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Posts tagged with: inspiration

We’re Back!

Okay, RWA National was fantastic! I did more than survive. My brain is exploding with inspiration, and also, and perhaps more importantly, with concrete ideas on how to execute.

While we all recover, I thought I’d put up a quick post with some of my top RWA 2018 moments.

– When the woman with the coolest hair at the conference refers to seeing you at the Indie signing as her “surprise fangirl moment.” (Thanks, Chelle Olson!) 

– When Tessa Dare looks at your name tag and says, “We know each other, don’t we?” (Only in the sense that we tend to follow each other around the same threads on Twitter, but *grin*)

– When someone tells you your “Reinvention” panel was the most inspirational thing they heard all week. 🙂

– Having to take a few things out of checked luggage and transfer to my carry-on to reduce suitcase weight to 50 lbs. So many great books! #goodproblems

Me, with Darynda and Vivi

– Dinner with the Rubies, and seeing old friends! There’s never enough time to catch up.

– Ruby Slippered Sisterhood shout-out at the Annual General Meeting, related to the need to gather feedback from the RWA membership about the Golden Heart contest, which will end in 2019. What comes next? My friend @SusanSey live-tweeted the #AGM – she’s always worth a read!

– Listening to 2018 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Suzanne Brockmann’s electrifying acceptance speech:

(The RWA National office will post a YouTube link to the RITA Awards Ceremony soon. It’s worth watching in full.)

– Having multiple people mention how much they enjoyed/valued/appreciated the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog. Thank you so much! If you value the blog, we invite you to comment occasionally. Sometimes we wonder if we’re shouting into the void…  🙂

There’s so much more I could write here – workshops, and signings, and sore feet, oh my! But what about you?

What memories, learnings, and takeaways did YOU take away from this year’s RWA National Conference?

 

My Muse is an Angsty Teenager – How to Handle Writer’s Block

As writers, at one time or another, we experience writer’s block, that hair-pulling, empty-brained void filled with silent characters, standing around doing nothing. They wait, and you wait for inspiration. Oh, wherefore art thou, muse?!

 

I envision my muse as a teenager (maybe because I live with some of those taciturn creatures). When my muse is happy, energized and “up”,  she dances the night away, spewing witty dialogue and jumping into dramatic, compelling situations. When my muse is apathetic, sad, or “down”, she turns in on herself and refuses to do anything productive. Just like my teenagers.

I am about 25K words into writing my new Scottish historical romance, A Rose With Thorns. Yesterday, I started a new chapter and began to write. My fingers moved slower and slower until they stopped, poised above my keyboard. I re-read what I’d written. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it was…eh? No! Eh won’t do. Where was my muse?

I worked for another hour, tweaking, my fingers pecking at the scene, until I finally surrendered. I had writer’s block.

What causes writer’s block? The malady is as individual as people, but there are some basic reasons behind this frustrating silence.

Fear – Did you read a bad review and worry that your writing sucks? Did you read a great review and worry that you’ll never top the last book you wrote? Did you sign a four-book contract and are now worried that you won’t meet your deadlines? Are you worried that your readers will hate your new characters?

These are all valid fears. Just like a teen worries about friends, posts on social media and school assignments – your muse does too.

Life interference – Illness, moving, relationship problems, weddings, birthday parties, etc. When life gets so busy, your mental to-do list overrides the voices of your characters. Sometimes writing the other to-dos down helps to free up mental space required for writing. Other times, you just have to honor the season you are in, knowing your muse will return once you come out the other side.

Burn out – Have you been writing non-stop, pushing the word counts until your muse holds up an “on-strike” picket sign? Exhaustion, eating poorly, not exercising, basically letting your body atrophy while your brain runs at full speed. Not a good combination.

So, what do you do?

1. Remind yourself that you are fantastic.

“I am a creative and productive writer.”

“My stories are amazing.”

These are positive affirmations. Say them out loud daily to override some of the fear and worry. Writer’s block, as an enemy, employs head games to make you insecure about your ability to write. Time to play some head games back.

2. Treat yourself well. Get sleep, eat something healthy, make yourself a cup of tea and eat a special treat. You don’t need to add insult to injury by punishing yourself for not being able to write. You need to love your creative self no matter how badly it’s behaving.

