Thursday, January 5, 2012

Taking Baby Steps to Win The Race

New Year's Revolutions are nice...
but stickin' with them is a whole 'nother story!

Raise your hand...how many of you made New Year's Revolutions this year? Yes, yes, I call them Revolutions because:

Revolutions offer power.
Revolutions create change.
Revolutions unseat the unsavory.

And it all starts one step at a time.

I know the feeling. Once you've decided to do something, you want to jump in with both feet. Get right on it. See results. Right?

Wrong. FIRST, we've got to develop a plan or after a week of exuberance, all that high-octane energy is going to burn off and you'll be left with nothing but the fumes.

Think about it. You want to get in physical shape, a very common New Year's Revolution. There are many options open to you:

Diet. You've decided 10 pounds have got to go. So you've heard the new "red beet and soda water" diet melts away the pounds without any effort. After one day - maybe two - of eating nothing but beets and washing it down with water, you scrunch your nose at the nonsense and run to the nearest Cold Stone for a double scoop of chocolate fudge ice cream and chow down instant comfort. Where did the enthusiasm for instant slimming beauty get you? Probably an extra 2 pounds before your taste buds forgave you.

Better idea. FIRST, instead of overdosing on grapefruits, or floating away on Slim-Fast, why not try a sensible eating regime that not only cares for your health, but you might also find sustainable with minimum effort. Personally, I'm partial to Weight Watchers (I just re-upped my commitment), but there are many other excellent plans available that will help you reach any goal you set. You will have learned sound eating habits and developed a cooking routine that will keep you in that size-whatever, along with a huge smile on your face.

Exercise. You've had enough couch-potatoing over the holidays. It's January 1 and you've decide it's time to get up and move. You slap on your sneakers, fill a water bottle, grab your iPod and out the door you run. Five miles later, you crawl back into the house, exhausted, dehydrated, and pooped, but you finished the course. The next day, you can barely get out of bed, much less do any sneaker slapping and revisit that five miles again. Muscles sore, knees aching and heart rate jitterbugging like a 60's dancer, you've just set yourself back further on the workout chart than you started. Definitely not a pretty picture.

Better idea. FIRST, learn warm up exercises to stretch and condition those underused muscles before you sprint off down the road. Maybe consider jogging around the block for a couple of sessions and slowly expanding your distance each day or two. How about researching your options and mixing it up? Jogging 3 times a week, weight training once a week, aerobics squeezed in as able. Match your strengths and your weaknesses with a balanced program and soon you'll be in the rhythm that just comes naturally.

Okay, now that we've explored the obvious New Year's Revolutions, let's explore the Writers' Revolutions.

Niche. Can you believe all the hype over vampire novels? Oh my goodness, they're selling like wax teeth at a Halloween store. So, you're about 40,000 words into a delightful Amish - western - timetravel you're targeting for ABC Publishers...the SAME publishers contracting the hot vampire thing!! Your blood starts pumping and pulse racing. You don't want to miss this opportunity to get your book in front of an editor while the genre is hot. Your mind starts spinning. How about exchanging vampires for the H/H, relocating it to a quiet east coast town and dropping in a couple of aliens for conflict? How hard can that be? All the rest of the book can remain the same, right? You start tweaking, revising, changing, massaging what was once a perfectly good Amish-western-timetravel and what do you have to show for it? Tears, crumpled paper, a melted hard drive and frustration beyond measure.

Better idea. FIRST, never chase after markets unless you have the voice and love for it. Readers can tell. Take a deep breath. All popular genres are cyclical. If you have a love for Back To The Future Amish Style, then that's what you need to write. Write it well. Write it carefully. Write what's on your heart, not the plot-of-the-week. As you follow your heart and your voice, you'll develope style and your brand. Your heart will be your book.

Speed. Book in a Week (BIAW). National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). One thousand words in one hour (1K1HR). Can you image how many books you could pump out if you scramble all the techniques together? With the excitement generated by the New Year high of get'er done, we gobble up every opportunity to rack up those words and fill those pages. 10-20-30K in a week....and then our minds - and harddrives - explode.

Ewwww.

Better idea. FIRST consider what each of the above challenges means to your writing. All three incentives are excellent in themselves. They are tools to help you succeed, but like every practical tool, they have a specific function to serve in order to be useful. How do you prepare to write? Think about the time you have and how your mind works and pursue the most sustainable course.

Do you like mapping out your book from beginning to end, defining your major plot points, crafting your black moment until you see HEA in sight? Then consider preparing for NaNoWriMo. You'll have the skeleton of a well thought out book in front of you and NaNo encourages a goal of 50K in a month-just enough to reward you with a nice rough draft.

Do you need to snatch time where you can find it? Check out the 1K1HR on Facebook. Spur of the moment writing...1000 words in one hour. Great for getting your creative juices flowing and immersing in your work. And I'm sensing there's a whole lot of fun going on, too : )

Want something inbetween? Book In A Week is just long enough to help you focus your efforts to write over any hump you might be stuck on.

I could go on and on, but really, you get the picture, right?

The new year brings us endless possibilities to fulfill our dreams. God planted the seed of desire to write in us while we were still in the womb, is there any doubt we will be successful? NO. But we do need to be wise in our choices, both for our physical well-being and our creative.

