Tag Archives: goals

FWIS – Deadlines, or It Needs To Be Done WHEN?

1 Feb

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m doing with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Things obviously change when you go from writing to yourself, to writing for an agent, to writing for a contract. One of those big things is deadlines.

But, I’m going to be honest here — I’ve always kept hard deadlines. And I kicked my own butt to meet them.

Over the last few years as I’ve had more than one person tell me to “relax” and “it doesn’t matter if you hit that deadline because it’s only for you.”

Well my darlings… there’s going to be YEARS where your writing is only for you. And if you’re not hitting deadlines you map out, those years are going to be even longer. To me, this is one of the first clues that writing is a hobby — you don’t care when it gets done. If it gets done, GREAT! If not….. *shrugs*

Now, I’m not saying that you need to have insane deadlines and you change you’re life and throw away all the other stuff going on with family and friends and work to hit them. Think smart about them (trust me, search goals on my blog and you can see enough I’ve taken from my ACers Workshop to figure out how I do it and a lot of what I’ve taught others in how they might do it).

Secondly, first books are times to learn a lot about your writing…and one of those things is deadlines. I tracked everything I did during my first book. Actually, I still do. This way, I know how long a project should take. I know that’s changed over the years as I’ve gotten better, known my abilities, created my own tools and worked smarter. Also, I know it takes different amounts of time for different sub-genres.

Now , after a few years of tracking my work and giving myself deadlines, I’m writing for my agent.

The best part of this is that (unless an alphasmart eats my book…um, yeah) I know roughly how long things take. When the Laird and I discuss when something should be done, I’m fairly accurate (Yes, I seem to overestimate myself still) but I’m close.

If you haven’t started thinking about how long things take you, how can you agree to things? How can you know you can hit a contract or what you need to do to hit it?

I’m glad I spent that first book learning as much about me and my writing style (along with everything else you need to learn to become a better writer) because it’s allowed me to improve how I do things along with what I’m doing.

I think of it this way, everything I do as an un-contracted writers is practice. Like running drills for a sport, everything I do know gets me sharp and prepared for anything that might happen on the field of publishing when I’m throwing in the game.

So, un-contracted writers: Get out there and run your drills, do you laps, and get your writing life in shape for hitting someone else’s deadlines. Because what you do now really will shape the author you’ll be in the future.


FWIS: 2012 The Year We Kick-Butt

4 Jan

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m doing with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view!


So, here we go! Goals from the in-between writer 🙂

I’ve had throw-downs with other trainers (yup, if you don’t follow me, part of my job and certifications is around time/space/life management and coaching) about “goals that are our of our hands” OR “things we have no control over” — so I’d like to start there and build.

We often say things like, Well, I have no control over if an agent or editor wants to rep/buy my book.

I’m going to challenge that (you knew I would, right? *grin*)

You may have “no control” (challenge in a few….) over getting a deal, but you completely have control over  NOT getting a deal. Buy not writing, polishing, editing, revising, querying, submitting, etc… you will definitely NOT get a deal.

So, here’s the challenge… you may not be able to control the TIMING of your deal, but what can you control to get there.

  • Honing your craft by writing, writing, writing
  • Honing your craft by reading, reading, reading,
  • Honing your craft by seeing projects through to the bitter end (you won’t get better at every step unless you’re DOING every step)
  • Having products to send out by writing, writing, writing – More than one. Do not (and this is just my opinion, but I feel pretty strongly about it) live for one book.
  • Raising the level of your wips by learning, studying, writing and reading

If you’re doing those, over and over again, will you get someone to eventually want you? I’m thinking that’s a pretty big probably.

See that fourth one? My agent contract came from a book I was working on the side to keep moving forward, keep learning, have something in the slot and try another genre. YES I love my first book (I’m still playing with it WHEN I HAVE TIME) but, knowing that I wasn’t growing (or having anything to sell myself with) kept me moving forward.

Every time someone asked me for my one piece of advice (and they asked a lot when I finalled in the GH (maybe that one piece of advice should be, have one piece of advice to give.)) I always said, Write like you’re going to have a deal tomorrow.

Meaning: have something else to offer, give yourself buffer space by having a “backlist”, learn your writing styles and strengths and weaknesses, be ready to step into that crazy world…and that means writing a lot.

