G is for Goals


20160402_175101As a writer, Its important to have goals.  Milestones that represent our accomplishments in the various avenues of our life.   Whether it is work, our health or travel planning.

Invariably when I set a goal – I break out my Franklin Planner and write tasks down to complete said goals.  If  I’m writing I’ll set so many words per day.  I have stickers, different colored pens, highlighters and flags to keep track of everything.  If I complete the task, I check it off.  If I miss I put a Red X through it.  Like its an epic fail.

I often wonder are the tasks as important as the Goal.  My argument would be, “Yes.”  Most tasks I assign myself are for some sort of Goal.  Whether that is completing a book, or planning a retreat.

I keep a seperate planner for all the Activity on my blog, and of course I have a schedule for the gym.  Not sure why I print and post that every month, but it makes me feel good. 🙂

I don’t tend to reward myself for the tasks, but aren’t they in, and of themselves, mini goals?  Shouldn’t I spend some time rewarding myself for even writing once during the week?

As I grow more as a writer, and person, I realize that these tasks are just as important as the goal they are propelling me towards.  Even if most days I’m more like the turtle in the race versus the hare.

Excuse me while I check this blog post of my task list.   Maybe I should invest in some gold stars. 🙂





Writer Wednesday – My Third Act Struggle

On August 26th my endeavor to follow Alan Watt’s workshop “The 90 Day Novel” stalled. For a time I blamed stress over various family concerns. I think now that was an empty excuse. After all, my dry spell totals a surprising eleven days while real life drama escalated months ago.
What has changed? I floundered my way into the story’s third act.
Was I lazy during my fallow period? No. But was I truly too busy to write? Not at all. Even a half hour can produce great results if I make the effort.
In all honesty I fear ending my novel. What if I don’t have a good story to tell? Alan Watt advises students to keep going despite such doubts. My job is to write to the end, even if the whole thing continues seeming vague and meandering.
A rough draft is meant to be just that – rough. Discrepancies can be fixed and storytelling tightened during rewrites. In fact, my hero’s conflict may be resolved differently than I can even now imagine. To get there I mustnotstop.
Doesn’t that sound easy?
So today I am a few hundred words further along. Yet I continue grappling with plot much more than my character. But that’s okay. I can transfer that tension to the page by showing up every day and letting my heroine’s needs versus wants show me the way. The clock is ticking, though, if I want to keep my new aim.
What is one goal you’d like to achieve as we edge toward mid September?

The 90 Day Novel – A Progress Report

Well it’s day fifty-one of my initial foray into Alan Watt’s “The 90 Day Novel” and I’m pleased to report that I have written over thirty thousand words toward my manuscript. Lots of those are legitimate scenes, too. After writing so much rambling dialog during National Novel Writing Month last November, ultimately uninspired to even look back at what I wrote, I find this progress exciting.

Writing an outline as Mr. Watt recommends proved admittedly tricky. It’s not something I’ve used before. Now I have completely raced beyond where I initially planned to be at this point. And I think that is a very good thing since the story is expanding and growing. Besides, Alan Watt wants his students to follow where their characters lead.

I better get back to the story, now. There is a fun scene coming up and I’ve procrastinated long enough. (Yes, I do sometimes still battle getting on the page – yet I am successfully doing so with his daily readings as a catalyst.) OC’s, here I come!

What is fueling your muse today?

Darla’s Writer Wednesday

It’s rare that my scheduled blog posts line up on consecutive days. Since this is one of those cases, I would like to further address creative goals for this Writer Wednesday. Many people who know me are probably aware that I do not consider myself good at setting goals.

And I have a tendency to edit while I’m writing a first draft. Though the dual process may work for some authors, it’s really not conducive to getting the story out of our head and onto the page.

A unique confluence of events has coincided this month to help me with both those issues. I’ve been a proponent of November’s National Novel Writing Month for a number of years. I remain grateful to A. Catherine Noon for the introduction. Folks may also have read recently about my forays into the more loosely structured April and July challenges known as Camp NaNo.

Then there is Alan Watt’s book, “The 90 Day Novel”. I’ve definitely blogged about that. Some local writers decided to give Mr. Watt’s system a try starting June first, and I figured it might be fun.

I originally thought that outlining, let alone a writing guideline, would stunt my storytelling. But Alan Watt urges us to hold it all loosely. He wants our stories to develop organically, for writers to take risks and “write the forbidden”. I haven’t exactly figure out what that means, but I think that’s the way he wants it.

This month I decided to set my NaNo goal at 50,000 words. Now, thanks to Alan Watt, I have some idea of where I want each week’s cumulative writing to lead. And my word count is on fire as a result. It’s exciting.

Now, I’d be in great shape if I applied this same dedication to cleaning aquariums and other household chores. ~grin~ I’ll get there, though.

Best wishes on reaching your own creative goals. Is there anything in particle motivating you?

Just Do the Next Right Thing

I have shamelessly borrowed today’s blog post idea from Corinne Rodrigues. She quoted my blog’s title from a book by Matthew Kelly while I, interestingly, first heard the advice from Julia Cameron.

Just do the next right thing. Sounds simplistic, doesn’t it? And therein lies the beauty.

We can easily bog ourselves down with overly ambitious goals. They often pile on the emotional weight until the whole thing collapses like a house of cards with us smothering underneath.

