Tag Archives: writing goals

Challenge Your Writing

12 Jun

Challenging your writing is important, but what does that mean?

It means trying something new—attempting a project outside your box of comfort—or switching everything up entirely. Challenging yourself can be a big or small adventure. You can try a new genre in a short story rather than a novel, for instance. But pushing yourself to try a new genre, tone, perspective, etc. can only benefit you. As an example…

I mainly write YA SFF, and I have done so for ten years now, but recently, I set out to write a historical novel. Not only that, but it is my first serious project written in third person. Why? Because I’m challenging my writing…and myself.

Challenge: Try a new utensil. If you normally type your books, try a pencil. See if that changes your perspective.

You see, I’m comfortable with first-person science fiction and fantasy. Almost too comfortable. I find myself flying through drafts and ideas—and I love that, don’t get me wrong—but I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something more. A hurdle. A bit of fear. A semblance of discovery. By challenging myself, I can learn more. I might even fall in love with a new style, genre, or voice. The possibilities are endless.

It’s easy to write with your strengths, but what about overcoming your writing weaknesses?

I struggle with romance, for instance. Though I love first-person, I find it a bit narcissistic, so concentrating on feelings on top of the I, we, me, etc. has always been uncomfortable for me. So, I thought, What about third person? I had no idea if third person would help me overcome this hurdle or not, but hey, I set out to try…and sure enough, I learned a lot about myself and about writing those more emotional scenes. In fact, I look forward to learning even more about my writing through this challenge, and I look forward to future challenges I set out to overcome.

Granted, challenges come with…well, challenges.

Normally, I would be 60,000 words into this first draft, but I’m currently sitting at 42,000…and it’s a messy 42,000. (A really messy 42,000.) But I’m also in love with the mess.

I have never been so unsure of my writing in my life, but I still believe in the manuscript. I still believe in the challenge. And even if I never finish this book, I already succeeded at reaching my original goal: Learning something new.

Constantly challenging myself helps me learn more about my writing and about myself. So I challenge you to set a challenge for yourself today.

Try a new genre. Write from a new type of character’s perspective. Attempt a different perspective entirely.

Just go on an adventure. Make mistakes. Overcome obstacles. Try again.

You might discover something amazing.

~SAT

 

#MondayBlogs Making More Time To Write

19 Dec

I wish I had more time to write.

Am I right?

But seriously, every writer I know wishes they had more time to write, and most writers also know it’s a matter of making more time to write. (You know, unless you managed to get your hands on Hermione Granger’s Time-Turner, in which case, lucky you.)

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But how does someone make more time to write?

1. Study your schedule

2. See what you can adjust

3. Set a new schedule and stick with it

Sounds simple, right? But we all know it isn’t.

We have schedules for a reason. They work. We’ve figured out how much time we need each morning to make breakfast and get ready for work. We know how much energy we have to expend throughout the day, and we know that we HAVE to watch that new KDrama releasing this month. (I mean, we all need to satisfy our vices every now and then, right?)

But here’s the truth: You CAN change your schedule…and it might be a little uncomfortable at first. You also might have to change it more than once to find that extra timeslot that works for you.

Want an example?

Recently, I wanted to meet a deadline early, but I knew I didn’t have enough time in my day to do so. In fact, I rarely write every day. My full-time job on the computer often leaves me exhausted and, quite frankly, sick of staring at a computer screen. Add carpal tunnel, and, well, it gets easy to say no to writing after work. But I knew that was my weak point, so I started there.

I set my goal: Wake up an hour early every day just to write. Before emails. Before social media. Before work. Before everything. Just an hour to write.

The first three days were awesome. Granted, I started my goal on a weekend. That way, I was still rewarded with a little extra sleep. But then the workweek came.

Holy hell. The first day wasn’t bad, but the second? UGH. The fifth day was probably the worst day, though the sixth day had me wondering if I really wanted to do this. At one point, I actually wrote less than my usual amount, because I was too tired to concentrate. Then, the seventh day came, and I adjusted much faster that morning. Now, it’s routine.