So, with all that, will you get an agent – Yes. I honestly believe that. If you’re not just talking the talk, but working and putting everything into the time you can find (and working to find that time) I believe that you’ll improve your writing, storytelling and crafting to the point that you’ll get an agent — unless you write something that’s super niche and no one can sell you (which is, of course, also a choice…so, yes, you make that NOT decision with that as well).

With all that said, on to my goals 🙂

  1. I will revise the 3 books I’m working for the Laird
  2. I will rewrite & polish the 2 books I have in Disaster Drafts for the Laird
  3. I will discuss with said Laird the 2 books and game plan first to make sure I’m doing what’s best for Team Publish Bria
  4. I will Disaster Draft at least one more book
  5. I will get that darn website up (check back 12/31/12 probably…you know, if the world doesn’t end)
  6. I will continue work on the Secret Project you guys hear so much about…and yet hear nothing about *evil laughter*
  7. I will force Abby to plan the YA Retreat 🙂 (Ok, I’ll help, but yeah… *sucks her in*)
  8. I will go to a class/museum/historic site for fun and to learn something new once a quarter #nerdygirl
  9. I will continue to workout at least three times a week so I don’t get Writer’s Bottom
  10. SELL!

I also have some fun or personal things on my 2012 list.

  1. Get a great new apartment
  2. Get a Full-time permanent job (ditch the contract/consult lifestyle)
  3. Take sign-language lessons (I’ve only been wanting to do this since high school)
  4. Stay on track with my savings and 401k
  5. Be soda free except for “special occasions” 😉
  6. Find a new church

I know. It looks like a lot when you write it out like that — and, Yes, if I get that deal everything gets tossed and we reevaluate what needs to be done in what order. That’s so vital. Being able to reprioritize.

But, as the writer in-between, I believe that these are the things I need to do to get it done this year.

Feel free to point and laugh, judge or cheer me on as we go *hopes for the cheering*

May we all have a 2012 filled with blessings, love, hope, peace, and inspiration.

Goaling to Success – Day 7

28 Jan

I did get tweets yesterday! Thanks all. We had no power and/or internet for a large part of Wednesday night/Thursday so I’m just getting to post the last post.

We’re ready to wrap it up. You’ve got all your tools and data in place to extend your goals forward and backward. Congrats. You’re almost done.

So you have your 1 year plan mapped out by the week. You’ve made sure that no week is too heavy. You’ve made sure you haven’t overloaded yourself. You made sure you left room for specific yearly/quarterly/monthly barriers AND for surprise ones.  You’ve also given yourself time to take breaks, scheduled vacations and conferences. (If not, go back and do all that)

Now you have one year mapped out. This is your test year. It could be wayyyy to hard or wayyyy to easy. Very seldom do you hit your test year just right. You’re probably going to tweak it a little after doing a few week’s planning.

I think Quarterly. It breaks down my year one more chunk and let’s me get closer to my daily goals without the insanity of a huge mind-jump. You might not have to with your year mapped out.

Anyway you look at it, here is where you start making some tough decisions. I’m going to stick with writing even though I’ve already been told a non-writer is working off-screen with us (waves)

Where does your writing fall in the hierarchy of  your life. There are things that naturally have to come first: Friends, family, caring for those you’re responsible for, etc. But, you are not the end all be all of everything. Drawing those lines (like we did with the Dream Big) is important. Knowing when your kids should be doing chores or when you don’t drop everything for someone is important. A happy, healthy you is vital to being able to love those around you to the best of your ability. And if writing (or your thing) is vital to your happiness, then make the time.

The next tough decision: Time and what’s your minimum. For me, I decided I want to work on my writing for a minimum of 6 days a week. I want that to be at least an hour, but my drop-dead minimum is 15 mins. I allow myself breaks after a Fast Draft sprint (although usually, I’m itching to work on something else) OR after a project is done.

This year, my majoriest goal (yes, it’s a word in my head) is to multi-task. Learn to work on 2-3 books at a time. 2010 was kind of a lost year for me. It ground me to a halt as I reworked 1 book over and over and in the end tossed it all. I don’t want to play the hurry up and wait game again. I want to play the hurry up and then work on something else while I ignore that I’m waiting. There’s a lot of waiting in writing, so learning that balance is going to be vital to success at the level I want.

