Friday goals update

These were last week’s goals:

  1. Submit SWMF to the thing. DONE. Although I messed up the submission slightly. :-/ I am trying not to let myself feel too bad about that. In getting the submission together, I wrote a synopsis and polished the first 8,000 words, which means that next time I need to do something with the novel, it will be that much easier.
  2. Work on SWMF on seven days. I managed six days out of seven.
  3. Print out the YA novel ready for reading next weekend. DONE. Although I don’t think it’s going to get read this weekend, because I’ll be working all weekend.

Goals for the coming week:

  1. Read through the YA novel and decide if I want to rewrite it in a different tense.
  2. Work on SWMF on seven days. This is going to be harder now, because I need to start drafting again – up to this point I have either been figuring things out in my notebook or editing and polishing existing text. New words are so much more daunting! So a reminder to self: I only have to do ten minutes if I want. But those ten minutes are important.
  3. Decide on another competition to enter or submission process, and work on it for at least 2 x 30 minutes.

Last week when I posted to my writing filter on facebook, one person said that maybe monthly goals were more appropriate for her than weekly ones. My feeling here is that whatever works for you is most appropriate, and certainly her goals were very impressive! Anyway, I started wondering what my monthly goals would be, and whether it would be a good way to bridge the gap between huge/yearly goals and smaller weekly targets.

Heh. Maybe I’m starting to sound like a project manager. Anyway, off the top of my head: some monthly goals for February:

  1. Enter SWMF for the thing that shall not be named. (Yes, I already did it, but it’s a big one, so I’m not leaving it off the list.)
  2. Get started either writing or rewriting the YA novel.
  3. Draft four new scenes in SWMF. I have a list of about 75 scenes, some of which will probably end up being combined. But I need to stop worrying about them and start writing.
  4. Enter another writing competition or submit something somewhere.

To anyone reading, do you set monthly or weekly goals, or a combination? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Weekly goals update

So these were last week’s goals:

  1. Finish the current draft of the YA novel. DONE.
  2. Work on SWMF on seven days. DONE
  3. Write/finish a synopsis for SWMF. DONE
  4. Enter a writing competition of some kind. Not done – but I am getting together a submission for SWMF, which is what I have been working on every day. Should be done over the weekend.

I’m pretty pleased with that lot. 🙂 Especially finishing the draft, as it’s draft 3 and I feel like I finally have enough of the story in place for the rest to be editing rather than rewriting. Which is so much more fun. Drafting is like walking across a tightrope and being unable to see the other end – you just have to trust that you’re doing the right thing and keep going, despite feeling sick and dizzy with uncertainty and fear.

Editing, for me, feels like finishing a sculpture: the essential shape is there, and you are chipping away pieces (some tiny, some large) so that the form gradually emerges in all its beauty.

Not that I’ve ever walked a tightrope or created a sculpture. But I do have an extremely active imagination.

Onto this week’s goals:

  1. Submit SWMF to the thing. I don’t want to clarify what the thing is because I will jinx it (not that I have a hope of getting anywhere with it, but still, I am determined to try).
  2. Work on SWMF on seven days.
  3. Print out the YA novel ready for reading next weekend.

Onward. Wishing everyone else the best with their goals! Feel free to comment below if you want some accountability. 🙂


Weekly goals

Firstly an update on last week’s goals:

  1. Work on the YA novel on six days. DONE
  2. Write 3,000 words on the YA novel over the week. DONE
  3. Work on SWMF on seven days. DONE
  4. Enter a writing competition of some kind. Not done…I guess I’m still working on this one.

This week’s goals:

  1. Finish the current draft of the YA novel. This was originally a goal I set over Christmas and, as always, I underestimated how much I had left to write (not to mention how much time I would have over Christmas!). This time, though, the end is truly in sight.
  2. Work on SWMF on seven days.
  3. Write/finish a synopsis for SWMF.
  4. Enter a writing competition of some kind. Leaving this on the list for now.

Feel free to tell me your own goals below!


Weekly goals post

Well, hasn’t it been a horrible week? The deaths of two beloved stars of the arts have profoundly affected everyone I know, both on and offline. I’ve also had some shocking news in my private life (not, I hasten to add, anything to do with my last post – in that situation all is well), plus a couple of a couple of minor health niggles, which probably wouldn’t have got me down too badly individually, but when combined with everything else that’s happened this week, well…Last night, I pretty much wanted to curl up and cry and wait for Monday.

