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Motivation - Part 2 - Goal Setting

Liz here.

So, you want to be a writer. And you know you have to write in order to accomplish that. But there are always so many other things distracting us. Life happens. That pile of laundry won't wash itself (oh, that it could!), dinner won't put itself on the stove, the kids can't pick themselves up from school (oh, that they could!). And then there's the internet - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, celebrity gossip, trip planning. You do have to be active on social media, right? 

One of the most motivating things for me is a contract LOL! You have to get the writing done then. Even with a deadline hanging over your head, thought, it's easy to find a thousand and one other things to do rather than write. 

Goal setting is an awesome way to get and stay motivated. That little carrot dangling in front of your face to make you sit down at the computer and get some words on the page. At the beginning of the year, I plan out my writing schedule, as far as I know it at that point. I set aside months to write and edit my work. During those times, that's my main focus. It's what I have to get done. 

Reward yourself for meeting your goals. A new dress. A weekend away. A candy bar. Pizza and movie night. Whatever will make you stick with it. 

It's not just the months and year that I set goals for. It's also every week and every day. Scrivener has a great built-in tool for watching your word count grow. As you can see from this screen shot, you can set goals for your entire manuscript, your day, and even your scene. The little line that starts red and turns to green is highly motivating. It really makes you want to sit down and get to the end. 

If you don't use Scrivener, you can still watch your word count. I've used StoryToolz in the past, and it's great. You'll find lots of writer resources on that page. And I just found a new one called Pacemaker. With Pacemaker, you set the date you want to be done and your word count goal, and it will generate a daily goal for you. You can set it if you want a steady word count, a random one, one that starts off heavy and lightens as you go along, or one that does just the opposite. 

And of course, there's the perennial, all-important accountability partner. To have to report your progress to someone is very, very motivating. Plus, then you can celebrate together when you've met your goal. 

Do you goal plan? What motivates you to reach that goal? 

Motivation Part 1

Can you use the negative to push you further in your career?

What if you calmly took a look at the rejections you’ve received from agents, publishers, perhaps even the small hometown newspaper?

And then dug deeper…

What about a friend, co-worker or family member who told you never quit your day job because you can’t write a story worth reading?

How are you feeling? Anything but calm? Are you still with me? I hope so because what I have to say is let them reject, mock, and shake their heads at your choice to write. Use that negativity to drive you, motivate you to be a better writer.

Were you ever told as a child you couldn’t do something? You’re too short to play basketball, you can’t run fast enough for the track team, or perhaps you can’t do the splits so no need to try out for cheerleader?

What did you do?
Did you walk away, give up and never try again?


Did you say under your breath, “I’ll show them.” Then walk out of sight and practice until you knew you could do it even if you never did it front of those who said you couldn’t?

I was one of those people. I had a teacher tell me that I couldn’t write. For a while I suffered in artistic style—you know, moody, pouty and hair hanging over my face. Then I took a notebook and sat under my desk at home and filled it with poetry and short stories. I was going to show that teacher I could write.

I’d like to thank her now. If she had encouraged me then, it would have had a gold star effect. I would have had the acceptance I sought at an early age I would have moved onto something else. But I was meant to write and having someone try to take it away from me made my desire stronger.

So what’s this mean to you?

You, dear writer, have a choice to make. Are you going to let someone tell you that you can’t form a story good enough to share?

Don’t let rejection throw you out of the game of your life. Use it. Throw all your feelings into your work and prove them wrong.

In those rejections was there something suggested that you can practice? Maybe it's the use of a comma or realistic dialogue? Take a class, read books or hire an editor to make your work shine. If you have a dream don't let someone steal it, turn the tables and use it to motivate you.

Build in Time to be a Healthy Writer

Angie here: A long time ago, someone once told me to build in time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate...and I didn't listen. Do you?
When caffeine can't wake me up,
I need to build in time to be a healthy writer.
I thought I did, but realistically I didn't. Being a type A personality doesn't help. I'm very driven. Filling up the day, every day, doesn't leave any time to rejuvenate. Even worse, without that rejuvenation there's less creativity (regardless of the job).

I find myself needing more caffeine, feeling more stressed, and struggling to get the word count I need to meet deadlines. If this sounds like you too, consider a few ways to build in time to be a healthy writer.

  1. Schedule rest and relaxation into your calendar. If it's not scheduled, then it's too easy to say yes to a request and fill in the blanks.
  2. Leave your smart phone on your desk and go for a walk.
  3. Invite a friend over to watch a movie, eat popcorn, and chat.
  4. Be sure to schedule exercise each day to build health while blowing off steam. (And yes, I watch my fav shows while on the elliptical.)
  5. Turn off phone ringers and close your eyes for 20 minutes in the middle of the afternoon. Set your timer and let your mind wander or fall asleep. Either way, awake or asleep, your mind is getting the break it needs to work out the challenges you've given it.
  6. Plan a retreat with other writers, but buy take-out so you aren't cooking and cleaning.
  7. Go to the movies—it gets you away from daily life.
  8. Visit the mountains or beaches or biking trails near you.
  9. Don't get into the habit of rescheduling your downtime. It's too easy to do that over and over again. Rescheduling is for emergencies only.
  10. Schedule and go to all your regular medical appointments. Know your health and keep it.
So how many of these 10 tips to build in time to be a healthy writer am I practicing? All of them. Over the last couple of weeks, I took a look back at the last few months. A complete blur. 

Over the summer, I got so run down that it felt like the world was rushing at me, around me, and I couldn't focus. If it feels like that for you too, a complete blur, then here's your wake-up call to build in time to be a healthy writer too.

Begin today building in time to be a healthy writer into your calendar. Within a few weeks, you'll be able to see a shift to a healthier life and work style as the calendar starts to show a more balanced approach. Don't get discouraged if it does take a few weeks or more. It took me over a month to figure out how to rearrange things and how to sometimes say no in order to protect my health and time. But when my productivity started to improve, that helped me realize the wisdom. When my jaw didn't hurt from clenching, I realized I'd been doing it! 

A walk around the block helps productivity (and word count!)
How about you? Is it time to build in rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation for a stronger productivity level? See you after my walk around the block in the mountains...