Which brings that question: What level do you want to be producing at? Not “I want to write the best books” – we all want that (if you don’t, go review what you want), so you’re producing is more the How Much type. How many books, what genres, word count slotting – If one YA book a year at 55k is your goal, your writing schedule is going to look a lot different than someone trying to output 3 books a year.

Don’t panic, I’m a HUGE believer in daily focus – like I said, even if it’s 15 mins that day, I can say I did it. Some people already can’t swing that right now (although, I challenge them to try. 15 mins doesn’t have to happen all at once. How many minutes do you sit in the car waiting for your kids, at stoplights, in traffic. Write in your head and squeeze notes down…but wait, this is a different blog *note to self: blog about creatively finding time again) – Some people write on the weekends. Some write just week day mornings before everyone gets up. Whatever yours is, you have to know so you can plan.

So, you’ve decided how much you want to give to writing each week (number of days) and what your days look like. Now, using that and your year-by-week, start making those goals for your first week.  

Again, you may have to do some changing up. If you said you could write a book in a certain amount of time, but now that you’re slotting daily, you’re not so sure. Fix that. Do NOT set yourself up for failure.

The first few weeks aren’t “real” – I know, that sounds lame, but stick with me. If you’ve ever dieted you know the first few days you’re super gung ho. You rock that diet…until you don’t. Writing goals are just like that. So, let yourself get even and then adjust. At the beginning of each week, look back on how you did before looking forward to write that weeks goals.

It’s a good practice, a good gut check. AND it makes you think about your goals each week as you write them.

You CAN look at your 1 year goals list now and bring that out to 5 years using logic and timing. But, I’d suggest waiting about a month to do it. You’re going to play with your plan a little after seeing what you’re capable of for realzies in one week.

So, there you are. From I Wishes to I Wills – remember, goals are just dreams in action.

Now, go goaling!

Goaling to Success – Day 6

25 Jan

Welcome to Day 6!

You’ve made and tweaked your goals list. Then you SMARTened up the goals. And now you’re going to plot them out.

  • Open an excel spreadsheet and write each goal down the left hand side
  • Across the top, run out a slot for each week in 2011
  • Plot out each goal by shading the weeks it will use up, start to finish.

So, if you’re are going to write a book starting this week (1/24) you’re goals might look like this:

  • Fast Draft: Shaded week of 1/24 & 1/31
  • Letting it sit: Shaded for first 3 weeks of Feb
  • Editing FD: Shaded last week of Feb thru last week in March

Everyone’s timeline will be different. Some write slowly, but then have almost no editing.

You’re going to do that for each goal and sub-goal using your Timely estimates from Day 5’s SMART Goals exercise.

Why do we do it this way? Two reasons.

One: So often people say, I want to do ABC and they don’t realize that ABC all take too much time to accomplish in that given goal period.

Two: When you tell yourself you’re going to do STUVWXYZ and that XYZ are due in December. But, if X & Y each take 6 months, you’ll have to be working on them while you’re doing STUV & W. Can you do that? I don’t know, maybe. But the point is, when you just have due dates listed, you don’t see the impact on the overall picture… on your time as a whole. Just on the done time.

Your goals may change when you plot them out. You may need to shift what gets done when. You may have to figure out how to work on more thing than once. You may have to take better advantage of the down time while something sits between revision rounds. You may have to cut some things. OR you may add some.

So, take your list and a calendar and go create that excel sheet. It will give you your map for the year.

Goaling to Success – Day 4

18 Jan

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Someone mentioned on twitter they were traveling for the long weekend, so I decided to do a Tue/Thur blog week instead.

Today’s post is going to sound easy, but really is the next push in getting a more well-drawn picture of what YOU want….this year and in the future.

Pull out that Dream Big and the list you want for 2011 and check them out side-by-side.

First, take a look at your Dream Big. I had a great conversation with my MPJ (Money, Purpose, Joy) group this weekend about my own DB list. I’d always had “be a bookstore owner” on the list, but had never really thought of it as doable. It was a dream – but the MPJ book pushes you to ask for more, to believe that no dream is to large for you to be worthy of.