When my teen is withdrawn and down, I pop a blanket in the drier to warm up. Then I wrap her in it without saying a word. I kiss her head and walk away. It’s me giving her a warm hug when words and pleading will not convince her to be happy and productive. Same with my muse. I must wrap it up and be patient.

3. Plant the seed. When my characters become motionless, waiting for me to figure out what they will do, feel or say next, I plant the setting seeds in my mind and go for a walk. I think – 16th century, Scottish castle, in the library, winter, hero has a tortured past that involves a foolish father, heroine is a fish out of water and feels guilty about… and so forth.

I set it all up in my head and…go for a walk. Or go to bed. Or imagine sitting there in the library with my characters while I wash dishes or take a shower. I’ve planted the seed and once I relax or get the blood pumping to my brain while walking, the characters start to talk.

Again, this can work with my teens too. They seem to ignore my advice, but later I sometimes hear them giving the advice to a friend or quietly trying out my suggestion. Planting the seed and then stepping away from the computer (or teen) can work.

4. Employ a different medium. We are writers, so we tend to be productive sitting before a computer screen. That is until we have writer’s block. Then the computer screen can shut us down even more.

This happened to me just two days ago. My characters weren’t talking much, and I fell into making them perform a scene without much motivation. And it was awful and yes, boring. After an hour of tweaking the scene, I finally left the computer, made some tea, ate a biscotti, and sat down in a different room with a pad of paper and a sharpened pencil.

At the top of the paper, I wrote “Too Tame!! Take RISKS!!” Then I thought – what do I really want my heroine to do and be? I want her to become a 16th century ninja woman – LOL! But suddenly, ideas started to come. Bits of dialogue started to fly in my head – dramatic, fast paced, witty. I jotted all the ideas down, and some final scene ideas came to me, which will show the character arcs for the hero and heroine. Within five minutes, I’d filled both sides of the paper, writing sideways and all over. I’m using everything I wrote.

5. Rouse the senses. When I want to lift myself out of the writer’s block doldrums, I light a candle, listen to music, and look through Pinterest (all the things my angsty teens do to re-energize themselves). I’m a very visual writer, so pictures help me a lot. I make collages of my projects to help me see important details. When Writer’s Block hits, I go back to the internet or look through my folder of picture clippings, and I usually hit upon something that lures my muse back in.

6. Have faithThis is the ultimate remedy to fight writer’s block. We have days when our muses seem to have abandoned us, but we must believe, in our hearts and bones, that they will return. Creativity doesn’t get used up. The synapses that fire our imaginations are still intact. We are writers. It is what we do, but more importantly, it is who we are. Writer’s block is a temporary signal to slow down and deal with whatever issues are going on around us. But the words will return.

Trust in yourself, try some of the above suggestions, and before you know it, your muse will walk beside you once more.

What tricks do you use to conquer writer’s block?

For more information about Heather McCollum and her books, you can find her here:

www.HeatherMcCollum.com

https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMcCollumAuthor/

https://twitter.com/HMcCollumAuthor

https://www.pinterest.com/hmccollumauthor/

 

I FEEL THE TEARS

With the close of the Winter Writing Fest only days away, the Ruby sisters can feel the spirits of those who’ve participate dwindling. We feel the same. We love the company and the enthusiasm that our writer friends bring with them.

Like the Olympians Ruby Vivi referred to in her blog on February 9th, we worked and we achieved our goals —some even blasted them. And now, also like those champions, we need to carry on. We need to set the bar a little bit higher in the next few months and afterwards we need to continue to strive to improve our craft. Titleholders always set goals, both personally and professionally.

As we have stated on this blog many times and in numerous ways, everyone’s dreams are distinct and everyone’s life circumstances are special. We should NEVER compare ourselves to another, especially during times that our personal lives are in an uproar.

You’ve proven writing is your passion. Nurture it. Study. Read. Set weekly word goals. Absorb industry news. Network with other writers. And don’t be afraid to put your words out there for feedback.

Like last year, the chat room will remain open for those writers who would like to continue to work together. There are a great bunch of writers participating year-round. Join in anytime.   

 

   

It’s WEEK THREE check in time!

Happy check in day, friends!

