Checking In

We’ve been pursuing our writing goals, our writing dreams, for three months now, and it’s time for a check-in. What goals did you set for yourself at the beginning of January? How close are you to achieving them? What is working for you? What are you struggling with?

Until now, we’ve been looking at things we need to do, to change, goals we need to set, to have success as writers. Next week, we’re going to shift focus to being more actively productive as writers. There will still be some of that internal stuff, because most often it is that internal stuff that keeps us from being productive, but it won’t be our main focus.

If you’d like to further explore any of the issues we’ve talked about in this blog, or what we will be talking about, if you’d like to have a personalized plan and one-on-one guidance from me, head on over to my page on coaching, and sign up for your Complimentary Discovery Session! Let’s chat, and see if coaching is the right step, the next step, for you.

Not quite ready to take the plunge into coaching? Sign up for my e-newsletter and you will receive the quick guide “10 Keys to Perseverance”. Each monthly newsletter contains an additional article or two each month. Need another reason to sign up? Each month in 2016, one of my newsletter subscribers who also comments on my blog, receives a $10 gift card for their favorite bookstore.

I’m going to have some more exciting news for you in the next few weeks. I can let you know that some of it involves the workshops I offer, making them accessible to all, and easy to use any time.

In the meantime, I’m teaching Blueprint for Writing Success Starting Monday, April 4, over at Check out the Course Page Here. It’s a steal of a deal! I hope to see you there!

And now I’m going to comment on my own Check-in!

I set the goal of having my novel edited by the end of March. I am very close to having the second draft done. I need to work hard the next few days to get there, but I think I’ll make it. If not by the end of the day on Thursday, for sure by the end of the weekend. It’s still not where I wanted it to be. The second half needs a lot of work, but I think once this draft is done, the worst of it is over, and then it is the fine-tuning and adding the finesse. I want it done by the end of April. So yes, some success, but there have been some struggles. Some of those struggles I’ve shared with you. It is with these kinds of struggles that I have to revisit my goals, revise them as needed, make the changes I am in control of, and carry on.

What goals did you set for yourself at the beginning of January? How close are you to achieving them? What is working for you? What are you struggling with?

Let it go

“It was a bad writing day yesterday. Today isn’t going to be any better.”

“You didn’t write yesterday. Don’t bother writing today.”

If I were a betting person, I’d wager you’ve thought those above statements plenty of times before. They are two of the favourite things our Inner Saboteur likes to say to us.

The Saboteur doesn’t just stop there. The Saboteur elaborates, tells us how we’re terrible writers because of those bad days; that we should quit; that we aren’t real writers. The exact words may vary, but the message is the same.

Picking ourselves up after these smack-downs is not easy. What is easy, is giving in to the not writing, the belief that you aren’t good enough, that you shouldn’t bother Giving in isn’t going to get us to completing our goals.

There is only one way we can pick ourselves up and move forward, and that’s to write.

I am very aware of how difficult that is. It does’t have to be. Here are a few ways to make it easier:

  1. Every day is a new day. Scarlett O’Hara’s known for saying “Tomorrow is another day.” If it helps, tell that to yourself when you go to bed after a bad or non-writing day. When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself, “Today is another day.” What happened yesterday no longer matters.
  2. Set it aside. Not the writing, but whatever happened the day before to stop you from writing. I mention this a fair bit, but it’s worth repeating. Pull out a journal or open up a file on your computer. Write down you doubts, your worries, what your Inner Saboteur is telling you. Set the journal aside, shut the file. If you need more drastic measures, delete the file or rip out the page and tear it up.
  3. Revisit your goals. Remind yourself of what you want, why you want it, and what you will do to get it. Remind yourself that watching TV or surfing the internet isn’t going to get you there, writing will.
  4. Revisit your daily goals. Are they realistic? Do they fit into your daily schedule? Our lives change over time. Add words, remove words, shift your writing time. Make adjustments as necessary.
  5. Reward yourself. Last week we talked about how anticipating a reward helps make an action a habit. Reinforce that anticipation. Give yourself that reward at the end of the day’s writing session. Give yourself that reward after each writing session for the first twenty-one days.
  6. Believe in yourself. Believe that you can do this. You can write.

What will you do today, to pick yourself up, and write?

Make it so!

Happy New Year!

Join me on a goal-achieving adventure this year!

Believe it or not, I’m not big on new year’s resolutions. Why? They tend to be impossibly big, vague, and requiring a drastic change with little to no preparation before-hand.

That doesn’t mean I don’t make any plans or goals for the new year, and I expect you’re the same way. Why don’t we accomplish them together?

Over the next several months, on this blog, I’m going to walk through what needs to be done to achieve our goals. I want you to be a big part of this community. Comment on the posts, participate in the challenges, let me know what is working for you, and what isn’t working for you. With your participation, you will help keep me accountable, and I promise to do the same for you.

To start this adventure, let’s talk about our goals for the year.

