I am so sorry if you missed last Saturday’s In Print meeting because you missed a great chance to gear up for a new year of writing. Jerilyn Willin—speaker, writer, and coach—gave us some great tips for reaching our goals. I can’t cover them all here, but I’ll touch on a few. I hope you’ll find them useful, but even more, I hope you will chat with someone who was present, or better yet, attend one of Jerilyn’s presentations so that you can benefit from all Jerilyn has to offer.
As writers we are often our biggest hindrance. For example, we make excuses as to why we can’t find time to write. Does this sound familiar? I want to write, but I am too tired when I get home from my day job. (or substitute but I’m just too tired after I finally get the kids to bed.) It may be true, but is it helpful. Such statements are dead ends; there’s nowhere to go from there except defeat. Jerilyn’s tip? Substitute “and” for “but.” Now we have a statement that begs for a solution: I want to write and I’m too tired when I get home from my day job. Okay, so what do I need to do then? How can I fix this? If I can’t write after work, when can I write? Holidays? Weekends? In the morning, before I head off for work? I’m sure you can see the possibilities. Why don’t you try it on your “but” excuses?
Jerilyn also shared her Holiday Action Plan, a scheduling suggestion many of our members found useful. We’re always making deadlines—which seem to have a habit of just slipping by unnoticed. Why not use holidays as your deadlines. The beauty of this idea is that they can’t just slip by. Say you plan to finish chapter two of your novel by Valentine’s Day. TV and magazine ads, store displays (and maybe hints from a loved one) will be constant reminders that your deadline is approaching. As Ted Iverson, one of our In Print members said, you can then use the holiday itself to celebrate your success at meeting your goal. Jerilyn even gave us a calendar of nicely spaced holidays to aid us in our planning.
Remember that your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and must have a given time frame. But Jerilyn gave us another important characteristic of a goal: Make sure your goal is something that is within your control. Perhaps one of your goals reads something like this: In 2016 I will get an agent. Well, unfortunately, that is not entirely in your control. So how can you revise your goal so that you at least make getting an agent a possibility? Aim to write your goal so that it is based on what you can control. For example, in 2016 I will do what is needed to get an agent, including research agents who work with my genre, write a query letter . . .
As I mentioned, this is just a small part of what Jerilyn Willin shared. I hope they give you a start on writing and accomplishing your goals for 2016. See you at the February meeting.