Frustration leads to dead ends. Don't overwhelm yourself. Set a course and stick to it. First things first.

This is a new year...make it work for you!!

Share an over-exhuberant moment with us and then tell us how you might have prepared for it FIRST to be included in a drawing for a surprise package announced in the Weekend Edition. It can be writing related or just a fluke of life. Let's have some fun!

90 comments:

Ausjenny said...

Hi Audra, This same principle can be applied to all goals etc. Without planning a goal or resolution will not work. We learnt this in a couple of classes I did. Just like a goal will remain a dream until we take action. the first thing we are told is write down the goal and make it reachable and be measurable. not vague like I will write a book. instead I will have the first draft of my book written by (insert date) Putting it in writing where you can see it is an advantage also.
My current goal is I will have a job by the end of March, To achieve this goal I will apply for 2 jobs a week. If I still dont have a job I will find somewhere to volunteer to get the experience to get a job.

personally I dont get the whole vampire phenomena

Jan Drexler said...

Ausjenny, the whole vampire thing mystifies me, too.

Audra, I learned this lesson when we first started homeschooling. I wanted to have everything perfect the first year - perfect curriculum, perfect schedule, perfect children churning out perfect book reports...

Well, you guessed it. My children have never written a book report, perfect or not.

I learned the hard way that anything worth doing is worth taking the time to do it well - prepare, learn, practice, fail, pick yourself up and start over again.

Children learn in layers - each year you lay another layer of learning and skills on top of the previous ones.

I've approached learning the publishing business the same way, and every time I feel like I have one layer under my belt there's another one waiting for me.

And it's so much fun!

Virginia said...

Ausjenny, I think you'll definitely find that job with two applications a week! that's a lot of paper and getting out there!
Jan, that made me laugh. I used to have craft every day. Then it was every two days. Then we I had six kids I finally started just having two crafts a week, because otherwise the prep and clean up was making it seem like we were running an art school.


Probably one of the craziest things I've done is demand my parents send me to France for high school. No, I did NOT speak French! Nevertheless, a few weeks after I turned fifteen I was winging my way over the Atlantic.. Oooooh, boy. Way before cell phones or the internet, I was just a clueless country girl expecting croissants and good chocolate. It's a miracle I came back in one piece. :)

Writing-wise, I was just rereading my Genesis entry from last year. Ha! In the wrong category, ten pages of no action or dialogue, and no conflict to speak of... Ha!

But this year will be different! thanks to Seekerville, I know a teensy bit more about what they're looking for, and what readers are looking for in a book.

Mary Cline said...

Over-exuberant has never been a problem for me. Under exuberant, probably. When I was a young pastor's wife I thought I had to be serious, super spiritual (what ever that is) and oh so talented,especially musically. I am none of those things. I am so thankful I learned before way too long that myself is who God gave me to be and and that is how I can serve Him best. Not without a little tweaking here and there of course. I have learned an entire personality change is not for the best for anyone.
As for the vampire thing, I haven't seen any of those movies but I have heard that sometimes the vampires turn in to glitter and I do like glitter.

Jo said...

I get a tad too exuberant over making plans and schedules and lists which outline ever so nicely how much one can get done if one actually tries and doesn't allow distractions, but it all falls apart. It's quite interesting because I am so not an organised person who ticks things off lists and gets stuff done, but I just love the planning of it. (Procrastination technique, maybe?)
On the positive side, I just love January because its filled with so much optimism for the year ahead and there really is something exciting about a brand new year. Go, 2012!!!

MaryC said...

Hi Audra, thanks for such a thoughtful and timely post.
I tend to get over-exuberant when I have a new idea for something. A shiny new story idea, for example. I always want to drop the story I'm struggling with to go play with the shiny new toy.
I've learned - the hard way - how unproductive that can be. Now I make myself hit my daily goal on the current project before I play with the new one.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Audra, you aimed this for me, didn't you Sweet Cheeks????

This is sage advice. And at my age, I should have learned it long ago, but I'm stubborn!

Wonderful. I loved the reference to chasing niche writing. And you guys know that I think it helps us to write in several styles...

And read across the broad spectrum (hence the Michael Lewis books I just finished)...

If it isn't your cup of tea, it's probably not going to work.

Jumping on bandwagons. No can do. And I already messed up my low-carb with two deliciously chocolatey mouth-watering brownies yesterday, a scintillating treat.

I am a weak soul. But it tasted so good! ;)

Okay, leaving coffee. I'm working on edits for A Family to Cherish (July 2012) and they're going beautifully. Hoping to finish them by tomorrow night. If not, then Saturday AM... and then... back to His Mistletoe Family and that hunka hunka burnin' love Major Brett Stanton...

Gotta love a man in uniform!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Awesome post, Audra. I am a lifetime member of WW, but put gained all my weight in the last 2 years. Tonight is my first meeting back. Yep, I'm rejoining and even found a friend to go with me! Annnd, I moved the stationary bike into the living room last night so that I can watch tv while I ride. (trying to be successful here)

As for writing, I want to spend an hour a day (at least) writing or doing something writing related. Right now I am plotting. :)

I chose a OneWord this year: FORWARD. Each day I want to move forward toward my goal...no matter if it is on the weight loss track, the writing track, or the spiritual track. I just want to be moving forward, step by step, toward my goals.

Audra Harders said...