What can we do when an impossible deadline looms or the in-laws are due to arrive soon and the house is a mess? The next right thing. Maybe it’s asking for an extension from our editor with a realistic and reasonable alternative date. Or you should perhaps shut off the social media, get out of those pajamas, and hang up the jackets piled in your entryway.

Then do the next right thing even if it’s only for the next fifteen minutes. It’s amazing what can be achieved in that amount of time. Now reward yourself. Have a cup of tea and pet the dog or the cat or, heck, watch your aquarium fish for a spell. After a fifteen minute breather, dig back into the writing, the cleaning, or whatever else needs doing.

On that note, I need to head to the gym. After that, I’ll work toward my day’s novel writing objective. The key is to take it all in bite-sized chunks.

So, what’s your goal for the day?

Alan Watt’s “The 90 Day Novel”

I’ve been fortunate to have a warm, safe place to share both my writing successes and frustrations in The Writer Zen Garden forum. And now my friends there have welcomed me to host a workshop based on Alan Watt’s “The 90 Day Novel”.

A local writer introduced me to the idea. I resisted at first, not wanting anyone telling me what and when to write. That’s how I initially saw this process despite her enthusiasm.

Now, I feel totally different.

The fact Mr. Watt quoted Julia Cameron near the very beginning of his book decided me that this is the right time for me to embark on such a quest. Alan Watt truly shares Ms. Cameron’s gentle approach to getting folks creatively working. Granted, he wants his students writing two hours a day minimum, but I feel comfortable with “The Artist’s Way” approach of just doing what I can.

We shall see how I fare as the next three months come to a close. Right now, it’s getting me on the page daily. And that alone is worth the price of the book.

Is there anything getting your creative juices flowing these days? Please tell us in the comments.

H Is For… Holes – As in Plots (get that mind out of the gutter ~grin~)

I tend to write without outlines, character sheets, or even much of a plan. Sometimes this approach fails utterly because the stories can go off on a tangent and then sputter out.  Or, as referenced in the name of this post, the plot ends up full of holes. That is at least fixable. Other times, however, something clicks for extremely satisfying results.
For the month of April, I’m endeavoring to rewrite a story that faltered back in November of 2013 during National Novel Writing Month. The Office of Letters and Light is hosting a similar challenge called Camp NaNo, so it’s full steam ahead once again.
Some new ideas have since cropped up for my contemporary gay romance tale, and that feels good. As of today (actually April fifth as I type this), the tale has not advanced far but I am hopeful. The whole idea came about with a silly opening line. Then I thought of an interesting name and just ran with it. We’ll see how it goes as the month progresses.
If you’re a writer, what tools work to help you create a cohesive story? Inquiring minds want to know. ~grin~ Happy writing!

E Is For… Event – Camp NaNo

Besides posting some A to Z entries here and the entire alphabet for my Darla M. Sands blog, I am also endeavoring to meet another writing challenge. The Office of Letters and Light, hosts of November’s National Novel Writing Month, provide still more opportunities for writer’s to test themselves. Camp NaNo happens in both April and July, I believe (can’t stop to research details now!).
The rules are much less strict than for NaNoWriMo, and contestants can even set their own word count. I, however, decided to go for broke and attempt another fifty thousand during the month just as in November. Wish me luck.
What are you writing today?

Planting the Seeds – Darla’s Creative Garden

March is not yet half over, but spring seems nearly here in my little corner of the world. Today I saw a crocus blooming in my garden. More exciting is the fact our migrating vultures have returned in droves, filling (!) a neighborhood tree. All the same, May’s vegetable planting season remains far off. So I have made plans for April, enough to keep me busy before I can seriously dig in the dirt.
One activity is the A to Z blog challenge. Thinking of alphabetical subjects is already interesting. An additional undertaking is Camp Nano. I enjoyed National Novel Writing Month so much last fall that this additional event held by The Office of Letters and Light beckoned, too. I would have forgotten without a friend inviting me to join her virtual cabin.
(Thanks, Rochelle Bradley!)
We “campers” can set our own goal for Camp. It doesn’t have to entail the full fifty thousand word craziness of NaNoWriMo. Yet the way I figured it, why not go big? 50,000 it is. So, I plan to rewrite my November 2013 novel, Jimmying the Locke. Maybe this time I will think of an ending because that’s one tale that meandered off track.

Whatever the season in your area, what are your plans? I hope you enjoy some creativity, indoors or out.

Shaking Things Up – Darla’s Writer Wednesday

Tired of feeling like a lump, I recently discovered the joys of working out. I’m learning as a novice that increased fitness relies on alternating exercises. No surprise there.  No doubt circuit training has its place, too – set routines using the same equipment for X number of workouts. Switching seems to suit me well right now, though, especially as it keeps things more interesting.
Of course, “interesting” sometimes translates to wandering around until I find the correct machine. All devices are numbered, but some sadistic soul made sure their placement follows no pattern.
Anyway, the same principal applies to my writing.  (um… not the numbers, and usually not the sadism… ahem…)
Point being, I find my productivity remaining satisfactory with variation as the key. Whether editing or writing anew, I sit down to a document every day now. And breaking from a frustrating dry spell feels fantastic.
Flexing my muscles, on the page and in the fitness center, is something I intend to continue. I hope you’ll join me in creative reshaping. Whatever my future brings physically, though, I promise right now that I will never, ever refer to my upper arms as “guns”.
What gets your creative juices flowing?