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Resolutions (Part 5)

We wrap up our discussion of New Year’s Resolutions:

How do you celebrate success? What happens when you fail to achieve the goal?

The satisfaction of doing it is usually enough for me! Though of course, I don’t need much of an excuse to have chocolate, a hard cider, or Framboise. If I don’t make a goal, I just reschedule a new target completion date. (As has been said, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.)—Joni Sensel, author of THE FARWALKER’S QUEST and its sequel THE TIMEKEEPER’S MOON.

I shout it out online to writing friends and fans on my LiveJournal and Facebook pages. If I get a new book cover, it goes up on www.LindaJoySingleton.com. A new sale is always so exciting. I get on the phone to call special friends and family. Then I get to work, because a new sale usually means lots of writing/editing ahead. Mostly, I feel a huge weight of relief because now I can relax to writing for a while without focusing on submissions or promotions.—Linda Joy Singleton, author of the DEAD GIRL and THE SEER series.

Low-key celebrations are best for me. I have a collection of champagne corks but I haven’t popped one for Galaxy Games yet.—Greg R. Fishbone, author of the upcoming GALAXY GAMES series.

I celebrate success normally with a special treat, whether it’s a nice dinner, a massage, or something I’ve been wanting to get for a while. But I think it’s important to remember to live life like everything is a success, not just the achievement of goals.—P. J. Hoover, author of The Forgotten Worlds trilogy, which includes THE EMERALD TABLET, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, and THE NECROPOLIS.

I rarely “fail” at goals—though sometimes I may have to revise the deadline, and sometimes I may choose to drop the goal altogether because other things have changed. I guess I don’t usually celebrate reaching goals, either, except maybe to take the afternoon off, make popcorn and read a book, if it’s a big goal like finishing a manuscript. I do like to celebrate successes like selling manuscripts, or even getting good news about potential interest. This happens so rarely that it’s good to celebrate and remind yourself that it can happen. Celebrating can often get lost in the busyness of day-to-day life, though, and even a “celebration” like a book launch party can feel like marketing work rather than fun. I guess I need to celebrate more!—Chris Eboch, author of the middle grade HAUNTED series, which includes THE GHOST ON THE STAIRS, THE RIVERBOAT PHANTOM and THE KNIGHT IN THE SHADOWS.

I think Chris is right—lots of us probably need to celebrate more, to really recognize the value of what we accomplish (even if nobody else does).—Joni Sensel, author of THE HUMMING OF NUMBERS, about a 10th century would-be monk and a young wood-witch on the run.

Sounds like you all are pretty low-key. At my day job, I get a bonus every time I finish a project. I think we should make that a practice for ourselves in our writing—you all need to give yourselves some better bonuses for finishing your work. :) Parker Peevyhouse, author of science fiction.

Readers, how do you celebrate successes? Any tips for us on giving ourselves better bonuses?

That wraps up our Resolutions roundtable. Thanks for stopping by!

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Resolutions (Part 4)

We continue with our discussion of New Year’s Resolutions:

Do you have any tips for keeping true to your goals?

To keep true to your goals, really believe they are possible and work toward achieving them. Look for those moments that seem inspired by the universe, and use these moments to help launch your goal achievement forward. Don’t just expect things to land in your lap. Make a plan, and use it to move forward in life.—P. J. Hoover, author of the middle grade science fiction novel, THE EMERALD TABLET.

I think one sometimes overlooked element here is knowing what you really want and being realistic about what is required to get it. A lot of people “want” to be writers or to have a published book, but they don’t actually want to spend much time writing. In that case, a goal isn’t going to do much good, I don’t think, unless that goal is more process-oriented, such as, “spend an hour a day writing” or “come up with a book project that I enjoy so much, I don’t want to do anything else.”—Joni Sensel, author of THE FARWALKER’S QUEST and other middle-grade and YA fantasies.

