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Stuff I Promised

June 3, 2008 Leave a comment

You should always keep your promises.  I heard it as a kid and when I went to sales training in my late 20’s, it was the mantra of customer service. 

So, I am keeping my promise.  Last week I promised to put together my time line to keep me from getting distracted and stay focused.  In the navigation bar to the right, I posted a page on Project Time Line

While there are many ways to construct a timeline, I just listed the tasks to be done in sequence and then set a reasonable due date.  This will hopefully keep me moving forward. 

Oh, another goal I accomplished was to hook up with a writing partner.  I did so on Saturday.  Nancy is a journalist for the local newspaper.  She has already self published a book on cooking.  Although I didn’t have a chance to read it, I did notice that her writing voice is light and humorous.  Well-done humor always adds to the book’s commercial success. Since our first meeting was to see if we both have enough interest to keep moving forward, no writing was discussed.  It was more a meeting to get re-acquainted. 

To my biggest surprise, she hails from State College, PA and we both earned degrees around the same time.  We decided to meet again the last Saturday in June.  I have been thinking we should have some structure, otherwise our meetings might disintegrate before they even get fully established. 

I also have been debating whether writing a blog contributes to my fiction delinquency.  I am still learning about what drives a website.  Reading about it is one thing.  Finding time to execute it is another.

As usual, it is late.  I want to read before I turn in.  In my last entry I reviewed some of my favorite books on writing.  If you have any books you particularly liked, please leave a comment and tell  me a little about the book and why you particularly liked it. 

I

 

How to Get Focused When You are Woefully Undisciplined

May 25, 2008 Leave a comment

When you think that almost everyone you know can write, you would think that it would be easy to find someone who shares similar writing goals.  For me, this hasn’t been easy.  I have found people with whom I’ve had exchanges over the years, but either the person has loses interest, gets discouraged, or our evaluative skills differ too widely, and we naturally drift apart. 

So, after awhile I decided to go it alone.  Months and months passed without a  body of work.  There have been lots of notes and first tries.  And from my posts you can tell that after months of dabbling, the end product were a lot of isolated paragraphs on various sizes of paper. 

Yes, I know, I could be more disciplined. So in light of my shortcomings, I am remedying it by setting some personal goals. 

My first goal was to find another writer who wants to write a novel or has written a novel.  I want to meet with that person at least once a month.  Goal: to share information, to make editing suggestions and for me, most importantly, make me accountable to my time schedule.  I decided I would meet with only one writer.  Call me selfish, but I am tired of critiquing endless pages of dribble.  While I like poetry, I don’t feel qualified to comment on it much beyond the cursory connections of symbolism and great word choice.

My second goal is to write, and I emphasize WRITE, a reasonable time table.  I spend so much time catering to family goals in addition to a full time job that my writing goals never bubble to the top of the To-Do list.  This needs modification, if I’m ever going to get beyond the initial attempts.  (I plan to add my time table to my blog to add more incentive to reach these goals.)

My third goal is to write a couple fiction pages a day in addition to this blog.  However, much to my surprise, this blog consumes more time than I ever thought it would.  So some days, when I am engaged in my fiction, this blog will no doubt be affected somehow.  I will have to figure out how I am going to make this work.   

My fourth goal is not to whine and make excuses for not adhering to my schedule. 

Okay, there are probably a half a dozen more goals I would like to share, but I think if the list is too long, it will be overwhelming and I will have difficulty staying on track. 

Goal one is in the works.  Next Saturday I plan to meet a long time local journalist.  Nan has written a novel.  It is still a bit rough she informs me and has been lying in her desk drawer for months.  This union has possibilities.  I don’t know Nan very well.  I don’t know how interested she is in sustaining our relationship.  Unlike the other writing workshops I have been in, I want this one to work.  I want this one to yield results.  I want someone to hold me accountable when I start to make those excuses.

Tomorrow I plan to tackle my second goal, so watch for my page entitled: Cori’s Writing Time Table.  If you would like to share your time table, email me cori@corichu.com.

               

Five Good Sources for Starting Your Writing Business

May 20, 2008 Leave a comment

When someone gives me websites to visit, I tend to cringe because either the list is way too long and well, it seems more like a chore on my to-do list.  One suggestion I can handle, if I remember.   But much more than that, I get distracted.  However, here are five great sources for getting ideas on how to turn your writing into a business.

For writers seriously thinking about turning their writing into a business, I suggest a couple of things.  You should first check out your local small business development office to see what programs, grants, and free education classes are available.  Often times the small business development counselor can help you craft a business plan or give you ideas for marketing as well.