I know week three has come and gone. Crazy, isn’t it? Didn’t we just get started?

If you’re like me, you may have had some set backs. Weekends are particularly tough for me because, um, family. They’re so demanding. They like to be fed and have clean clothes and stuff. And, if I’m being honest, I’ve been binge-watching Game of Thrones and addictions to television programs can also be demanding. They call to me – “Liz, come sit down for thirty minutes. Half an episode, that’s all…” and five hours later I’m staggering to the fridge for more Halo Top ice cream and feeling that old familiar guilt – the you’re-supposed-to-be-writing guilt.

But that’s okay because I’m still going. It’s like a diet. You fall off and eat half a piece of chocolate cake, but the next day you have a salad. I’ve been eating my salads, too, and to date have added 14K to my WIP during the past three weeks. That’s pretty darn good. <Blowing on my knuckles and wiping them on my shirt.>

So don’t worry if you’ve been distracted or commandeered by other issues like the flu, the day job or Netflix, we’re still in this, friends, no matter how successful or unsuccessful you’ve been over the past three weeks. 

Here are some things you can do to up your game:

  • Set aside a particular time to write…and stick to it
  • Visit the chatroom. Hands down this is the best way to WWF. I’m serious. Go to the chatroom.
  • Ignore your inner editor
  • Or not. Progress is progress even if you must stop mid-book and return to the beginning to make sure your not wasting words. (Admission: this is what I had to do)
  • Indulge your muse. If you’re stuck, take a walk, read a book or listen to inspiring music
  • Read the daily inspirational posts at the WWF page here
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself
  • Or do. Sometimes you have to get real with yourself and recommit to your writing. That book ain’t gonna write itself.

So time to check in. If you’ve made your goal for the week, type I MADE MY GOAL in all caps at the beginning of your post. We’re going to do back flips (not real ones because most of us are too old for that…or maybe it’s just me that’s too old). But if you didn’t reach your goal, you’re still invited to tell us what’s going on. This isn’t about wagging our fingers at anyone. Nope. Not here. 

And we have prizes….

The fabulous Katie Graykowski has offered up a “First Chapter Critique (any genre except erotica)”

Kate Parker is giving out a $20 Amazon gift card (MORE books!)

And Heather McCollum has a PRIZE BUNDLE: $10 gift card to Starbucks and a digital copy of THE BEAST of AROS CASTLE

 

Okay, so leave a comment and let’s start week four with enthusiasm, determination and a smile on our faces! 

 

 

I HATE MY DAY JOB

Virtually every day in the WWF chatroom a writer kicks the cyber garbage can as they exit the room.  Why? Because they need to stop working on their WIP and head to the job that pays their bills. I empathize with them, because for more than a decade I felt the same exact way. I hated stopping in mid-page and heading out the door.

I know when I started out that I had this vision of spending my days staying home, working at my passion. I’d be there to greet the kids when they arrived home from school. The odor of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies would fill the air, and blue birds would sing from my window sill. I worked every free second I had learning craft and getting the stories out of my head onto the page in order to make my dream come true.  I was stressed a lot. That dream, and the stress it caused, didn’t go away easily. In fact, I still feel it clinging on in the back of my mind.

The reality of it is, while writing is our passion, writing for publication in order to make your babies your main source of income is damn hard work. That hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. The term ‘Starving artist’ doesn’t just refer to painters, sculptors and musicians.

While I hosted my dream, I met other writers who I deemed successful and thought lived my fantasy. I learned later that they worked other jobs, and they still do.  I would’ve saved myself a lot of stress, which, if you haven’t heard, is harmful to your health, if I had listened closer to them.  This business is tough, and even if you have a great talent, getting discovered by readers gets harder every single day.  It was that way a decade ago, and it remains a fact today.

I didn’t write this blog to discourage anyone. In fact, I hope to encourage you, and to help you relieve the stress you might feel.  Anyone could be writing the next big seller. Anyone! A first-time published author or someone who has written fifty books. So please continue putting your hearts into your work.

Enjoy your second job. Second job, meaning the one that pays the bills. It provides friends as well as financial security. (Less stress.) It also allows you to interact with other people. Story ideas come from our interactions with others. Our characters become real because we listen (dialogue) and watch (body language) others. We place our readers in convincing settings because we’ve actually felt the sun or rain on our faces.

