. These are people I knew well and who frequently deliver things I can only get from the US. So I went on a hunt for a planner that would do a writer justice. Now, this will help me plan my time, my projects and my priorities, which always seem to get skewed this time of year. When I do a plan then work the plan, I stay focused and on track.

While I’m a pantser at heart, doing this type of focusing will always help me write better. Once I’m on this track, I will start doing outlines that help me in general. I tend to deviate away from most outlines because my characters talk to me differently when I actually do the writing but at least I have an idea of where I’d like them to end.

Yeah, characters sometimes – wait, revise that – many times will not go where I think they should go. That is the number one reason I will remain a pantser because I can’t force them to do what I want any more than forcing my kids to do something either. Characters are living things and if I can just plan little things, names or likes or dislikes, I’m at least ahead of the game.

For me, it is the life planning of my day, what projects I want to do and how I plan to do them is what keeps my writing career on an even keel. And I was extremely blessed to have found something at Amazon from the group Tools4Wisdom called a Month-Life-Planning-Agenda because that’s what I needed. I was immediately impressed with the cover because it’s a trail through an autumn forest. I love walking through places like that.

Planner-Cover

Then I looked at the pages and saw a Goals page where I could put in my individual projects, namely books, into perspective. This would help me tremendously because I could plan for the whole year. And for me a year runs from September to August because I guess I’m still on the school year or government plan. It just seems to work better for me.

Goal-Page-#2

The next page I saw was the Essential Goals page. This page is gold because it lets me name a number one priority for the month then I can add some other smaller items to be finished. Every item is accompanied by a why and how accomplishing that goal will add value to my life. While I’d never thought of my writing in that manner, I could see where it would be beneficial to my overall plan.

Goal-Pages

Then comes the daily pages where you actually set out to do the work. The time increments are in 30 minutes and start at an early 5 am then don’t end until 9 pm. Just perfect for a writer since we do work at all times of the day. Now, you can also flip that so it starts at 5 pm and doesn’t end until 9 am. It all depends upon when you work best. I work best first thing in the morning then I get a second wind later in the afternoon. Normally, I need my coffee first before I do anything. Weekends you have hour increments and not as many.

Day-Pages

Each day has a place for Top Priorities, Secondary Priorities and other. You also have a section for Vision, Purpose and Action. All these are necessary if you want to remain focused and totally on task. This is something I definitely needed as I’m always at my best when I plan. So I ordered it.

Priority-Page

The bad thing was that I had to wait a couple of weeks before it would be hand delivered to me. I decided I’d use those weeks for reading, watching movies or shows, critiquing and trying to do some organization. This plan worked pretty well since it was still very hot. At least for a while, then the rains came. Sigh.

Finally, the day arrived where I was getting my planner. My anticipation level was high and I wanted to get my hands on it to get planning. The first thing when I got it was I marveled at its size as it was twice as big as I thought it would be. This is good since I wanted lots of room to put items down. I felt energized and somehow accomplished. I was holding in my hands the instrument needed to take my writing career to an even higher, more focused level. I loved the feeling just holding it gave me.

I thanked my friend for delivering it and put it in my backpack. Pulling it out once I was in my office, I realized I needed to clear a larger space for it. When my planner is open next to me is when I get the most from it so that I can frequently refer to it when I see myself deviating from it. Yes, there will be some days that it’s going to be too structured for me as I’m more of a free-bird type person. But for the long haul, this was definitely the way to go for me as it has already pulled me out of my funk, forcing me to embrace a wonderful well-planned future.

What about you? Do you need to plan major things out or can you accomplish your goals with little forethought? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ll keep everyone updated at my weekly blog column just how using the planner is going, My So Called Writing Life, and hopefully, some of you will join me there.

Until next time…

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Writing Accountability

Writing Accountability HeadIn January I wrote about a method I planned to try to increase my writing output. The basic idea (which comes from Jerry Seinfield) is to work every day on your writing. Every day you work, even a little, you put an X on a calender, until you have a chain of Xs. Here’s the link to my original post. –Link

I have since evolved the method for myself. I want to share that with you as well as my results.

First, I discovered I didn’t like Xs. They had too much of a negative connotation for me and didn’t give me that “I did it!” thrill I wanted. I changed to a star for a day I work on writing. If I miss a day, then I put an X. If I have to miss a day, for example, I’ve had some doctor’s appointments out of state, then I just put a scribble. Neither positive or negative.

Second, I decided after a month or so to write what I did that day. My calendar is small (I just bought a monthly calendar from the Dollar Store), so it’s often in shorthand. “Read thru JS,” or “plotting FT,” because all my stories have code names. I’m sure everyone does that–it saves time.

Third, by the time I got to March, I decided to schedule two critiques per week for my critique group and to plan on the calendar to write blog posts ahead of time. (It’s May 26 as I write this.)

This method has made me wildly, exponentially more productive than I have ever been as a writer.

I HATE breaking my chain. I hate seeing those Xs. I kind of even hate the squiggly–if I can squeeze in work those days, I do. I’m all about the stars, baby. If you want to see evidence, here’s a copy of April from my calendar.

I have three Xs. That’s 1/10 of the month. I had seven squiggly days (it was a busy month), but I still managed to write on two of those. That means, according to my calendar I wrote 23 days from a month in which I spent five days out of state.

I wrote a little more than 3/4ths of the time. In May, I missed three out of 31 days. I know some people, even on this blog, can say they do that well. I can promise you that before I started my calendar, I’d have been lucky to write more than half the time.

This year

I finished a 41k word novella and and rewrote a 95k word novel. I’ve completely plotted another novella. I have never accomplished so much in my writing career and never expected to. I just assumed I was slow. Turns out, I just wasn’t accountable.

What do you do to stay on track and be accountable for your writing?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

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