So, with that in mind, we’re going to look at the DB list one more time 😉 Here are some questions that might help you fill in the blanks you didn’t know you had:

  • What do I want to do?
  • What do I want to have?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • What contributions do I want to make?
  • What do I want to become?
  • What do I want to learn?
  • How much do I want to save?

The second thing we’re going to do today is flesh out our 1-year list (Feel free to do with your DB as well).

For example, let’s say I listed “Write & Query a book” as one of my 2011 goals. We all know there’s a ton more that goes into that:

  • Fast Draft the book
  • Clean to First Draft
  • Revise
  • Edit
  • Beta Reader
  • Revise
  • Edit
  • Write Synopsis
  • Rewrite Synopsis
  • Throw Synopsis away and eat a whole lotta chocolate
  • Write new Synopsis
  • Edit
  • Get reader for Synopsis
  • Send chocolate to reader
  • Research agents
  • Make top 100 list
  • Sort in order
  • Create draft emails for top 20 agents to query
  • Write query
  • Rewrite Query
  • Send to top 20 agents

And that’s the short version. Some people rewrite their book several times. Start thinking about your own process. I once wrote out a timeline of my process on a forum and saw what it would look like worse case scenario. It really helps for planning. You may not know what that looks like now. But, after keeping track of your goals for 2011, you will for 2012. And, if the only positive thing you get out of 2011 is the ability to gauge your own timeline and abilities for the future, it’s a win.

Of course, I’m expecting a lot more than that!

So, go flesh out your lists – feel free to add to them as well. And let’s see what #goaling leads to this week!

Goaling to Success – Day 3

14 Jan

Day 3 is a little harder for me to write because no one entered their accomplishments or barriers. I’m going to run this through with some standard answers.

Using you Dream Big and you Day 2 exercises as the basis, we’re going to start building your 1 Year Plan.

First, let’s look at last year.

How many books did you write — start to finish? That second part is very. If you finished a book in 2010, but you’ve been working on it for 3 years, that doesn’t show a pattern of finishing a book every year. It shows you *can* finish a book every 3 years. Can you finish a book in a year? Maybe. That’s why we also listed our barriers.

Barriers are things that can often be used as excuses. I had one writer tell me that next year she’d do better because this year she’d had to deal with her kids while they were home all summer and it totally threw off her writing.

But what’s going to be different about next year? Are the kids gone? Are the going to camp? If it’s not sleep away camp, who drives them there every day? Picks them up? Is it all day? How is it going to interrupt your time daily?

Or, I got sick twice last winter? Unless we’re talking some huge cold like you never get (I was just sick for 2 weeks, I *never* get sick like that), but I do get sick. Maybe a day or two. Oh, and yes, your kids and spouse will get sick this year too. If you’re the main caregiver, you will be expected to give care. Every year.

We need to stop being surprised by things that happen every year. We need to plan for them so we’re ready to conquer them. For example, keeping with the sick thing. It’s winter. It’s sick time. Do you have everything you need at the house for whoever gets sick next? Tissues? Dayquil? etc? Or are you going to have to run to the store, maybe one-by-one? Add them to the shopping list for this week and start prepping.

Do this with every foreseeable barrier. Don’t forget things like volunteering or making your Holiday Newsletter…. or anything that takes more time than you think it’s going to take. Those things every year you say “Oh, I can do this in….” and it takes longer. Don’t forget those 😉

Or, flipping this the other way, tragedies do happen. Loved ones pass away. That doesn’t mean that this year, if you suffered losing someone close to you in 2010, you will lose someone again. Jobs are lost, but, if you got a job again (congrats!) you hopefully won’t have to go through losing that one this year also. Look at the major things. The probably slowed you down the most and probably won’t happen again.

Looking at your barriers, separate them into ONE TIME and YEARLY or QUARTERLY. The One Time list is pretty much going to get tucked away. The Yearly/Quarterly lists are going to help you see how much time you really have.

Now, looking at what you accomplished last year – congrats!

Basically, you’ll be able to do more if you’re more prepared, more organized. But how much more? That’s the question.

Using last years list, we’re make a list of the things you think you can do this year.

Again,  I feel like I’m flying blind with no homework posted. Feel free to go back and post the homework 😉

Now’s the time to pull out your Dream Big.

Circle everything you know you can do if you just get more organized. Don’t worry. We’re not killing off those other dreams. We’re just not thinking about them this year.

