Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Setting Our Goals.  Part 4 
          Now that 2015 has hit, and it's cold and snowy,  what a good time to hunker down and come up with a few ideas for our writing careers.
          I've brought along my own ideas on the subject, but I've also included Shirley Flannagan's  "Writer's Oasis," Chapter One AOL online workshop members to weigh in with their thoughts. Last night's guest presenter was published author Annie Kelleher, author of "When David Met Sarah," a lady full of interesting ideas. Ms. Flannagan graciously allowed me to incorporate her last night's workshop into my blog, so here we are. I decided when it came to brain storming, many heads were better than just mine.
          From my perspective, goals have been simply that--goals. What I intend to do in the future.  On job interviews one question is consistent. "Where do you want to be in five years?" How about next year, or ten years or a lifetime? Most of us have our stock answers ready. (especially if we've gone the job interview process before.)
          I thought about that and realized that as a teacher, we have to make long range plans for our courses, in other words what we want the students to learn, then break them down into daily objectives, what do we want them to learn this week.  In the world of teaching, they were called "lesson plans." Setting goals for writing is similar.            
          Mine were: to finish "Legacy of Danger" and having finished my preliminary work, start writing  my horse story, write short stories and to create an interesting and diversified blog, inviting authors to write articles and short stories to post.  After pondering how I intended to do that  when I couldn't even get through the escape from the castle scene in LOD, I realized I needed to delve into objectives. In other words break the large pie into smaller pieces. 
          When Ms Kelleher asked our group who made writing goals,  all hands virtually shot up, including mine, but some had reservations on how long they could keep this up, me included. In other words, "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," kind of thing.
          She made some valid and interesting points I hadn't thought about. She suggested to treat goals like characters from your book who also have to make goals and then overcome obstacles. A benefit from this is it gives us practice in "resolving different levels of conflict."  What those conflicts might be depends on what you want to accomplish and where you want to put your energy.  So here is one:
          Common goal: to  give yourself more writing time. Challenge: you have other things to do. (jobs, kids, school, husband, wife) The time challenge is like "the over arching level of conflict" which our characters face in their stories.  
          Ms Kelleher states, "in finding time to write, you have to recognize that time is a finite resource. Unless you wrap your mind around that one, it's easy to fall into the procrastination trap."  She ties that in with selling books. "Working writers write and regularly publish."  I'll add trying to find a publisher, agent, good editor.  But, not only do we write, we have to market our books.  The sad state of publishing today.
          She suggests her three layers of conflict: character against self, character against character and character against something he or she can't control." She faces these layers and identifies what was against her in each level of writing conflict, then works to address those challenges. She believes creative writing should be fun. If it's not fun, don't do it. That's why she likes the character approach.
          She suggests that goals could also be "to figure out what works for you ." For instance, for years I wrote my novel as a "panser" or straight off the cuff. My plots became too convoluted and involved too many characters, details got skewed. Outlining helped me see, at a glance, what was working and what was not. But that's me, it may not work for you.  
          For Ms. Kelleher, she sets her goals then figures a way to achieve them. If you're not reaching them, figure out what's stopping you.
          She goes on to say "writing is more than just producing chapters. You have to juggle a lot of balls in the air. One of my goals is to continue to build my presence on the social network." I've discovered that fact, and it makes my head whirl.
          Getting back to the lack of time, Annie says she "gets up early in the morning." The same time each morning.  That one way to discipline yourself is to write at the same time and for the same amount of time each day.  (good idea, but sometimes I can't stop--then others, I can't start. Go figure.)
           Annie is also of the opinion you need to make your goals smaller and smaller until they are manageable. I still call that goals and objectives to each goal. Whatever you want to call it, it's a darned good idea.
          A few other suggestions came forward in this group. Neva suggested join writing groups that make you stay on target--in fact, they live for it. Whip, chains and all the rest. (well, maybe not that bad.) 
          Pam said she needs to write something every day. I suggest that would be an objective toward the larger goal of finishing her book by the end of this year.
          These are some ideas for setting goals for the New Year. Go for the larger picture and break them down into increments. Do something every day. Make each goal attainable, don't be unrealistic. Evaluate where you are in your writing and move forward from there. Need a course in writing, creative or otherwise? Need work on grammar? Need to get a feel for point of view? Try a book in the first person. There are many fine craft books out there. I've listed my favorites on the right side of this blog. That's the section where information stays the same (unless I take out the element altogether. I won't take away my craft books.)
          So happy writing in 2015. I hope this four part series has been helpful.  Now, I'm going to finish "Mystery of the Blue Train" by Agatha Christie.

Shirley Flannagan's Writer's Oasis:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/552257888148524/#!/groups/552257888148524/


No comments: