The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘writing goals

We’re two weeks into 2017. Have you already broken one of your New Year’s resolutions regarding your creative life?

If so, you’re in good company as studies show that at least one third of people break their resolutions within the first week of making them. And, almost half of all people who make resolutions break them within a month.

Most of us don’t reach our creative goals without structure and accountability.

Doors are almost closed on my signature ‘Tone Your Creative Core™’ Program.

I have added a NEW BONUS just for you:

On Sunday, January 15th, I will host a LIVE group coaching call. I’ll be talking about what needs to be in your creativity start-up kit to set you up for success in 2017. I’ll do a powerful visioning exercise and share a few ways to “hack your brain” for increased creativity. The majority of the call will be me answering YOUR questions. Have questions about publishing, finding motivation, getting past the inner critic? ASK THEM and get helpful answers. I want to support you in dreaming about what you want to accomplish in 2017 and to planning how you will do it.

Check out the details here. A small investment with a big payoff.

What would it feel like to live your writing dreams in 2017? If you were experiencing your definition of success as a writer, how would you stand? How would you walk? How would you sit at your desk? What would you say to yourself? What would you say to others?

I know that you want that experience for yourself. As writers, we all do.

Now that the holidays are winding down, isn’t it time for you to start mapping out a plan that gets you closer to your definition of writing success?

This year, because of my connection to my Writing Self, I have experienced more joy in writing and more success than ever before.

What I learned this year is that when we are deeply connected to our Writing Self, we can live our highest vision as a writer. And, we can rock it! I’ve been doing a daily affirmation practice for the past 355+ days and it has changed my life.

I am hosting the Affirm the Writer in You: 5 Ways to Connect to Your Writing Self for 2017 webinar and I’m inviting you. It’s on Dec 29, 8pm EST.

It’s free and I’ll share a process to connect to your Writing Self and set yourself up for success in 2017. During the webinar you’ll find out:

  • How to deepen a connection with your Writing Self
    ·How to supercharge your productivity and sustain your momentum
    ·How to get unstuck and approach the page with more ease
    ·How to deal with challenges of time, energy, self-worth

Go here to save your seat for this live training! I’ll be offering some special bonuses to those on the call.

Get the support and tools you need to take your writing life to the next level!

Affirmations-366Days#341: My writing space serves me, honors my goals and is a place I love visiting.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Affirmations-366Days#313: Successful writers leave clues. I study how other writers achieve their goals and adapt their methods to my life.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Affirmations-366Days#312: I allow myself to envision the joy I will feel in my body when I achieve a major writing goal.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Affirmations-366Days#261: I enjoy giving myself a small reward when I meet a writing goal. I make getting to the end fun.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

During my Feb writing group meeting last Sunday, we discussed what went well in 2015 and what goals we had for 2016. We would have gotten to this in Jan, but due to bad weather and personal life disruptions, we pushed back this discussion.

March is a perfect time to both reflect and plan as it marks our approach to the end of the first quarter of the year. Unbelievable, I know!

In preparation for the meeting, I spent some time reviewing my goals and submission record of 2015 and thinking about 2016. Since I didn’t post at the end of last year about this topic, I thought I’d share with you some highlights and lessons learned.

Submissions:

In 2014, I submitted to 19 places. I vowed that in 2015, I would push myself to do better.

And, I did—I submitted to 34 individual journals, contests, anthologies or magazines. For many of these submissions, I submitted both poetry and prose.

What did that yield?

-1 publication (a poem, coming out this spring)

-4 very nice personalized rejection emails, encouraging me to submit something else soon. I’m keeping track of those outlets.

-3 places I’m waiting to hear back from

Although I almost doubled my submission record from 2014, it still only breaks down to about 1.5 submissions per month. This isn’t quite accurate, either, as I tend to send batches and batches of submissions at a time, so some months I sent more out and other months less.

As you know, researching places to submit, making sure you’ve read those publications before submitting, making time to submit, and tracking your submissions is a lot of work. In 2016, I’ve been devoting at least two days a month for submitting work. I also am trying to keep an organized list of upcoming deadlines. I love using Evernote for this task. I also have a full time career that requires its own care and attention.

One resource that helped me phenomenally last year was finding out about the group, Women Who Submit. Their website and Twitter feed is chock-full of great information about where to submit. Plus, they hold in person and online submission blitzes. I love the group energy that happens when a lot of people are submitting their work, talking about it on social media and encouraging each other.

