Category Archives: Deadlines

Part 3 in the 3-part series to Stop the Chaos

A Recap…

Step One:  Set Your Top 5 Life Priorities: in each area of your life, take stock in whom and what is important to you and fills your soul. Click here to see mine, as an example.

Step Two:  Write down Your Top 10 Goals: Specific Details on what you’d like to accomplish; measurable and with a deadline; that align with your Life Priorities.  Click here to see mine, as an example.

Today, we tackle > >

Step Three:  The Motherlode List: a long, ever-changing list of mini action steps for each of Your Top 10 Goals.

The Motherlode List is a big, hairy, time-consuming step, but absolutely necessary if you want to see results.  How else will you achieve each of those Goals to live the life according to your Priorities? Planning and Action!

The Action Steps on my Motherlode list would be…

 What I need to do and How I’m going to do it

Look at your goals. Some may require a bit of research first. Say, your goal is to publish your novel by x date. How are you going to get there? Well, of course you need to start with the obvious – have a finished novel : )

  1. Write novel
  2. Revise novel
  3. Woo beta readers with chocolate and get their feedback
  4. Revise novel again
  5. Subscribe to agentquery.com or similar Literary Agent search / book
  6. Research blogs, websites and Twitter feeds of authors you admire, and then their agents!
  7. Begin marketing your book
  8. Write Query letter
  9. Revise Query letter
  10. Send Query letter
  11. Continue marketing your book
  12. Upon inquiry, send manuscript – or sample chapters and/or synopsis to agent
  13. Sign book deal : )
  14. Start another round of revisions
  15. Continue marketing your book, go on tour, and make appearances
  16. Begin next novel

These Action Steps are just a rough outline and will be different for everyone.

Since most of these are a big action step in themselves, you’d break it down even further – into mini action steps and set a deadline for each mini action step.

For example, if you’re on the step Woo beta readers with chocolate and get their feedback, you’d probably  …

  • Start by identifying your readership.
  • Next, determine if anyone in your circle of friends or colleagues fit the bill
  • Then, decide of those above, whose opinion do you value? Are they avid readers of your genre? Do they have writing and /or editing skills? Would they provide constructive criticism?
  • Next, reach out to your selected beta readers: ask if they’d be willing to read and provide feedback on your novel. Consider your time line and ask if can they deliver feedback within that frame. (Offer chocolate in form of payment!)
  • Know what kind of feedback you are looking for. Character development? Plot holes? Verb usage, etc.?
  • Send ms in a format they prefer to read – pdf or hard copy, entire book or one chapter at a time, etc.

Get the idea?

Currently, my Motherlode List has 76 Action Steps! Yikes! Quite overwhelming. 

Except, as I review my Top Priorities daily I focus my energy like a laser beam, not a flood light. From my Motherlode List, I’ve prioritized deadlines by this week, this month, this quarter, this year.

Then I take it one week at a time, sometimes broken down by day. That’s it. I’m not looking ahead, I’m not getting buried. Yes, I struggle with distractions, I just have to keep my “eye on the prize!”

You’re up!

Instructions for you: Each week, review your Motherlode List, comparing it to your weekly calendar of commitments. Survey your available time or time you can make for your goals: ) Write down the action steps you can take this week. Feel the exhilaration of crossing.off.each.step. Slowly, you will conquer the chaos!

Don’t let me sweat it alone – share your progress with me!

**If you would like to see my Action List for my #1 Priority of Getting to and Maintaining a healthy size 4, SUBSCRIBE to this blog, and then respond here in the comments! I will email it to you! (Current subscribers, just drop me a line below!)

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Filed under Advice, Believe, Commit to 3, Deadlines, Inspiration, Organization, Perseverance, procrastination, writers

5 prompt Friday

         Here we go again…

  1. The empty feeling in my stomach spread to my chest and head, threatening to pull me inside out.
  2. How do I say this to you?
  3. On her wrist was a bracelet made from multi-colored paperclips.
  4. His voice crackled through the walkie-talkie, “The Eagle Has Landed.”
  5. Are you ready to do this?

Have a story or prompt to share? Post it here : ) Happy writing!


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Last Day to Enter!

Could you benefit from a writing mentor? I know I can! Just found the link (via Twitter) to this extraordinary contest – but hurry, today’s the last day to enter! (September 29)

The Bookshelf Muse

 Prizes include:

General Drawing:

5-First Page critiques
2-First Chapter critiques

Special Drawing Challenge

It’s simple: SPREAD THE WORD about this contest! If you do, I will include you in a special drawing for a three month mentorship with me.

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First step to Clarity: Decide What you WANT

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want. Ben Stein

If you ‘ve been following my blog at all since Dec 31, you know that 2010 is The Year of Clarity. What does that mean? For me, it means to get back to my roots of writing and submitting fiction, narrowing my niche to better  build my platform and before deciding to take on any more, put heavy decisions through a “filter” to discern if  new writing or teaching gigs  fit my “ecosystem” for my ultimate writing goal. What I want is to finish and publish my novel and inspire young writers in my community, with the long-term goal of continuing in these areas to eventually replace my full-time job.

Clarity also means to simplify: my goals, my lifestyle, my space and my relationships. Focus on the things that bring me most joy. This weekend, that meant hanging with my sons: window shopping and walking through parks and an old 16th century graveyard, visiting the library, and reflecting on the school year about to come to an end.

