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? 

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


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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!

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

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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!

The Worried Writer Episode #15: A.J. Waines ‘I love deadlines’

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Alison Waines publishes fiction under the name A.J.Waines and has sold over 150,000 books worldwide. Last year, she topped the UK and Australian Kindle bestseller charts with her number one hit Girl On A Train, and was also awarded the Kindle KDP Top 20 ‘Most Read Author’ in the UK. Alison used to work as a psychotherapist before publishing her dark psychological crime fiction, and she is a hybrid author, straddling both traditional and self-publishing.

For more about Alison head to www.ajwaines.co.uk or find her on Twitter or Facebook.


The Self-Esteem Journal by Alison Waines
I’m giving away a copy of Alison’s non-fiction title, The Self-Esteem Journal, as I think it could be useful for those struggling with creative self-doubt, as well as more general lack of confidence.

To be in with a chance of winning, just leave a comment on this post, or send me an email (sarah (at) worriedwriter.com) with the subject ‘win’.*

In this episode, I give a personal writing update, as well as share the news about In The Light of What We See (it’s been a wonderful first month of publication, with 99 five-star reviews on Amazon, already – whoop!).

I also mention brain.fm which uses AI-generated music to promote focus, relaxation and sleep. Although initially sceptical, I have tried the ‘for focus’ music and it seem to improve my concentration.

I heard about brain.fm via Mark Dawson’s new podcast (which is excellent) – Self Publishing Formula.

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).

 


Alison reveals what it was like when a high-profile thriller was released with a title which is almost-identical to her own (already published) book.

Alison describes her journey into both traditional and independent publishing and her experiences with both:

‘One of the nice things about being hybrid is that for some of the books I have complete control over everything and I really enjoy that.’

 

 

Alison’s writing process:

‘I love deadlines!’

‘Never leave at the end of a chapter or a scene… I always want to put something that just triggers where I am for the next time I am back at my desk.’

On marketing:

‘People should play to their strengths.’

On fear:

‘I always come back to that awful terror of I can’t do this.’

Alison’s Recommendations:


On Writing by Stephen King


Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg


The Artists Way Julia Cameron


Life Choices Life Changes Diana Glouberman

 

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! 

*Giveaway is open internationally. Ends at midnight (GMT), 25th May 2016.

The Worried Writer Episode #14: Emma Newman ‘It’s All Bobbins’

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My guest today is Emma Newman. Emma writes dark short stories, science fiction and urban fantasy. Between Two Thorns, the first title in her Split Worlds series was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Society Best Novel and Best Newcomer Awards. Emma is also a professional audiobook narrator and she co-writes and hosts the Hugo-nominated podcast, Tea and Jeopardy.


On a personal note, I’m very excited to speak to Emma: When I fell in love with podcasts, one of my early discoveries was the wonderful Tea and Jeopardy and I began following her on Twitter and visiting her blog – which mentions ‘anxiety-wrangling’ in the tagline. It was another piece of evidence I gathered and held close while I was trying to convince myself that my own anxiety need-not necessarily stop me from creating my own stuff.

Find out more about Emma and her books at www.enewman.co.uk

Listen/subscribe to the wonderful Tea & Jeopardy podcast here.

Or find her on Twitter @EmApocalyptic

CONTENT WARNING!

The Worried Writer podcast focuses on the fears, self-doubt and anxieties of the creative life. However, as both Emma and I suffer from anxiety with a capital ‘A’, we do talk a little about our experiences of living and working with an anxiety disorder. It’s very positive, and Emma shares some wonderful coping strategies, but I just wanted to give a (very mild!) trigger warning.


In the interview, Emma talks about tenacity and how the grit developed during the pre-publication and submission process is vital after publication, too.

Emma’s ‘Agile’ writing process (taken from the software development world!). Includes planning the book in five chapter chunks.

 

 

 

 

Recommended:


On Writing by Stephen King


And in personal news, it’s publication day for my latest novel, In The Light of What We See. Hurrah!

It’s available in audiobook, ebook and paperback. Thank you so much if you take a look!

Thank you, too, for listening, subscribing, rating and reviewing the podcast. 

If you’ve got a suggestion for the show or a question you would like answered, please get in touch

Or, find me on Twitter @SarahRPainter

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

Thank you for listening!

Are You Afraid of Success?

Fear of Success

You’re probably familiar with ‘fear of failure’ – it’s one of those anxieties which makes perfect sense. Failing is bad, right? So, it’s natural that we would wish to avoid it.

But what about the opposite of failure? What about fearing success?

If you think about what success means, it’s not that odd… Success means change.

Most of us are a little bit worried about change as it carries an element of risk. The risk comes from moving from the known to the unknown. Yes, we might be able to research or even picture the situation, but until we have lived it for ourselves it remains essentially unknown.

Change is effectively a gamble that the new state of being will be better than our current one and, even with very low stakes, that can add a frisson of fear.

Success in the realm of writing brings its own concerns.

While dreaming of people reading your work, you may simultaneously dread the exact same thing. Not just because you fear your work may be judged harshly or misunderstood, but because it may be understood too well. What if people read your book and infer things about your character you would prefer remained hidden?

Success in writing equals exposure. And, let’s face it, that is scary.

Success in publishing also brings new pressures. Deadlines, the expectations of agents, editors and readers, the pressure to ‘build a platform’ and promote your work. If you envisage these things too thoroughly – and feel alarmed by them – they may rise up to block you from sending your manuscript out (or even finishing it in the first place).

Finally, and this one is a biggie: You might feel you do not ‘deserve’ success.

I’m not suggesting that this one is easily solved, but sometimes recognising (and examining) a negative thought can lessen its power.

Also, if you feel that you don’t deserve success, that you are unworthy of prioritising your writing or getting published, please know you are not alone. There is even a snappy name for it: Imposter Syndrome.

This is the feeling that your achievements (getting a book contract, a great part in a play, starting a successful business) have been acquired via an administrative error and, any moment now, the real experts/professionals/Judges of Artistic Merit are going to turn up and take it all away from you.

It’s a feeling which doesn’t go away with external validation – in fact it can get worse the more successful you become. So, the best thing to do is to keep reminding yourself that all of your most-beloved authors, musicians, actors and artists have almost-certainly suffered from it at some point (and probably still do).

Plus, if nobody feels like the ‘real deal’ you can stop waiting for that magical day and get back to work.

Are you letting ‘fear of success’ hold you back? Let me know if you want more on this topic in a future podcast!