Don’t worry what other writers are doing. Do what is right for you and your family. So it takes you longer to write a book. Your book could be the next big thing and for years you could live off the royalties until…  The world embraces the next great thing.

Stop kicking the cyber garbage can and enjoy your passions.

BTW, this author, after years working as a corporate secretary and raising four children while writing her first seven published works, stills works part-time and spends most of her wages on her grandchildren.   

Journeying to Wild Places for Inspiration

Happy Monday, everyone! 

I’m writing this post from the deck of our house on the coast of Maine. We inherited my husband’s grandfather’s vintage home and property in this small lobster-fishing village ten years ago and have been fixing it up. It is beautiful up here and cool in the summer, in complete contrast to my sweltering home in North Carolina. So my family and I retreat up here for three weeks each July. 

 

 

 

 

I’ve learned from our visits that the USA has so many different cultures and landscapes. Jonesport, Maine is like a different planet compared to our suburban home in NC. The people, the weather, the daily living, even the color of the dirt and wildness of the terrain are so varied. The differences spark an awakening in my author brain. 

When life and daily living are routine, we tend to glance over the small details. Our lives can become flat, which translates into flat, boring writing. By visiting another world, we become aware of the little details, the brilliant little divots in the perceived smoothness of the life around us. These details breathe new life into my writing. Even doing things that I normally do (like morning yoga) feels completely different in a new location.

I’ve met such amazing characters here. The couple that visits hospital cafeterias in towns as they travel to find nutritious, cheap food instead of stopping at Burger King or McDonald’s. The 80-year-old man who still moves scaffolding all on his own to fix our roof. The woman who is writing a book full of cliches because she likes them. The goat farm family who sells cheese and soap. The physically challenged man who uses his eye movements to type out his stories at the small library across the road. The couple who tried to have sex on our cabin porch next door until we sicked our friend, the angry Irishman, on them. The winery owners who make the sweetest blueberry wine. The list goes on and on, and the character details fill my brain. 

The landscapes are also enrapturing. Fog that snakes around the island before our house, which seems to have a mind of its own. The seals basking in the sun on the small islands a short boat ride away. The lobster boats chugging in and out of the reach. The boulders poking up through the moss-covered pine forest like giants’ kneecaps. 

Top of Blueberry Hill overlooking Spring River Lake

I’ve only been here a week, and so far we’ve gotten trapped on an island by the incoming tide and had to run through the freezing water rising over the connecting sandbar. We’ve canoed a lake, climbing an unmarked mountain to eat sweet wild blueberries at the top while sitting on a painted American flag. We’ve explored two marked hiking trails and seen a seal bob up right off the cliffs, with a feisty lobster in its mouth. We’ve watched lobster crate races, lobster boat races, a parade, half a dozen bald eagles and fireworks that we couldn’t see because of the fog (looked like a naval battle in the smoke) and my husband hypnotize a lobster before we steamed him (the lobster, not my husband).

Hypnotized lobster – see what a Marine Biology degree will teach you!

Wild Maine Blueberries – can’t get more organic than this!

The sounds and smells are different from NC. Pine, primroses, the sweetness of moss and wildflowers in the forest, the smell of the tides. The lapping of water and chugging of lobster boats fill the air, punctuated by the caw of seagulls and rustle of wind through the trees. 

Enjoying the warmth of the rocks while watching the ocean.

All of the details are interesting because they are distant from my usual daily life. And even though I am not currently writing a Maine set book with a vengeful fog antagonist, my mind feels more awake than it has in months. My words flow more easily, and I can breathe. 

So, my advice is to try to seek out “the wild” in contrast to your tame, normal environment. Whether that means going to New York City when you live in the country or heading to the beach when you normally wake up to mountains. Even driving to a new town in your state where you can investigate a local museum or new library can inspire. Sit and breathe and take in the people and landscape around you. Give your muse something new about which to be curious. It will awaken your writer’s mind.

What journeys have inspired you? Have you met a character or experienced a landscape/setting that will or has found its way into one of your books?

P.S. The house and both little cottages are for rent during May, June, August and September each year. The VRBO links are below if you’re interested, and they are also on Airbnb. 