After I adjusted, I definitely reached my goals and wrote more than I expected. (I added an extra hour of writing time, after all.) I’m still getting up an hour early every day, and so far, so good. I don’t feel any more tired than I used to, and I’m more productive than I was before. I mainly attribute this to the fact that I start my day with writing. Even though I’m not a morning person, it’s easy to get bogged down by the day, but if I start writing before all of that pressure puts me down, I can write without worry, without distraction, and without the world of work life. Granted, I’m not telling everyone to do what I did. Your goals are going to be different than mine, because your life is different than mine. But I promise you, you can find more time without a Time-Turner.

So, here are three additional tips.

1. Consider what is actually holding you back. For me, it was work exhaustion, so I knew I had to find time before work. But I was hesitant. I’m not a morning person. I’m a monster in the mornings. And this fact terrified me before I even started. I was sure I would fail, but I didn’t. Don’t let your limitations set you back. Many limitations are like your schedule: You set them. You can also change them. (Though I still don’t consider myself a morning person.)

2. Make smaller goals within your larger ones. Having a goal beyond “I just want to write more” helped me push myself to reach expectations. I had a deadline. This smaller goal helped me stay focused on something specific and attainable. If you go in thinking you’re changing your life, it might make you feel overwhelmed, but if you go in thinking you’re trying to change your week, it will feel reachable.

3. Tough out your new schedule. As you saw above, I had ups and downs. I had mornings I questioned myself, and plenty of times I wanted to stay in bed, but I didn’t. I forced myself to get up again and again, and eventually, I adjusted. Personally, I suggest toughing out your schedule for at least two weeks to see if you can adjust to it. If you can’t, try another adjustment.

Changing anything in your life isn’t easy, but having more time to write?

Now, that’s worth it.

~SAT

#WW Writing in Limbo

9 Sep

This may be personal in regards to my writing life, but I’d be surprised if it were unique to me. During and right after a book release, it’s difficult for me to write. Not because I don’t want to, but because I end up spending hours upon hours on Luna-P (a.k.a. my lappy toppy) for interviews, guest posts, and social media in general (all of which I love, but it results in some sore eyes). So, for a little while after releases, I’m in a limbo period.

What is a limbo period?

Well, for me, it’s just Dante’s way of saying I’m in wait. I’m not writing right now; I’m simply waiting for the right time to write again. I’m resting, so to speak.

I’ve seen a few people call this writer’s block, but I want to clarify that it isn’t writer’s block, because I could write. (And, as you’ll see below when I talk about what I’ve been doing, you’ll see, in fact, I do write sometimes.) But it’s more like a mental vacation to regain energy and focus.

Maybe I’m the only one who does this…but I doubt it. We all need rest, after all, and I’m still productive during this limbo time.

Coffee and chocolate helps limbo too!

Coffee and chocolate helps limbo too!

What do I do during the limbo?

I mainly analyze where I’m at and where I want to go. Ex. What novel do I want to release next? What about books after that? What do I want to do differently with that novel? Covers? Events? Local events? Traveling?

I set goals, and I try to make them realistic, and I tell myself it’s okay if I don’t make them (but how cool would it be if I do?)

I’m currently in this writing limbo phase. Since Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise have released during the past two months—not to mention Death Before Daylight releasing on September 15—I’ve basically been in limbo for a little while now. And I’ve been enjoying it. While I did complete the rewrite of November Snow—See? You can write during limbo—I have focused a lot of my energy on where I’m going next. For instance, I want to release November Snow next. Then, I think I’ll return to The Tomo Trilogy (good news for you Take Me Tomorrow fans!) In fact, I was analyzing the sequel, Take Me Yesterday, just other night. I also want to try to get more swag for readers and hold two to three local events this fall for the paranormal season. I think it’d also be nice to offer signed box sets of The Timely Death Trilogy this October. So, look out for that. I’ve even taken some time to think over my blogging plan, and I might talk about this more in the future, but I’ll probably be ending guest posts in November (so now is the time to submit at shannonathompson@aol.com). I plan on using the Monday slot for old posts (we’re talking two-year-old blog posts) that were really popular, but are in need of a rewrite.

