Tag Archives: goal setting

Writing Program: Week 7 (Just Keep Writing)

As the weeks progress the writing gets more and more intense. I’m not going to lie; it’s even difficult for me to stay on top of the writing schedule. No one said this was going to be easy. So what do you do if life gets in the way of completing a particular day’s worth of writing? I played around with a few options and they all have pros and cons.

Play catch-up

One option would be to double up your writing the next day. You could also try to space out the sessions you missed between several different days.

Pro

You stay on the original schedule, finishing Week 20 on time.

Con

By having to find time for extra writing sessions it is easy to fall more and more behind.

Pick up where you left off

If you missed Monday’s scheduled work, move it to Tuesday. Then move Tuesday’s to Wednesday and so on.

Pro

No stress of having to catch back up to where you originally left off.

Con

You will have to adjust the date of when you were planning on finishing the program.

Hybrid of catch-up and pick up

This is the option I personally try to use. The majority of the time is picking up where I left off. Then if I have the time and the energy I will try to get an extra session in, catching up to where I originally left off. Also on the last day of the week, since it’s a “rest” day I will use that as a catch-up day, if needed.

Pro

Merges the best features of the other two options, while limiting the stress.

Con

You still may need to adjust the date you finish the program.

Of these three options I don’t recommend playing catch-up. I would choose either picking up where you left off or the hybrid option. Writing is supposed to be fun. Don’t let missing a day’s worth of writing stress you

Week 7 Writing Program

First five weeks of the writing program

Weekly Book Recommend

While The Hobbit was the first full length novel I remember being read to me, the first novel I remember reading myself, that truly captivated me was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. I remember reading this book while at Scout Camp and that the book was more enjoyable than the activities that camp had to offer. Granted, there was the whole section of science jargon that was hard to read, but once you got past that part it was an amazing story.

 




Writing Program: Week 6 (Crabs in a Bucket)

Talking with those closest to you

With all the writing you have been doing, your friends and family may have noticed a change in your habits. This is a good thing. It’s time to take your writing a step further. It’s time to talk to your family and friends and explain to them what you’re doing.

You need to tell them about the writing habits you are forming and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re not sure what you’re trying to accomplish, you better figure it out. You’ve been writing for five weeks now, you should have some inkling of what you want to do with your writing.

You don’t need to have a full detailed plan, just some idea of where you’re heading. Like most goals we make in life they change over time. At this stage in the game an idea of the general direction you want to take is perfectly fine.

Crabs in a Bucket

When talking to loved ones, many of them will be happy for you and give you encouragement. However, some of them will try talking you out of writing. Most, if not all, of these negative people won’t even realize that they’re doing it.

This is what’s referred to as “Crabs in a Bucket Mentality.” When a bunch of crabs are put in a bucket, with the lid off none of them can escape. This is because while one crab tries to climb out the others grab hold and pull it back down, keeping them all trapped.

This is what some of the people that are closest to us do. They are either afraid to try something new or anything different. When the negative person hears someone saying they’re going to start a business, travel to somewhere foreign, or writing a book they immediately try to talk that person out of it and tell them how hard it will be to succeed.

How to deal with Crabby People

While you don’t have to shun them you will want to talk to them. In a very nice way you need to explain to them that this is what you’re doing and that you don’t appreciate their negative comments. They will probably tell you something along the lines of, “I’m just being realistic.”

If they keep up and don’t respect your wishes you will want to do one of two things.

  1. Distance yourself from them. (These will most likely be the people you are not close too anyway.)

Or

  1. Don’t bring up your writing when you are around them.

If you are serious about your writing and keep up with it, those who truly care about you will come around. They will stop trying to bring you down and will become some of your strongest supporters.

Week 6 Writing Program

Welcome to the Intermediate portion of the Writing Program.

First five weeks of the writing programFirst week of the intermediate writers program

Weekly Book Recommend

With each week’s post I wanted to add a little something extra and wanted to start recommending a book that I enjoyed reading.

The first book I wanted to mention is a novel most of us have already read, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. This is the first full length novel I can remember my Mom reading to me when I was little. While I wasn’t interested in reading books, unless they had pictures in them, it’s was the first book that got me interested in storytelling. And yes, if anyone was wondering, I have read it myself once I got older.

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Writing Program: Week 5 (Stick to one project at a time)

This Week in Writing’s Writing Program consists of four sections, Beginner, Intermediate, Proficient, and Advanced, each section lasting five weeks. This week marks the last week in the Beginner section of the program.

In the last few weeks I’ve personally been struggling with trying to edit my book and write these blog posts at the same time. By trying to write two different projects at once I’ve spread myself a little too thin.

To ensure that these posts are sent on time I am dedicating the next few weeks finishing up on writing the rest of the blog posts for the Writing Program. That way I can focus solely on my book.

