G is for Goal

“The trouble with doing nothing is you never know when you’re finished.” – Anonymous

Goal setting is the one thing you do just for you. No one else really cares what your goals are because it isn’t important to them. Not like it is for you.

Once you decide what it is that you want to accomplish, then you can determine what your goal is. If you want to complete a manuscript, you could set a goal of writing for a specific amount of time, each day, week, and month. I wouldn’t suggest making your goal all about time though. You could spend an hour a day sitting in front of a blank page and not get anywhere. I would suggest making a specific goal that you can measure, like 500 words a day or a page a day.  Don’t start out with a goal that is not realistic. Set a goal that is achievable and then raise it.

Once you’ve met your goal, reward yourself. I am one of those people who can handle delayed gratification, at least for a while. I often watch last season’s television shows because by the time I hear people talking about the current season it’s usually half over. So what I do is order the previous season on Netflix. After I meet a goal, I give myself an evening with True Blood, The Walking Dead, or Downton Abbey. I can indulge without guilt because I met my goal.

Find what works best for you but be realistic. Your goal must be specific, it must be measurable, and you need to have a completion date to aim form. It’s okay to have a long term goal but give yourself those baby steps along the way. Nothing is more frustrating than working toward something and not seeing any progress. Those short term goals will get you to that long term goal of a finished manuscript.

Do you have goals and do you reward yourself?

F is for First Lines

“The sensation of writing a book is the sensation of spinning, blinded by love and daring.” – Annie Dillard

Some books suggest that your first five pages are the most important; some say the first 50 pages. If the first line doesn’t catch the reader’s eye, I doubt it matters how well you wrote the first five or 50 pages especially if your reader is an agent or an editor.

It’s a given that you have to make that first line pull the reader into the story and it probably is the most important line in your book but it doesn’t stop there. To continue to pull the reader in, you have to make sure the first line of each chapter and each scene accomplish the same thing.

A good way to study first lines is to pull one of your favorite books off the shelf and start dissecting it. What about that first line made you want to read more? Go further into the story and see how they structured the scenes and chapters. Can you see a pattern of beginning, middle, and end?

Just as you have a story arc, you should have an arc for each chapter and each scene and those arcs start out with a first line.  Don’t settle for weak first lines; make them strong enough to help carry your story.

If you’re working on your first draft, just get it written but when it comes time to edit and revise, polish those lines until they sparkle.  Make them do the job you need them to do and then go on to the second most important line – the last line of each chapter and scene. The first line gets the reader’s attention and the last line brings the reader back for more.

Hope your writing week was productive. If you write and live in the Des Moines area and would like to visit a writer’s group. Central Iowa Fiction Writers meet Saturday at 10:00 AM at the West Des Moines Community Center. Our speaker this month is Cheryl Saint John an author from the Omaha area and she is going to talk about blogging.

If you lean more toward mysteries – the local chapter of Sisters in Crime meets Saturday afternoon at Smokey Row coffee shop at 3:00. Come check us out.

Also, Larry Baker an author participating in AVID, will be at the Central Library June 18th at 7:00 PM. His current book is “Love and Other Delusions”.  AVID is a program sponsored by the Des Moines Library and each year they bring in several authors to talk and sign.

Currently reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir about a woman who decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone. This is Oprah‘s first pick for her new Book Club 2.0. I bought the e-reader edition and it is interesting to see the passages Oprah highlighted. So far it has been an enjoyable read.


E is for E-Reader

“It seems to me that anyone whose library consists of a Kindle lying on a table is some sort of bloodless nerd.”
― Penelope Lively

“Lovers of print are simply confusing the plate for the food.”

― Douglas Adams

When I first heard about e-books, I thought it would be a phase. People really wouldn’t prefer to read on one of them instead of a real book, would they? I have to admit, I am a bibliophile. I love books and will always prefer reading them but I also don’t like clutter. I have started buying fewer books only because I don’t want to have to deal with where to keep them. Besides clutter, the disorganization can cause me to buy a book more than once because I couldn’t find the original.

I did finally cave in a couple of years ago and bought a Nook and have recently purchased an IPAD. It hasn’t kept me from buying traditional books but I probably buy fewer of them.  I now check out authors with my e-reader, especially when they offer a free read. I used to do the same thing with Half Price Books. I would read new authors and if I really liked them, I would then go out and buy everything else that they had written.

De-Cluttering and saving trees is probably my best reason for turning to e-reading. With an e-book, I eliminate the clutter and I can always find my books. They are all in my e-reader library. No wasting time and money hunting and searching through all the book shelves in my home.

I discovered two more reasons recently. Oprah’s new book club 2.0. She doesn’t tell you how to buy the book, you can still buy a traditional book but if you do buy it in e-form, it has the passages she liked highlighted that you can read as you go along. I did buy this one because it sounded interesting. The title is ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. It’s about a woman who hikes 1100 miles along a Pacific coast trail by herself. She loses herself and re-discovers herself along the way.

Besides Oprah, there is – Fifty Shades of Grey. Not that I indulge in reading erotica, but if I did, I could read it on an e-reader and no one would know. This one, I haven’t bought yet.

How many of you have an e-reader? Is it the reading experience you expected? Do you like it or are you a die-hard traditional book lover?

Hope your writing is going well and you are finding a little time to read.


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