There are two general websites that cover the topic start up businesses thoroughly.  It might be well worth a peek.  www.entrepreneur.com and www.inc.com.  Use these sites as a reference or as a jumping off point for further research. 

Sometimes SCORE might be able to shed light on how to develop your business.  It used to be SCORE counselors were primarily composed of retired small business men, volunteering to give sage counsel to new businesses.  Now current business owners are participating as counselors.  While this doesn’t change the program, it adds a different dimension to the advice.  Current business owners may be more in tune to the trends, the current local economic conditions, and may be able to connect you with other networking contacts.  The downside is because they are running a business, they may not have as much time available.  SCORE retirees can also provide a long view of the whole business cycle.  They may be more experienced in the various business models and can provide a longer historical context.   In any case, having a “mentor” works well and keeps one on track.

One other great source is other writers who have made it their business.  It is great to ask questions about how people achieved what they did.  What was their best advice?  What were the defining moments for their business choices?  And if you are worried that other writers are too busy…well, maybe…but there are many out there that will feel flattered that you thought of them as successful.

None of the sources I listed are not knowledge specific about the writing industry.  The information is broad and can be applied to starting any business. 

ADVICE:  Figure out some kind of filing system that you will be able to keep track of your brilliant ideas, because if you are like me, they seem to disappear quite easily. 

If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to comment. 

 

What a Good Writing Class Can Do for You (Part 3)

May 13, 2008 Leave a comment

In the last two posts I covered the pros and cons of  writing classes vs writing groups.  The big question:  Is it worth it?

 

The answer is: Yes.  I’ve had enough positive experiences, including what I learned from the one college professor whose syllabus was basically an analysis of the chapter of his book, to know that writing classes ultimately are a good thing, as long as your expectations and the class goals are in accord. 

 

A good professor can introduce you to new styles, techniques, voices and ideas.  He or she can motivate you and push you to write what you never thought you could.  A class can offer opinions and viewpoints that you would have never considered.

 

The only way to improve is to write.  Writing classes can do that.  They can force you to sit down and do the writing, so that you will improve, so that your thoughts will begin to flow.  And there is nothing more motivating than the proverbial deadline.

 

The bottom line is that you have to assess what do you expect this writing class will do for you.  Will it force you to finish that short story that has been sitting in a bottom drawer?  Will it inspire some new angle for your plotline?  Or will you learn some inside tricks of the trade from other successful writers?

 

When I was younger, I used to be totally embarrassed by how raw and disjointed my sentences and thoughts were.  How do other writers get these well-crafted prose from the brain to the page?  I came to learn that most people cannot write like Isaac Asimov, dictating six different plots for books to his assistants simultaneously and then only providing light editing before submission.  Many people rewrite their book 15 times to get their piece crafted the way they want.  My point is that the first draft isn’t perfection. 

 

Keep in mind it is a first draft.  That’s all that it is.  Be realistic.  How many people can write near perfect copy in the beginning.  I suspect most of you are like me.  We struggle to get what we write flawless, but for those who don’t know when to stop…they will be the ones that are always burdened by that starving artist image

 

Pros and Cons of Writing Groups and Writing Classes(Part 2)

May 11, 2008 Leave a comment

Okay, I haven’t written in a couple of days.  I tripped on a metal doorstop and my face hit the open metal door.  Yes, I have been sporting the Angelina Jolie look the past few days. 

In the chart below I summarized the differences between a writing class vs. a writing group  If you question whether to go to a writing class or group, and you have never been to one, you should at least check it out.  You will know within the first two meetings of either group whether your attendance will help you further your goals.  Remember your travel time, your time in the class or group, and the time you work on assignments or other projects is time spent away from your writing.  Is this worth it when you should be, could be spending time with your favorite character that needs to solve some conundrum?  When a writing class or group is good, you know it.  You know that it is the stepping stone you need to shorten your learning curve.

