Tag Archives: goals

Make a Habit of It

I have this website tracked down on my Websites for Wordsmiths page, but I wanted to shine some light on it in a blog post because why not?

One of the oldest ideas to motivate yourself to get something done is incentive. You do a chore, you reward yourself, it’s a good balance that helps you keep going. Some things are harder to follow that idea with, maybe you aren’t able to track it, you lose sight of it, you give up, and it falls off the way side.

If you are the kind of person who needs something to keep your progress and hold you accountable for getting tasks and chores done, work projects, exercise, etc, Habit RPG might be one of the best things you can invest any time in.

Located here, Habit RPG allows you to enter in whatever you need help with keeping track of or staying on top of, in the form of an RPG (hence the name).  You build your avatar, to look however you want it to, and earn XP (experience points) by checking off habits, dailies and to-dos, as well as money! By level 10, you can pick a class, and buy specific equipment for it.

Equipment is in a category of “rewards”, which you can add to for even more incentive. Want to buy that gorgeous dress you saw while shopping? Put it down in the rewards, and set the amount to reach for you to get it.

If you’re game and incentive minded, it’s an incredible tool. Some personalities and people may not take to it as well as others, but if it works for you, milk it for all it’s worth!

Another site I wanted to touch on was Lit Reactor. I’ve posted a few things from there before, but hadn’t really taken the time to search through the website and see the content.

Litreactor.com is dedicated to writers and writing, fit with online classes, workshops, and the ability to put your own work up and read the work of others, as well as achievements and a community of writers to slink into. No doubt that it is a sort of haven, where you can see articles written by all sorts of authors on basic subjects like grammar, or something more complex, like what you put your hero through.

Litreactor also happens to have smashing suggestions and ways to get your work published, where to reach out and who is looking for authors.

Of course, this is only just a skim off the top of what it all contains, it’s bursting with all sorts of possibilities. I’m kind of wondering why I didn’t get into it sooner…

Either way, both websites are incredible tools, and especially writers. On the old topic of resolutions, Habits can be instrumental in helping you achieve what you’ve put yourself up to. LitReactor can too, if your resolution is to get more involved in the writing community, to find ways of improving your writing, and to get a move on with publishing some of your work.

I hope that you will at least give them both a look!

-The Novice Wordsmith

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Resolute in Resolutions

A lot of what goes on in the last few days of the year revolve around resolutions. I can’t say I haven’t heard anything, because I’ve heard more about New Year’s Resolutions in the past weeks than I have in the past few months combined. For good reason and obvious reason.

One very resounding thought I’ve heard that strays from the rest, however, is to ditch the resolution altogether.

Resolutions, ultimately, are goals. They’re something to strive for, something you want to do, something you want to happen in that year. So in January, it’s no surprise that the gym is packed full, because people are trying to reach weight loss goals and get toned and in shape by the time that they really want.

If there’s something I learned the hard way, it is that goals take time. The quicker something is done, the easier all of that work can be undone, because your mentality then becomes, “I can just do it again in this amount of time and be fine.” So you put it off and do things that are more enjoyable, because you know you can make up for lost time. You do the things you shouldn’t, and further yourself away from the progress you made.

These things take time. Don’t give up what you want to do, unless you’ve realized you want to do something else. Whatever it is, even if you lapse, don’t just stop. Don’t count yourself out completely, because there’s always going to be time.

If not now, when?

Just because it’s so many days past the first of the year does not count you out, either. Shaping better writing habits, filling notebooks, finishing a novel, writing a poem a day, or whatever it is your writing goal for the year may or may not be,  starts when you want it to. You do not need to measure your success by the year and how much time there is of it left. In the end, the goal of goals, of resolutions, is to improve your life, from that point on, and not just for the year.

One of my personal preferences when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions is to stick with it until it’s done. You repeat that same resolution until you’ve reached it. If you decide it’s not what you want, then you can drop it, but pick up a new goal to help you get to work on that passion, or dream, or idea.

When it comes to writing goals, or any, really, and you find they’re daunting and intimidating as ever, pause, look at the work load. Shave it down, make it possible for you to keep up in the beginning. The only way you get to where you want to be, is by building a strong foundation to stand on.

Let’s take daily writing, for example. What’s the wordcount you want to achieve daily? Or is it simply to write something, anything, every day? As you go on, you find what you really want, and what you think counts more. Write fiction every day, or a blog post? It doesn’t have to be targeted, if it’s easier for you to achieve, writing is writing, after all, though eventually, you might find yourself targeting what you want to write most.

This happens with a lot of things. As you get better, stronger, or more frequent, you figure out where your problem areas are or what you want to focus on, and it shapes what you do.