But that would be to ignore one thing that has gone well this week: writing. A few weeks ago I was struggling to fit in ten minutes’ writing a day. These days it’s unusual for me to spend less than twenty minutes a day on writing. It’s become that elusive thing: a habit, and one I’m very thankful for.

So without further ado, next week’s goals:

  1. Work on the YA novel on six days.
  2. Write 3,000 words on the YA novel over the week.
  3. Work on SWMF on seven days.
  4. Enter a writing competition of some kind.

(I’ve given myself a day off the YA novel because I think it’s helpful to have a day away from my laptop once a week. SWMF is still all on paper.)

No. 4 was a bit of a surprise entry on my list of goals for the year. I have far too much writing lying fallow on my hard drive, and I didn’t enter a single competition or submit a single story anywhere last year. It’s time to change that – even if I don’t get anywhere, at least I can give myself the opportunity to succeed!

Those of you reading along, do you have any goals you want to add? I hope your writing year has started well!

On the eve of 2016

I’ll do a regular goal update in the next couple of days, but today, along with many others, I’m thinking about what I would like to achieve in 2016. And given that my goals seem to have been very similar for the past few years, I’m also reflecting on what hasn’t worked, as well as what has.

My ultimate goal hasn’t changed for about four years: “Get something published”. A sub-goal that has been in place for almost as long is: “Get something to a stage where it’s ready to submit to agents and publishers.”

The past four years have been a scramble: I broke up what I thought was a lifelong relationship, moved home from the other side of the world, and spent 2014 struggling with various gremlins that, thankfully, proved to be beatable. I spent most of 2015 digging myself out of the hole that threatened to swallow me in 2014, and am in a much better position now than I was a year ago. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve always had what felt like a fairly decent excuse for not achieving my writing goals.

Right before Christmas, I got some potentially very bad news about a loved one. The keyword there is “potentially”. We won’t know the full story for another couple of weeks, but my mind immediately switched into overdrive, thinking about everything I was going to do to help, all the time I was going to spend, the sacrifices I was going to make to fix this potentially unfixable problem.

Your writing will have to take a back seat again, said a taunting voice in the back of my head. And that’s when I realised:

Life will keep happening. Awful things, and sometimes wonderful things, will keep taking over if I let them. Paid work will keep taking over if I let it.

I’ve written on most days for the past three months, despite working harder and dealing with more new things than I ever have in my life before. I’ve proved to myself that I can write, even with life happening as hard as it can all around me. The proof is there, in the almost finished new draft of one novel and the much fuller-looking outline of the other.

And so, while I will also set more specific goals, my aim for the year is simply to write. Write while I’m drowning in work. Write while I’m facing a scary set of new students. Write while travelling up and down the country to enjoy time with and take care of loved ones. Write when I have a blessed day off. Write when I have a week filled with catch-ups with friends I don’t see often enough. Write as well as live.

Because without the writing, I’m not living fully, either.

Wishing anyone who reads this the very best for 2016, in writing and life! ❤

Friday update

Last week’s goals:

1. Do at least one ten-minute session on six days. I didn’t write on six days, but I did do the required number of sessions.

2. On two of those days, do an additional session on the YA novel before I start work. It’s only ten minutes. It shouldn’t be scary! DONE.

This week’s goals:

1. Deep breath…my goal is to finish the current draft of the YA novel. This morning I hit the last few scenes, which means I’m back to typing up/editing the previous draft rather than coming up with completely new words. I mean, the previous draft needs a LOT of work, so it’s not going to be easy, but having the existing words there will help a lot. Wish me luck with this. It’s not something I imagined would be within reach a couple of months ago.

2. On five days, spend at least ten minutes on outlining SWMF as well.

I’m unlikely to update next week, since it’ll be Christmas Day, but I will try to check in some time over Christmas weekend.

If you’re playing along at home, how are your goals going?


Weekly update/check-in

Last week’s goals:

Do two x ten-minute sessions on six days. Um, no, I didn’t get anywhere near this, really. I managed four sessions in total, which to be honest is better than it could have been given that I’m completely burnt out with work.


I’m definitely finding it easier to work on plotting SWMF, which is away from the computer, than on drafting the YA novel. I’ve been so swamped with work (but also fighting procrastination and other resistance as I get increasingly knackered/pissed off) that as soon as I hit the computer I just want to get on with it.