 

Writing Class

Writing Group

Improving the critical eye Most writing teachers actually have written and taken classes.  They are able to show students how to breakdown novel writing, analyze context meanings, and improve word choice and diction. Reading and critiquing certainly helps one to edit personal writing projects better.  Facilitator may or may not have more experience than the group.  Sharing constructive criticism may vary in sophistication because the group members may vary in experience and the facilitator. Reading others works and listening to critiques allows you to learn more about the craft of writing.
Exposure to new ideas Presentation of new ideas from both students and teacher is a high likelihood. Presentation of new ideas from group members is also very probable.
Exposure to new ways of doing things This varies but may have more to do with the how the administration would like a syllabus structured or to be assured that teaching the required minimum is done.An academic class is less likely to discuss how individuals handle the writing process.  Concentration is devoted to the resulting product. The group is free to do whatever it pleases.  Every writer has his or her own way of writing expression.  Different habits, environment,  approaches give ideas how members can tackle writing obstacles.  Talking to others is the best way to find out what may work for you.
Being part of a writing community Connection to a writing community is key to keep inspired. Ditto
Time commitment There may be more time committed to class assignments and development of the individual writing stages.  Attendance is usually mandatory. Time commitment is flexible.  There are no attendance requirement usually, but in order to get something out of the group, one should attend.
Cons    
    After a period of time, some writers are influenced by the group critiques and the writer’s style is compromised.  He or she loses some of the uniqueness in order to satisfy the consensus of the group.  And the end product loses its uniqueness.
  There is an inherent danger in presenting a fledgling idea to a group.  Not well developed, the group can discourage the writer’s vision and the project could be abandoned before it was ever developed enough to see if the idea would have worked out . Like the writing class, exposure to criticism before the idea is fully developed could squash the writer’s desire to work on it further.
  On occasion professors will use the class as a sounding board for his or her own writing.  While the class does learn, it seems as if it serves the professor’s agenda more than the students. There is a sameness that happens in writing groups because there is usually no long term planning in terms of group goals. 
  Not everyone in writing classes share the ambition to be published. Writing groups don’t usually turn away anyone.  Sometimes time and group management becomes an issue especially if one of the members insists on dominating the discussion.

 

Pros and Cons of Writing Groups and Writing Classes (Part 1)

Nervous and excited about joining a writing group or class? You should be. Unlike math or the hard sciences, where there is only the right and the wrong answer, writing is personal. Science and math rests on reason and facts. When we write, we pour some parts of ourselves in the experience. Our deepest thoughts spill out in words, open for all to view….and criticize. We leave our soft underbellies exposed.

I have been a member of a number of writing groups and attended several writing classes over the years. Why we subject ourselves to criticism is obvious. We want to do write better. But deep down when we present our work, the project that we have been writing for several weeks, months, and maybe years, what we are looking for confirmation that our writing is good, that we really do have talent.

Feedback, especially constructive feedback, is both beneficial and stifling to the creative process. Critiquing brings a new vantage point, new ideas, and can sustain motivation. If the criticism is harsh and insensitive, it can be extremely devastating to a new writer. It can squelch the writer’s chance of developing his or her writing, because we carry the wound for the rest of our lives. Time dulls the sting of the insult, but we are acutely aware of the unkind feedback and sometimes one can detect it in behavior. When things hapen of the is a subjective process and one has to understand from whom the criticism comes. What is the person’s agenda or experience? Are the comments have a ring of truth to them? Are the comments accompanied by actual suggestions to remedy the problem? Or does the person doing the critique in the process of satisfying some complex ego flaw?

But just maybe the critic is giving an honest opinion. This is what we all strive for when we sign on to these classes.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you have never been to a writing group or writing class:

  • First, if you are the sensitive type…easily wounded if you do not get a standing ovation, then you are probably not ready for your work to be reviewed by a group. For the most part, every member of the group thinks they are helping you become a better writer. The truth is that only you can help you become a better writer. Be open to criticism.
  • Do not take it personally — unless someone says you have an ugly dog.
  • Do not try to explain your point of view unless it is requested. This position makes you defensive and you start to not listen carefully to what the person is trying to tell you, even though the criticism may be awkwardly expressed. When you have to explain what your story is about or what it means, then you obviously haven’t written the passage well enough. Your words should be self explanatory.
  • Even if your work ranks up there with Mario Puzo, you need to realize that your plot, your writing style, or whatever is not going to appeal to everyone. You don’t need to please everyone.
  • Take the suggestions and use what makes sense. Thank them for their feedback and don’t let them see you sticking your tongue out at them.

A bad class or group is a total time waster. Yes, not all writing groups or classes are created equal. A writing group that has members with strong egos can crush your creative spirit. Strong, ambitious and vociferous writers often force their opinons, because being heard is like stroking their own self worth. Just remember advice can be taken or rejected.

A good group is homogenous. This means that everyone at the meeting shares the same interest. If the group is songwriting, then everyone should be into the creating music or writing lyrics. If the group is about poetry, then you would not find a lyricist in the group unless the lyricist also wrote poems. There is too much ground to cover when your group has varied agendas. No one wants to talk about someone else’s genre and neither will you particularly be interested in listening reading it.

