Getting Going: Goals & Writing

1604803_10151969731911517_1916373917_nI often get questions from fellow writers about the writing life, and I forget that Tule has put out a great book with articles and essays and writing tips with lots of my thoughts and advice on the writing life, but not everyone wants to read a book with tips and suggestions.  Many people just want the short version, or the secret to getting words down.

Well, there is no secret.  It’s work.  It’s always been work, and yes, it was maybe more fun before I made it a full-time job, but it’s actually really fun being comfortable with what you do, and having some skills and the ability to manipulate craft to get the story you want.

So as I start a new story, Dillon Sheenan’s story, I thought I’d share with all how I keep on track with my writing.  It’s not new, or revolutionary, it’s just three little things I do that are essential for me to getting the work done even when family and other commitments press in.

1) Set a goal or have a firm deadline for your WIP.

When a publisher gives me a deadline and money, I have to deliver.  But before I was contracted or had sold a book, I gave myself firm deadlines, too.  I HAD to meet those…which is how I sold.

2)  Create a writing ritual.

Some authors work out, some take a bath or shower, some reread their work from the day before.  Whatever it is that helps you settle into writing and focus, do it.  My ritual is:  clear off desk, make a cup of tea, light a candle, sit down, put on headphones and play music or white noise and get to work.  I have to stay off the internet, too, and obviously the point is get your butt in a chair and to write.  Not to fiddle or do Pinterest or answer email.  The goal is word count.  The goal is immersion in your story.  Clear everything from your head–and desk–that isn’t related to the story.

3)  Enjoy your story and characters.

If you don’t like them, and enjoy them, and believe in the world you’re creating…no one else will.  Whenever I’m struggling with a story it’s probably because I don’t love them yet.  So figure those characters out.  Make them real.  Make them honest and raw and give them goals and needs and dreams that matter.  And then those characters become important…not just to you, but to your reader, too.

Still want more writing tips?  You’re in luck!  I’m giving away a writer’s giveaway, with a Grand Prize filled with my favorite writing reference books (several taken straight from my shelf as I have more than 2 copies of many) plus a copy of Tule Publishing’s Writing the Bestseller, along with a $10 Starbucks drink card, a Tule tote bag, water bottle, pens, notepads and fun reader/writer swag.  But that’s not all….  I will also be drawing 3 runner up prize winners who will each receive a copy of Tule’s Writing the Bestseller, a $5.00 Starbucks card, a Tule tote bag, Tule water bottle, pens, and reader/writer swag.  Winner will be announced on January 1st so please check back then!

photo Now go get writing, or if you’re not a writer but have another goal, something that’s important to you, focus on it, and make 2015 about you and what you want to do!  

89 Comments

  1. Folks are always asking me about books to help beginning writers, so happy now to be able to recommend Tule’s Writing the Bestseller!

  2. Before befriending you and other authors on Facebook, I had no idea how hard the writing process really is. As readers, we have the easy job, just sit back and enjoy the story. So, I have learned to respect what the authors go through to create the books we all love. Keep up your great work. I always love reading what you come out with each time. Don’t enter me in the contest as I have no plans of becoming a writer. I just want to escape into those wonderful stories.

  3. Good inspiring advice from a successful role model. While I do not write in your genre, I do read your books for the romance portions of mine. Something that is difficult for me to write. Appreciate your advice!

  4. Thanks so much Jane for always encouraging us, I am trying to really write for the 1st time, we will see what happens, but I have not been so great at setting specific goals or deadlines for myself. I need to change that.

    Can’t wait to see where you take Dillon’s story!

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I want so desperately bad to get back to writing. I love it, it’s my passion. Whenever I’m in a low spot and ask myself what I want to do for the rest of my life, that’s the one thing that pops into my head…WRITE! I want to write. It just seems like life keeps butting in and interrupting and to top it all off it’s very hard to do something when the really important people in your life don’t support it…says it silly, pointless, a waste of time. :/ But I really love it.

  6. 2015 is my year to start writing and finishing a book, instead of treating it like a hobby. Would love this encouraging set of goodies to help me along the way. Already have my hero and heroine and have written their first meeting…..can’t wait to see where they lead me. Thanks for the advise. Love reading your books.