My recommendation to all of you is to only work on one project at a time. Learn from my mistakes so you don’t make them yourselves. Don’t try to do what I did and write multiple projects at once. Once we get further along in the program there will be more writing sessions, allowing us the ability to write for more than just one project.

On to week five of This Week in Writing’s Writing Program!

Week 5 doesn’t add any additional writing. However, it does add an additional day of exercise.

Day 29

Another day of just reading. Today try reading something you wouldn’t normally read. It’s always good to try something new. If you only prefer reading genre fiction, try reading something more literary. Only like fiction, try nonfiction. I personally try reading a little bit of everything and am always trying something new. You never know, you might find something you really enjoy.

Day 30

One hour of writing today and thirty minutes of exercising. To break up the writing, try exercising between the writing sessions.

Day 31

Read for thirty minutes. With your reading I recommend alternating between two to three types of books.

  1. A book for pure enjoyment
  2. A nonfiction book either on the craft of writing or a self-help book. These types of books can help expand your knowledge and help you look at things in a different light.
  3. A book in the genre that fits the genre of the book that you’re writing. By reading a book that is similar to yours, you can get a better sense of how to write your book. I of course don’t mean copying their story or any part of their book. By studying how someone else crafted their story can help give you ideas on how to craft your own story.

Day 32

Another hour of writing with 30 minutes of exercise. Just as Day 30, try splitting up the writing by exercising in-between your writing sessions.

Day 33

Just one session, 30 minute of writing for this day.

Day 34

The big day of writing. Four sessions, totaling two hours of writing.

Day 35

Rest day. Spend time away from the computer. Enjoy your time with your friends and family. In the next five week, the Intermediate section, there will be an additional 31.5 hours added to the writing program. So rest up, next week we’re adding an additional three hours of writing.

First five weeks of the Writing Program.




Writing Program: Week 4 (One Month of Writing Completed)

This week marks the completion of the first month of the program. One thing that can help keep you motivated during each week is to have a physical calendar hanging on your wall. As you finish each day’s schedule put a big X on that day. As you fill up the calendar with Xs a chain forms. If you Google the term “Don’t break the chain” you will find a ton of articles about a motivational technique used by Jerry Seinfeld.

Mark off each day you complete your goal.

The theory behind it, is the more Xs you have in a row the less likely you will be to break the chain. If you were to go a whole month completing ever day’s task you wouldn’t want to skip a day, breaking the chain. You would do whatever you could to keep the chain going.

As you use this or any habit setting program get out that calendar, hang it up somewhere prominent, where you will see it everyday, and mark off each day with an X.

Week 4:

Day 22

As an opposite to the 6th day of each week, being the most intense, the 1st day of the week is the most relaxed. This day is just a reading day. Don’t worry this day will soon be a writing day.

While I only list 30 minutes of reading feel free to read more. As long as you don’t subtract time from a timeframe, add as much time as you like. The times that are listed are here to help ensure that a particular amount of time is dedicated to a specific event. If you want to read, write, or exercise more by all means go for it.

Day 23

More writing has been added to this day.  A full hour, two 30 minute, of writing needs to be completed.

Day 24

No more rest days during the week. Today adds a 30 minute reading session to the program.

Day 25

Just like Day 23, this day has a full hour of the day dedicated to writing.

Day 26

A light day of writing, just one session today.

Day 27

This is the weekly long writing day. Two full hours of writing. Like all the other writing, break it up into 30 minute sessions.

Day 28

Rest Day

One thing that I have noticed is that sometime between week 3 and 4, if you are starting out as a beginner, is when the first stages of struggling to write comes in. This is where those Xs I talked about earlier come in handy. Keep up the good work. Building a good habit in never easy, but with dedication and perseverance the habit will form and soon it will become second nature.

Remember we are treating this like a new part-time job. With any new job there is the training period where we are still learning. Take this time to get used to writing in short bursts; it will make things easier when you have to write during longer writing stretches.




Week 3 of the Writing Program

I’ve decided to change things up a bit. Instead of writing here and there with small bits of information about the writing program, I’ve decided to provide a week at a time of the program.

Week 2

Last week, week 2, the writing of this week remained the same as last. Day 9 and 11 each consisted of a 30 minute writing sprint. Day 13 was broken up to two 30 minute sprints totaling one hour. Day 10, 12, and 14 were rest days.

Week 3

This week slowly ramps things up a little bit. A new element is being added into the mix, exercise and an additional two hours of writing spread thought the week. Here’s the breakdown:

            Day 15 is another day of reading. It’s important to keep your brain active and fueled with new information.

Day 16 consists of two activities, a 30 minute writing session and the newly added exercise. Exercising is a must, especially with a sedimentary job as writing. For 30 minutes exercise, any exercise. It could be a 30 minute walk around the block, push-ups, yoga, jumping jacks, it can be anything physical.