Jenny, I'm with you. Vampires? But hey, it's a market and I have a daughter who proves it's successful.

I love what you said: Just like a goal will remain a dream until we take action. Right on! No one is going to do it for us.

You go, girlfriend. I know that job you're looking for is right around the corner : )

Whitney said...

Hmm. I know I’ve been over exuberant about some things. I usually just get stressed out and end up over eating that evening. Lol. I’m having a particularly “weak” day with that, by the way. I gained about 3 lbs over the holidays, and I’ve been doing really well for about a week, but I’m having one of “those” days. I’m hungry!

This year, I want to finish my story, of course. Finishing it in the next 6 months would be ideal. I graduate college this month (yay!), so I will finally have some time back. Now, to make sure I keep some time to write!

I don’t get the vampire thing either, by the way.

Ruthy, brownies are my absolute favorite dessert! I hope they were fudgy… Hope your edits continue to go well. : )

Ausjenny, what kind of job are you looking for?

Audra Harders said...

Hi Jan! Doesn't it feel like the layers of education you build up around you are thicker than a polar bear pelt??

I can't even imagine homeschooling and writing books. But then again, I absolutely shudder at the thought of having to homeschool my own kids...attention span of gnat, they had.

We would have all come out of their childhood years bald : )

Audra Harders said...

Atta girl, Virginia! Get that entry to the Genesis!

Isn't it amazing how one year of study, practice and implement can improve our manuscript? After more than 15 years of writing, writing, writing, I still search for techniques and skills to improve my end product. And sadly (joyfully?) I still have many areas that can stand improvement, LOL!

France? Just on a whim? All alone? AT FIFTEEN? Oooo, you make this homebody just shiver with fear. Good for you! BTW, did you ever find your croissants and great chocolate?

Audra Harders said...

Hi Mary, I like glitter too...in the kitchen where I can sweep it up, LOL!

I can so see your point about having to be the best because so many people look up to your husband and in turn, to you. So glad you figured out God made you to be who YOU are...which is the best scenario ever!

Under exuberant? LOL, that's me NOW!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

You have been looking over my shoulder the past week, haven't you, Audra?

Oh, the perfect example. As empty nesters, my husband and I decided it was time to change our home's arrangement after leaving rooms a shrine to our children and spending too much time apart doing our own thing. Impatient as always, I wanted to jump right in and just move the furniture. That is what you do when you rearrange, right? Just move it around until it looks right.

My husband is an engineer and must always have a plan. He did a FLOW CHART of what furniture needed to be moved and where it needed to go, starting with the Christmas tree heading to the attic.

That flow chart saved us literally hours and kept his and my son's backs intact. Hmm.

I know there are "inspirational" vampire books out there (yup, really) but I know the tide has turned to werewolves. So I am wondering what the next trend will be in inspirational romance after Amish. I hadn't even thought of Amish time travel.

Blessings to everyone as they work on their goals, resolutions, revolutions, and move "forward" in 2012.

Peace, Julie

Audra Harders said...

Jo, that's exactly how I work! I love the planning but get dismally baffled by the work. I've got to break all my tasks down to little bites and finish part by part. It took me years to learn this.

My day job emphasizes continuing education and offers daylong workshops to help us where we might need a bit of boost. I always enroll in the organization ones. I figure I attend enough of them, the concepts will surely rub off, LOL!

Audra Harders said...

Ah, MaryC, good girl!! If we drop our current projects in favor of the next flavor of story that comes along, will we get anything done?

I know every manuscript, no matter how much you love it, gets tedious at times. We just gotta work through the rough spots and not go jumping the fence to what we think are greener pastures.

Audra Harders said...

Ruthy, you? Stubborn? No way, Babes! I prefer to think of you as the ultimate in research and explorations of options.

And look what it got Seekerville? The Yankee-Belle Cafe!!! Every great village needs an excellent eatery offering free WIFI for the villager to stop in, eat and work!

Sooooo, if you're bemoaning a couple of high carb brownies, what exactly is the fare at the YBC today??

Audra Harders said...

Sherrinda, you are my hero! WW rocks! I'm a lifetime member, too but sadly, really fell off the wagon this last year. When I weighed in at my meeting last week, I was waiting to hear the scale say "One at a time, please."

LOL! Oof, long way to go. 26 points at a time.

I love FORWARD. And it has to apply to all aspects of our lives to keep us balanced.

Success is just around the corner, girlfriend!

Audra Harders said...

Whitney, graduating college is huge! What's your degree in and any job prospects?

Good to hear you caught those 3 pounds and dealt with them before they decided to throw a party and invite friends...like the pounds on my hips!

I got a Wii Fit for Christmas and decided I love to hula! Only I look so stupid doing it, I have to wait until my husband is safely out of the house!! BUT, I have discovered muscles do still exist around my waist, LOL!

Audra Harders said...

Inspirational vampires? Really? I'd love to have one of those books show up in the contests I judge. Would definitely add a new twist to spiritual warfare!

So, how do you like the empty nest thing? My youngest is a sophomore in college so we've had a year of the empty house thing already and I can't say I really like it. Since my husband is self employed and I was a SAHM while they were in school, we spent tons of time together as a family.

Now? It's mighty quiet around here.

Don't really know if I like it.

Anyone have step by step advice for the parents "Left Behind??"

