Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Time for a Direction Check by Carol J. Post

Are your resolutions for 2017 intentions or are you focusing on direction? Author Carol J. Post provides tips for accomplishing your writing goals for this year. -- Sandy

Carol: Happy January! This is the month when thousands of people make resolutions for the new year. They’re going to eat healthier, exercise more, lose weight, get organized, spend more time with family and friends, or (fill in the blank). We all start off gung ho, but by February, most of those resolutions have fallen by the wayside.

On New Year’s Day, I went to church with my sister. Like most of the pastors around the country, hers spoke about resolutions and changes people hope to make in the coming year. During his message, he made a statement that stuck with me: “It’s direction, not intention, that determines destination.”

The problem with so many New Year’s resolutions is that they’re nothing more than intentions. To me, intention focuses on thoughts, whereas direction involves movement. I live in Florida. If I want to go to New England, I’ll get on I-95 and head north. I can leave home intending to arrive in Connecticut the next day, but if my direction is south, I’ll end up in Miami.

Whatever we hope to accomplish in the new year, intentions alone won’t get us there. As writers, most of us want to further our careers during 2017, whether that means finishing the first book, getting published, transitioning to full time or making a list. Whatever the goal, we’re more likely to reach it if we take steps that move us in the right direction.

Hone Your Craft
From newbie to multi-pubbed author, everyone has room for improvement. Workshops and writer’s conferences are great resources. So are many of the craft books available. Jerry Jenkins provides his top 11 picks here: Articles and blog posts on writing abound, too. And don’t limit your reading to craft topics. Reading quality literature inside and outside your genre is bound to improve your writing skills. Lastly, finding a critique partner who really “gets” your writing can be invaluable.

Guard Your Muse
Writing is a solitary activity, and it’s easy to get discouraged. Nothing kills inspiration faster than having someone downplay what you do. Join a writers group. Surround yourself with like-minded people who provide encouragement and understand the difficult road we as writers travel.

Arrange Your Priorities
Reaching one’s goals often involves sacrificing other enjoyable activities. Whether watching TV or cute cat videos, hours can fly by with nothing to show for the time. I like to track my activities using, with categories like writing, editing, exercise, email, social media, church-related, recreation, etc. The totals at the end of the week can be telling. Doing sprints with other authors and reporting weekly word counts are great for focus, too.

Reward Yourself
Set goals, and when you reach them, celebrate! Did you get that chapter finished in spite of 1,001 demands on your time? Do a movie night. Did you make it all the way to THE END? Take time to recharge before starting your next project.

What about you? What steps do you take to get yourself headed in the right direction, writing-related or otherwise?


Carol J. Post lives in sunshiny Central Florida and writes fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award. She is also a popular speaker, presenting workshops on a variety of craft topics. Besides writing, she enjoys sailing, hiking, camping--almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

After her broken engagement, Nicki Jackson hoped her move to Cedar Key would give her a fresh start—instead she quickly learns someone's out to destroy her. Are the attacks tied to her mother's recently reopened murder case…or to the nightmares Nicki's beginning to suspect are actually hidden memories? With the threats against her escalating, former soldier Tyler Brant vows to keep Nicki safe. He refuses to lose the woman who's swiftly becoming more than a childhood crush. But when danger circles closer, is Nicki's traumatic past better left forgotten…or are her memories the key to something far more sinister?