Day 17 is a day to rest and relax. Spoiler alert, this is the last rest day except for the 7th day of a given week, like I mentioned before, that day is always a rest day.

Day 18, double the writing than before, two sessions of writing. As writers we need to be able to write for more than just 30 minutes a day, especially if we want to make a career or even a part-time job out of it. I find that it’s helpful taking a short five minute brake between sessions to allow the brain to rest and refresh itself before plugging away at another block of writing.

Day 19, back to only one 30 minute session.

Day 20 is a big day for writing, two whole hours (4 sessions each for 30 minutes). For the last two weeks this day was only one hour, its time to get a little more serious. Personally this day for me is Saturday. While it’s only two hours this is still a chunk of time out of my weekend. As each week goes by I slowly have to change how I plan my weekend. While I could write two hours all at once I might write one hour in the morning and the other at night. You can break up the time that best suites you.

Day 21 is another day to rest and to spend time doing whatever you want.




Time to start reading more

As I designed this writing regiment my intentions were to allow myself the ability to slowly work myself back into my writing. When I showed my wife the plan she made me realize that this program could be used by more than just writers. She has a lot of different art projects that she wants to tackle and like me she was finding it difficult to find the time to work on them. She started using this program herself.

Over the weekend I finished out the first full week, with today starting out the second week.

Week 1 Day 6

The sixth day and subsequently every sixth of the week is the day the most writing is completed in any given week. Since this was the first week it wasn’t too difficult. The day consisted of two writing sessions each for 30 minutes. So, one hour of writing for the day.

This is why I chose to begin the program on Monday. Saturdays are the best day for me to get a lot more done, so it’s the day that I want to write the most.

Week 1 Day 7

Rest day. Similar to the sixth day, every seventh day is a rest day. The seventh day is always a rest day due to the sixth always being a more heavy writing day. As weeks progress this rest day will become a much needed day.

Week 2 Day 8

Like the first day of last week there is no writing. However, there’s a new addition to the program, reading. As a writer you have to read. It’s a must. Personally I think everyone could benefit from reading more. For today, read for 30 minutes.

I personally like to alternate reading between three books, a fiction book, a non fiction book, and big book (1000 pages or more). Currently I’m reading Michael Stackpole’s Tricknomancy, John Acuff’s Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Complete Sherlock Homes.

It’s important to expand your knowledge and understanding of your craft. Use this day to read something fun, or use it to research information for the project you are working on.




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…and we’re back!


 

 

 

I haven’t been a good writer this past year. I allowed myself to be burned out by projects at work, which limited my willpower to edit my book and write these blog articles. At the end of last year I had the opportunity to transfer into my company’s marketing department. This has allowed me to be more creative on a daily basis, this also kept me from being too tired at night to do anything.

Sometime in January I realized that I had the energy and the capacity to begin writing again, but I didn’t do it.  I kept saying to myself, “I’ll work on it tomorrow.” I said this practically everyday for four months. I had become out of practice and lazy. Writing and creating my own work is my dream job. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, set my own hours, and create novel after novel. So what was stopping me? Nothing was, but myself.

Years ago when I first became serious about my writing I wanted to treat it as a part-time job. While I was able to write for hours every night I quickly felt overwhelmed and burnt out. When I finally decided to get back into the habit of writing again I didn’t want a repeat from last time. I knew if I tried to go all out and spend every evening writing I would quickly crash and burn. Not to mention my wife would kill me.

This got me thinking. How many other creatives out there wanted to begin doing something they love but:

  1. Didn’t know where to start.
  2. Was afraid of what others would think because they were spending all their free time to doing something new.

To ease myself and my family into a schedule of me writing more I came up with a 20 Week writing plan. By the end, my goal is to be writing at least 20+ hours a week, essentially a part time job.

Today is Week 1 Day 1

The goal for today is write nothing. Simple right? I did this to trick my brain into thinking I accomplished something. I’m sure some of you are like me that made a plan to start a project and then, for whatever reason, missed day one. Discouragement and a sense of failure soon follow. These feelings usually gave me the excuse to give up on the project. So Day 1: Just relax and look forward to tomorrow. That’s when the real fun begins.




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A New Year, A New Start

Life, it’s a crazy thing. Right when you think you have everything under control something comes up and disrupts the whole flow of things. November was a rough month; it felt like there was a plague looming over our house. If one person was sick the rest of us were healthy. Then they would get better and someone else would get sick. It was a vicious cycle that lasted all the way up to Thanksgiving.

Since it was so long since I last updated the site I figured I would wait one more month and start fresh with the New Year. So here we are 2016. I have a lot of fun ideas of what I would like to do with this blog. A new year means it’s a time for new beginnings and new goals. There are three main things that I want to work on this year.