Primrose Cottage

Lupine Cottage

The McCollum House

 

How To Find Your Magic

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Do you have your green on? Leprechauns, gold and magic surround this holiday, but as writers we must employ a bit of creative “magic” every day to create characters, worlds and emotionally moving stories. Many call this magic their muse.

Originally a Muse was any of the nine sister goddesses in Greek mythology presiding over song and poetry and the arts and sciences. The term has come to mean “a source of inspiration, especially: a guiding genius.” (Merriam-Webster)

Our muse is our creativity, an internal source we draw upon whenever we need to create something new or solve a problem. Which is very similar to the term, lateral thinking (coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono), which means the solving of problems by an indirect and creative approach, typically through viewing the problem in a new and unusual light.

People are born with creative ability, no more or less than the others around them. It is the tapping into this ability, thinking laterally, that helps the artist create new and inspiring projects.

So, what can we do to tap into our well of creative waters? Lure our muses out of hiding and conjure up our magic for the pages of our manuscripts? Over the years I have developed a few techniques to build the muse-alluring rainbow and follow it to the end to find my pot of gold (okay – yes, that was stretching the metaphor a bit for the sake of the day).

Clear my desk. I can’t think about my WIP when there are bills piled next to my computer or kid permission slips or my list of a million little things that need to happen. The clutter pulls my attention away from the book and my muse refuses to waste her time coming near me.

Make a cup of chai latte. I’ve addicted my muse to hot chai lattes. I make them at home to save on cost and limit them for the calories. But if I’m stuck and trying to immerse myself in my book world, the spicy taste of cinnamon mixed with hot milk, black tea and cardamom pushes me right in.

Find my playlist. At the beginning of a new book I create a musical playlist with songs that represent the time period and songs that help me understand the characters (which is why my iPhone has both Gregorian monks chanting and Eminem). I don’t listen to music every day, but when my muse is playing hard to get, the music lures her in like the Pied Piper.

Cut and paste. I’m very visually oriented, so I like to see what I’m writing about. Consequently, I collage my stories, or at least the characters and settings. At the beginning of a new project, I take a day or two to look up pictures of places and people, print them off and glue them to poster board, manila folders or blank books. I also cut and paste them electronically if I don’t have time to pull out the scissors and glue (using One Note). I actually brainstorm with pictures, discovering backstory and plot details in fun or creative images. I prop them up in my line of sight (on my clean desk) when I write.

Collage for CAPTURED HEART – Scottish Historical Romance

Walk. There is something about fresh air and rushing blood that gets my creative energy sparking. If I dwell on a scene while walking, dialogue pops into my head. It is almost like my muse is skipping along, flicking ideas at me until I grasp one and we run with it. By the time I get home I’m usually itching to start typing.

Free Association. One idea I’ve yet to try is called Word Spit (yes, I came up with the name and I’m sure you could come up with a better one : ). Take a blank piece of paper and a pen. Without thinking, start writing down random words, anything that pops in your mind. Often these words start taking on a pattern or interact with one another as they flow from your subconscious to the paper. Take some of the words and try to apply them to your plot or characters, and see if they spark inspiration or a new direction.

We all have a muse, our inspiration for creating art, expressing our ideas, and molding something beautiful out of lifeless material. She or he is a one-of-a-kind personal guide to finding our pot of gold. You just need to lure her in and grab on.

Do you have any techniques for bringing forth creativity? How do you find your magic?

 

 

Write On 2017! – Time Management

For the past eight weeks in our Write on 2017 series, we’ve explored ways to stay on course and on fire about our writing. Today we’re going to wrap up the series by discussing the most asked question I get when I give productivity workshops to writers, and that is, “How can I find more time to write?”

If you’ve already made writing a priority (remember this little clown?), it’s not a matter of finding time but better using the time you have. Here are a few quick tips:

1. Clock in for Business – While most of us do not have time clocks to punch when we start writing, there are a number of ways to “cross the threshold” into work. Sit in your writing chair and declare that your workday has begun. Put up a sign that says “Writer at Work.” Or create a writing log and sign in. The key is creating a block of time to write and then honoring that commitment. You wouldn’t cheat an employer out of an honest day’s work; don’t cheat yourself.