That’s the other thing about resolutions, you can’t expect to do the same thing over and over. As you change, so does your routine! It’s a good thing! Change means you’re dynamic, you’re making progress!

And you don’t have to have big resolutions, either. They can be small. Small is not a problem– some people go all out and adapt to the “go big or go home” philosophy and end up burning themselves out before they even really give themselves a chance. Taking on something you know you can accomplish is the first step to being able to tackle bigger things without even realizing it.

Don’t let anything drag you down. When you look ahead at what your dream is, you need to see that there’s a journey to it, and it starts with a step, however weak or strong it is, but it is everything that you put into it. So whatever your resolutions or goals are this year, don’t forget to be kind to yourself while you start the path of progress.

I’m certainly rooting for you!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Big-itis

When I was younger, the most intimidating thing for me was writing a novel. I always thought I couldn’t commit or I couldn’t spend that much time, or effort, or put something together that was an intricate, good story.

And now, I have Big-itis, both in the form of finding so many different ideas to create into novels instead of short stories, or to work on long-term, and in the form of running so long with my writing that I’ve barely reached the beginning meat of the novel’s rising action and it’s the halfway point of the month.

Part of it is inflation: I wanted to reach wordcount so many days that had been so badly off and struggling for me that I just drolled on and on without a care in the world and racked it up. I indulged in detail where I could have summarized, and I put in action where I should be just moving forward. So now my main character has had two physical problems happen to her and she hasn’t even gotten on the road yet… Not to mention that I just realized, a love interest hasn’t even been introduced.

It is easy to get caught in this loop. Inflating until you hit where you need to be is a good way to get the obligation done for the day and move on to other things. The other part is lack of motivation, or creativity for the day, stalling out and not being so certain where to go next.

I have a friend who was going to write in a certain style, of extra detail with every little moment, just to get wordcount. When the goal feels far away and you don’t feel like you can reach it, sometimes the first thing to do is just to add until you get there instead of letting your head run wild and coming up with new plot ninjas or something to keep the story running, or to stop it.

It sort of defeats the purpose sometimes, of writing daily. It gets you to sit down and commit, but sometimes when all you do is throw words at it, are you really making much of an improvement?

Don’t let Bigitis catch you! Give everything extra thought, keep those gears turning and continue to drum up new and innovative ideas to get the characters talking. Filler should only be there in case of an emergency, sort of like a swinging door; it can be there, or it can’t. You can even keep it from swinging back in one direction by taking it out later, in revision.

The story, however, needs you to keep writing in a productive direction. Don’t let it down! Bigitis can only take you so far!

-The Novice Wordsmith

PS: Happy Hundreth Post! Woo!

NaNoWriMo 2014 Week 2 Update: Smooth Sailing

So after struggling all of last week, and even harder toward the end of it, somehow I kicked into high gear and managed to find the motivation and drive to push forward hard. Sunday night, I think it was, I was writing like I hadn’t in a while, and it felt so good to just lose myself in the story again.

So after dropping down to about a 1700 wordcount average, after about Wednesday, I’m working my way back up to the 3-4k average that I usually tout. Hit 20k last night, might try for 25k today, but that’s a long shot, even if I can just pull myself down into the dregs of the novel and not come up for air for a while. I, unfortunately, still have stuff to do every day or I’d be glued to my desk, writing all day.

I went to a write-in on Wednesday, and one of the people there had told me that she wrote 13k in the first day and was teetering off and I was like, what!? In ONE DAY?

It’s not too hard to believe, but seeing someone pull that off is still pretty remarkable. I was able to write 10k in two days once, just committing to the project, but I’m still trying to find how you can pump out so much in just 24 hours. She did say that she was basically just sleeping and writing and taking small breaks, so I guess that would have something to do with it, just writing all day…

As much as I’d love to be one of those people to get out a premium amount of wordcount, 150-200k, it’s a very intimidating prospect. Being someone who just blows away the requirements and does their own thing, soaring above the average, that would feel great to me, but I don’t know if I’d ever really have the time to give it. Maybe it’s not the time so much as it’s the constant writing, writing, writing.

Friend, like I said back in July, managed about 15k in one day to hit 50k, though our goals were 25k. His fingers hurt like crazy at the end of it and he had managed to burn himself out, but he caught the goal he wanted.

Though on the other hand, I’ve found that there are still a lot of other people struggling to keep up as well, through engagements and work and school and whatever else they have going on, so being able to be a few thousand above the curve feels good.

