As I mentioned in a previous post, the vinyl wall decor above is displayed in my living room (I made it myself!). It’s my mantra.
Dream Tomorrow is my daily reminder that my dreams will only come true tomorrow if I plan for them today.
A goal is a dream with a deadline.
With the start of a new year, I often spend at least an hour or two planning my goals for the year. Here’s my process – give it a go and see if it works for you:
Big Picture Goal: What do I want to accomplish this year? Think in terms of financial, professional, health or personal goals. Publish a novel. Lose at least ten pounds. Save a thousand dollars. Write each of these at the top of a different piece of paper. Bonus points if you write them in your day planner (and if you are looking for a print it yourself planner page, please check out my Etsy store – the download is only $1).
Stepping Stones: These are the smaller milestones that you need to do in order to reach your Big Picture Goal. For instance, my Big Picture Goal is to publish a novel. Some of the smaller milestones I need to reach in order to make my dream come true are (1) write the draft of the novel, (2) edit/rewrite the novel, (3) polish the novel, (4) line edit the novel for grammar, punctuation and spelling, (5) research agents and/or publishers, and, finally, (6) submit.
Daily To-Dos: These are just what they sound like – the things that you need to put on your to-do list to make it happen. For instance, while I am drafting a novel, I will write “WRITE 250 words” on my to-do list every day until I type those two magical words “THE END.” The important thing here is to be specific. Don’t write “write” without setting a goal for yourself. This is where you need to be tough. Be your own coach. Set a task and make sure you do it.
What are some of your Big Picture Goals for 2014?
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In honor of NaNoWriMo and all those who are currently returning to the real world, I thought I’d share something I wrote in 2009 after winning. I hope you enjoy it:
I don’t know why I’m surprised that December is nearly half over. It happens faster and faster each year. I used to think it was because I was getting older and quit looking forward to things so much (you know, when I was a kid I couldn’t wait for Christmas but it seemed to take forever to get here . . . the watched pot never boils – like that). But now, I think the world is just spinning faster. I can almost hear the wind whistling past my ears.
Oh, wait . . . that was just the cold, December wind. Never mind.
It has been 21 days since my last post.
Oh, wait . . . I’m not giving my confession.
Sorry. My NaNo fried brain isn’t functioning quite right just yet. What I wanted to tell you is that (drumroll, please . . . ahem . . . really – make that drumroll sound or drum your fingers on your desk, whatever works best for you) . . . I WON!!! That’s right, you are now looking at (sort of) one of the proud winners of National Novel Writing Month 2009. I finished with a grand total of 50,629 words. (OK, I’m bowing now . . . thank you, thank you . . .).
What was my secret for success?
1) Write every day. My goal was to write 1,667 each day. (Some days I made it, some days I didn’t.)
2) Don’t read.
3) Use every available moment. If you work, eat at your desk and write yourself an email. Carry a notebook with you. If you commute, carry a handheld recorder. You don’t have to dictate your story, but you can talk to yourself – what if this, what if that, how can you screw with your main character’s life . . .
4) Bribery. I want a Nook so bad I can taste it. So, I promised myself that if I win, I’ll buy one. Now, I’m just waiting for the money to appear. (wait! what the? there’s no prize $$ for winning NaNo? Dang!!)
And how do I feel about my winning story, Gateway to Hell? My story is just getting wound up, just started at about 47K words, actually, and part of me really wants to finish it. But first, I need to get through the holidays. I’ve got a house to decorate, Christmas cards to make, dinner rolls to make, gifts to buy. And since I’ve only got 2 weeks ’til the Big Day, I think I’ll take a break from writing and focus on the holiday and family. Probably should, since I kind of neglected the fam last month. So, my plan is to smother them with attention for the next two weeks, and then start a serious rewrite of Denim & Diamonds. Those characters have been talking to me again (and so have my characters from NaNo ’08. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m schizo. Then again, for a writer, is that a bad thing?), which is like slipping into my favorite pair of faded Tommy jeans on a Sunday morning. It feels right. Who knows, maybe with a touch more suspense and a dash more sex . . . it might end up being a whole new book!
So, that’s how I did it and those are my writing plans now that NaNo is over and I must return to the land of mortals . . . what are yours?
I haven’t participated in NaNo for the past couple of years, but I miss it. Still keep up with the NaNo site over November, and when it’s over – and after I congratulate all the winners and see how my buddies did, I realize just how amazing the movement that is NaNo is. It’s AMAZING! I’m so proud to have been a part of it in past years.
I can’t help feeling a little sad in December. I’m proud of the winners, for persevering, and for making writing a priority for 30 days – a mere 1/12th of the year. I know that many of those folks are now feeling depressed. They miss thinking about story, characters, plot, setting, tempo. They miss the frequent emails from writing buddies.
But now that I’ve transitioned out of NaNo and into writing throughout the year, I feel more like a true writer. I feel pulled in 20 different directions at times, but my writing is consistent. I have one novel polished (and an editor has requested the full – cross your fingers!!), another novel in rewrite, and several novels drafted. I have made writing a priority throughout the year, and I feel as if I’ve made real progress in my skill set since I’ve done that. NaNo was wonderful for teaching me how to turn off the dreaded Internal Editor and push through that first draft until I reach “The End.”
Have you participated in NaNo? If so, what did it teach you? And have you continued to participate?
This is the 2nd year in a row I haven’t participated in National Novel Writing Month. And it bums me out. I won NaNo eight times – every year I participated, I ended the month with a first draft that I was proud of. Last year, I decided that I had outgrown NaNo and owed it to myself to finish something, and take my writing more seriously. But I still miss NaNo. What do I miss?
Maybe I need to do my own version of NaNo this month. I think I need a write-in . . .
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