Given that I have a full time career besides writing that requires its own care and attention, I need to be realistic in how much more I can up my submissions. I’m shooting for about 50-60 submissions this year. And, I want to be more selective in the places that I submit.

What Got Written in 2015:

-Finished several poems, my best work so far

-Finished some flash fiction pieces

-Started several stories

-Continued to revise my NaNoWriMo project

-Wrote weekly blog posts

-Asked several beta readers to provide feedback on my speculative fiction short story collection

I had one publication appear last year (it was accepted in 2014), my essay in A Letter to My Mom.  Although I didn’t have a lot of publications, my year felt like an extremely fulfilling and productive one across other areas:

Building Writing Community:

-In 2015, on the advice of a published writer, I went to several local sci-fi conventions. That led to meeting local authors, getting connected to the local and state wide scene, finding people to interview for my blog and getting invited to present at sci-fi cons this year. I’ve been really enjoying deepening my writing community.

-My writing teacher also invited me to participate with her at a wonderful event called ‘Love and the Lonely Writer’. I wrote about it here. It was an honor to share the stage with my mentor and teacher and read to a packed room.

There's nothing like seeing a poster, in a bookstore, with your name on it!

There’s nothing like seeing a poster, in a bookstore, with your name on it!

-I participated in several open mic nights.

-I attended the A Room of Her Own (AROHO) Foundation’s week long women’s retreat in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. It was truly a transformative experience. I left with a whole new community of women writers and friends. I hope to continue featuring some of their wisdom here. If you missed Li Yun Alvarado’s amazing post about the importance of a low stakes daily writing practice and how it can transform your year, check it out here.

Education:

A writer never stops learning about craft and storytelling. Last year, I redoubled my efforts to know more about the craft and the business of writing. I constantly listened to writing podcasts and combed through Poets & Writers.

I also took my first poetry workshop, a flash fiction workshop; and a week-long young adult literature and diversity class during AROHO.

First Quarter of 2016:

Submissions: I’ve submitted to 6 places, including a contest. I’ve heard back from 2 so far (rejections).

Writing: If you’ve been reading this blog since January, you know I committed to writing an original affirmation, about the creative process, once a day, every day for the entire year. For why I am doing it, see my inspiration here. I am loving this practice. But, a daily practice is demanding! And, some days, I feel more prepared to create than others. But, the feedback, about the affirmation project, has been great. It’s stocking my creative well.

2016 Writing goals:

-Continue to revise my NaNoWriMo project

-Place my speculative fiction short story collection with a press

-Continue to write a daily original affirmation

-Work on my secret ‘genius’ project

-Strive for 50-60 submissions

 

How are your writing goals going in the first quarter? Where areas (using the ones above) are you feeling ease in and what areas do you want to tweak?

Tomorrow, I leave for A Room of Her Own Foundation’s week long writing residency which is being held in Abiquiú, New Mexico at the amazing venue known as Ghost Ranch.

Ghost_Ranch_redrock_cliffs,_clouds

A Room of Her Own’s nonprofit mission is: To inspire, fund, and champion works of art and literature by women. They host one of only about five or so writing residencies, in the country, exclusively for women.

It is a competitive residency and I am thrilled that I was accepted. There will be over 100 women writers attending (emerging writers to well established authors like Janet Fitch and Tayari Jones!), and I will get to take master classes and workshops with a range of amazing writers including Elizabeth L. Silver, Mary Johnson and Cynthia Leitich Smith. We will also spend our evenings discussing the retreat theme ‘Writing Against the Current’ which is a focus on Virginia Woolf’s novel, Orlando and Maxine Hong Kingston’s novel, Woman Warrior–and Kingston will be there in residence!

Another honor is that I will also be a ‘studio leader’ presenting a one hour version of my popular workshop: ‘Tone Your Creative Core: 5 Secrets for Artists’. This workshop offers strategies in areas where most creative people struggle: time, abundance and prosperity, feeling worthy to create and goal-setting. I’m delighted to explore these issues with women writers.

Writing residencies are structured in various ways. Some provide room, board and solitude, offering uninterrupted time to write with no other requirements. Others, like AROHO are much more interactive, including: providing intensive workshops (sharing and critiquing other participants’ work), hosting nightly receptions and readings, offering craft lectures, and encouraging networking and collaboration. I’ve known writers who have attended each type of residency. We often think the hardest part is getting accepted to one, but this isn’t the whole picture.