  7. Good advice. I’m not a writer but this list would work for people in other areas. For example, let’s say I’m planning to making baby blankets to sell on etsy. I would need to set up the area, have the white noise, love the material & pattern I’ve chosen & set deadlines for myself. This is an actual plan I hope to do someday – but it might cut into my reading time. Ha-ha-ha!! 😀

  8. Thanks, Jane! I’m at the 25% complete mark of my second romance manuscript. The first has been sent away and I’m eagerly awaiting the news, good or bad. Fabulous tips. I’m a bit of a procrastinator, so I’m going to give your advice a go! Do you set a certain amount of words per day or just a deadline for the finished manuscript?

  9. I have to say I loved Writing the Best Seller. I have recommended it to many people. Great advise from a variety of authors.

  10. I write for me and do the Ruby Sisterhood Winter writing festival. I have been reading and writing for years so I do know how hard it is. Great article and I would love to win. Thanks so much.

  11. I am currently working on my first book. Some days the ideas and words come pouring out, once I get going that is, and other days, it is quiet, there is nothing and it takes me everything to sit down and write.
    Love this post! I was going to write to you last week when I hit a huge block to ask you what you do to keep writing and writing so beautifully. And, here are the answers! Thank you for these treasured ideas. A writing ritual is exactly what I need to create.
    Sending you wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!

  12. I don’t know if i will ever get a book written, but i do like to write haiku and thoughts that i have. my boyfriend and kids want me to write a story of my journey with crohn’s disease. cute pic Jane! Happy New Year!

  13. I’ve had a story brewing for almost thirty years and it’s become a huge. I am daunted in trying to figure out where to begin or how it will end. Thank you for the tips.

  14. I did Nanowrimo and having a daily, weekly and then final goal pushed me to get it done! It was so exciting to see the word count increase day by day. There is magic in putting your mind to a goal. Great tips!

  15. Bookmarking this post! I attended my first writers conference this fall and enjoyed every minute! I also learned just how much I didn’t know about the writing process, writing a book proposal, finding a literary agent and so much more. Thank you for always being real with us – not sugar coating the reality of writing for a living. I will always write, whether I am lucky enough to be published or not! Even a step backward is movement!! Happy New Year All!

  16. I am motivated to make 2015 a productive writing year for me! My plan is to write like I am on fire through the first draft. I know the draft will be terrible, but that is okay. I will then spend my time fixing it. Thanks for the tips Jane. Happy writing to you.

  17. I have been writing short stories and poetry since my kids were little. I retired from work two years ago and I’m nearly finished writing my first novel. I took classes at two writing colleges and graduated while taking care of kids husband and working. I have had poems published. I have only sent in a few short stories, haven’t had any published. I read everything I can get my hands on to better my writing. Thank-you for your advice, I need to wean myself from facebook and write on a regular basis.

  18. I love this post! Thank you for the advice and inspiration. I loved the writing book you put out last year – I had no idea it was available in print.

  19. These tips have made me decide I need to get my characters in the “Go” mode and add more words to the ones I already have. Simon keeps clamp ring for his story to be told. Thanks for the hints.

  20. Thank you for this, Jane. Writing is what I want to do, it’s what I need to do, and it’s somehow always last on the list. I did participate in NaNoWriMo this year, at least until life interrupted it thoroughly. But those nights that I wrote were awesome, and I have 12K words on the story that’s been in my head for a decade or more. I appreciate the tips and the kick in the butt. And even if I don’t win those resources, I’d love a list of your favorite resources (outside of Tule’s great book, of course. 😉 ) Happy New Year!

  21. I enjoyed reading your tips, Jane. I’m currently struggling with edits and have been reading a lot of articles for reference. I haven’t seen Tule’s Writing the Bestseller but now I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for the opportunity!

  22. My goal for 2015 is to finish (and submit) my first full length novel. Thanks for the extra motivation and helpful hints! I’m bad about getting distracted on the internet, you know, commenting on blogs and such.

  23. Bookmarked and waiting for more. Even stuff we’ve heard before we need to be reminded of… with thanks for your kindness and generosity as always.

  24. Making time and staying focused is a huge thing! I have been working on editing the SAME WIP since we met Jane, back when I wrote about Mrs. Perfect for a local magazine — before you got pregnant with Mac! This year I have to get it done. It is my priority.
    XOXOXOXOX

  25. I will definitely be following this blog. I am still spinning my ideas around in my brain. Would be so helpful to have these aids when I sit down and start writing. 🙂 Going to try to make 2015 my year to write. Thanks, Jane! You are the best!!

  26. I wanted to write and actually started a book when I was in high school. My family found it and spent one meal time dissecting it, making fun of it, and telling me how stupid an idea it was that I thought I could be a writer. That was many, many years ago, but still hurts. Needless to say, I didn’t try writing again except for school assignments. I still make up the stories, but never put them to paper. It is still nice to dream about doing it.