Kav said...

LOL - my life is filled with over-exhuberant moments and the carnage that follows.

I always tend to go overboard with doing extras at work. I'm a school librarian and I thought it would be a super grand idea to create story bits for my kindergarten classes. Story bits are little take-homes that relate to the theme of the storytime. Like origami frogs or felt snowmen pins or angel crowns -- little things like that. The idea is the story-bit prompts memories of the books read during storytime and encourage children to re-tell with their parents when they go home. Great literacy initiative right?

Well, I thought so until I realized that between my two schools I had 150 kindergarten students. I did weekly storytimes and that meant 150 'easy' and 'cheap' trinkets every single week!!!! Not to mention thinking up something clever to go with each theme! My weekends were a haze of searching out materials and then making a bazillion story bits. LOL. It was a looonnnnggg year.

In hindsight -- it would have been better to target a smaller audience. Maybe just the junior kindergartens and made the story-bits for special storytimes only. Like at Christmas, Halloween, book week etc. It would have been much more doable and not so life-consuming!

LyndeeH said...

AusJenny, good luck w the job hunt. It can be daunting, but something will surely come your way.

Virginia, love the story abt France. The courage of youth!

Audra, I'm with you on the WW bandwagon. I'm thankful that God has molded my heart to keep at it, because the spirit is willing but the body really like chips and dip!

Craziest thing I ever did? When my kids were little, like under age four, I was desperate to have my brain back, so I scanned the newspaper ads and discovered that the local college was starting real estate classes THAT night. I called to pay for the class, arranged a babysitter, and mentioned it to my husband. I finished the course, took the exam, and about two weeks later, received a congrats letter saying that I'd passed the exam and my next step to selling real estate was to send in this form for my Realtors license. I remember thinking, what am I going to do with this? It had never occurred to me that I would pass the test or ever become a Realtor! I was just trying to get away from dirty diapers a few nights a week. I sold real estate for ten years, became a Broker then Broker/owner of my own firm. BTW, I designed my company signs and they were deep purple with a descending white dove above my company name. Can't tell you how many people asked me about the meaning of the white bird, ;)

Jeanne T said...

Audra, I love your voice. :) You had me laughing. You bring up good points. I am a planner by nature (That's why I'm not a good seat-of-the-pants writer), so I like developing a plan before I do something. Usually. :)

Two things I've done on a whim were beginning a master's program. By the grace of God that worked out well. And beginning my first novel. I had no idea all that went into writing well. I was six chapters into my first attempt when I attended a writer's retreat and learned I was doing it all wrong, missing lots of main elements. I began again and wrote another six chapters before going to a phase-two retreat by the same authors. I learned I was still missing important elements, and scrapped my chapters. I got some good guidance, took time to figure out how to implement with the basics of my story and I think it's coming out better. :)

Ruthy, I love brownies too, especially when they have chocolate chips instead of nuts. Not to tempt you or anything. :)

Whitney, congrats on graduating! That is huge.

Ausjenny--I hope you're able to fid a job soon.
Gotta run and get kiddos moving for school. Hoping to stop back later.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Audra what a timely new year post. smile

Personally I love the PRISM weight loss program. It is Christian based and has daily scripture and devotions to go with the plan.

But truthfully all plans boil down to eat less. LOL

And I love the analogy for writing. Truthfully for me that boils down to get busy and write. LOL again.

Jan's observation of layering applies to the writing as well. As you write write write, you learn new skills and perfect old ones.

And I don't get the vampire thing either. But maybe that's because the sight of blood does me in. yuk

Go girls and thanks Audra for kicking us in the behind.

Audra Harders said...

Kav, good for you wanting to help the kids remember their stories and then relate them to their families. The story bits were a GREAT idea.

And after whole-hog from the start (heh heh), I'm glad you found your stride that keeps the story bits in the kids hands AND your sanity in your head!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Audra, don't let the empty nest get you down. But don't ignore your own advice and jump in to fill it.

The kids have been out of the house for a while now but it finally just hit us that we were stuck in the "living/driving for the family" rut. Find new things to do together. Travel. Don't do things the same old way. It gets better, really it does.

Peace, Julie

Audra Harders said...

Lyndee! What an unexpected success story! WooHoo, good for you!

I love how you approached it from the opposite direction -- small bites to a success you hadn't anticipated, LOL! Love it.

Are you still an active realtor/broker? Talk about stumbling onto a career without planning!

Audra Harders said...

Jeanne, your writing journey sounds sooooooo similar to mine. EXCEPT, I was halfway through my first novel at 400 pages before I discovered writers groups even existed!

And all 400 pages (that needed to be scrapped, BTW) were typed on a typewriter whose only concession to technology was a back-space erase button.

Good for you, Jeanne for sticking with it. We're here for you now, babe!

What did you get your Masters in?

Audra Harders said...

Eat less? Is that the key, Sandra? Wow. New concept. I'll see if it fits into my lifestyle, LOL!!

Yep, I"m all on what Jan said. Layers work like knowledge, hopefully. Gotta build on what you learn and use it before you add another layer.

Unlike the fat around my middle. I'd seriously like to UN-layer that, please : )

Audra Harders said...

Julie. I trust you.

New things. Together.

Right. Gotcha.

Not to rush my kids or anything ( please, no!!), but I can't wait for grandbabies!!