My Goals for 2016

     1. Read 50 Books.
I want to read more books this year. Last year I only read three books. With the books I have set aside for myself I figure I need to read roughly 43 pages a day. However, with my current schedule I may not make it quite to 50.

2. Ensure that a blog entry is posted each week.
52 entries, no exceptions. Regardless if I am sick, out of town, or the world is exploding I will have a new blog post. This means that I need to have the current week’s post ready as well as a few extra.

     3. Have Dust ready to send to publishers/agents.
My hope is that I will have the next draft of my book done by the end of June. It’s been slow going with this 3rd draft, and that’s ok. I want to go slow. I want to flush the story out, make it bigger and an all around better story. After that I will hopefully only have to do one more draft before it’s ready to send out. Fingers crossed.

As the year progresses I’m sure I’ll come up with more stuff I want to accomplish throughout the year. But what about you, what goals do you have for 2016? Feel free to send me an email at Axeman@thisweekinwriting.com or leave a comment.

Novel Progress
Draft: Third
3.27% Complete




Writing Habit: Write Every Day

When I began This Week in Writing I made it a point to write every day. This has not been an easy task. Some days I’m so exhausted I can barely form a sentence. Other days I’m able to write for hours. Whatever the case may be I refuse to go to bed until I have written for at least 30 minutes.

Why do I insist in writing every day? It’s to ensure that I build a strong habit of writing. A common belief is that doing something for 21 days will form a habit. I’m starting to think there is something to this. Tonight’s blog post marks the 21st day since I started This Week in Writing and the 21st day since I’ve been writing consistently.

Habits don’t come easy, especially when it comes to writing everyday. When you make the conscience choice to write everyday there will be an adjustment period. This adjustment period isn’t just for you; it’s for everyone around you.

I told my wife that I now consider my writing a part time job. This meant that I would be spending less time with her and the girls at night; just as if I went to go to a part time job. If your end goal is to be a full time writer then you need to be dedicated and begin to write as if it were a part time job. My goal is to work towards writing at least 20 hours a week.

If we want to be writers we have to write. We have to write a lot. And if we want to make a living from our novels we have to write even more. These last few weeks I have made it a point to write at least 30 minutes a day. Now that I’m used to that I plan on writing at least 1 hour a day.

Think of how much time you actually spend writing in a week. Is it sufficient to complete your novel? Last week I wrote about setting goals. To help ensure that those goals are met I challenge you to write for at least 30 minutes each day for the next 21 days. I’m confident that you will see an improvement in how much you write in a day.

If you have a topic you would like me to cover or a question you would like answered send me an email at Axeman@thisweekinwriting.com.

Novel Progress
Draft: Second
71.16% Complete

Goal Setting: Finding Balance

How important are the goals that we set for ourselves? Some goals are important others are trivial. Whatever the goal is it’s up to us to decide its level of importance. It’s always a great feeling when you can look at your list of goals and check one off as completed. But what if you can’t check one off? Do you give up, throw in the towel? Of course not, that is the last thing you want to do.

Did I meet my goal and finish my second draft by my wife’s birthday? I’m happy to report that I didn’t. You might be wondering why I’m happy about not finishing, at first so was I. The answer is simple; I set myself up for failure. Looking back at my goal I realized I only gave myself two weeks to finish half a manuscript. Between work and family it was impossible for me to complete the second draft.

Is it ok to feel bad that a goal was not completed, of course it is. However it is not ok to quit because a goal wasn’t met. Instead we need to review what our goal was and reevaluate the best way to accomplish it. Goal setting is like the story of Goldilocks. We have to find the perfect balance. Sometimes our goals are too ambitious, other times they are lacking importance. It takes time and effort to find that perfect balance.

Take me for example. I don’t want to make the same mistake by setting too short of a timeframe to finish. Likewise I don’t want to make the mistake of giving myself too much time. If I do not give myself enough time to complete my goal I will fail again. If I give myself too much time to complete my second draft I also have a high chance at failing. How can too much time cause me to fail? Think of it like filing your taxes. We can begin filing them at the end of January however many of us wait till April 15th before turning in our forms?

So where does that leave me with finishing my second draft? My new goal is to finish by Halloween. This gives me a little over a month to finish. While giving myself the whole month I intend to finish much sooner. This extra time allows me to go back and do any minor edits before giving the manuscript to my Alpha Readers.

Take this time to review your goals. Are you on track? Do you need to make some modifications to your life to ensure that the goals are completed? Speaking of goals, it’s time I get back to completing mine. If you have a topic you would like me to cover or a question you would like answered send me an email at Axeman@thisweekinwriting.com.

On a side note I am going to post my progress slightly different. Instead of listing pages and word count I will be leaving a percentage of completion.

Novel Progress
Draft: Second
67.29% Complete