I’ve spent the last few months preparing for this incredible opportunity and have noticed that although there are a number of wonderful posts about why one should apply to a writing residency (see Jennifer Chen’s musings), and where to apply for one (here’s a great list from ‘The Write Life’), there is almost no discussion about preparing for the residency and making the most of it while there. Besides of course, to write.

Making the most of one’s residency means giving some thought to hidden challenges.

I’ve seen writers come back from a residency deflated because they had set unrealistic writing goals. Most folks are exhausted by the time they get to attend a writing residency. They’ve been juggling work, family responsibilities, community commitments, etc., often at a frenzied place. It can take a few days, during the residency, to decompress and reconnect to deep creative work. I’ve also known writers whose inner critics got the best of them and consequently didn’t get as much writing done. Or they got so intimidated by the other writers and instructors that they weren’t able to make enduring connections or contacts.

Here’s my five tips for making the most of a residency:

Make Your Goals Inspiring, Not Exhausting

Setting unclear or overly ambitious goals during a residency can lead to a big letdown. Writing residencies are also about allowing inspiration and spontaneity, so being flexible with goals can allow for more enjoyment as the writing process unfolds.

For most of the week, I’ll be taking a master class on ‘Emerging Heroes: Diversity in Young Adult Fiction’ with Cynthia Leitich Smith. I know little about writing young adult fiction and am super excited about stretching myself as a writer. Consequently, given the intensity of learning a new field, getting and giving feedback on others’ writing and the possibility having to work on prompts that Cynthia may assign outside of the workshop, I’m keeping my writing goals modest. From the schedule, it looks like I’ll have a daily 2-3 hours of individual writing time. I’m shooting for 10-20 pages a day of writing. That feels doable. I’ll also allow myself  to create fresh material as well as work on current projects.

Give Yourself Permission to Embody Being the Writer of Your Dreams

Writing residencies present an opportunity to practice being a writer in public. Often aspiring writers write behind closed doors and without many opportunities to get publicly affirmed about their writing efforts. This is the time to revel in one’s writing identity. I’m going to take every opportunity to walk, dress and act like I am the writer of my dreams. I’m wrapping myself in an inner shawl of ‘deservingness’. I am holding the intention to attend every nightly reception and meet a few new people. I also hope to meet newly published authors that I’ll want to invite for an author interview for the blog.

Do an Inner Critic Check

Visual artist, Beverly McIver once said at a professional development workshop for artists, “Feeling worthy is a learned behavior.” Inner critics can make themselves known during a residency and derail us. In various posts, I’ve discussed some of the more common inner critics including the comparer, the pusher, the judger, the imposter, the procrastinator and the perfectionist. Inner critics inspire fear, judgement, dread and envy toward our writing selves and writing lives. Spending some time addressing inner critics (and assigning them new jobs where possible), before and during the residency can help quiet draining mental chatter and quell anxiety.

Polish Your Social Media Profile

Social media is often where people will find you first. I’m hoping to make strong connections while I’m at AROHO. I’ve already started to look up some of the people in my master class and have enjoyed learning about them through their social media sites. In the past month, I’ve spent some time updating my bio across my social media sites and beefing up my author Facebook page. You never know when someone is going to look up after making a connection, so it’s important that they can find you. A that what they find out about you inspires and draws them in.

Practice Communicating about Your Work

What is your work like? What are you working on? These are the essential questions to consider when talking about one’s work. Do you have an elevator pitch? Many writers (and artists in general) tend to avoid communicating about their work or freeze up when they do talk about their work. Given the time and emotional investment we have made for our creative pursuits, communicating about it is necessary and part of the creative process. I’ve been practicing my brief elevator pitch and look forward to using it.

Here’s great advice on elevator pitches from the Artist’s Tools Handbook from Creative Capital:

In theater, a rule of thumb is that, for every minute of stage time in a play, you need an hour of rehearsal time–and that’s when the script is already written. So think about spending at least an hour on this. Don’t just repeat your pitch 60 times; it’s more a measure of how long you should concentrate to get something good.

 

If you have tips to share about your experience at a residency and how you made the most of it, I’d love to hear them.

Photo credit: “Ghost Ranch redrock cliffs, clouds” by Larry Lamsa


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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