I’m planning and plotting—and not just books—and I’m having a great time.

Limbo doesn’t have to be a scary place, or an unproductive place, or a place of worry. It can be saved. In fact, it can be looked forward to. It can even take you places.

~SAT

Death Before Daylight, book 3 of The Timely Death Trilogy, releases in six days! That being said, the paperback has been moved to October 19, but I hope you all enjoy the last book of the trilogy! You can pre-order it here:  AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks. (And, of course, the first book is free: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks.)

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The latest teaser released

In other news, the Seconds Before Sunrise blog tour is underway. Most recently, we were on Just Amy for a spotlight, but I’ll share more interviews and such soon. If you want to participate in the release day blast for Death Before Daylight, sign up here.

On September 18, Clean Teen Publishing will be hosting an event on Facebook from 7-9 p.m. (EDT) to celebrate the release. I’ll be there and giving away a TON of Dark prizes, so feel free to join us by clicking here.

rp But there are more events to come! Keep an eye out.

Stay Dark,

~SAT

#WW Staying Focused as a Writer

8 Jul

#WW Staying Focused as a Writer

Staying focused. It sounds simple but is all too complicated for many. It’s different for every writer, but I’ve recognized quite a few common stressors among authors. Some get overwhelmed by finding time to write and manage social media. Others can’t finish a novel without another one sneaking up on them. Some even ditch novels altogether. Like I said, it’s different for everyone, and there are many reasons behind the variety of #writerproblems out there. (Hence why there is an actual hashtag for such things.)

So, today, I wanted to discuss one I deal with as well as the ways I’ve kept myself in check over the years, but I would love to hear about how you manage your writing!

My issue is completing a novel when a new one suddenly demands my attention.

How are we supposed to concentrate on such a beautiful day?

How are we supposed to concentrate on such a beautiful day?

While I have no problem finishing a novel or coming up with an ending, I used to have a hard time keeping focused on the one I need to complete next. Any time I got a new idea or a new character, all I wanted to do was obsess over the new, potential story in front of me. I realized it was a problem when I spent more of my time planning novels than actually writing them, and while this happened to me a few years ago, I learned a lot of little tricks to keep me focused. In fact, this exact issue happened to me recently. While I’m mainly working on the rewrite of November Snow, I have another completed novel—one that’s never been released before that I refer to as “D”—and while it is complete, there is something wrong with it in my gut. And I realized what it was just the other day. Now, all I want to do is go fix everything in that manuscript. But I have to control myself. This is how.

1. Give Yourself a Time Limit

Whether it’s writing in a new novel or posting on your social media, tell yourself you only have an hour or two to do what you want before you continue to do what you need to do. Maybe you give yourself a few days. (I did.) However much time you need, give it to yourself, but try to set a time limit so you can get back to your original task. For instance, I gave myself a few days to jot everything down for “D”, but eventually, I know I have a bigger goal that needed attention, and now, I’m back to focusing on November Snow. “D” will gets its day soon. This isn’t to say I don’t want to work on November Snow. I do. I want to work on both, but I had to pick one because of other goals I’ve set (publishing dates, for instance).

2. Be Aware of Triggers

Another aspect of this I have to control has to do with triggers. I will use music as an example. I’ve only recently started writing with music on, but now I have associated playlists, and they help me focus almost immediately. If I hear “Murakami” by Made in Heights, November Snow is the only thing I can concentrate on. But “Dreamland” by Fan Shiqi triggers “D” so fast that I’ve learned to avoid that song when I’m trying to focus on November Snow. Keeping the right triggers around me, while avoiding the wrong ones, not only energizes what I want and need to focus on, but also prevents distractions.

3. And finally—Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

This is going to contradict my first tip, but if you go over your time limit or you simply change goals altogether, that’s fine. You know in your gut what you need and want to do. It’s a matter of being honest with yourself, understanding yourself, and accepting yourself and your artistic process. I could beat myself up all day that I lost time on the November Snow rewrite for “D”, but that would be counterproductive. I got something done, after all. Now, I just need to get more done. Just keep moving.

This is how I’ve stayed focused through my #writerproblems. How about you? What are your tricks and tips?

~SAT

Announcements:

We’re 20 days away from Minutes Before Sunset!

Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2, is also up for pre-order.

And? Clean Teen Publishing listed another Goodreads Giveaway!

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Also, I’ll be at Penned Con in St. Louis Missouri on July 25. If you want to meet me, send me an email! I’m just going as a reader, but I do have my first author event booked for October 17-18 at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX. Other events will appear on my Events page in the near future.

In other news, I’m also accepting guest bloggers again. My earliest available date is in October, so be sure to email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re interested. I accept any posts about writing and reading, and I encourage bios, photos, and links. I look forward to hearing from you!

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#WW The Joy of Progress Bars

17 Jun

#WW The Joy of Progress Bars

If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember when I used to have a progress bar on the right side of my website. I no longer have one, but I’ll talk about that in a minute. Since I no longer have on, my progress bar revolved around my current writing projects. Generally, I had two novels at once, and I included the status (ex. Editing) as well as the estimated release date. I have samples below, but I mainly outlined when my novels were being written, edited, and formatted until the release date. That being said, I loved having progress bars on my website, and I encourage every writer to at least try it for three months. Why?

1. It’s interactive with readers!

A progress bar keeps your readers up-to-date. Not only do they know where you are in your work but they can also talk to you about where you are. Everyone can be a part of the process now, and as a reader myself, I think it’s exciting to see all the steps as they happen. Want to know if I’m editing? Want to know if I’m reviewing edits? Now you know, and you can know where I’m at during every step of the process as the weeks pass. It builds up all that hype, and you can celebrate every milestone with your readers! This is actually the reason I started doing it. When I began receiving regular emails about my current status with my next novel, I wanted to find a way to keep everyone updated by just visiting my website, and it worked wonders for everyone! We could chat whenever we wanted about where we were at and skip the questions so we could go directly to celebrating progress.

Progress from June 3, 2014 - September 28, 2013

Progress from June 3, 2014 – September 28, 2014

2. It reminds writers of how far they’ve come

I definitely recommend progress bars to new writers because it will help you from getting discouraged. At first, it won’t seem like a lot, but when you see your bars over months right next to one another, you can see how much you are accomplishing, and that’s a great feeling! It can help you set goals and encourage yourself. But be warned. Some writers have the opposite feelings about bars. They feel discouraged, like they aren’t moving forward, and it sometimes puts too much pressure on writers, so while it works for many—it’s fun for me—it has also felt worse for others. So, figure out what type of writer you are. If you love writing goals, this might be for you. If you love keeping track of your word count, this might be for you. But if writing goals and word count makes you shrink away from your computer screen, I wouldn’t do it. I would just write.

So why don’t I have one anymore?

Well, I probably will again soon! Honestly, though, I deleted mine when my old publisher closed down because I knew I couldn’t update anyone. Now that I’m back in the swing of things, I will probably keep everyone updated on my writing progress with November Snow and other projects as we move forward. If you want to try one, I make mine via PicMonkey. It’s simple and free—and fun! I love looking back on mine, and I love looking forward to new ones.

What about you? Have you ever tried a progress bar? Would you ever consider trying one?

~SAT

#SATurday Author Goals

6 Jun

#SATurday Author Goals

About a week ago, my publisher—Clean Teen Publishing—went to Book Expo of America (#BEA15) to share our novels with the world. Awesome, right? I almost jumped out of my computer chair at the sight (and I rarely leave that chair, considering I’m a writer ::wink::) After that, I basically stalked their LIVE pictures all afternoon and wished I were there . . . which brings me to what I want to talk about.

