Five Tools To Help You Smash Your Writing Goals This Year

It’s the time of year for goal setting and making resolutions. See mine here!

But when it comes to the next twelve months, how do we stay on track? How do we make sure we achieve our writing goals and are punching the air in triumph on December 31st?

Paperchase organiserHere are my top five tools for exactly that:

1. Schedule your time!

It’s not enough to say ‘I will write for an hour every day’ you need to put that hour in your diary. I use a paper diary (an organiser from Paperchase) but you can use Google Calendar or your favourite app. Whatever you are comfortable with and, ideally, already use for your other important appointments.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Tool-up With Scrivener

If you don’t already use it (or have tried it in the past and found it overwhelming), I recommend you give Scrivener another try. It really is brilliant for organising novels and long non-fiction projects and, even if you use it the most basic manner (as I do!) it is worth it for the project-targets and ‘writing-only’ screen modes.

Speaking as someone who tried – and failed – in her first few attempts at using Scrivener, I recommend getting a book as a guide. I used Writing A Novel With Scrivener by David Hewson but Scrivener Essentials: A Quick-Start Visual Guide (recommended by my lovely dad) is even better – especially for visual learners. It comes in both a Mac and PC version, too, so it matches the version of the software exactly.

3. Eliminate distractions

Switch off the internet (or certain sites such as Twitter and Facebook) for set periods of time using this brilliant, free Chrome add-on – StayFocusd. Freedom is also good (although it isn’t free, there is a 60-day money-back guarantee).

I’ve recommended these apps on the podcast before but they really do help. Another tip is to try wearing noise-cancelling headphones (with or without music/nature sounds).

4. Reward Yourself Regularly

Stickers are brilliant as small rewards (especially for the stationery-obsessed) but small breaks to check email/Twitter or read a book, put on a song and dance around the room, have a cup of tea or some food (maybe go for something healthy, at least some of the time!), are all good, too.

5. Find Your Tribe

Find a community of like-minded writers by checking Facebook groups, writing forums, or local groups. Reading writing websites and books and listening to podcasts can help, too; anything which makes you feel less alone/bonkers for pursuing the often-frustrating, devilishly-difficult skill of writing!

Hope those tips are helpful! 

Do let me know in the comments and feel free to share tips of your own.

Struggle with procrastination? Like productivity tips? Perhaps you might be interested in more… I’m writing a whole book on the subject: CLICK HERE to be notified when it’s out!

 

 

Read More

My 2017 Writing Goals

 

2017-goals

It might not make interesting reading (sorry!) but I found it so useful to set out my goals last year and the added terror of putting them in public was truly motivational, so I’m doing it again! Also, I love reading about other people’s plans and goals and find it inspiring and useful; it feels only fair that I join in…

LAST YEAR

Under ‘writing’ last year, I set the following goals:

This year I want to finish the supernatural book and get it ready for submission.

Finish my WIP (working title: Beneath The Water).

Write the first draft of a completely new novel.

In other words, by December 2016, I want two completed novels and one brand new first draft.

The supernatural book is finished and being read by my agent and BTW is finished/rewritten and under consideration by my editor at Lake Union. I didn’t, however, manage another new draft.

THIS YEAR

writing goalsWriting

Even though I didn’t manage three new books last year, I’m going to set it as my goal for 2017.

I am going to learn from my mistakes and work on managing my time. Mainly, I need to remember that I can’t work on more than one (fiction) project at any time, so I need to speed up on my rewrites/editing. First-draft writing always stops when I’m rewriting something else and I need to accept that this will happen and schedule my work more effectively. I spent a lot of time doing rewrites/final edits in 2016!

So, my goal is to write two new novels and to finish/edit/publish my non-fiction project – the Worried Writer book.

Publishing

I will edit (as required) BTW and my supernatural book and get them out into the world, one way or another… I’m hoping for favourable publishing contracts (and would love to work with Lake Union again as the experience has been AMAZING) but that it not in my direct control, sadly!

Get The Secrets of Ghosts made into an audiobook.

As above, publish the Worried Writer book and, possibly, record the audio version, too.

Learning

I really enjoyed the productivity course I did last year and the (many!) webinars, podcasts, blog posts and books I consumed (on both writing business and craft). I will continue that this year, although I am also going to be more careful about getting overwhelmed.

I attended a webinar last week with my heroine/mentor, Joanna Penn, and she offered a great tip for avoiding information overwhelm; take note of the things you come across in a digital file somewhere (with the links and so on) and then, once a quarter, go through the file and consider what you want to act upon. This way, you can measure the tools and tips against your goals/overall strategy and decide whether they are a priority, and you stop yourself from jumping from one ‘shiny new thing’ to another and never really following through on anything. Genius!