Joni makes a good point. This also brings up the difference between goals and tasks. A goal is a big step, like, “Become a published writer” or “Make over $20,000 by writing this year.” Tasks are the small, specific steps you need to take to get there. Even if you complete every task successfully, you may not reach the goal because some aspects are out of your control. Still, if you have a goal, you’ll have a much better chance of reaching it if you identify the intermediary tasks. They can also act as a reality check. For example, let’s say you’re a beginning writer who wants to sell a book manuscript this year. The first step might be to research what it takes to be published. You might learn that most writers have to spend several thousand hours studying and practicing before they get published. You realize that to study and practice writing for 2000 hours, you would have to work 40 hours a week for a year. You can’t do that. Maybe you bump back your goal of selling a book to five years and set a new goal of having two or three short stories ready for submission by the end of the year. Your tasks could be to spend five hours a week on writing, read a different children’s magazine every week, and take a summer writing class.—Chris Eboch, author of the middle grade HAUNTED series about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show.

The group was pretty quiet on this one, so Readers, help us out. Do you have any ideas?

Tomorrow: We wrap up with How do you celebrate success? What happens when you fail to achieve the goal?

 

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Resolutions (Part 3)

We continue with our discussion of New Year’s Resolutions:

Do you track your goals or do they tend to get forgotten?

I keep a constantly evolving To Do List that contains current deadlines, ideas I want to pursue when I have time, marketing and publicity tasks, and items not related to writing. Often I have a long-term list and also a weekly list, which I may even break down by day. That has specific tasks, from writing a chapter to mailing submissions to buying groceries. As things get crossed off and added, eventually the list becomes a big mess and I rewrite it. (Yes, a computer version might be simpler, but I like having a piece of paper sitting in a prominent position on my desk so I can scribble additions and cross things off, so if I did this on a computer I’d just have to keep printing it anyway.) I’m not sure if this counts as tracking goals, but if something sits on the list untouched for months, it’s a reminder that I either need to get to it, or decide that it’s not important after all.—Chris Eboch, author of the middle grade HAUNTED series, which includes THE GHOST ON THE STAIRS, THE RIVERBOAT PHANTOM and THE KNIGHT IN THE SHADOWS.

They’re always in the back of my mind, really, and they directly influence decisions about how I spend my time. In the past, I’ve enjoyed sharing writing goals with critique group members, writing them all down, and doing a six-month status check, but haven’t done that in a while because I’m the only one who ever wants to!—Joni Sensel, author of THE FARWALKER’S QUEST and other middle-grade and YA fantasies.

I focus on what I am able to accomplish and keep pushing forward until each project is finished. I work best if I write one book at a time, although often edits for another book may come in or other writing obligations. I am at my computer every day.—Linda Joy Singleton, author of the DEAD GIRL series which includes DEAD GIRL WALKING, DEAD GIRL DANCING and DEAD GIRL IN LOVE.

I take an opposite approach to Linda’s—I find myself being more productive when I work on more than one ms at a time. When I get stuck on one story, I go to another. I get a little done on each project this way and am better able to see the projects through to the end. If I had to stick to only one ms, I would get too frustrated to finish.—Parker Peevyhouse, science fiction author.

I set some challenging goals, so I tend to miss some of them. Those are probably best forgotten.—Greg R. Fishbone, author of THE PENGUINS OF DOOM, a contemporary fantasy humor novel for ages 9 and up.

Track or forget goals…both, depending on what else is going on in life. The best way I’ve found to track goals is to write them down, make them visible, and remember to remember them. So I’d say a goal for me for the new year is to be better about tracking my goals.—P. J. Hoover, author of THE EMERALD TABLET, which tells the story of a boy who discovers he’s part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea.

Readers, what are your thoughts?

Tomorrow:  tips for keeping true to your goals?

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Resolutions (Part 2)

We continue with our discussion of New Year’s Resolutions:

What are your writing related goals for 2011?

The first Galaxy Games book is coming out in Fall 2011, so my main goal is getting the word out so readers can find and enjoy this story. I’m also writing the second book in the trilogy as well as a book for Wizards of the Coast that I’m not able to give details about yet because there’s a non-disclosure agreement in place. Those two books will be out in 2012, which will also be the five-year anniversary of The Penguins of Doom.—Greg R. Fishbone, author of GALAXY GAMES: PRELIMINARIES, scheduled for a Fall 2011 release with Tu Books, an imprint focused on multicultural MG/YA fantasy and science fiction.