But that’s frustrating, because I was enjoying the momentum I’d built up with the YA novel. So this week’s goal will challenge me to incorporate both books into my schedule.

Goals for this week:

1. Do at least one ten-minute session on six days.

2. On two of those days, do an additional session on the YA novel before I start work. It’s only ten minutes. It shouldn’t be scary!

3. Relax. This time next week, a fairly large proportion of my workload will be gone, at least temporarily. I’m nearly there!

If you’re playing along at home, how are your goals going?

Weekly update

Last week’s goals:

1. Back to basics: do seven ten-minute sessions. DONE. And I’m glad I didn’t ask any more of myself, because I’m completely exhausted (and about to go to bed, in fact).  But I’m also pleased I managed to keep the writing ticking along, in however much of a minimalist fashion.


This week’s goals:

1. Do two x ten-minute sessions on six days. I’m still stretched, but I want to build up the writing a bit more ready for the Christmas break (haha!), so hopefully this will help.


For those of you playing along at home, how did you get on with your goals or targets for the week?



Weekly round-up

Very quick round-up this week. Last week’s goals:

1. Do at least two ten-minute sessions on three days. DONE – actually I did three ten-minute sessions on four days at least.

2. Work on the YA novel and the DLN for at least four ten-minute sessions each. DONE

3. Post wrap-up on the 8×8 challenge. DONE

This week’s goals:

1. I’m stripping this back to basics: do seven ten-minute sessions. Why? Because I feel like my stress levels are reaching breaking point, my workload is as high as (or higher than) ever and I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to get through the upcoming week. If I can manage to find ten minutes a day for writing, it’ll be a job well done.

If you’re reading this and want to comment and let me know your own goals, please do so!

8×8 challenge – days 5-8 and wrap-up

Day 5 of the 8×8 writing challenge involved finding extra pockets of time in which to add to the writing I got done in the main session. I have to admit I didn’t manage this at all, but then I also didn’t stop at all that day, until I got home from work at 9.30 pm at night. I didn’t even have a lunch break beyond the couple of minutes it took me to actually eat my food, so I’m not going to be too hard on myself about this. I think it’s a good idea for a challenge, and may try it again on a non-teaching day.

Day 6 required me to post on social meejah about my progress with the challenge, thus increasing my accountability. I did so, as you will probably see if you click through the twitter link, above. 🙂

Day 7 required me to figure out how long it would take me to finish my current novel draft if I did one ten-minute session per day, or perhaps two or even more. I did this (I love writing maths!), and was a little dampened by the results – with one session a day I can expect to be finished some time around mid-March 2016. I mean, really, that’s only fair on ten minutes a day! But still, I have this arbitrary Christmas 2015 date in my head…Anyway, I also figured out that two ten-minute sessions a day would get me to 65000 words in late January, which feels less faraway and may be something to aim at. If not, well, a finished draft in March is better than a draft that’s never finished.

Day 8 required me to evaluate what I’d accomplished with my writing goals. See my reflections below.


Thoughts and reflections

Baseline: A couple of weeks prior to the 8×8 challenge, I was struggling to fit in any writing at all. When I came across the challenge, I’d just started writing ten minutes a day, out of desperation more than anything else, so I thought the challenge would fit in well with that schedule.

Results: I’ve been consistently writing more and on more days thanks to the 8×8 challenge. Most days I do at least two sessions (on two different books).

Word counts: It’s not all about quantity, but I was slightly sad that my word counts didn’t get any better through the week – I was still struggling somewhere between 120 and 180 words. This is because it does take me a little time to get into writing, so the past couple of days, I’ve experimented with doing two sessions back to back (ie 20 minutes instead of 10). The results are much better – by the second session my fingers are flying over the keyboard, and my overall word counts are well over 400 (for the two sessions combined). And 20 minutes a day still doesn’t feel like too much of a time commitment; I’m not feeling the resistance going into it that I might with a longer period of time.

Verdict: The 8×8 challenge was a great way to experiment with getting writing done in different ways and mediums – and to focus on getting words down. I feel I’m laying down habits now which I’ll hopefully be able to expand when I have more time and headspace. I can already see the seeds of this in the way I’m now doing two or three sessions per writing day, despite being up to the eyes in paid work commitments. I’m really pleased I took on the challenge!

The 8×8 challenge is run by Monica Leonelle; for more information see the twitter hashtag or check out Monica’s blog here.