Tag Archives: goals

Achieve Your Writing Goals, Even If You’re Not Doing NaNoWriMo

Achieve Your Writing Goals, Even If You’re Not Doing NaNoWriMo

Want to achieve your writing goals? NaNoWriMo can be a good first step, because the 50K-words-in-30-days process teaches you to produce. I suspect that for many writers, that will be the greatest benefit of NaNoWriMo. You can’t achieve your goals without action.

Not every writer wants to write a novel by doing NaNoWriMo of course. However, you can still put the “write every day” process into action.

In my first decade as a writer, I did a lot of writing exercises to build my writing muscles. From memory, the first edition of the Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money, which includes many of the exercises, was released in 2009. Over the years, the program has grown.

ACT to achieve your writing goals

When I started writing, just like every other writer, I had lots of bad habits. The worst was procrastination… 🙂

Needless to say, this didn’t endear me to publishing and magazine editors. I pulled myself together by doing writing exercises, each and every day, for 365 days a year. I made a commitment to myself: I didn’t have to work on my paid writing projects if I didn’t want to. However, I had to do at least ONE writing exercise a day.

Baby steps: consistency is key

As you might imagine, it was a challenge to go from someone who thought that you had to be “inspired” to write, to someone who just wrote, no matter what.

Here’s the thing. I soon discovered that inspiration comes from action. I got more and better ideas when I was writing, rather than thinking about writing.

I know that many writers have a big challenge: self-doubt. Here’s an excerpt from the Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money to help you to eliminate your doubts.

(Excerpt) 11. Turn off Your Internal Editor, and Just Write

Writing is thinking on paper. It’s more effective than ordinary thinking, because when you write you use both left and right brain. When you think without writing, your thinking is strictly left-brained, and not as smart.

If you find that when you’re free-writing, or write-thinking, or writing a first draft, your internal editor chirps up with: “that’s rubbish, how could you write that? It doesn’t make sense. You can’t write that, you must be brain-damaged” you need to turn OFF your internal editor.

Here’s how. Imagine a dumpster. Now imagine your internal editor. Kick your editor into the dumpster and slam down the heavy lid.

You don’t need your editor until you have something on paper, or on the computer screen that you want to revise. And even when you’ve invited your internal editor to help with your revision, you don’t need carping. Warn your editor that if he makes rude or unkind remarks, he goes back in the dumpster!

(Note: this imaginative exercise works. Try it.)

Exercise 11: Find an Image of a Dumpster

Go to Google Images and find an image of a dumpster.

There’s a mile of them. Find one which resonates with you, and download the image to kickstart your imagination.

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Angela Booth’s Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money

Angela Booth’s Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money

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Genre: Writing
Tag: writing process

What's holding you back from the writing career of your dreams? If you want to write more, sell more, and have more fun writing... it's easier than you can imagine. Discover the secret to writing every day, and becoming a prolific writer.

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3 Fiction Tips: Write Stories Readers LOVE

3 Fiction Tips: Write Stories Readers LOVE

Want to write stories readers LOVE? If you do, you need to make your stories satisfying. Consider your favorite story. Why do you love it, and read it again and again? I’m a huge P.G. Wodehouse fan. I read his books for the humor, and for the characters. Lord Emsworth and his pig, the Empress of Blandings, totally charm me, as does Bertie Wooster, wastrel that he is.

When we think about the stories we love, we remember the characters. We love our favorite novels because our favorite characters overcome challenges. They have goals and motivation. Trouble and conflict prevent them getting what they want. Readers want to see your characters achieve their goals. As your characters struggle, you’ll write stories your readers love.

Let’s look at some fiction writing tips to help.

1. Who’s Your Main Character, and What Does He (or She) Want?

Authors’ biggest challenge is making your character WANT something enough. It’s not enough for your heroine to lust after the hero. She has to want something so badly that she’ll do whatever is necessary to get what she wants.

The stronger you can make your characters’ desires, the stronger your story will be. Readers love to see characters struggle, and truly deserve their happy ending. In Linda Howard’s romantic suspense novel, Cry No More for example, the main character Milla Boone’s been searching for her stolen son for ten years. Milla is desperate to find her son, and her willingness to do anything drives the plot.

Try This: Interview Your Main Character.

Before you plot your novel or short story, interview your characters – or at least, your main character. ASK your character what he/ she wants, and why. I hand-write my interviews, and I’m always surprised.

When you know who your characters are, what they want, and why, writing a hot-selling story becomes easy.

2. Your Plot Is Your Character’s Journey to Get What He Wants.

There are various plotting systems. However, your plot doesn’t exist in isolation. In Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury says:

“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”

What your characters DO is the plot. Your challenge is to motivate your characters, so that they ACT. They have no choice; they must act. If your characters don’t come alive for you, look to their motivation. They’re not acting because they don’t want something enough.

3. Everyone Wants Something, and Everyone Has a Secret.

Before you start writing, make a chart of what everyone wants. In a short story, you may only have three characters. In a novel, you’ll have many more than that, but be careful not to introduce characters just for the heck of it. You need to motivate each and every character. On your chart, create a column for Goals, and another column for Secrets. In every story you write, every character has a goal (want, desire, need), and a secret.

You’ll find your story “wants and secrets” charts immensely useful, because when you work out what a minor character wants, you’ll often see that the character deserves his own story.

So, in summary – to write stories readers love, your characters need to want something desperately. Their actions to get their “want” drive the plot.

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99

Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters.

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Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.

 

Updated: January 2, 2018

 

Scrivener: All-Important Word Counts and Project Targets

Scrivener Project Targets

Scrivener’s my favorite writing tool. It’s packed with goodies.

I use Scrivener for Mac, although there’s also a Windows version.

Although I’ve been using Scrivener for years, I usually track my word count goals manually, as I did in the days before Scrivener.

This morning I was obsessing about a novel I’m working on. Out of sheer frustration, I decided that I’d write a novella, rather than continue work on the novel. This was a big clue that I’m procrastinating. 🙂

So instead of working, I tinkered with Scrivener. My total word count goal is around 70,000 words for the novel, so I entered the target into Project Targets. (From the menu: Project, Show/ Hide Project Targets.) You can see what Project Targets looks like — check the image on the top right of this post.

Then I entered my deadline. I was amazed — I just need to write 704 words a day, to complete the draft by my deadline. That made me feel a lot better, because it’s doable. I can leave Scrivener open, and can write a couple of hundred words in between dealing with other work.

Tracking a project’s progress

Scrivener provides many ways to track your progress. On a document level, you can track your word count for the document, by clicking the circle icon in the footer bar.

Target word count

A dialog box opens, as in the image above, and you can enter your word count for the scene.

Then you get a progress bar for the document, as in the image below.

Footer Bar

Want a word count target for a chapter? You can enter word count goals for chapters too, in Outline view, using the columns.

If you’re a Scrivener user, check out the various tools Scrivener gives you to help you to meet your daily word count goals, and complete your project by the deadline. They’re fun to use, inspiring, and work automatically — no more boring spreadsheets.

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