You’re going to have people on all three sides of the spectrum, I realize. Those lagging behind, those who straddle the line and stay on task, and those who reach far and away what they want, early, and then keep reaching. None of them are bad for the month, because every single one of them is trying, some better than others, but I’m not going to lie: it feels great to be able to say you wrote every single day, and hit the target wordcount or went above it. In my fear-of-failure eyes, not seeing the target hit  sucks, but I’m working on accepting that the goal for the month, most basically, is to write, every day.

An undeniable part of us says that winning feels good, and it does, it’s why we strive for it so hard, in everything we do. We can pep talk ourselves to accept what we did if we didn’t win, but I think we’re still going to be even a fraction let down by ourselves if we don’t reach the goal we intended to get.

Just because I tell you how great it is that you wrote daily, doesn’t mean you’re going to feel any less bad about not getting that 50k at the end of the month.

But daily writing is crucial, which I think I’ve mentioned before in another blog post; when you get a routine down, and you write every single day, you’re creating positive habits that help you and your creativity. So really, that is the key to this month, writing every single day, and making the time for it. If you can keep it up outside of NaNoWriMo, the better. It’s a great feeling.

Even if 50k still feels good, so does being able to say that you write daily anyway.

We’ve passed week 1. We’re reaching mid November already and it’s coming up fast, but don’t let it intimidate you. Good luck, and keep going! I’m on the sidelines for you with pompoms made of old book page strips!

-The Novice Wordsmith

NaNoWriMo 2014: Preparing, Week 1: Curiosity and Confidence

Back in 2010 was the first time I heard about NaNoWriMo. I had a friend who told me about all of what it was, and, mystified by the concept of writing 50,000 words in a month, I found myself wanting to do it. I wanted to tackle all of those words, but it was too daunting a task. I don’t think I even really tried to do anything until 2012 rolled around.

That same friend who told me about the month of November’s challenge still has yet to do it himself, let alone complete it. This month, I found out why.

Confidence. It’s the first time I’ve heard that reason said out loud, but I could see it in myself before, and in other friends who have tried. When you think about it, and how much you write every day, or every week, 50,000 words can be incredibly daunting, and daily writing even more so, if you’re not used to it.

So let’s look at November. When you take away the 50k goal, it’s a daily writing challenge. Don’t worry about the goal every day if you can’t reach it. The real reason for National Novel Writing Month is to work on an idea that’s been in your head, and to get it out, and to put any effort toward it. Work, no matter how small or big it is, will make a difference, and daily writing will take you where you need to go.

Any bit helps. 100 words to 1700. Only do what your pace can handle. There is always next year. And you have another 11 months before it happens again to improve.

Personally, my first NaNo attempt flopped in the middle. I didn’t have proper planning or work done, I started writing on November 1st and floundered until I just stopped completely. As much as I was determined to do all I could that year, as much as I wanted to finish and do something, I had very little done to help me get there, or so I thought, and I lost confidence, got self conscious, fell behind, stressed myself out, and let it fall.

Even if that happens, the most important thing is that you tried. You went for it instead of letting it intimidate you the entire time.

As far as preparation goes, what you need to run into the month with, at least have a basic outline of the plot. Know where you want it to go. Nothing’s wrong with going in without a huge, built structure, but, at least for me, knowing where the novel will take you is all you really need to keep writing.

Don’t be afraid to jump a few scenes ahead and write something else, either, as long as you know it can fit in later. Whatever gets you going.

Those who have been doing this for some time have their own rituals of how to crack down. As from last year, I like to know early what I’m going to do, and do as much character building as possible, plot building, put together something and then make a break down of what will happen. Unfortunately, this year, that little ritual has stalled out. Doesn’t mean I won’t try to do it this month, though it’s not as much time. Others take October to hash it all out and put things in their places. They write on post-its and have a dry-erase board at their disposal.

During the month, as Dominika had pointed out not long ago, having meals planned and set helps with being able to go about the day and get back into writing. I thought that was clever. Mostly, I just amble around aimlessly finding something to chew on while I reset my head, but for those frenzied writing days, it seems perfect.

For those of you who want to do it this year, you can sign up on the official website (Which reboots soon!) to keep your wordcount updated daily, and connect with others in your region, as well as finding kickoff parties and meetups with your fellow writers, doing word wars in the forums or the IRC chat (I think that’s what they have), and any number of outreach and community things. They also have merchandise available, and you can help but donating!

So if you’re still on the fence about whether or not to participate this year, I hope you come over to the writing side, not matter how scarce or how prolific you are in November. We’ll be glad to have you with us.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Disclaimer: Not a part of the NaNoWriMo team personally, I claim no credit, this is all theirs. Again, website here.