To finish a futuristic YA, which is my immediate goal. I can’t plan for after that because I have submissions out to publisher and whatever sells will set me in a new direction. I would like to write another book for my current publisher, Flux, for a spin-off from my THE SEER series.—Linda Joy Singleton, author of THE SEER series where ghosts whisper to psychic Sabine.

I have three or four book ideas, so I’m going to develop each of them until I can write a synopsis, then ask my agent for feedback on what he thinks will be most marketable. Doing some advanced development will also help me make sure I’m comfortable writing these stories before I pitch them. Two are serious YA ideas, which is a change for me since I’ve mostly written fun middle grade action, like my HAUNTED series. Trying something new is intimidating, but regular stretching is good for the mind and soul as well as the body.—Chris Eboch, author of the middle grade HAUNTED series about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show

I’d love to write first drafts of two ideas I have brewing and take at least one of these through to something workable. It just helps to always have new things brewing! And of course I wouldn’t scoff at a new book sale either :) And because I think reading is so important for writers, I’ll set the goal of reading at least 75 books in my genre in 2011.—P. J. Hoover, author of the middle grade science fiction novel, THE EMERALD TABLET.

Let’s see: Revise my YA sci-fi, submit it and another finished project to agents to find new representation, complete a nonfiction book proposal I’m working on right now (and the book itself, if somebody bites), and either successfully revise or officially table a YA horror manuscript I’ve been churning for about three years now. I sure would like to sell one of those manuscripts in 2011, too, but we’ll see—that one’s only marginally under my control, so it’s more of a hope than a goal.—Joni Sensel, author of THE FARWALKER’S QUEST and other middle-grade and YA fantasies.

Joni hits on a good point—some goals involve aspects that are beyond our control. For example, I can no longer pursue a goal of writing for several hours in a row every weekday, which is a schedule I used to follow. That’s just not going to happen at this time in my life. I can, however, make it a goal to use my writing time more wisely—and accept that my toddler is probably going to interrupt me nevertheless. I’m going to try some new methods rather than setting new goals. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to change my writing schedule so that I’m writing in “seasons”—short bursts of high activity—rather than trying to write every day.—Parker Peevyhouse, author of science fiction.

Readers, what kind of goals do you set—project based, time based, or other?

Tomorrow: keeping track of goals.

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Resolutions (part 1)

Here at The Spectacle, we’re starting the new year with a discussion of New Year’s Resolutions as they relate to writing.

Do you set goals yearly, more often, less often, or not at all? Do you use “New Year’s Resolutions” as a motivational tool?

I don’t generally set goals for the New Year. I do like to stop and think about what the year might have in store for my writing projects, but I don’t make any firm deadlines or pressure myself to accomplish any certain amount of work.—Parker Peevyhouse, science fiction author.

There is nothing like an event to help kick my butt into setting goals. I’m a very goal oriented person, but having something like “The New Year” really reminds me to recheck where I am and make a new plan. But why stop at the New Year. Any event like a planned conference attendance, a birthday, anniversary, or release of a new book are great reasons to check where I am and reset those goals.—P. J. Hoover, author of The Forgotten Worlds trilogy, which includes THE EMERALD TABLET, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, and THE NECROPOLIS.

I love writing goals and have been surprised by how few of my writing friends set them (or take them seriously when they do). Maybe it’s too task/goal-oriented for many creative folks? I agree with Parker that pressure is not always helpful, but because I think it’s fun, I set annual writing goals for the year and then give myself interim goals such as finishing a revision by the end of a given month. I save official resolutions more for personal improvement—eat more salads, resist the urge to honk at annoying drivers, that sort of thing. ;) —Joni Sensel, author of THE FARWALKER’S QUEST and other middle-grade and YA fantasies.