I welcome you to share your thoughts on this topic. In the next post I will compare the writing class vs. the writer’s group, line by line. Stay tuned.

Where Does Your Time Go?

If you haven’t yet blocked out what you do during the day, especially a week, you are in for a real eye opener. You think you know where your time goes, but in reality, you only have some vague notion how you spend your time.

Below I have blocked out my next week. I used shades of green for personal tasks, shades of blue for work related time spent, purple for writing or reading activities, and pink for family time. What jumps out at me is that sometimes the time allotted is not so rigid, so some activities spill over into the next hour and maybe the next one after that, depending on what kind of project it is.

The second thing that jumps out at me is that the white areas are left for more writing activities. However, look at where my writing activities fall…very late at night, which most times doesn’t work well, because I end up nodding off. Someone once told me that what we spend our time doing most is what we want to be doing most. I don’t think this is an absolute statement, but it holds some merit. What do you find yourself doing most? Is this what you want to be doing? Is this something you feel you have to do to have a steady income or keep peace in the family? Or is it obligatory?

The question is “Where to find more quality writing time?” Do I have to wait until I retire? I am still pondering the answer. If you have found a solution, I would love to hear from you.

You too can try this exercise to see how your time is spent. I have posted a page so you can use this same technique.

Time Log

One Way to Make Novel Writing a Career

April 20, 2008 Leave a comment

Figuring out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) posed may position you to achieve your goal sooner, better or easier.  This is because now you are able to clearly assess where you are and take a more clear cut action plan to get you your results. 

Okay, I know what you are thinking.  Why don’t you just write and see what comes of it?  You can do it that way, but I want to make this a career change.  In order to do that, it is best to have a plan.  If you plan to earn a living as a writer, you need to treat this as a business.  Some people are lucky.  They have contacts.  They are at the right place at the right time.  But if you are like me, I don’t have those contacts.  I live in an area that takes pride in the fact that it is a bio sciences community…(yeah, great backdrop to a novel, but I am not really part of the bio community). 

Above all, more than creating strategy, what will propel you forward is excellent writing with a unique viewpoint/plot.  If it is good, it will eventually find its way to the marketplace.  Good planning strategies can sell average quality novels.  Good planning may catapult excellent writing.  And if you are planning to make this your bread and butter, I’m sure you would much rather get paid now as opposed to having your estate receive your royalties.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I know what I should do, but have not taken the time to implement it in my own life.  So, as I discover who I am, so will you.  Before I create my SWOT for transitioning into a fiction writer, let’s be very clear about my goal.

Goal:  To become a fiction writer by end of the year 2009.

Is this specific?  Yes
Is this measurable?  Yes.  Measurable in the sense that the number of written pages will indicate progress.
Is this attainable?  Yes.  It requires discipline and focus.
Is this realistic:  Yes, because I have the education and have been writing for many years…just not fiction
Is there a time frame:  Yes.  (I need a deadline otherwise I get derailed too easily.  If you are working a full time job, this time frame becomes even more imperative, because your time is limited.)

SWOT

STRENGTHS
Writing ability
Good foundation in research
Computer literate
Good imagination
Marketing skills
Small business management knowledge
Analytical
WEAKNESSES
Need more fiction writing time
Easily distracted by family and responsibilities
Too eager to help others
To-Do List is overwhelming 
OPPORTUNITIES
Opportunity to meet many people where I work
Member of a Writing Group
Contacts at colleges where I attended
Understanding how to use the Internet and viral marketing as a tool
 
THREATS
Lack of focus. 
Energies too dispersed.
Self confidence
 

In the next post I will create an action plan to make the most of my strengths and opportunities and strategies to turn my weaknesses and threats into an advantage.

The Confession of a Self Saboteur

April 18, 2008 Leave a comment

I am procrastinating again. My goal is to write a short story by May 1…well, finish the rough draft at least. Not a tall order when you consider that the outline is sketched out and the characters are already moving around in my head. However, I have yet to get beyond “Let me put in a load of wash first,” “I just have to take the dog out and then I’ll be good.”

Oh and my utmost favorite distraction: “I’ll make lunch first so I won’t have to get up to eat in the middle of a thought.” And you know that I probably will get up anyway. I certainly don’t need to eat if I’m not hungry. No one can accuse me of starving myself.