Jan Drexler said...

I'm with you on DE-layering my body, Audra! Eat less and move more is my motto. I'm doing Weight Watchers too - online where I don't need to rely on having a car available at any certain time.

Two young men who share a car for work and school live in our house - need I say more?

And grandbabies. I can wait too, at least until my children find their future spouses. Meanwhile, I teach the 5 year old's Sunday School class to get my kid fix. Love it.

Writing - it's time to get to work. Started plotting my next book this week -

I didn't choose to write Amish stories to fit into a niche, but I sure hope they stay popular through my next few stories...

Bridgett Henson said...

Good morning Audra. No wonder I'm running on fumes. I never plan. I get an idea and do it. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I do have a plan but it lives inside my brain. And that, my friend, is a scary place to be.

Ruthy, How could you force a healthy breakfast on us yesterday and sneak a brownie for yourself? (Gasp) I'm shocked! :)

My husband works at a local hospital and he and I signed up for Scale Back Alabama. The first weigh in is the 23rd. No brownies for me. Well, maybe just one.

Personally, I don't read vampires or Amish. No stone throwing; just my opinion.

But I've always joked and said the next BIG THING will be an Amish Vampire trying to fit into an English community.

Melanie Dickerson said...

To be honest, Audra, I never make New Year's Resolutions, or Revolutions. They scare me, because if I can't stick with them, then I get that dreaded thing I hate ... GUILT!

I know I really, really need to lose weight, but I also know I just don't have the drive to go on an all-out diet, and I don't have the money to join Weight Watchers, so ... that is there, I'm trying to eat right and not overindulge, but it's not a Revolution.

But I am doing really great on Carol Moncado's facebook group, #1k1hr!!! I think it's because it doesn't require any kind of commitment. I set aside one hour, I write and refuse to check my email (mostly) and I get 1,000 words! It's awesome! I'm loving it. And I'm getting my words in, meeting my goals. I love it. Did I say I love it? I love it.

Which reminds me, I'm supposed to start writing in one minute!!!

Linnette R Mullin said...

Hi, Audra!

I'm one of those people who plan until I lose all "want to" and end up getting nowhere. So, I try to plan to a certain extent and then take action. Otherwise, I'll never get anything accomplished.

When I was 1/3 of the way through Finding Beth, I set a word count goal. Daily and weekly. If I didn't meet the daily goal, I'd try to catch up to meet the weekly goal. I ended up writing the remainder of the book in less than two months. Edits and rewrites have been a different story since it's the first ms I'm taking time to polish. Makes it a bit harder to dive into book two, but I'm working on figuring out how to push Finding Beth while writing book two.

Mary Connealy said...

I once sprained my ankle just THINKING about going for a five mile run.

Mary Connealy said...

Writer's Revolutions are a little easier for me.
I set a goal (not on January 1st) years ago before I was published to write 300 words a day 5 days a week. And I did a really good job of sticking to it for a long time. Then I got published and somewhere in there I upped my goal to 1000 words a day seven days a week. (Yes, I fail sometime...over Christmas it was just plain UGLY!) But I forgive myself and get back to it.
So I set those 'revolutionary goals' and kept them.

Jogging???? Not so much.

Mary Connealy said...

PS I gave up New Years Resolutions years ago. I never kept them.
Ever
So why bother?

Mary Connealy said...

An Amish-Western-Timetravel????
That could work!!!

Mary Connealy said...

Ausjenny, I also do NOT get the vampire thing. But seriously, I think I'd have to read one to even try to understand. And I keep failing to do that. Not even Twilight.
Just to keep up with the market I ought to read one.
I actually DID read one once. I didn't get it.But it might've been the WRONG one.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Good morning, Audra.

My favorite Beatle.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

Mary Connealy said...

I have this theory that: If I can't change myself, I can at least KNOW myself.

There fore...I will not be buying any wallpaper to spruce up my kitchen....it ain't ever going on the wall.

I will not be buying matching closet organizing bins

I will not be buying a dustbuster or those magical dusting magnet things they advertise on TV...it's not going to get used.

I will not be buying a case of Slim Fast...or joining Weight Watcher. Nothing wrong with either of those, but for me....money down a rat hole.

I will not be buying high heels...that is actually very close to an OATH I swore joyfully about 30 years ago.

Valri said...

Audra, great post today! If more people read it, we'd have more people not breaking New Year's Resolutions in the first week of Jan.! It's such a cliche! People try to do too much too soon! It IS about baby steps! I'm not a writer but every thing in life that is worth doing well is about baby steps! When I first became a mom, I had to learn this quickly! Now that all my kids are in college, I'm still learning the concept! Being an empty nester is the same - now what to do with my time that is productive???? I have several health issues that limit my choices so I have to see what works for me. BABY STEPS!!!

THANKS for your advice! I will ponder over it today. I appreciate it very much.

westernaz@msn.com

Casey said...

LOL, Audra I loved this post!

Probably my fastest and then trying to maintain that fast speed had to do with my OEA blog. I was SO earnest and SO determined to be the end all and be all for authors, I kind of drove myself crazy when the visitors weren't coming and the stats and posts were stale.

So I took a couple months off. Found a partner for the blog, started brainstorming new ideas and came back with a new outlook. It's still slow, it's still unsure, but it's God's idea now more than ever before and I'm excited to see where He takes it.

