We are rapidly heading into the last third of the year, so today is an excellent time to take a few minutes to assess your writing goals and progress for 2016 and to determine just what you’d like to accomplish in these last four months. Whether September represents autumn to you or heading back to school or something else entirely, there’s no denying that it kicks off a busy time of the year, when everything seems to ramp up and it’s a race to get things done before the holidays hit. Every year I know that, once Labor Day weekend arrives, it feels like just a short hop to New Year’s Eve. So I plan. Ruthlessly.
At some point today or tomorrow, dig out that calendar or spreadsheet or list that you used to set your writing goals for 2016. Is there anything you can check off? Anything that no longer seems pertinent to your big picture plans? What progress have you made on longer term goals? Is there something that’s fallen by the wayside you’d like to revisit? It should only take a few minutes to glance through your goals and figure out where you stand.
Now, please don’t beat yourself up if things aren’t going according to schedule. Goal-making should be motivating and inspirational, not send you into a funk. Be reasonable about your efforts and what life has thrown your way, and be honest about whether or not you’ve done the best you can. If you can step things up a little, great. Set that as one of your goals in the coming months. If you’ve been overwhelmed with responsibilities and life’s curve balls, accept that sometimes things happen that force you to take a longer route to your goals, and cut yourself a little slack. Celebrate your successes, then see how you can refocus in the future.
Also, keep in mind that like most things in life, a writing career is not all forward momentum. There will be weeks when you make great leaps in progress and others when it feels like you’re stagnating or even going backwards. Published writers still receive rejection letters. Prize winning authors still write less-than-brilliant books. Not every idea sparkles on the page.
But if you don’t have any idea where you’d like to go, it’s much harder to get there. So once you’ve figured out where you are, take a look around and set yourself a direction. What would you like to get done before January? What’s realistic? What requires a bit of a stretch? How much of this is in your control? Remember to set yourself goals and then determine what steps you need to take to achieve them. You want measurable, actionable things on your list, so you know what to do when you get up in the morning.
Unless you’re starting absolutely from scratch, it shouldn’t take you much more than an hour or so to review your goals and spruce them up for the next four months. Then go write.
TGIF! The weekend has arrived, and I hope it’s brought some time off for all of you to read, write, and sneak in a bit of relaxation. People seem to be anxious to acknowledge the end of summer, but officially we still have a few weeks to go, and even unofficially we have another week until the long Labor Day weekend. So I say make the most of it.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit this week of all the facets of the writer’s life. Even the act of writing itself varies enormously from person to person, by what they write, how often, level of commitment, etc. So it’s probably no surprise that several of this week’s links revolve around the lives of writers, including how they live, how they work, where they work, and so on. I think I’ve found a balance of serious, informational, and humorous, and there should be something here for everyone. Enjoy, and happy writing!
Wishing a very happy book birthday to Nalini Singh, whose collection of all-new, never-published Psy/Changeling novellas, WILD EMBRACE, comes out today. Enjoy four wonderful stories set in the Psy/Changeling universe, meet some new characters and revisit old friends.
Echo of Silence
In a deep-sea station, Tazia Narif has found her life’s work as an engineer, keeping things running smoothly. But she wants nothing more than to break down the barrier of silence between her and her telekinetic Psy station commander…
A changeling who can never shift lives a life of quiet frustration–until he learns how to let his leopard come out and play…
Partners in Persuasion
Still raw from being burned by a dominant female, wolf changeling Felix will never again risk being a plaything. But for dominant leopard Dezi, he’s the most fascinating man she’s ever met. She just has to convince this gun-shy wolf that he can trust the dangerous cat who wants to take a slow, sexy bit out of him…
Flirtation of Fate
Seven years ago, Kenji broke Garnet’s heart. Now the wolf packmates have to investigate the shocking murder of one of their own. And the more Kenji sees of the woman Garnet has become, the deeper he begins to fall once more. But even his primal instincts are no match for the dark secret he carries…
Find WILD EMBRACE today at all your favorite bookstores and online retailers.
Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve got a ton of reading recs for you this week in Friday Links, from lists of great books that have released this year to date to suggested reading for writers and a bunch in between. All great grist for the mill. And why is that important? Because September is just a stone’s throw away, and with it comes the downhill race toward the end of the year. We all know how fast those last four months fly, with kids back in school and holidays starting to loom, so now is the time to get your inspiration on and put your writer’s brain in gear. Read things that make you anxious to write, dive into that research you’ve been contemplating, stick some deadlines on your calendar. Get ready to do great things!
So without further ado, I offer up this week’s links. Enjoy, and happy writing!
As part of The Paris Review‘s ongoing video series, Akhil Sharma reflects on his journey to becoming a writer and the experiences around writing his first book. A wonderful look at the emotional ups and downs of the business.