2. Minimize Distractions – Turn off all notifications on your phone. Disconnect your computer from the Internet. Tell your family or roommates that you are not to be disturbed unless there is a fire or flood. If it helps, pop in ear buds with the music of your choice or use a sound-streaming service such as Brain FM to improve focus and productivity.

3. Create to-do lists – Before your dedicated writing time, jot down everything you’d like to accomplish, things like number of new words you want to write or pages to edit. Planning ahead will keep you focused and provide a roadmap when you’re not sure where to go next.

4. Report to a goal or productivity partner – Every Monday I send an e-mail to one of my critique partners reporting what I accomplished in my writing world the week prior and what my plans are for the week ahead. She chimes in with praise or cyber hugs then shares her weekly writing update. We’ve been holding each other accountable for more than ten years, and I can tell you I’ve kicked out some pretty impressive word counts in the hours before our check-ins.

5. Tackle tough stuff first – If you’re struggling with a scene or a bit of research, get to it while you’re fresh. Tackling the tough stuff first will free up your mind and will most likely give you a boost of confidence.

6. Writing Sprints – If you’re having a hard time getting started, set a timer for twenty minutes and write, even if it’s something like, “I don’t know what to write” or “This story is giving me fits”. The act of engaging your fingers and putting words on the page should loosen things up. In addition, knowing that you have only a set amount of time will motivate you to get something down. Check out the Ruby Sprint Schedule, which runs during our annual Winter Writing Festival.

7. Reward yourself – In a business where you don’t receive a regular paycheck, it’s important to recognize your accomplishments. Did you finish a particularly rough scene? Dip into your stash of chocolate. Did you meet your writing goals for the day? Walk the dog or watch the next movie in your Netflix queue. These little rewards go a long way in helping you make big progress.

Now it’s your turn!

Your Assignment: Identify at least one thing you can do to better manage your writing time. Write it in the comment section below. Then, DO IT!

This is Part 8 of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s series, Write On 2017! A Writer’s Guide to Prioritizing, Goal Setting and Time Management. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Shelley Coriell is an award-winning author of mysteries, romantic thrillers, and novels for teens. Her debut thriller was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year, and her other novels have been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Best Paperback Original of the Year from the International Thriller Writers, and a Kirkus Recommended Read. A former magazine editor and restaurant reviewer, Shelley lives in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue weimaraner. You can find her at www.shelleycoriell.com and Twittering @ShelleyCoriell.

Write On 2017! – Your Vision

Every Monday I volunteer at a house of hospitality for pregnant and newly parenting women. Essentially, it’s a homeless shelter. Many of our moms have no family support or are newly released from jail or battling addiction.

One of the first things our moms do once they arrive at the house is put together a vision board. On this vision board they place words and images of what they want in their futures. For most of these women, this is the first time they’ve done “vision” work. Their reality: it’s hard to think about the future when you’re looking for your next meal or fix.

I love listening to our moms talk about the things on their vision boards, everything from graduation caps to shiny new baby cribs to words like SOBRIETY in giant letters. I love to see the looks on their faces as they picture a better life for them and their sweet little newborn babies. I feel their anxiety, excitement, and, above all, hope.

Visions are powerful tools.

Today in our Write On 2017! series, we’re going to talk about visions and how you can craft and use a vision to motivate you and guide your writing career.  Simply put, a vision defines the desired or intended future state of your business. Remember when we talked last week about missions? Missions INSPIRE; visions are what you ASPIRE to.

What makes a great vision? Visions are short, no more than a couple of sentences. They clearly outline your overall future aspirations without providing details of how those aspirations will be reached. And unlike missions, visions will and should change as you reach new milestones or change direction.

Some big-biz examples:

  • The earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online. (Amazon)
  • We will be the model for high quality journalism in the 21st century, strengthening the cultural, civic and social fabric of our democracy. (NPR)
  • The world’s beer company. Through all of our products, services and relationships, we will add to life’s enjoyment. (ANHEUSER-BUSCH)

Your Assignment: Craft your vision statement.

Time to have some fun with this one. Get yourself in a quiet, thoughtful state of mind. When I give this workshop in person, I’ll turn off the lights and let the room settle into a nice, peaceful silence. Ready?