And BTW, I want SEEKERVILLE authors, so if you want ME email me for a slot. ;-)

Great post Audra. Esp. the futuristic Amish. I'm gonna go plot that now.

Julie Lessman said...

Good morning, Audra -- WONDERFUL post, my friend, and SO very true!!

I LOVE your statement to "Write what's on your heart, not the plot-of-the-week. As you follow your heart and your voice, you'll develop style and your brand. Your heart will be your book."

Oh, AMEN AND AMEN, and did I need to hear that this morning, darlin' -- THANK YOU!! I can't tell you how many times in a year I think to myself, "maybe I should write this, maybe I should write that, but the truth is I can only effectively write what I have a passion for, and if that happens to be the market, that's good. And if it doesn't? That's God. Because I am firm believer that my passion comes from Him for His specific purpose.

Thanks, Audra, for your inspiration and encouragement this morning.

Hugs,
Julie

Ms. Kathleen said...

Great ideas on exercising. I have started out slow...basically just walking... Good goals for life!

Audra Harders said...

Hi Bridgett! Have you tasted Ruthy's brownies? OMG, absolute heaven. Of course, I'm living on memories because I won't be eating any brownies for a while either : )

Carol M makes great chocolate chip cookies, too. Yumbola!

Audra Harders said...

Melanie, that's what I love about you, among many other things, your honesty : )

I can't keep a goal to save my life...in fact I hate giving my characters goal in fear I won't be able to make them -- LOLOLOLOL!!

Carol's 1K1HR is terrific. That's what I'm talking about. Find the method that helps you make the most of your time and energy. I'm part of the group but haven't make it to an hour session yet.

Working on it : )

Janet Dean said...

Audra, thanks for the encouraging, sensible tips for meeting our goals through baby steps as we follow a plan that will work for us. Great advice!

I'm still waiting for a segment of free time to sit down and make my New Year's Resolutions. At our house Christmas isn't over until the decorations come down or so I tell myself. That means New Years isn't really here yet, right? So plenty of time to make those resolutions.

Janet

Melanie Dickerson said...

I love you too, Audra! Now hurry up and get some words! :-)

Goals are tricky for me, too. It's hard to set them, because if I aim too high, I know I will get discouraged and quit. And that's not good for my psyche! And if I aim too low, it's not challenging and I end up feeling lazy (and guilty) anyway. LOL! But you can do anything with your character's goals, Audra! Make then do something you think you could never do, and give them the personality and the drive that they can ALMOST do it! LOL!

Melanie Dickerson said...

I am cruel.

Audra Harders said...

Linnette, sounds like you've got a nice back and forth thing going on with your rough draft. Way to go!

Edits are always a different story. Especially when you learn something new about a character that you need to go back and run through the entire book : )

PatriciaW said...

I like to think of myself as a very even keel person, but in reality, I can see where I'm a person of extremes. I can apply myself intensely for short periods, like NaNo or 30 straight days of exercise, only to collapse and revert to the far other end of the spectrum when it's all over.

This year I'm going for balance, a less intense but equally committed approach. Less all or nothing and more slowly consistent. That's why I have no resolutions or specific goals. I'm simply focused on three things I want to do daily as much as possible: eat less, move more and write.

Audra Harders said...

Mary, like I could run 5 blocks...5 yards...maybe 5 feet. Completely hypothetical, I promise : )

I like the 300 word a day chunk. Totally doable. I prefer the 1000 word a day, but hey, I"ll take what I can get.

Yep Tina, the whole world, one word at a time : )

I loved the Beatles. Early Beatles. I'm going to be humming I Want To HOld Your Hand all day now.
Thanks.

Linnette R Mullin said...

Yes, I've already done the major overhaul. A few times. Now it's just tweaking for enhancement. I did discover that the genre of this series is Women's Fiction which is funny because I can't NOT write romance. :D But the stories really are about the women's journeys. So, anybody who enjoys women's fiction AND romance, I'm your gal! ;-)

Audra Harders said...

Valri, you are too sweet : ) Baby steps is such a hard concept to stick to when you want it done NOW!

Mary Connealy said...

The reason 300 words a day works is because it is so doable. It's like three paragraphs. So you aren't setting a goal this is almost guarantee-ing that you fail.

And the real trick of it is, it's the first sentence that's hard to write. It's sitting your backside down, opening that document and starting. Often we've stopped the day before for a reason. Yes, sure, maybe the phone rang or some kid knocked the fishbowl off the table to stop you, but more likely you hit a snag. You stopped because you werent sure where to go next. A scene or chapter ended. So stopping is easy.
Typing that first sentence is the trick.
I set 300 words a day and I very often wrote a LOT more but tried to never write less.
Then after I was published I upped it to 1000 and I get it done a surprising amount.

I've written a 20k novella since about Dec. 1 and it's been slogging at times and it's NOT done but it adds up even if it doesn't come flowing out.

Virginia said...

You know, if anybody has read 'Twilight' Edward is a little inspirational, himeself. I know Meyer took some flack, people saying she was pushing her spiritual views down teen age throats... Because Edward argues with Bella that people have SOULS and tells her that he's the kind of boy that marries a girl BEFORE they sleep together, etc. There's a lot of discussion about what happens after we die and how morals might affect our chances of getting into heaven... I really enjoyed Edward... BEllA, not so much.