Creativity

This is another ‘roll-over’ goal from last year. I am going to continue to make time for reading and research and walking (which is good for both creativity and health) but also book in some ‘artist days’ into my diary. While staying focused and working hard, I need to make sure I’m also taking time to fill up the well, get away from the screen and live!

 

Community

I have been truly blessed in 2016 with the support and friendship of so many lovely people in the writing community. As I said in my recent podcast, the conversations and messages that I’ve had through The Worried Writer have been wonderful and I am truly grateful.

I had so many plans for The Worried Writer site last year which fell off the bottom of my to-do list, so I am putting them back on for 2017.

I would like to make this site more useful to you guys, and to build my audience/get more interaction with the podcast. I’m still cogitating exactly how this will look, but I will let you know as soon as I know!

I will also attend at least one ‘real life’ bookish event this year, as I loved the blogger/writer meet-up I attended in 2016.

One of my goals last year was to send regular newsletters and run giveaways, both of which I did (yay!).

I have been bowled over by the support from my lovely mailing list subscribers (thank you!) and I want to both improve my newsletters/perks for them and increase the size of my list.

I’m also intending to get to grips with Facebook. Twitter has always been my social media hang-out of choice, but I know that Facebook is beloved by many and, from a marketing perspective, I need to make more of an effort.

Okay – that’s it!

Your turn! What would you like to achieve in 2017? 

Read More

The Worried Writer Episode #23: Super-Charge Your Writing Goals for 2017!

ww_sarahpainter_headerimageHappy new year! This is a short episode to kick off 2017 and I reveal my tip for super-charging your goals.

In the January 2016 episode, I defined what makes a good goal and how to set one, and this year I talk about the importance in working out the ‘why’ behind your goals.

As you probably know (since I bang on about it enough!), I love setting goals and believe they are one of the most powerful things we can do when trying to achieve things in writing (and life).

Last year, I wrote about my writing goals for 2016 and in this episode I recap on how I got on and chat a little about my aims for 2017.

I found setting my goals (and putting them in public – eek!) incredibly motivating, so I’m doing it again this year… Look out for my 2017 goals post on Monday!

Next month’s episode features an interview with a listener of the podcast, Gillian McAllister. Gillian’s first novel, Everything But The Truth, is out 9th March and it was really interesting to speak to someone who is at an early stage of their career.

If you’ve got a question you’d like answered, please email me or find me on Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

 

Read More

The Worried Writer Episode #22: Holly Martin ‘I Just Love Writing’


hollymartin_ww

Holly Martin is the author of funny, romantic fiction and paranormal YA, including her successful White Cliff Bay series, One Hundred Proposals and The Guestbook. Holly was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance, she won the Carina Valentine’s competition and was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. Holly’s latest book Christmas Under A Starlit Sky is out now.

For more on Holly and her books, visit her blog or Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

In the introduction, I give a short writing update. I managed to finish the rewrites on my latest book. Although I spent the first couple of weeks in despair, feeling as if the story was broken and that I couldn’t fix it, I am so glad I made myself persevere. I am much happier with the latest version and I think the ending it much stronger. Now I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed that my agent agrees!

Another thing I’ve done this month is to revisit the goals I set back in January. I haven’t managed to hit all of them, but I have got more done this year on my writing business than in any previous year so I’m definitely celebrating. It’s also encouraged me to make a last push in December and see if I can tick off another of my goals before the year runs out.

With that in mind, I’ve started work on a Worried Writer book. A non-fiction title which will bring together my own story with the best tips and advice gathered from two years of author interviews. I’d love to know if that is something you would be interested in. Also, if there is something in particular you would like covered in the book do let me know!

I will keep you all posted on its progress on the podcast, but if you are particularly interested and would like to make sure you get updates, please consider signing up for my mailing list here.

Once it’s finished, I will be looking for beta readers for the book, and there will be giveaways, review copies and all that good stuff available to those who are signed up!

In the interview:

I quiz Holly on the secret to her amazing productivity:

‘Well, I just love writing. I just love creating a story… It’s just something I really, really enjoy. Whenever I’m writing a story, my mind is always jumping ahead to the next story I want to write so by the time I finish writing one story, the characters and story for the next one are already fully formed in my mind and I want to get it down.’

On process:

‘The most important thing is that you need to write every single day, even if it’s just a couple of hundred words, because then your mind stays in the story…’

On submitting/trying to get published:

‘Just don’t ever, ever give up.’

Holly on keeping the creative spark alive:

‘You just have to write what you love… If it’s becoming a chore then something is wrong… If you enjoy writing and enjoy those characters and getting back to it every day, then the readers will be able to tell and hopefully they will enjoy it, too. It’s really important to stay true to what you really want to write.’