So, on my way to my other self sabotaging behavior —reading and responding to emails, I paused and read a couple of Randy Ingermanson’s archived ezines. (www.advancedfictionwriting.com) Randy is an ex-physicist turned novelist and writing pundit. One article that particularly interested me was Organizing: Habits, Interruptions, and Achievements. This echoed similar sentiments in my last post. So, if you are having trouble, as I am, getting to down to the business of writing, read this:

    In a recent comment on my Advanced Fiction Writing

Blog, one of my loyal blog readers asked about the time

management system that I’ve been using, the Simpleology

system, which you can learn more about here:

http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/links/s101.php

    This system encourages you to dream big — to define

what your ideal life would be like. You can make a list

of as many things as you want, and they can be anything

you want. Paying off the mortgage. Climbing Mount

Everest. Running a marathon. And, oh yeah, writing a

novel and getting it published.

    HOWEVER, this time management system only allows you to

choose ONE “long-term target,” ONE “medium-term

target,” and ONE “short-term target” at a time.

    Isn’t that rather limiting? Don’t I get frustrated with

that restriction? Wouldn’t it be better if I could

focus on as many targets as I felt like?

    My answers are yes, yes, and no.

    Yes, it’s a limitation on myself to have only one

“target” at a time. Yes, that’s frustrating. No, it

wouldn’t be better to focus on multiple targets at

once.

    That’s not focus. Focus is when you have only one

“target” at a time. Anything else is being out of

focus.

    Those limitations are directly due to a very real

limitation on all of us — time. Each of us gets only

24 hours per day. And worse, most of that is already

spoken for. So the actual time we have in any given day

for reaching for our dreams may be very small. It might

be an hour or two some days (if we’re lucky). It might

be no time at all other days.

    What’s a big-dreaming writer to do?

    That brings me to the title of this article. I’d like

to define three different ways we can spend our time:

on habits, on interruptions, and on achievements. Let’s

talk about each of those in turn.

    Habits are things we do routinely that we’ve mastered.

They may be easy to learn or they may be hard to learn,

but we’re good at them and we execute them routinely

without a lot of intellectual energy.

    Flossing is a habit. Driving to work is a habit.

Answering email is a habit. For many writers, producing

X words per day is a habit.

    Notice that these aren’t everybody’s habits. For some

people, these are major achievements. But many people

have mastered each of these and they do them routinely

without thinking much about them.

    Interruptions are things that pop up every day that

MUST be dealt with NOW. They’re not things that happen

routinely, and so they may take a bit more effort to

deal with.

    Getting the brakes fixed is an interruption. So is the

annual income tax grind. Answering the telephone is an

interruption.

    Interruptions can be good, of course. That phone call

might your agent calling to let you know that you sold

your novel. That’s great, but it’s still an

interruption and it still extracts mental energy from

you.

    Achievements are things we want to do that are worth

doing but require serious commitment for an extended

period of time. You often have to learn a new skill or

expend enormous amounts of intellectual energy.

    Paying off the mortgage is an achievement. So is

scaling Everest for the first time. Or running your

first marathon. Or publishing your first novel.

    Notice that while doing something the first time is

often a major achievement, doing it a second time may

be merely a habit.

    That’s a very important point, and it cuts to the heart

of the matter. Part of success in life means focusing

on one achievement until you reach it the first time.

After that, doing it again may be much, much easier –

so easy that it can correctly be called a habit.

    That is the answer to the problem of “I have so many

things I want to achieve, so why can’t I focus on

several of them at once?”

    You can do whatever you want in life. But if you have a

major achievement, then you are most likely to reach it

by focusing all your available energy on it (for a

time) until you reach that goal. Then, having mastered

that skill, doing it the second time will become far

easier.

    There remains the question of balance. There are things

you pretty much have to do every day. These are

generally either habits or interruptions. Since you

have to do them, my (excellent) advice is that you

should do them.

    On a bad day, that will leave no time to spend on

trying to reach your dream. Tough beans. Some days are

like that. There are one or two days every week when I

end up expending every minute on the routine stuff or

on putting out fires (or both). Life happens.

    On a good day, you’ll have time left over to spend on

those pesky achievements. You can split that time, or

you can focus it. I think you should focus it.

    Focus means applying your time, energy, and money on

ONE achievement to the exclusion of all others. Focus

is risky, because you might fail. But focus is smart

because it gives you the highest chance of success.

    Diamonds are forever, but focus isn’t. When you focus

on one achievement, you are promising yourself that

you’ll actually reach your goal in a finite amount of

time.