Virginia said...

Audra, I DID find the chocolate and croissants, the very first day!!

I said I had to go to become fluent in French... but we all know what I was really looking for. :) The food was amazing. *sigh* Not being able to have a simple conversation for a month was not so great. Those young brains pick up languages a lot faster than us old people, so I'm still mroe fluent in French than Spanish, which I've been speaking for almost ten years now, in my bilingual household.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Chocolate. Croissants.

Ugh.

Pass the celery????

Naw. Just doesn't do it, does it???

Hey, this is why Mary and I get along. Because I would wallpaper the kitchen, then be mad at myself for using writing time.

Or buying those stupid dusters and then being mad because I won't use it.

If you put Mary and I together in a shake-and-bake bag, we'd cancel each other out and you'd end up with:

Flour.

Boring.

So it's good we're all different. And genres???

Whatever.

I love so many that I'm constantly in a state of internal turmoil.

And why NYC keeps coming to me with gentle smacks upside the head is one of two things:

The Holy Spirit muse trying to grab my attention or...

I need some of those street dogs big time and I'm missing pinstripes.

:)

Pepper said...

Great post, Audra
And reminder...
I learned my lesson about being overzealous when I wanted to replace the wallpaper in my kitchen with paint.
I hate wallpaper. (my opinion).
This incident solidified my bias.

I started the project with the zeal of a puppy with a new pair of shoes. Unprepared. Nothing but my bare hands and a scraper.
FOUR LAYERS OF WALLPAPER LATER - I wished I'd done my research. The first thing being to check how many layers of wallpaper might be on that wall FIRST before you tear off an entire sheet of it.
UGH!

I have resolutions, but they're smaller now. Life has taught me to think in 'baby steps' for sure!
Maybe not so grandiose, but acheivable.

Blessings,

Pepper

Cara Lynn James said...

Great ideas, Audra! My diet isn't going too well, but maybe I'd better continue on anyway.

I can't imagine writing 1000 words in an hour, but I think I'll try sometime. Maybe I'd surprise myself. I usually have to drag words from my brain. If typos and misspellings count then I'm in big trouble.

Cara Lynn James said...

Great ideas, Audra! My diet isn't going too well, but maybe I'd better continue on anyway.

I can't imagine writing 1000 words in an hour, but I think I'll try sometime. Maybe I'd surprise myself. I usually have to drag words from my brain. If typos and misspellings count then I'm in big trouble.

Audra Harders said...

Casey! I'm telling you the Futurist Amish is the way to go, LOL!

Your blog is fantastic and I know how much hard work you put into it. Persevere, and they will come.

Including me. I want to come play on your blog!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Futuristic Amish?

Where's Schlymaleayen when we most need him????

What?

I spelled that wrong? :)

How about Zombie Mennonites trying to take over lower PA?

Donna said...

Audra, thank you for this fun post! I definitely have to be realistic in my goal setting.

I know I saw that someone on here today commented that they have new characters speaking to them instead of being able to work on their current WIP. I went back and couldn't find the comment... but anyhow, I have had the same problem today.
A character from a contemporary setting has demanded to be written. She's made me cry twice. And there is no romance in sight. Whereas my hero & heroine in my current WIP have apparently decided to become mute.

Casey said...

Actually I REALLY like Ruthy's idea about the Zombie mennonites.

Those poor AMish. If they only knew what we were dreaming up about them!

Yes!!Yes, yes, yes you want to come play!! Email me, 'kay?? That'd be loads of fun. :D

Audra Harders said...

Julie, your heart is all over your books. Others have tried, but no one can copy your style!!

What do you think? Amish time travel? Originating in Boston? Could be the next hot stuff!

Audra Harders said...

Ms. Kathleen, walking the dog is the only Revolution I tend to carry through the year. My corgi and I both need the "fresh air."

LOL! Walking is good stuff!

Susan Lower said...

I've never been one for vampires, but love the amish. However, neither ever seems to apply to my writing.

This year, I'm focusing on one thing, my WIP at hand and not rushing to follow any trends or worrying about word counts rather then the words themselves.

Thanks for the great post Audra!

Audra Harders said...

Janet, you always have so many things and obligations on your plate, I think juggling class is what you need more than Writers' Revolutions!

And you keep it all straight. I'm going to be baby steppin' in your footsteps : )

Audra Harders said...

Mellie, I"m glad you recognize that cruel streak in you...I certainly wasn't going to point it out : )

Audra Harders said...

Eat less.
Move more.
Write.

Patricia, you speak much wisdom in few words : )

Janet Kerr said...

For me NaNoWriMo was a surprise in that I didn't think that I could do 1700 words one day let alone for 30 days.
I was pleasantly "shocked" that I could do it!

Jan K.

Audra Harders said...

Aw, Pepper. You should've called me. My husband is a painting contractor, he could've warned you about removing wallpaper...or we could've come out to see you and while we chatted and giggled, he would've worked his magic and removed it.

Silly girl. Remember me next time : )

Audra Harders said...

Zombie Mennonites! LOL! What a hoot.

Mary, can you write a 1000 word on the subject?

Audra Harders said...

Donna, don't you just hate it when that happens? It's YOUR story -- the characters should cooperate with YOU!