Setting goals is one thing. To actually achieve them—to put in the work, to make the time—is a different beast. You’ve probably heard the saying that knowledge is power. Perhaps you’ve also heard that using that knowledge is the real power. I’ve talked more than enough about setting achievable and exceedable goals. You can see yourself the achievable goal of writing one word a day, but if you do nothing different to make that happen, then even that one word a day goal isn’t achievable.

The first thing we need to do to make sure we can accomplish our goals, is to make them specific. Remember my problem with new year’s resolutions being too vague? We don’t want that. We want to be as specific as possible. But like resolutions, make them big. I want us to push ourselves this year. We don’t have to worry about them being too drastic a change, because we have all year to accomplish them.

Aim high.

What are your writing goals for this year?

I’ve got an ambitious year planned. I have a first draft of a novel written that I need to have fully edited and out the door, hopefully in March, or June at the latest. I also want to outline, draft, and edit a second novel by the end of December. And my stretch goal is to outline a couple more novels.

Now it’s your turn. Share your goals in the comments. Telling others what your goals are is a great start to keeping each other accountable and making those goals happen.

Let’s make this year OUR most successful year yet!

Levelling Up

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a fantastic holiday break during which I spent my days being nothing but a writer. I finished a first draft of a novel, and have begun major edits on another. Before I started those edits, though, I sat down and took some time thinking about what I need to do to elevate my writing, to take it to the next level.

The publishing industry is in major flux, with mergers and the growing number of small presses and indie-authors. The reading public is also more demanding, requiring constant improvement by authors. The quality of writing that may have won a major award a few years ago is now what is expected of the average author. I love the challenge.

That’s why I enjoy the editing process so much. I have grown to love fine-tuning the prose, getting things just right, making sure the creative dream I had when I first wrote the story, becomes clear, vivid, real. But it isn’t enough any more. I’ve grown as a writer and so what I wrote a few years ago and thought was great, now needs a lot of work.

Facing that challenge can be daunting, but being the stubborn person that I am, I chose to take it on, to prove that it can be done. After all, growing and learing is a life-long process.

Where are you in your writing career? Are you satisfied or do you want to take it to the next level? What one thing will you do to challenge yourself in your growth as a writer?

Consider hiring a Coach to help stretch you, and get you to where you want to be. Not sure that coaching is for you? I offer a Complimentary 45 minute coaching session. It’s a great opportunity to explore what coaching is really like, and if it is the right thing for you. If you’re interested, send me an e-mail at sherrypeters @ outlook . com.


Other notes:

I am Guest Blogger today over at The Fictorians, discussing the importance of attending your local fan convention.

Don’t forget to sign up for the following workshop:

Plan for Success
January 20, 2014 – February 16, 2014
at Savvy Authors

It is easy to create lists of projects we want to complete and goals we want to achieve. How often do those projects and goals get abandoned part-way to completion or even before they are started? No matter how good our intentions are or how hard we work to complete the projects, something seems to get in the way. This workshop is an intensive look at the four stages of project completion and how to overcome the fears that stop us.

Upcoming Workshops

I’m ecstatic to let you all know that I will be offering the following workshops in 2014 through Savvy Authors. I will update the links to the registration pages as they become availabe, so stay tuned to the little box on the right-hand side of this page. In the meantime, below is some information about what you can expect in each workshop.

Plan for Success
January 20, 2014 – February 16, 2014
at Savvy Authors

It is easy to create lists of projects we want to complete and goals we want to achieve. How often do those projects and goals get abandoned part-way to completion or even before they are started? No matter how good our intentions are or how hard we work to complete the projects, something seems to get in the way. This workshop is an intensive look at the four stages of project completion and how to overcome the fears that stop us.

The lessons will cover:

Fear of Dreaming
Fear of Failure
Fear of Upsetting People
Fear of Conflict
Wrap-Up and Q & A

Silencing Your Inner Saboteur Workshop 

June 9, 2014 – July 6, 2014
at Savvy Authors

In this workshop, participants will identify the voice of your saboteur, recognize the tricks it uses to keep you from achieving your goals, and how to win the battle against it.

The workshop covers such topics as:
The source of the Saboteur
Identifying the Dominant Voice of the Saboteur
What the Saboteur Says
The Physical Manifestation or The Symptoms of the Saboteur in your life
Naming the Saboteur
Goal Setting
“Go away and never come back!”: Other ways to silence the Saboteur
But I have a Day Job
November 3, 2014 – November 14, 2014
at Savvy Authors

Though we all dream of the day we can quit our day job to spend our days doing what we love, pursuing our passion, the reality is that for most of us, this may never happen, or it will not happen for years. So how do you find the time to do what you love, even change careers, when there are bills to pay, jobs to go to, kids to take care of, homes to clean, and so many other demands on our time? In this workshop, participants will look at the priorities in their lives and how to strike that work/life balance.