 

Recommended:

Self-editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve got a question you’d like answered, please email me or find me on Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

Read More

The Worried Writer Episode #20: Caroline Green ‘Storytelling Is What Inspires Me’

ww_carolinegreen

 

Caroline Green is an award-winning author of books for young people. Her debut, Dark Ride, won the RONA Young Adult Book of the Year and the Waverton Good Read Award, Hold Your Breath won the Oldham Book Award, and both Hold Your Breath and Cracks have been short-listed for eleven awards between them. Caroline is Writer In Residence at East Barnet School and teaches Writing for Children at City University. She has recently moved genre with a pen name, Cass Green, and a brand new psychological thriller, The Woman Next Door, which is currently storming the Kindle charts.

You can find out more about Caroline and her books at www.carolinegreen.net

Also on Facebook and Twitter: @carolinesgreen or @CassGreenWrites

 

 In the intro I give a quick update on my writing (I finished my latest book – yay!) and recommend Mark McGuinness’s new book, Productivity For Creative People which is currently free on Amazon (or from Mark’s website, Lateral Action).

Mark is poet and a creative coach and he really knows his stuff. You might also like my interview with him in episode 12 of this podcast!

Also, I have completed my first ‘independent’ venture and the audio book of The Language of Spells is out now!

You can listen to a short sample on Audible and, if you sign-up for a 30-day trial, you can get the whole book for free. Here is the book on Audible (UK)Audible (US) and iTunes.

I answer a listener question on the writing advice ‘show don’t tell’ and mention an article I wrote on this subject for Novelicious. Here’s the link.

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

In the interview:

Caroline on the realities of publishing:

 ‘The year when most of these things were happening and I had national paper reviews and won awards and everything was wonderful, that was the year I actually did my self-employed accounts and cried because I had made no money.’

 

On using a pen name:

‘I think it just helps you to separate the two writing personas…’

On writing:

‘My perfect writing day involves going to The British Library… It feels like more of a commitment and I feel that when I’m there I really have to make the time count.’

‘Storytelling is what inspires me.’

Recommended:
Caroline recommends Into The Woods by John Yorke

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Write Your Novel From The Middle by James Scott Bell

Zoe Marriott’s blog The Zoe-Trope.

The Pomodoro Technique for timed writing sessions.

 

Read More

The Worried Writer Episode #16: Cesca Major ‘Being rejected is hideous’

cesca_wwheader

howtofindyourfirsthusbandthe silent hoursMy guest today is Cesca Major. Cesca is a fascinating interviewee as she writes in two genres under different names. Cesca’s debut historical novel, The Silent Hours, was published last year by Corvus, to great acclaim. However, Cesca also writes romantic comedy under the name Rosie Blake. The first Rosie Blake book, How To Get A (Love) Life, was originally published by Novelicious Books and was then picked up by Corvus, as part of a three book deal.

Rosie Blake’s latest novel is How to Find Your (First) Husband – out 2nd June, 2016!

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major
For more about Cesca Major or her alter ego, Rosie Blake, head to: cescamajor.com or rosieblake.co.uk or via

Twitter: @CescaWrites and @RosieBBooks

In the interview:

Writing during the holidays as a teacher and the value of chunks of time:

‘I do hour long chunks and I call them word races.’

 

On the difficulty of writing:

‘It’s hideous sometimes and the first five minutes can be awful…’

 

 ‘The hardest stage I find is that end of the first draft structural edit’.

 

On rejection and the journey to publication:

‘Frankly, being rejected is hideous and you have months at the start where you lost faith that it will ever happen.’

On bad writing days:

‘Don’t beat yourself up too much, have a cream egg.’

Recommendations:

Cesca very kindly recommends my ‘Write Your Novel’ column on Novelicious.

The Bookshop Café FB group: ‘It’s lovely to be part of a group where people are just constantly discussing novels.’

Cesca’s own vlogs on writing and editing on The Writers & Artists site.

The beat sheet described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need

The LOCK principle from James Scott Bell’s Write Great Fiction – Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting and Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish
On the importance of using primary sources for historical research: Nella Last’s diaries (Housewife, 49 etc)

Also in the show:

I give a small update on my own writing and reveal my plan to get The Language of Spells made into an audiobook!

I’m very excited to dip my toe in hybrid publishing. If all goes well, I will get The Secrets of Ghosts and The Garden Of Magic made, too. I’m using ACX which is a platform which connects people who own audio rights to books such as publishers and authors, with narrators and audiobook production companies.

I first heard about ACX via the wonderful Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn and I’ve also read Simon Whistler’s excellent guide to the subject Audiobooks for Indies.

I will keep you informed on the process as I go along!

Listener Question:

This month’s question comes from Jeanna Kunce (windhillbooks.com).

Do you feel it is important to be a part of any writers/artists associations? Aside from any conferences or networking benefits there may be, do you think you think it makes a difference simply having on your resume/submissions? Would it actually help someone get their foot in the door? Some people seem to feel it’s only your story that will get you published; others seem to feel that having that “badge” helps to make you seem more serious or professional. Thoughts?

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

Read More