Tomorrow’s Achievements


Like all new years, it is welcomed as an opportunity for new beginnings.

“New year’s babies” are born.

New year’s resolutions are made.

We turn our backs on the previous year and look forward to future possibilities.

It is a time when writers (and aspiring writers) set goals. We shake off the failures and disappointments of the past and vow to do better. 

Write more.

Improve our skills. 

Work harder.

In our personal lives, especially in times of emotional trouble, “taking it day-by-day” is often good advice.

But what about writers?

It’s often hard for those of us who are planners, list makers and goal setters to take it one day at a time.

We plan. Look at the year ahead. The big picture.

Writers break goals down book by book, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, page by page.

Often, even word by word.

Breaking our writing into increments that are too small won’t get that book written; taking on too much will often lead to frustration and disappointment.

In the end, we must attempt what is challenging, yet doable. 

Meeting our goals for 2022 will lead to bigger and better ones in the years ahead.

The “New Beginnings” today will be tomorrow’s achievements.

Fashionably Late

The last line in one of my chapters said “Snow began to fall.” However, it was raining in the next chapter. Big trouble. I had to rewrite a little to make sure the weather in those two chapters was identical. 

In your writing, if your character is wearing a T-shirt and shorts, then the next paragraph cannot have him shrugging off his coat.

You can save yourself a lot of work if you will plan these things out down to the minutest detail before you write. 

It won’t be just a matter of substituting one word (rain) for the other (snow). No, what about the character’s physical and emotional reactions to the weather (He shivered…) or the fact that he/she probably wouldn’t be playing tennis in the snow?

I found it to be, quite literally, a house of cards. Maybe dominoes resting on each other would be a more accurate description. Just one tiny push—one small mistake—and it all comes tumbling down.

It is embarrassing to look at a proof and see gigantic mistakes staring right back at you. (I have literally hit my forehead with the heel of my hand more than once and said, “Duh!”) 

If I need to slow down and miss a deadline, then so be it. Better to be late than produce a book riddled with mistakes.

You may think, “I’ll just leave these things for my editor to sort out and clean up for me.”

From my experience, that would be a big mistake. I had my book edited twice and I still found mistakes on my twelfth read through!  

That’s right. I had competent editors, about eight months apart, go through my manuscript. Still, content mistakes were found as I read through them later.  Part of the reason, I think, is that they don’t—and will never—know the story like I do. Or, maybe they just get caught up in the story and forget what they are supposed to be doing. I’m really not sure. 

But, the point is this: Ultimately, it is your book. The buck stops with you. 

So, be diligent. Be a perfectionist. Make it the best it can be.

Even if, like me, you end up being fashionably late.

Revisit, Rethink, Revise, Rewrite

A lot can happen between January and April. A writing plan that is made at the beginning of the year, without revision, will simply not take us past spring, into summer and beyond. It’s time to revisit, update and, if necessary, rewrite.

Let’s ask ourselves these questions: Is my plan still working? Is it still realistic? What has changed in my life since the plan was written? Do those changes affect my being able to carry out the plan? If so, what needs to be adjusted?

Here is what I have found. The culprit in my efforts to keep to plan is time. When I wrote my plan in January, I failed to factor in time necessary for research, webinars, and writing-related reading. I hadn’t allowed for the hours necessary for completing submissions. And finally, I had scheduled so many hours of writing, that I hadn’t left enough time available for my personal life—attending family dinners, movies with my husband, walking the dog.

So, perhaps I need to write a life plan that includes devotions, writing, exercise, volunteering, family/friends activities, housework, and leisure. Writing can be a large part of that plan, but I need to allow for the unplanned, too—that surprise visit from Aunt Martha, an unexpected phone call, a refrigerator on the fritz.

This quarter, I am going to tackle this time problem, once and for all. First, I am not answering the door or the phone during my scheduled writing time. I’m going to take advantage of voicemail, email, and texting by answering once my writing time is completed.  Secondly, I am building in an hour of flex time into my day—time for the previously unexpected, which I am now going to dub the “expected interruptions.” I don’t know exactly when they will come, but I do know with a fair degree of certainty that they will come. And when they do, I’ll be ready.

I am hoping this new daily plan will keep me from getting frazzled and help me meet my husband at the door with a smile, rather than the wild-eyed look I have been famous for these last few months. And, oh yes, I am setting up a reward system. I am giving myself a little reward at the end of each day that I actually keep to my plan. Time to pleasure read, calling a friend and chatting (yes, a real conversation, not a text), enjoying lemonade on the patio, and watching a favorite television show are on my short list.

Your problem may not be time. Yours may be self-motivation or organization. No matter what they are, problems will remain problems, unless we meet them head on.

It all starts with a plan. A plan that is tweaked often so that we can better reach our writing goals. A plan that is rewarded in increments so that we are encouraged to keep on writing on a daily basis.

Someone will write words that will inspire others for generations to come. Will they be yours?



So, here it is. A brand new year. If you’re like me, you contemplate making a few resolutions—goals for your lives, for your writing. Rather than hear about mine, perhaps now is the time to spend a few minutes in reflection of the past year and set your face toward the future. Will you be content to let the days go by without a plan, or will you resolve, as I have, to attempt more control over your writing life?

I say make a plan. Put it out there for all to read and enjoy their encouragement along the way—every day of 2015. Spotlight your goals. Update often. Revise when necessary. Feel free at any time to scrap them, rethink them, rewrite them. Go for it.

If you don’t start out to achieve, I think it is dead certain that you won’t. I’ve never heard of an athlete, musician, or public figure that didn’t work toward their goal, on a daily basis. One step, one note, one idea at a time.

One stroke of a key can mean the difference between meeting that goal or forever wishing that you had. It’s all at the tip of your fingers.

That next broken record, sonata, or humanitarian act is just waiting for someone to achieve it. Will it be you?