Did you circle something like “Become a NYTBS author” – or something as big?

Well, you’re probably not going to BECOME one this year, but if you think about it, there’s a bunch of things that need to happen before that. Take your Dream Big and break down the things you circled into smaller goals: write the book, edit the book, revise the book, write the synopsis, write the query, research agents, query, write book 2 (because you never want to stop moving forward)

Which of those will you put on this years list? Don’t forget: Look at your accomplishments and barriers to judge your time available.

Post everything you want to do in 2011. Don’t worry, this isn’t a final draft. We’re going to talk about planning, balance and building SMART goals next week – then you’ll have 2011 taken care of! Okay, the big picture. After that we’ll talk about breaking that big picture down to little goals you can hit weekly. Then look out 5-year plan!

So, let’s see those lists! I’m off to work, check back tomorrow for comments from me.

Dream Big – Part 2

12 Jan


I should have put this in the post, because it’s something I’ve discussed every time I’ve done this. Some of you are going to see this as hard push, but it’s not meant that way. We get so few opportunities to do something for ourselves. This should be one of them.

It’s wonderful to dream big for others (several of you did this, there’s always a bunch of people who do it) but that isn’t YOUR DREAMS. Your wishes for YOU.

A full life is a well-rounded one, one where we chase after things for ourselves – not in the selfish way where we disregard the feelings and wishes of those we care about, but in a way that grows us to be more… a better person, mom, wife, sister, husband, dad, friend, etc.

Let me put it this way: It’s wonderful to dream big things for others, but it’s safe. It’s safe because there’s no personal risk involved.

And the second reason why most of your focus shouldn’t be on others: It’s not your right OR obligation to make their dreams come true. Yes, being able to do that can be a blessing (for both of you) but, that’s not what YOUR Dream Big is about. We each have one life, you can’t live someone else’s for them – whether in a good way OR a bad way. The big dreams you may have for someone may NOT be the big dreams they have for themselves. Just like we have a tough time even admitting our true big dreams to ourselves, our loved ones may not have admitted theirs yet…. or even realized them.

Dream Big isn’t for others, it’s for you. If your Dream Big allows those you love more freedom to do what they desire – that is a HUGE BONUS. But it isn’t the goal.

Everything about making goals is personal. So, everyone take a step back and think about your goals… are they for you, or what you think you SHOULD be doing, or what you think OTHERS THINK YOU SHOULD be doing?

We all have obligations. I’m not say to shirk those. But there are times and places in life where you need to focus on you. This is one of them.

Become a better mom. A better husband. A better friend…. by becoming a better you.

Let me flip this the other way in case you’re still saying “Yeah, but….” What if someone you cared about decided they knew best about how you should run your life. Sometimes we say just enough (or know just enough) about what we want that when we talk about it, people don’t see the plan the way we do.

My one of my very closes friends is like this. It has caused us not to talk for over a year once. He made a plan and started enforcing it and telling me how *my* life was going to be. He’d heard parts of what I want in life and shoved them in a box of how he thinks life should be and then started making plans… making dreams… for me. And actually ruined an opporutnitiy I would have had by “helping” without my knowledge.

IT WAS HORRIBLE. And it wasn’t his right, no matter how much he cares about me, to try to make “my” dreams come true…

Everyone, as the saying goes, must be the master of their own destiny.

Now, look at your Dream Big again – and dream big for YOU.

Goaling Toward Success – Day 2

12 Jan

Welcome or Welcome Back!

Have you made your Dream Big list? If you did and didn’t share it, let me challenge you to go back and put it out there J

Moving on.

One of the reasons we start with the Dream Big exercise is because we’ve all been taught to dream so small. To dream about “what you can accomplish” or to “prioritize” or however it is you’ve been wording the way you limit your dreaming.  Don’t lose your Dream Big; we’ll be coming back to it.

How often have you seen a child who hasn’t been taught to limit himself exceed everyone’s expectations? That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to start exceeding in 2011.

So, we’ve looked forward, now we’re going to look back.

Today we’re going to list everything you can think of that you did in 2010. Separate them into lists: Home, Work, Writing. Maybe for some of you they’ll be a few more lists. Maybe school or volunteering?