Bribe them with some chocolate and croissants. Works everytime : )

Audra Harders said...

Good for you, Susan. It's so easy to do the ol' V-8 smack on the forehead when the next runaway genre-buster comes along thinking, 'hey, I had the idea years ago.'

Seeing your current novel through to The End is such a satisfying feat.

You go, girl!

Audra Harders said...

Jan, I'm proud of you! The NaNo challenge starts out so daunting, but like Mary said, the hardest part is sitting in front of the computer, opening file and typing the first sentence.

After the first one, the rest just seem to flow out and next thing you know, 1700 words have flowed from your fingertips.

You gotta love it.

LyndeeH said...

Took me all day to get back here, lol. Love reading everyone's comments.

Audra, I sold real estate for ten years, then branched out into other careers. I really liked selling homes, and I specialized in Vets and first time buyers/neighborhoods. Both are very tough markets now that the mortgage crisis has dried up that money. It was so satisfying to turn over keys to an excited family. I miss it, but it was time to move on.

Pepper said...

Btw, Audra
Who would EVER want to write a vampire story?
Sheesh!
;-)

Jackie said...

My biggest fiasco, overzealous moment was planning a surprise trip to Tybee Island for a long weekend to celebrate my husband's birthday. It was motorcycle weekend, and we saw a man pull a gun out in the parking lot. And did I mention my 2 children were with us. And that was only the beginning of the weekend.
I've made 5 goals for this year. I've tried to make them specific and concrete. We'll see how it goes.
Thanks for sharing with us today!
Jackie
I'm not into the vampire thing either.

Jeanne T said...

Hey Audra, it's been a BUUUUSY day. :) I got my Master's in Curriculum Development for elementary education. I was a teacher, once a long time ago. :)

Whitney said...

Audra, my degree is in graphic design. I actually finally have a job I like, that promises raises and growth, so I’m in no hurry to change jobs. If I did, I would love to work for a Christian publisher, in either the editorial or art department—both fascinate me! My “dream” publisher Barbour House, is about 45 minutes away, so that’s pretty realistic is some ways. If they’d hire me. Lol.

Oh, those three lbs… I’ve done so well the last 5 days or so, but totally bombed today. It seems like when I fall off the bandwagon and eat a little too much, I get super discouraged and just eat everything because I’ve already “failed”, so what’s it matter? (This is my mentality at these times, not sound nutritional doctrine). I always say “A calorie saved is a calories earned.” 300 calories over budget is better than 1,000, but I can’t seem to get that in my head. Sigh. Maybe I’ll learn someday…

Whitney said...

Thanks, Jeanne T! It’s actually only an A.S., but I’ve been in school so long I feel like I should have a Master’s degree.

Carol Moncado said...

Who indeed Pepper?!

I'm late [waaaaaaaaaaaay late!!!] for Audra day!

My goal, was, uh 4-5 naps a week.
The first thing I did was housesit a dog I'm slightly allergic to while getting a sinus infection. I'm up to 3 this week ;).

Seriously...

A goal this year is to finish 4 rough drafts. Yes, it's a lot but I'm pretty good at letting my first drafts be waaaaaaaaaay less than perfect so that's a start. And one was nearly done to start with so 3 days into the year, I was able to mark 1 off the list.

And I'm not contracted. So while I'm letting it simmer I'm not holding myself to a particular MS. My plan had been to finish book 2 so I could get to what I really wanted...

Book 3.

I stared at it for a couple hours yesterday. Then decided I wouldn't reach my goal that way and skipped over to book 3 instead. Since I'm not contracted, I can do that. I've put 4K on it since. I love the 1K1HR for immediate accountability. I like Novel Track/NaNo for continued accountability. They work together.

Book in a week?

That scares the daylights out of me.

I found out this week another goal is coming to pass in a couple months. Gonna have to get a [virtual] dress for that one... ;)

I hope that makes sense. If not... see that first thing up there to see why I'm a bit incoherent...

Walt Mussell said...

Audra,

So you're saying my paranomal-time travel inspirational (Japanese, not Amish) has a chance?

The odd thing is that I'm not kidding. I do have an idea that needs fleshing out. :-)

Kayleen said...

My goal this year is to Assist other people with their writing. I lead a Christian writing group so that is one example. I have other writing friends who need to be connected to progress their careers-- I know by doing this approach my own writing will progress.

I don't like the vampire stuff and will not read those books.

Cindy W. said...

Hi Audra,

It seems that every year my New Year Resolution is to lose weight. Past years I've succeeded for awhile then fail. I have been contemplating the last couple of months on how to proceed with my goals in 2012. I'm waiting now to get results from an allergist to see if I have food allergies (go to appointment on Monday). Once cleared of that I have decided to proceed with sensible eating program incorporating fruits & veggies that I love but for some reason never get into my diet on a consistent basis.

I have also resolved to take just one day at a time. If one day is not a success I have another day to be a success.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Janet Kerr said...

These are great principles to follow in life.
Thank you for the information Audra!

Edwina said...

Hi Audra,
I am the queen of jumping in a project with both feet first - or sometimes- head first - only to realize later that was not my project to do. I have gotten into trouble many times for volunteering for a project before thinking and praying about it. It's not a fun place to be.

Not only do I not get the whole vampire phenomena, I don't like it.