Author goals.

Everyone discusses word count for the day or hopeful release dates. Sometimes, I even see a confession of wanting to hit the New York Times bestseller list, of dreaming up a day that their novel is a movie, but I haven’t seen a lot of variety in author goals. Main one? Get popular. It’s generally worded differently, of course, but that’s what I generally see, and I want to take a moment to clarify how much I don’t think that’s wrong. (I don’t.) I just wish I saw different types of goals discussed. I don’t know about you all, but I wonder about my author goals a lot. I know I want to be able to travel more. In fact, by next summer, I hope I am packing up and hitting the road with boxes of books in my truck (or on a plane or train or whatever I’m on). I have a set goal for UtopYA, but I also would like to make it to more events than one. That’s currently my biggest goal. (And that specific goal gets bigger for me.)

Here is Clean Teen Publishing at BEA15!

Here is Clean Teen Publishing at BEA15!

Why do I want to travel as an author more?

Well, I mainly want to have the opportunity to meet more readers face to face. I want to shake their hand, hug them, take an Instagram photo with them, sign their book, give them a cookie, etc. Anything really. This is about to get crazy, and it’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I think one of my biggest dreams is traveling as an author but always meeting a random reader (out of a lottery of readers in that city) for coffee. This means that if I meet my goal of traveling more by next summer, you should look out, because I am going to meet SOMEONE for coffee. That is a promise.

This is a goal of mine, and it might seem silly or outlandish or that I’m dreaming too wildly, but traveling is in my bones. I grew up on the road. I travel anyway. I just want to incorporate that part of my life into my writing life, and I want to take it as an opportunity to thank those who have supported me along the road of life. (See what I did there? God, I love cheesy metaphors.)

Sure, a lot of authors want to hit those bestseller lists or have movies made out of their books, but I don’t think those are on my goals. (Not that I’d complain if it happened.) But I think most of my goals revolve around giving out more gifts to readers and meeting more readers (and meeting more writers). I dream of flying to Australia to meet one of my super fans who’s begged me to come out there. I dream of flying my readers out to a major Comic Con they’ve been wanting to go to. I dream of involving readers in my writing process. (And in fact, I think a beta reading opportunity might be coming up soon, so look out for that.) I dream of meeting them, and I think it’s because I am a reader—just as much as I am a writer—and meeting my favorite authors are some of the highlights of my life. Traveling more might help that happen!

This isn’t a promise or manifesto by any means. I’m just a girl with a dream, trying to make it happen every day, and talking about it out of curiosity more than anything else (and a tad bit of embarrassment ::blush::).

My other author goals include sitting on a panel at a literary festival, attending a Comic Con as an author, collaborating on a novel (specifically like Holly Black did with Cassandra Clare, when your characters appear in one another’s novels but don’t’ necessarily affect the story, not the actual collaboration novel they did), teaching a writer seminar for young writers, and seeing a book translated into another language. (The other language dream stems from the fact that I love languages, and I have a deep appreciate for language, especially after studying Italian in college at a fluent level.) And . . . I probably have so many more but those are the ones that came to mind today.

What are your author goals? And if you’re not a writer, what are your reading goals? (For instance, I want to meet Meg Cabot and Ally Carter. I want to meet them SO bad.) Let’s talk about your goals!

~SAT

We’re coming up on one year since Take Me Tomorrow released, but this YA dystopian novel was only available for a few months. Recently, I’ve received a lot of messages about how to get ahold of a copy, and now you can!

By donating to www.ShannonAThompson.com, you will receive an eBook as well as a permanent website slot on the donations page. All the proceeds will go toward book events later this year and next year, so we can finally meet in person. (Think UtopYA.) Once you donate, you can expect an email from shannonathompson@aol.com within 24 hours!

Thank you for your continuous support,
~SAT

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