This list isn’t going to be easy. You did a lot more than you think you did. Look at your calendar, your to do lists (if you keep them), emails. Don’t forget, you may have ended up with ONE synopsis, but how many did you write?

Start that now.

Then, come back 😉

Okay, I’m assuming you followed the directions and you have at least the start of your 2010 Accomplishments listed. Now we’re going to do the other list.

What things happened in 2010 that slowed you down or stopped you or distracted you from getting more done? Put all those things on a list. If it helps, use the same categories as above. So, for writing, you may say “my agent/editor/CP told me the book was where it should be and added a few more revisions that took 3 weeks” Some others: I got sick … My kid/husband/parent got sick… My laptop died.

Anything that slowed/stopped/distracted you. 

We’ll talk about both lists on Friday!

Also, someone asked if we could have a hashtag on twitter. How does #goaling sound?

Goaling Toward Success – Day 1

10 Jan

So you want to create some goals – but not just any goals. You want to make them good. And long-term. But balanced. Not too much stress, but not a bunch of softballs. Right?

Not a problem.

Over the next couple posts I’m going to walk through how to write your goals for the year and expand them into weekly goals you can plan around as well as a five-year long-term plan you can aim for.

Please jump in and share your work as well as ask questions. This is going to be a safe environment and I will delete or edit attacky’ness. 😉

So, let’s get started!

First of all, welcome to 2011. Some of you might be thinking, “Hey! Didn’t 2011 start a few weeks ago? It’s too late to really dig into making goals for the year now, isn’t it?”

It’s never to late to plan to be successful. So, jump in and join us!

Also, for those who thought 2011 would kick off a new beginning and haven’t seen it yet: Think of this time like a diet detox. You’re still getting rid of 2010, shaking it off. Great things are coming.

This first day we’re going to do a little practice dreaming… Not just dreaming, but dreaming BIG.

Some people really struggle with this concept. If you play along in the comments, I may push you to dream *BIGGER* Don’t worry. It’s sometimes scary to ask for big things for yourself, to let yourself want anything beyond what you think you can have (or what you think you deserve) but this is practice.

If absolutely nothing could stop you (including yourself or your personal view of reality) and there were no limitations of time, money or ability, what would you want to do? What would you want to have or own? Where would you want to go? Who would you want to be?

Remember: This is dreaming. This is not goals or to-dos or I-shoulds. This is just dreaming as big and broadly as you can. If you post, I’ll be jumping in and out of the comments to encourage and maybe push you a little more.

So, if nothing *NOTHING* could stop your dreams from coming true, what would they be?

ACer Workshop FAQs

13 Dec

I’ve been getting some questions that I thought I’d answer here (and add to the last post) – feel free to ask away:

Pricing would vary based on what you’re looking for, but my standard pricing starts with a 2-4 person base and jumps per person after that. We can chat about what you need and I’ll give you that info around what your structure is.

Absolutely! I’ve done some more intensive things in the “work world” but consider our writing time our own work world – so, YES! An in-person weekend would be a ton of fun. Would it work online? I’m not sure. We could talk about your structure and how committed your group was to staring at a screen for hours straight 😉

 No. That isn’t necessary. Our group likes it because we also do some writing focused stuff. But, if you have a group of people who are all passionate about balancing life and chasing a dream, it will work for your group too!

After the initial six-week set up, the time commitment depends on your group, what you want to do, and your covenant. Our group it’s about a 3 hour committment per week. Sometimes less, sometimes a little more. One hour of that is our weekly chat. The rest is group work or goal setting. Some weeks, the only things we do are the chat, set our goals, and accountability/butt kicking…so maybe 1.5 hours total.

Um, no. There’s too many variables for people who don’t know each other at all. I’d highly suggest not doing it that way. A group that creates itself, has more buy-in to succeed as well. Also, time and logistics-wise, I just don’t have the ability to do that. So, hit up your crit group, or your twitter friends, or a forum…anywhere you have writer friends or acquaintances will give you a good start for forming a group — People are more likely to take it seriously and less likely to let you down if they’re *your* partner from the beginning.

Those are pretty much the big ones right now. Feel free (of course) to email me for information or ask questions here.

ACer Workshop

10 Dec

I’ve had a lot of people asking about the ACer Workshop lately. I’m betting it has to do with the end of a year/the beginning of a new year…and maybe a little bit about not being where we want to be. A pretty common feeling.