    When you achieve something, you may very well be able

to turn that into a routine habit, which doesn’t take

much mental energy. (It may still take time, but the

important thing is that you’ll be able to do it far

easier the second time than the first.)

    Then you can focus on some new achievement. That’s how

successful people operate.

    Finally, let’s ask which are most important — habits,

interruptions, or achievements? My answer is that they

are all roughly equally important. If you allocate time

for all three of them, you’ll thrive.

    What achievements do you have on tap for this year?

That depends on who you are and where you are in your

writing career. Here are some possible achievements you

might want to focus your energy on:

* Learning to write a good scene

* Learning to create a memorable character

* Learning to structure a novel

* Mastering dialogue

* Developing a strong proposal

* Going to your first writing conference

* Finding an agent

* Selling your first novel

* Marketing your novel successfully

Each of these is a major achievement the FIRST time you

do it. After that, it’s just a good habit.

Which ONE of these will you focus on next?

Top Ten Strategies to Focus on Writing

April 16, 2008 Leave a comment

I have to admit that I’m a veteran when it comes to putting my family, my job, my responsibilities before writing.  I am the type of person who needs at least two hours to write.  I need to get my thoughts organized, remember who is doing what with whom and why in my stories.  As you can tell, I’m not the off-the-cuff writer.  I wish I was.  However, I have learned much from my detours. 

1.  Learn to say NO. When the kids call, the spouse or partner wants you to join them, when the telephone rings, you need to say NO.  It is especially hard when you have always been accessible.  It gets easier though.  You have to train your family that whatever hour or two per day or per week you claim to be writing time, you stick to it as best you can.  If you cave, so will your chances of ever getting some quiet time will fade.  Your family will still love you if you say go away.

2. Have a plan.  Plan your writing periods like you would a meeting or an appointment with the dentist.  If you have to cancel, reschedule immediately.  Waiting later and you will miss your writing session altogether.  Prioritize so that you don’t meander off course.  If you have never harnessed your energies with a game plan, once you have one, you will notice how much more efficient you have become.

3.  Simpleology.com.  Use the program to help you stay focused and on target if necessary. www.simpleology.com

4.  Find a mentor.  Actually I was looking for a person to keep me to my deadlines.  A mentor can give you feedback and can help you spin plotlines or just cheer you on.  I wouldn’t recommend a family member though.  It can be emotionally hard if you ask them to critique your work. 

5.  Find a writing group.  This could keep you inspired and motivated …or it can make you puke.  Yes, well run writing groups are great.  Poorly run ones are trying.  Remember busy people don’t have time to waste on chatting on topics other than writing.

6. Read authors in your genre.  Reading published novels can help your writing in so many ways. It can inspire, help bring out your creativity, teach you how to accomplish certain effects such as transitioning, pacing and diction, and can be relaxing.

7. Read writing related blogs and technique books.   I write this with some reservation.  Reading how to books can be addicting.  You might read and never actually do any writing.  Blogging and reading other writing related websites can  help you, but remember, it is a distraction too.  It isn’t actually working on your project directly.  So this suggestion requires you use some discernment and discipline.

8.   Try to keep your writing area relatively uncluttered.  Messy people say that when their space is disorganized, or in controlled chaos, it shows that they are creating.  This is a myth.  You work better when only the project before you is on your desk or table.  Clutter is distracting.  I think it mirrors how you approach life.  If your space is cluttered, so is your efficiency.  You are so scattered that you probably have trouble finishing any one task.

9.  Don’t always attack the small tasks and save the larger tasks for later.  I’ve noticed that when you always delay working on the larger tasks, they somehow get moved onto the next day’s agenda, and then the next. And well, sometimes they never get done.  Also, use time lines for your goals.  It helps organize when you are going to do what.  It will also help you prioritize.

10.  And if you aren’t doing well with your goals, remember to keep the goals realistic.  Instead of punishing yourself for not making your deadlines, institute a reward system for yourself.  For example, if I finish the rough draft of chapter one, then I will go to the movies.  I’d say buy yourself something, but heaven knows that some of us have more than enough stuff in our homes. 

I’m struggling with meeting my goals.  So, if you have a goal, send it to me.  Make yourself accountable.  According to Julia Cameron, a tv writer and author of the books The Artist’s Way and Vein of Gold, if you write it down…you are commiting to yourself and to the Universe that this is what you want to happen.  I think she said that if you write a list of things you want to accomplish and attach it to a timeline, you can look back and see that you accomplished most of the items on the list.  The trick is that you cannot stay on idle.  You need to put your skills into gear.