Monday, February 21, 2011

There are different ways of getting to a destination. Some ways take longer but are worth the time because of the scenery and experiences you get along the way. But sometimes you just need to find a fast way to get from where you are to where you need to be.

Today I'm going to be talking about both ways (although I'll focus more on the latter) for the final installation of a three-part series on writing tips for completing your manuscript--a series I've entitled CSG.

If you missed the first two parts in the series or would like to re-read them, here are the links:
  1. CSG Part One: A Companion for the Journey
  2. CSG Part Two: Devotion on a Schedule
And now for the G of the CSG plan: Goal.

As I mentioned in my first post for this series, my writing life was rather sporadic until 2011. I was taking the longer way, so to speak, for trying to finish my manuscript. Like riding in a glider (which I've done twice--and loved!), I was just meandering along through the clear blue sky, waiting for those "lifts" of inspiration that would make the trip worthwhile and exciting.

However, unlike the short glider rides I've been on that only last for 20 minutes or so, my writing life had no exact time frame. Everything was vague--I knew where the landing strip was and where I wanted to eventually go, but I didn't know exactly when I was going to get there or how.

And yet, as unproductive as that sounds, I think I needed that excursion. I needed those years of ruminating, of research, and of relaxed writing. I gathered information and ideas, and I grew up a little from that time years ago when the story first grabbed hold of my heart. It was OK for my writing to take a glider ride, waiting for those updrafts and cruising along, carefree.

But when 2011 came around, I realized that if I wanted to ever land and get to my destination--finishing my manuscript and publishing my story--then I needed to have a goal. The end needed to be in sight and the tracks needed to be laid to help get me to that end.

Now, I'm speaking from where I am chugging down the tracks. I haven't reached my goal yet, but I can tell you that it has helped me to have one.

When I told my writing companion about my goal, she encouraged me to keep it in sight, even if I didn't get all the way there this time. And why is that? Because having a sense of direction, having a deadline, helps get work done!

What is my goal? Well, my goal is to finish my manuscript by May 31, 2011. And then after that, my goal is to edit, polish, get endorsements, write a proposal, and make my way to the 2011 Oregon Christian Writers Conference in August.

Will all of that happen? Only God knows, but having this goal in mind--this time frame (the tracks) and this hope (the destination)--has helped me finally stick to a writing schedule, so I can actually sit down and get words on the pages!

As I think about my goal, I'm reminded of my Teaching the Bible class at Corban University. In that class we are encouraged to teach applications during out Bible studies--applications which are supposed to be specific, possible, and measurable.

I believe our writing goals should also be the same if we expect them to be practical and applicable. They should be specific, so that we don't end up wandering aimlessly. They should be possible, so that we don't give up too quickly or become discouraged. And they should be measurable, so that we can know where we stand and how close we are to the final destination.

Have you benefited from having goals in the past? If you need some direction, what specific goals can you make this year to help encourage you to keep on writing?

(That first picture is of me and my dad on our glider ride this past summer, along with the very fun pilot from Sunriver Soaring! The other pictures are photos I think my dad took on a train ride during our trip to Virginia City, Nevada, also last summer.)


  1. I know what you mean about setting goals - for me, it's so important! I am SUCH a procrastinator that, if I don't have a goal in mind, it's likely to never get done. lol! :-)

    Right now my goal is to finished my suspense book by the end of the year and, Lord willing, be almost finished with the re-writing of my historical fiction. :-)

    ~ Katy

  2. And let's not forget the absolute *rush* that we get when we obtain a goal we've set for ourselves. I still remember the deep satisfaction of finishing my very first 100K manuscript. More than anything, I proved to myself, through that work, that I could not only set, but reach a goal.

  3. Good luck with both of those projects, Katy!

    Amber, I love this line:

    "they (goals) should be measurable, so that we can know where we stand and how close we are to the final destination."

    Measuring our progress along our writing journey is as important as finishing that first manuscript, IMHO. Too many times, I forgot how far I'd come since I set those first words to paper. Going back over old score sheets, reading those first feeble attempts, scanning rejection letters...all of those things helped me track and measure the improvements in my writing. And that, of course, is what kept (and keeps) me going!

  4. Amber,

    Thanks so much for this series! Setting a weekly goal and specific times to sit down and write (and in my case kicking out some other things like book reviewing) is helping, although I'm just starting this up again.

    My goal is to complete my first draft in August. That's my long goal with writing my smallest minimum. Should I hit my maximum, I can be done by June 30.

    Thanks for the extra push and the help, Amber!

  5. Katy,

    Hahaha, I'm with you there! I'm definitely a procrastinator (especially when it comes to homework--I like to think pressure makes me crank the work out faster...). ;) That's why having a schedule and a goal (and a companion!) has helped me so much in actually getting writing done.

    I'll echo Lisa and wish you well with your projects! :) Way to go!


  6. Sandra M.,

    For sure! That's why having a "possible" goal is so important--because then we can actually meet the goal and feel the satisfaction that comes with finishing a project. :)

    And wow! 100K words!! That is definitely quite the accomplishment! :) Thanks for stopping by and encouraging us!


  7. Lisa,

    I agree! It's such a blessing to be able to look back and see how far you've come every now and then. :)

    Thank you for checking in and sharing your thoughts!


  8. Julia,

    I'm so glad that this series was helpful to you! :) I enjoyed writing the posts and organizing my thoughts about what I'm learning on my writing journey.

    Best wishes for your continued progress, and I look forward to checking in with you every week! :)


  9. Amber, once again you are such an inspiration to writers, and readers, too! ;) Goals are important for anyone in any area of life and what you said here is so very encouraging, especially since you’re practicing what you preach! What we “do” touches and resonates with people more than anything we could ever just “say.” If we don’t live our convictions what good are they? You’re trusting God and He is honoring your faith, my friend, and bringing things together so well, and watching it unfold has been such a blessing to me and a testament that when we commit our ways to the Lord He will make our path straight. I pray for every detail concerning your book all the way to the Writers Conference and beyond, my friend! I know He has great things in store for you :)

    @ Katy & Julia, praying the Lord will guide and bless you both as you write your manuscripts, as well, and travel on the road towards your goal of publication! How exciting! I’m so proud of all of you and look forward to the day I can hold your books in my hands :)


    P.S. - You and your daddy look so cute! Oh, and I just sent you an email ;)

  10. Amanda,

    Thank you so much--for your support, your encouragement, and your kind words!! :D You are such a sweet friend and such a wonderful writing companion! I'm still on those tracks and haven't made it to the destination yet of completing my manuscript, but I have been blessed with a great companion, time for a writing schedule, and hopeful goals to keep me going. :)

    Thank you, also, for being an inspiration to me. You are always so humble and kind, and you have an encouraging word for everyone!

    Hope you have a great day, my friend!


    P.S. Awww, thank you! We were pretty squished in the back of that glider, but we had a lot of fun. :) And thank you for your e-mail!

  11. Amber I have tons of confidence that you will meet your writing goal! I have to admit that when I set goals or more specifically goals with dates I do usually meet them but at the last minute! Like Katy I'm a procrastinator LOL! Thanks for sharing a bit of your writing journey and those great pics! A train ride would be fun but I don't think I'm brave enough to glide! :-P

    XOXO~ Renee

  12. Renee,

    Awww, thank you! And yes, I know what you mean--I am pretty skilled at the art of procrastination, myself. ;)

    Anyway, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and the pictures! I LOVE train rides, but I also LOVE flying! :) I'm not super brave or anything, but riding in a glider is soooo much fun!



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