In the real life world, I’m an HR Business Partner who has worked with managers at all levels and has an old-school cert in personal organizing. A few years ago, I took both of those things and a group of friends from a writing forum and I created Accountability Corner (now, ACers… each group picks their own little inspirational name) – since then, I’ve set up two more and help someone to create a non-writing one as well. I’m also doing some one-on-one stuff here at home with a new manager.

So, that’s me. Let’s talk a little bit about the workshop.

The AC workshop is a 6 week fling with your own GMC of writing. What do you want? How are you going to get it? What’s stopping you?

The workshop works best with 2 (I prefer 3) as the minimum and 12 as the absolute maximum. Personally, I think (and my own group has found this is true for us) that 8 is the perfect max for us. Because this is an accountability group, we like being able to hold the group in one piece. There are ways to make this go just as smoothly with as many as 12 which can be discussed.

Over six weeks we’ll look at what you want…and what you really want. Just like any journey, the one to a balanced (and successful) writing & real life partnership is a map.

To build that map, we’ll discuss key elements of setting up goals, as well as how to schedule and tier your goals to maximize your time and maintain balance in all parts of your life. In the end, your team will have a covenant, forum, and guidelines for weekly check-ins for accountability and goals. We’ll start with the ultimate dreams and work inward to create a five-year plan, a year plan and your weekly goals for each member.

This is an extremely hands-on workshop. We’ll meet weekly as a group and have in-depth homework each week as well. You’ll walk away with a strong foundation for steering your own career.

So, if you’re looking to take the first step to controlling your own path, email me at bria (@) briaquinlan.com

Double Dog Dare You – Writing Goals

20 Jun

If you follow me even in passing you know I’m crazed about goals and time management.

This week, I dared my goals & accountability group to try something different. I have no idea if anyone is going to take me up on it, but I’m daring everyone here too.

I dare you NOT to make goals this week.

I heard that – that happy sigh as if I just gave you all permission to do nothing for 7 days. Well, you can just suck that happy sigh back in, my friend.

Instead, I dare you to pick up the mantle of recording.

Everyday, for the week (feel free to include a “free day”) write down EVERYTHING (yes, every little thing) you do that feeds into your writing: writing, editing, revising, plotting, reading your work, notes, research, etc. –> Don’t forget to record the amount of time or pages!

If you’re really up for a challenge, divide tracking page in half and write down every time you procrastinate or do something that takes away from your writing practice. (Hey, when did that research switch to surfing the web?)

If you want to play, feel free to post in the comments OR you can leave a comment telling us a little about you and your writing and linking to your own blog (SPAMMERS: I’ll be checking each link to make sure it really is someone playing along)

Come back and see how I’m doing (feel free to cheer or boo)

Check out my numbers in the Comments section and feel free to leave yours too 🙂

5 Year Writing Plan

30 Nov

It’s that time of the year. Goal Setting Time!

Anyone who knows me knows I *love* goals. Send me on a road trip without a map, but never take my goals from me.

The most interesting thing about this year’s planning is the big changes. On April 19th, 2007 I started writing. I gave myself 3 years to make some type of forward movement career-wise or it was going to be time to reevaluate the writing plan. The plan for those three years was to get as much written as possible, learn as much as possible, improve as much as possible — take it all and go back and polish. All time/money (ha, welcome to unemployment soon after that) was to go directly to writing. Vacations = workshops. Free time = writing. Extra cash = classes. Focus it all until I got an agent.

I did that. It took 2.5 years of my 3. So, now it’s time to call the last couple months gravy and hit the reset button. So, 5 year plan:

In Five Years I Will:

  • 15 – # of Completed manuscripts total
  • 6  – # of Published Novels
  • Set up a speaking speciality based on my RL work and applying it to the writing world
  • Be able to move to working PT and Writing as my sources of income
  • Will have finished those darn Edit Cards (I figure, 5 years…)
  • I’ll be saving for retirement and a house at this point
  • By year five I’ll have budgeted for one major trip every year
  • Every year I must find one big thing about writing I need to improve on and focus on it till I’m golden, baby, golden

Yeah, a lot of that may be out of my hands, but if *I* don’t do #1, there’s no way #2 can happen. If I don’t do #1 so #2 & #3 can happen, then there’s no way #4 can happen.