It’s probably true that strict goals are too oppressive for some creative types. Good work doesn’t always result from organization, determination, pressure. For me, when I step back from trying to control the process, the writing seems to come more easily and be of better quality. When I pressure myself, I totally freeze up. I have to let practicality and flexibility share space in my office. I have to be firm about making time to work, but I also have to tell myself, Just do what you can.—Parker Peevyhouse, who writes science fiction for young readers.

I used to set monthly goals but these days I find myself dealing with things more as they come at me. When I was struggling to get into print, my New Year’s writing resolution was always some variation of “write two books and publish one,” which I fell short of every year but at least it gave me something to shoot for. I have two books under contract with 2011 deadlines, so my New Year’s resolution this year will involve putting my butt in the chair to write.—Greg R. Fishbone, author of the upcoming GALAXY GAMES series.

I think it’s a good idea to review where you are and where you’re headed regularly, at least once a year, and the change of years is a good reminder. It can happen at other times as well, such as when I’ve finished a major project and need to figure out what I should do next. This year, the two happen to coincide—I recently sent my latest manuscript, an adult suspense novel, to my agent. I’m waiting to hear back on a couple of series proposals and a middle grade boy suspense submission. So while I play the waiting game, what’s next? This involves not just the immediate question of what project comes next, but the larger question of where that project may take me in my career.—Chris Eboch, author of the middle grade HAUNTED series about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show.

I give myself personal page goals if I’m working on a deadline. Mostly though I just strive to write at least 5 days a week. Recently I did start the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a book in a month just to see how much I would achieve. I started off great and for two weeks achieved a goal of 8 pages a day. I wrote 100 pages…but then had to stop for other obligations. Still that push to write fast proved to me that I could produce quickly when I set my mind to it. —Linda Joy Singleton, author of the DEAD GIRL and THE SEER series.

Readers, what are your thoughts?

Tomorrow:  writing-related goals for 2011

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Resolutions (Part 3)

We continue with our discussion of New Year’s Resolutions:

Do you track your goals or do they tend to get forgotten?

I keep a constantly evolving To Do List that contains current deadlines, ideas I want to pursue when I have time, marketing and publicity tasks, and items not related to writing. Often I have a long-term list and also a weekly list, which I may even break down by day. That has specific tasks, from writing a chapter to mailing submissions to buying groceries. As things get crossed off and added, eventually the list becomes a big mess and I rewrite it. (Yes, a computer version might be simpler, but I like having a piece of paper sitting in a prominent position on my desk so I can scribble additions and cross things off, so if I did this on a computer I’d just have to keep printing it anyway.) I’m not sure if this counts as tracking goals, but if something sits on the list untouched for months, it’s a reminder that I either need to get to it, or decide that it’s not important after all.— Chris Eboch, author of the middle grade HAUNTED series, which includes The Ghost on the Stairs, The Riverboat Phantom and The Knight in the Shadows.

They’re always in the back of my mind, really, and they directly influence decisions about how I spend my time. In the past, I’ve enjoyed sharing writing goals with critique group members, writing them all down, and doing a six-month status check, but haven’t done that in a while because I’m the only one who ever wants to!—Joni Sensel, author of THE FARWALKER’S QUEST and other middle-grade and YA fantasies.

I focus on what I am able to accomplish and keep pushing forward until each project is finished. I work best if I write one book at a time, although often edits for another book may come in or other writing obligations. I am at my computer every day.—Linda Joy Singleton, author of the DEAD GIRL series which includes DEAD GIRL WALKING, DEAD GIRL DANCING and DEAD GIRL IN LOVE.

I set some challenging goals, so I tend to miss some of them. Those are probably best forgotten.—Greg R. Fishbone, author of THE PENGUINS OF DOOM, a contemporary fantasy humor novel for ages 9 and up.

Track or forget goals…both, depending on what else is going on in life. The best way I’ve found to track goals is to write them down, make them visible, and remember to remember them. So I’d say a goal for me for the new year is to be better about tracking my goals.—P. J. Hoover, author of THE EMERALD TABLET, which tells the story of a boy who discovers he’s part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea.

Readers, how about you?

Tomorrow: tips for keeping true to your goals.

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