  1. Close your eyes and envision your writing career FIVE years from now. What are you writing? Who is surrounding you? What is your financial situation? What is your state of mind? How is your health? Your spirits?
  2. Close your eyes and envision your writing career TEN years from now. Has anything changed? (It’s okay if it changes…or not. My goal is to help you deepen your thought process.)
  3. Now write “I am _____________________” and fill in the blank. Don’t worry if you need two or three sentences to list your aspirations. Once you get the thoughts down, you can narrow your focus. Or not. 🙂

Here’s my vision: I am a best-selling author who creates compelling stories that touch the hearts of my dedicated readers. A bit simple and not-too-sexy, but right now that’s how I visualize my future. Likewise, your vision must be you; it must come from a deep and true place. 

Feel free to post the above exercise and/or your vision in the comment section below. Write on!

This is Part 3 of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s series, Write On 2017! A Writer’s Guide to Prioritizing, Goal Setting and Time Management. Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Image via Wiki Commons By Evan-Amos – Own work, Public Domain.

Shelley Coriell is an award-winning author of mysteries, romantic thrillers, and novels for teens. Her debut thriller was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year, and her other novels have been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Best Paperback Original of the Year from the International Thriller Writers, and a Kirkus Recommended Read. A former magazine editor and restaurant reviewer, Shelley lives in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue weimaraner. You can find her at www.shelleycoriell.com and Twittering @ShelleyCoriell.

Write On 2017! Your Mission

Picture of frog

Have you heard the phrase, Eat the frog first? It references Mark Twain’s famous quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” When  I worked in the corporate world, this phrase essentially meant do your toughest work first, and the rest of the day will be a breeze.

Today I’m here to help you craft a writing plan that will help you stay on course and on fire about your writing throughout 2017 (Write On 2017! Worksheet). And it all begins with the Mission Statement. I’ll be honest, IMO, this is the single hardest task we’ll cover in the next seven weeks as we craft writing plans. It took me a week-long retreat in Mexico with some writing friends and a couple of margaritas before I finally got my head around my mission statement.

Simply put, a mission statement is a formal summary of your aims and values. It’s the heart of who you are and what you do. Above all, your mission should INSPIRE you.

Missions are short, about twenty-five words or less. Management guru Peter Drucker suggests your mission be short enough to fit on a T-shirt. Missions are broad; they don’t box you in.  Missions should withstand the test of time and changes in your writing and the industry. Finally, missions are realistic (practical and workable) and easily understood.

Corporate America has spent millions of dollars crafting mission statements to inspire and guide. Here are some good ones:

  • To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. (GOOGLE)
  • To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. (NIKE)
  • To make the world a more caring place by helping people laugh, love, heal, say thanks, reach out and make meaningful connections with others. (HALLMARK)
  • To spread ideas. (TED)

Your Assignment: Craft your mission statement.

As I mentioned, crafting my mission statement took me a couple of whacks. The task felt so big…so important. But when I reminded myself that missions are about that little nugget, the heart of who I was as a writer, the task got much more manageable. So what’s at the heart? You, your product, your aims, and your audience. Here is a quick exercise to get you thinking about these factors.

  1. List 3-5 words or phrases that describe your writing
  2. List 3-5 words or phrases that describe your ideal image from READERS’ POV
  3. List 3-5 words or phrases that describe your ideal image from YOUR POV

With these words/phrases in mind, take a crack at writing a mission statement for your writing. Start with MY MISSION IS TO…

Here’s mine: My mission is to tell great stories…that capture the hearts and entertainment dollars of a loyal and ever-growing reader bse.

Feel free to post the above exercise and/or your mission in the comment section below. Write on!

This is Part 2 of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s series, Write On 2017! A Writer’s Guide to Prioritizing, Goal Setting and Time Management. Part 1 here.

Shelley Coriell is an award-winning author of mysteries, romantic thrillers, and novels for teens. Her debut thriller was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year, and her other novels have been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Best Paperback Original of the Year from the International Thriller Writers, and a Kirkus Recommended Read. A former magazine editor and restaurant reviewer, Shelley lives in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue weimaraner. You can find her at www.shelleycoriell.com and Twittering @ShelleyCoriell.

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