  27. Great advice Jane! I”m off to Amazon to buy the book. Retirement is due in about six months and then i will start writing, even if only for my children.

  28. Important tips for all writers. I imagine it’s a new leearning exprience every single day. The picture is piceless Jane. The smile is still the same.Thanks for sharing.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (do) com

  29. OH JANE! This is the perfect inspiration and motivation to get my butt in the chair, stay off the internet and write. Thank You for posting this. Perfect timing since the beginning of the year is when we all make those pesky resolutions which, hopefully, we’ll all fulfill this year – to write more, complete WIPs and get published. You’ve hit the nail on the head with this simple list and echoed exactly what I say in my head all day long.

    Good news, I’ve written a few simple status updates that unintentionally prod friends to post replies like, “you must write your book, you’re a natural”. Just from my status update no less. I’m getting tons of support from friends and family and feeling super motivated.

    Thanks again, Jane. Your actions and words speak volumes to all of us strugglers.

  30. I didn’t know Tule put out a writing how-to book. I guess that means I’m not as immersed in the internet as I thought. ha. Great giveaway.

  31. This is great and comes at a perfect time. I’ve recommited to my writing after leaving the tea room to follow my own dreams. This is my dream and I need to make it happen. That for your inspiration.

  32. Thank you! This was so refreshing and once again has inspired me to finish my YA novel and complete by personal deadline. April 3rd, 2015 my first wedding anniversary. I am going to have my goal completed. Such a great giveaway! Happy New Year to you and your family 🙂

  33. You amaze and inspire me – love these writerly words of wisdom. I was just making a little goals list and one item is to actually go back and USE ideas I have jotted down as well a stuff I have ‘pinned’ on Pinterest (not just recipes but writerly stuff, as well).

  34. Jane, as always you are an inspiration. Very helpful knowing that successful authors all have their own little techniques that work for them. Thank you for sharing.

  35. I’m always looking for tips on writing. My mom and some friends tell me I would be good at it. Problem is, I get to around four chapters in and find myself hating my book. Guess I’m my worst critic. Lol I’m glad you started this.

  36. Hi Jane, it’s been a while. Love this post. It is very timely because I needed that prodding from this post. My goal is to actually finish at least one of the four wips I have going. The fear factor needs to disappear. The best thing though is that now, I can actually visualize me typing “THE END!” I couldn’t do that before. Happy writing!!

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  37. This is awesome!! I keep attempting to write a book, but need to get more focused 🙂 Would love to win something!! 😀

  38. This is the year that I am going to get my butt in chair and write the book that has been in my head forever. I always look forward to your posts because you are so positive in your attitude. I truly admire the person that I see on facebook. I have also had the great pleasure of meeting you! Have a great year!

  39. I didn’t even realize I had a ritual until I tried to write without anything. I’m a candle lighter myself, and for some reason, it just signals that it’s time to write. I’m a big believer in deadlines as well. I will waste time until the heat is on when given the chance. I read a lot of craft books and articles, always looking for the secret, but I haven’t found one yet! I love that you say there is no secret. We can get information and advice, maybe a new way of looking at things, but there’s no secret. Writing is hard. It’s not always fun, and it’s definitely not always easy. I’ve lost count of the number of people who say they’ve “always wanted to write a book” but “don’t have the time.” Nobody has the time, and if you really want to write a book, you will write it. I think what people mean is that they want to have written a book. I know that’s what I love the most! The process itself is painful and arduous, but I do love having a finished piece. Thank you for your encouragement, your advice, and your example. You really are an inspiration to a lot of us, Jane!!

  40. Jane – I am looking forward to Dillon story and see how it comes together. My dream is to write a story someday. I use to think it was impossible as i am so more mechanical included. Except one of my college professor’s said some of the best writers have issues with grammar but a vivid imagination. That is why they have editor’s. 🙂

    Have a Nice New Year!!!

  41. #16 Amanda Chomiak, you are the Grand Prize winner! And the three runner-up winners are –

    #54 Wendy Martinoni
    #19 Melissa
    #28 Kelly Bacigalupi

    Please shoot me an email with your mailing address and I’ll get prizes in the mail to you all.

    Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2015 is a great one for all of us!

    Jane xoxo

  42. I can’t put into words how excited I am!
    I am absolutely grateful!
    Thank you, Jane. This will be my reminder, my gentle push to make sure I get to the words, The End.

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