Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Writing Stories is My Superpower? by Sandra Ardoin

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m writing I feel like a female version of Captain America. That shield goes up, those brain muscles pop out, and I’m able to fend off the enemies of my word count goal for the day—things like opportunities for new proposals, marketing, emails, social media, interesting and informative blog posts.

Other times…

I’m more like wimpy Stephanie Rogers, eager to join the fray but too weak to focus, too harried to sit still, and too insecure to believe I can write something worth the time and attention of readers.

Are you ever like that? Of course you are. You’re a writer.

Let me lay it all out on the table. Completing projects in the past year or so has been tough for me. Oh, I have good intentions. I even have good story ideas (seriously). But I’ve let myself be distracted by the shiny objects in the first paragraph. I’m proclaiming here and now, this year will be different. It’s already different. I have ambitions, and I’m growing those muscles that will lead to restoring my superpower.

Here are six ways I’m accomplishing that for 2017:                  
  • I wrote a business plan. It contains the projects I’d like to complete this year, as well as various marketing goals. It’s ambitious, and I may not succeed in getting everything done, but I’ve called them out, which gives me a written list to nag remind me. 
  • I have some nifty Excel templates. One is a To-do List. I use this to keep track of things needing to be completed during the week (or month) by date. It nags reminds me if I’ve missed my deadline, something my former written list didn’t do. 
  • Another template is a Project Tracker. I’ve listed the stories I want to work on this year, the projected begin time, end time, word count, and the word count I complete each month. When I’m done, I’ll include the actual end time and number of days it took to complete, so I have a record for future projects of the same length. 
  • I have a white board calendar on which I write the word count expected for the month, along with the count completed for each day, week, and the added monthly total.

The common denominator of the above? It’s in black and white (sometimes red and green). A written plan. 

Here are a couple of unwritten rules for my year.
  • I’m being extra careful about the amount of time I give to marketing, social media updates—all those things in the first paragraph. Yes, they’re necessary. However, if I never finish another book, I can market til the cows give chocolate milk, but have nothing new for readers. 
  • Naturally, I’ll still prepare proposals for special projects, but rather than let them deter me with shouts of “You need to work on me…just in case!” I’ll submit and return to my current WIP.

That’s my plan for keeping myself accountable. You probably know other ways to increase your writing superpower.

Your fellow writers would love to know what they are! In the comments, tell us something you do to accomplish your writing goals. 


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Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody, a 2016 Grace Award Finalist. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, and antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

8 comments:

  1. Yay! Good for you, Sandy! Can't wait to catch up over coffee. For me, it's much the same. An excel spreadsheet with a timeline and word count tracking. Happy Wednesday, sweet friend. :)

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    1. Thanks, Dora. The system has helped me finish the novella, among other things. ;) Sounds like your spreadsheet is a little like the Project Tracker sheet I use. We'll have to compare. Yay for those coffee breaks! Wednesday Blessings to you!

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  2. Great ideas for keeping on task, Sandy! I have to give myself deadlines. Once I do, I'm pretty disciplined about meeting them, regardless of what it takes. Without a deadline on the calendar, it's so easy to get pulled in all the directions you mentioned.

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    1. Good for you on the deadlines, Dawn! You're right. Set them so you have a concrete goal. I made that mistake last year and pretty much floundered. Thanks!

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  3. So proud of you, Sandy! Way to go, you! I do have an Excel sheet for contests entered, but that's as ambitious as I've gotten. I'd love to see the Project Tracker sheet, too!

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  4. Rooting for you Sandy!

    I'm in a critique group where we have quarterly goals and we break that down by month.

    You are so right, seeing it in black and white keeps you focused.

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    1. Thanks, Terri! It sounds like your crit group is going a long way to keep everyone accountable to their goals. Good for you all!

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