Happy Friday! This particular Friday has me thinking about the end of summer, even though we still have weeks to go. There’s something about a weekend in August that feels slower, more laid back, especially if you live in a city that tends to empty out, with people heading to the beach or off on vacation. Things are a little quieter, more serene than usual. It feels like the last chance to relax before gearing up for the fall. I find my thoughts are already turning toward September, and what I need to accomplish between now and then. A mental house cleaning, if you will. The list is long, which makes this weekend my last shot at summer fun before I start kicking into high gear.
This week’s links are a mix of think-y and action provoking. Some will give you a quiet read that should set your mind working, while others might spur you on to get some writing accomplished, depending where you are in your seasonal cycle. Either way, I hope you find them interesting and entertaining, and that you find some time for reading and writing over the next few days. Enjoy!
Can the Academic Write? – Part one of an article looking at style, and how a career can impose a writing style upon you.
Your Ultimate Summer Reading List – If you’re still searching for books to take on your vacation or something to dive into this weekend, this list has a nice balance between light and serious titles and ranges from fairly recent to older reads.
It seems we’ve gone a bit overboard with these national and international days, but National Book Lovers Day is certainly one I can get behind. And frankly, there’s something a bit decadent about it landing mid-week. Almost permission to sneak off and read on the sly, instead of doing whatever it is you’d be doing on a random Tuesday.
I’ve got my nose deep in manuscripts at the moment, so I will resist the urge to play hooky because I feel like reading client projects and submissions definitely falls into the spirit of the day. But I do hope to find some time this evening to settle in on the couch with a nice glass of wine and a good book with a cover.
Happy Friday, everyone! I’m on the fly today so I’m keeping this short in more ways than one. Most of this week’s Friday Links offer up quick ideas for kicking your writing and/or career into high gear, bits of advice that have a major impact, and reads that tend to be on the shorter side. No matter how busy you are this weekend, there’s no reason why you can’t squeeze in a little inspiration. Wishing you a great one. Enjoy!
10 Steps to a Successful Book Launch – More excellent marketing advice. For those publishing traditionally, keep in mind that you want to keep your editor and in-house PR person in the loop on your plans so you don’t duplicate your publisher’s efforts.
Pretty much everyone experiences it once in a while. Call it burn out or fatigue or brain drain (my personal favorite), but you stop running long enough to sit in front of your keyboard and get some writing done and your mind just goes blank. No one home. No ideas, no energy, nothing but the sensation of your brain cells possibly liquifying and draining out through your ears — the origin of my preferred moniker for the situation.
Honestly? That’s me right now. My blogging has been a little sparse in recent weeks, and I feel the self-imposed pressure to come up with an informative, thoughtful post for all of you. Something that’s not a list of links or a general announcement or an embedded video of someone else’s ideas or experience. All of those are wonderful blog content, but I always aim to keep a percentage of posts my own original material and, well… not much of that going on at the moment. Because the instant I clicked on Add New Post (a good 40 minutes ago), I realized that my brain was not going to be cooperative this morning.
What causes brain drain? In my case, I’ve been on a reading jag for work — more so than usual — pushing through a lot of submissions and client material, some of which require editorial notes. I attended a conference, taught a webinar, tackled a whole bunch of behind-the-scenes contract/vendor/distribution details on a number of projects. It’s been brutally hot on and off for weeks and I’m sleeping badly as a result. And I won’t even go into the personal end of things. So, business as usual? Busy life as always? Yes, of course, but it does add up, and my brain has apparently decided I’ve hit the point of maximum density. Time to drain everything and start over. In other words, it’s telling me I need a little break.
Now, brain drain is not the same thing as writer’s block, though they certainly can overlap. But where writer’s block often signals that you need to get a better fix on where your story needs to go (or where it has been in those last pages you wrote), brain drain calls for a letting up — taking time away from the chaos and the hectic schedule to breathe and clear your head. Brain drain demands a day off or a long nap with the phone silenced or an honest-to-goodness vacation. It’s tempting to try to squeeze the life out of every moment of your day, especially for writers who often need to fight so hard just to find the time to focus on their current work in progress. But as important as it is to commit to your writing, it’s also important to maintain your health and well being so you can produce your best work. And sometimes that means giving yourself a break.
So the next time you find yourself staring at the blank page, ask when you last did something completely mindless. You may discover you’re overdue for an afternoon playing hooky or a long weekend at the beach.
This is just a quick reminder for those of you interested in attending my Writer’s Digest webinar: Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis. The course takes place online tomorrow, August 2nd, at 1pm ET. You can sign up right until the class begins and still be eligible for the critique synopsis that’s available to anyone who registers ahead. Full details on the course and information about sign up can be found here. Hope to have some of you in class tomorrow!