I bring “clarity” up again, because Christina Katz is talking about it in this week’s issue of The Prosperous Writer. What clarity means to us as writers. What does it mean to you? Perhaps after journaling about it, you’ll hit an epiphany. As I did on April 28 of this year:

{journal excerpt}

4-28-10

I am so happy today! Excited with the idea that I WILL be writing a book. A novel I scribed in November 2008. It’s been fermenting in my hard drive. Hate the title. I’ll have to think of something catchy, deep and relative to the mood of the book.

Yes. Today I took the next step in finishing my first novel. I printed each of the 15 chapters, along with unconnected scenes, story map, plot outline, setting and each main characters’ description – from the forms I completed on storyright.com.

I was so afraid to look the mss. over after November 30 2008 struck midnight and I uploaded the whole messy beast into NaNo’s official word count thingamajig. I never looked back. Until today. And I like what I see. I like it a lot! : )

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Filed under Advice, Believe, Deadlines, Novels

Topsy-Turvy: finding balance

{image courtesy of foresightculture.com}

 

What is that called when you receive a “message” at just the right time? You know, when things just become clear. An “Ah-ha” or “epiphany” or Kismet? A coincidence, a quinky-dink, fate? 

Well, the night after my husband and I had an argument, I received Christina Katz’s newsletter The Prosperous Writer in my inbox. The theme? BALANCE. Ah-ha! 

The argument between my man and me was about, again, my writing/computer time and how he feels like low man on the totem pole. Last on my list of priorities is how he stated it, actually. Ouch. It hurt me that I hurt him that way. But, where do you draw the line? If a deadline is looming, how do you shut off that “entrepreneur” part of your brain to get into sexy spouse mode? Or even carefree mommy-mode? That’s balance, people. Something I’m apparently lacking. 

Feeling like I’ve been turned upside down and around, my day job, my writing and teaching goals and my role as wife and Mom have come unhinged on the priority pole. Time to take a number. But, who/what comes in first? Of course, the P.C. answer would be “your kids!”  “your husband!” And that’s true. People relationships are the foundation for the rest of it. If my kids and husband aren’t as excited about my writing and teaching career as I am, well, I can still be successful, but lonely. And I imagine it’s not much fun at the top if there’s no one there to clink glasses with. 

Though, I’m not prepared to say goodbye to the writing and teaching opportunities that I have grown in the past several years. Maybe I do need to prepare to say, “let me get back to you.” For instance, now when someone presents me with an opportunity and asks, Hey, would you be interested in-  “YES!” I interrupt. Trigger-happy. I’ve gone through this before and paid for it by experiencing slight burnout and major attitude issues, including exhaustion, doubt and anxiety. Sound familiar to anyone else? 

Christina says that sometimes this imbalance is the best thing to set us straight again. And again. (in my case!) And remember my Year of Clarity? Quinky-dink? It’s time to reassess my goals in relation to my time and find that balance. How am I going to do this? Let me count the ways… 

  • Decide which projects I’m already committed to and note their deadline(s)
  • Figure out the timeline(s) leading up to these due dates, i.e. the amount of time I’ll need to prepare, edit and present or submit these projects, then break them into bite-size pieces
  • Discuss with my family how much time I’ll need per week to achieve these goals, making sure everyone is in agreement that I’ll be “unavailable” on certain evenings and that it won’t interfere with family obligations: band concerts, school open house, my husband’s work schedule.
  • Communicate! Write on our kitchen calendar the times I’ll be “working” and out of the house.
  • Stick to it. When I’m not on the calendar as “working” I need to release the responsibilities. Meaning? No checking emails. No updating Twitter. No researching online or checking in with my writing group.
  • Use my off days to: start a scrapbook with Sam, take David to the basketball hoops, cuddle with my husband, try a new crock pot recipe, play with Comet (my bird), read for pleasure, take a walk, have a movie night, play Rockband, etc.
  • Before I say “yes” to any more opportunities, I need to Stop. Drop. And Roll. Stop before speaking. Drop the idea by my family, considering how much time this will take from them. Roll it through my ultimate goals filter – does it fit within my plan for “Getting Known?” or is it just another to-do?

  

These steps will be a struggle for me, I know. But the first step is admitting there is a problem, in my case: imbalance. 

How about you? 

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Filed under Advice, Deadlines, goals, Organization, Perseverance

Do Not DELETE!

Taken from the wise words of Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo:

 

“…And please remember: If you write a paragraph or chapter you don’t like, just put it in italics (or change the font color to white). Do not delete! After you write your way across the 50,000-word finish line, you can double back and clip out all the parts of your book that make you cringe (I think you’ll surprise yourself with what you decide to keep). For now, just keep moving forward! There’s an old folk saying that goes: Whenever you delete a sentence in your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground.

Where it will likely require medical attention.

These are words to live by. Resist the tyranny of the delete key! Onward! Upward!”

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Writing of loss

LMbook_large

A writer friend of mine had the esteemed honor of being published in Literary Mama, recently.

I say “esteemed honor”, because among our online support group of  women writers, we share near misses and not one of our group had made it into Literary Mama, until now.

Not only did Stephanie Dethlefs get the coveted byline, but had a remarkable story to share about a mother’s love and loss.  Please follow the link to read her essay, “Beautiful Friend.”

And, if you have a story of mother’s loss to share, follow this link to a call for submissions for a miscarriage anthology, being printed by Catalyst Book Press.

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Filed under Advice, Creative Essays, Deadlines, emotion, Non Fiction, writer markets