So, I’m taking as much as I can into my own hands and aiming for the stars.

I would absolutely love to hear other people’s 5 year plan. Tell me everything. Tell me the why and how. Tell me what makes you passionate about it!

Goals and Outside Influences

28 Nov

I run a group affectionately called ACers (Accountability Corner) – It’s an online weekly goals and accountability group. Right now we’re starting to discussing Long Term Goals (LTGs) for 2010 and I realized something important: I’m not sure how to plan 2010.


In the past, my plans have always been straightforward and aggressive.


But now (to continue the “After the Yes” theme) all that has changed. I’m sitting here thinking: What if she doesn’t like book two? What if she says, Let’s get something else in line? What if I sell and then have to readjust everything? What if…What if…What if…


So, I guess that’s my new lesson for the end of the year. I’ve always tried to teach my managers that flexibility is essential. You never know what’s going to happen. For example, in succession planning (planning at the higher levels for training and promotion to back fill people who quit or get fired OR if there’s a change in company structure OR if a new position opens up, etc) there’s a ton to plan for besides alllll those things you just saw in the parenthesis.


What if someone’s training doesn’t go well and they don’t move fast enough? What if someone’s training goes really well and they jump the  line? What if someone does well, but suddenly everyone realizes he should be doing V instead of W? What if department’s merge? What if there’s a buy out? What if he has to go on leave? What if there’s a big opportunity from a customer and we have to move him over there and slow or stop his growth to the next level? What if… What if… What if…


So here I go again, taking life and applying it to the career I want in writing: Plan A isn’t going to happen. Probably Plans B & C either…But some combination of those and things you haven’t thought of yet.


So, Bria, I shouldn’t bother to create goals and a plan the, right?



Without a plan and goals set, you’re aimless. It’s like saying you’re going to go on a trip and then trying to pack. What do you bring? Will it be warm? Sunny? Will you doing something active? Lounging on the beach? Enjoying nightlife…which will be cluby/sophisticated/trendy/chic/laid back?


You have to give yourself the ability to pack your writer back. Yeah, just like any trip, you can buy something you need when you get there if you forgot it, but do you really want to spring for a whole new wardrobe?

I didn’t think so. So, go make Plan A…and B & C….and get ready, because 2010 is going to be our year!

Keeping Goals Going

17 Aug

So, this trip around the country hasn’t been productive in a lot of ways like I thought it would. The two big ones are the W’s: Writing and Weight.


The weight one is fast and easy. I thought I’d push that last five pounds I had off…but it just hasn’t happened. I’ve been in the desert where it’s to hot to run or walk, I’ve visited people who make huge good meals with dessert and not had the willpower to say no, and now I’m somewhere we keep going out for big meals…and once again, I’m lacking the willpower. Stepped on a scale last night and thought oh-dear-lord. So, that’s the motivation one W changing.


Let’s talk about the other W — Writing.


The writing is not getting done. I’m constantly with people or around people and haven’t had the ability to concentrate in those environments. I’m not one of those writers where if I’m in a groove and you sit down and start talking to me I can just jump back into it. I wish I were – I envy them.


So here it is, I’m going to have to learn to be a little rude and a little selfish to keep my goals at the front of my mind AND have them getting done.


How does that happen?


Well, for one, I’ve made them more visual. I can’t miss them now. When you turn on my computer, my wallpaper is now this weeks goals. They’re right there reminding me…dare I say mocking me? If I forget about them it’s because I’ve gone blind.

I’ve also created a list of things that have to get done that aren’t on the list, things that pop up. I do this at home, why am I not doing it on the road? No idea.

And everything has dates next to it. The date it’s supposed to be done for goals and the date it needs to be done overall. This helps me keep the “why” in my mind too.

Another thing I’ve done is focus on the long term goals for ACers — which at this point are only 4.5 months left for. FOUR AND A HALF MONTHS! That’s nothing? How much as gotten crossed off? Not enough…not nearly enough.


I hate failing. Thinking of it like that, of a potential failure, has rushed everything back to the front of my mind and gotten me moving again. I may not compete against others, but I certainly compete against myself a lot. So now I”m going to focus on those W’s no matter where I am in my trip and get them done!