The lessons will cover:

Is a work/life balance possible?
Goal Setting
Time Management
Wrap-Up and Q & A

For all workshops, supporting exercises reinforce the lessons, and I provide individual feedback to participants.

Finding the Sweet Spot

I talk a lot about achievable and exceedable goals. One of the basic principles of achievable and exceedable goals for writers, is that you set yourself a specific amount of time and/or word count that you know you will be able to reach each day. Once you’re able to routinely exceed that goal, then you increase it. It is important to make sure the goals, even the new ones, are achievable, so that we continue with that feeling of accomplishment.

And then there is what I like to call the ‘Sweet Spot”. The Sweet Spot is that amount of time or word count that you can routinely meet each day you write. Any more, though it can be done, feels like it is work, like you’re straining, reaching too hard for something that isn’t there.

When you write to your Sweet Spot, you leave your writing for the day feeling accomplished, happy, energized, and ready to return to the work in progress the next day. Writing to your Sweet Spot makes the writing process more enjoyable, and pushes away the desire to procrastinate.

Stephen King’s Sweet Spot is 2,000 a day. Maybe yours is 500 words a day. That’s OK. You may not be as prolific as Stephen King, but you will enjoy your writing. And when you enjoy your writing, you’ll want to spend more time with it, and make it the best you possibly can, which gives you a greater chance of reaching your publication goals.

There is also the bonus, as with all achievable and exceedable goals, that your Sweet Spot may grow over time. Marathon Runners don’t begin by running a marathon. They train first with running a mile, then a few more, until they build up their endurance and their body can handle more physical exertion. And so it is with writers. You may find that over time, your Sweet Spot increases.

What is your writing Sweet Spot?


NaNoWriMo Special!

Are you preparing to write 50,000 words as part of NaNoWriMo?

Don’t let your Inner Saboteur make you procrastinate, leaving it to the last two weeks!

Dont’ let your Inner Saboteur stop you from reaching your NaNo goals!

Silencing Your Inner Saboteur Cover WhiteUntil the end of November, get a 1 hour coaching session and a free e-book edition of Silencing Your Inner Saboteur! This offer, regularly valued at $100, can be yours for $40. This is a spectacular deal! Don’t miss out!

In that one hour, we will silence your inner saboteur, get you writing consistently, and have the motivation to complete NaNo, and beyond.

Coaching can be done over the phone, by Skype or Google+, it’s your choice!

This is a No Obligation Offer, meaning no sales pitch will be made.

Just fill out the information below and we’ll get started!

It Makes a Difference

Why does it feel like such a chore to sit down and actually write?  It’s that sense of dread that often leads to procrastination.

What if you actually enjoyed the writing process? Yes, it is possible!

It starts with the love of the story you’re writing, and a love of the characters. A curiosity  and willingness to explore the world and the adventure. And a great sense of mischief, to put our charachers in all kinds of trouble.

But to actually love the process of writing takes something else too. It isn’t complicated. I think the fabulous author David Morrell, author of Rambo among many other New York Times’ Bestsellers said it best. I attended a workshop of his back in 2008. He reminded us that not everything we write is going to sell. So to keep that love of the book or story, and the process of writing we need to make a list of the following:

  • Why the project is important to us.
  • What is the theme? What are we trying to say with it?
  • What do you, personally, want to get out of writing it? Maybe you want to work on your description, or character arc, or prove to yourself that you can write a certain amount in a given time-frame.
  • What do you want to professionally, get out of writing it? Maybe this is the one that you will send to Asimov’s or Analog, or submit to agents.
  • I’m also going to add in here, add to this list the reasons you write. Why you chose to become a writer, what or who inspired you to become a writer, and what you enjoy about it.

Keep this list handy, because there are going to be times, many times, when writing just isn’t fun, especially when you’re waiting for a response from a publisher or agent, or those rejections start piling up.


What keeps you motivated?

Autumn has begun. I don’t know about you, but where I live, as beautiful as it is when the leaves change colour, it is also a precursor to the immnent and seemingly endless deep-freeze of winter. Along with the cold and snow comes shorter days and longer nights, the darkness arriving before leaving work, and staying until work begins the next morning. At times like this, it is difficult to stay motivated. It becomes far too easy to sit on th couch, curled up under a blanket, a cozy fire in the fireplace, and a good book or endless hours of TV.

Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? It kind of is. But it also means projects aren’t being worked on and goals aren’t being met.  So how, over the winter months, can you stay motivated?

I am a big believer in rewards. I believe we all respond far more positively to rewards rather than the threat of punishment. Wouldn’t you rather work on something if you knew there is some kind of reward waiting for you, be it an hour of reading, or watching TV, or something else you enjoy? In psychology this is called rewarding good behaviour through positive reinforcement.

Punishing bad behaviour may be effective once or twice as a deterrent, but it can wear on us after a while. We will tire of avoiding the punishment, tire of being called bad or lazy and trying to prove the label wrong. When we work towards something positive, we are more likely to be willing to repeat that positive behaviour, in this case working on a goal or project. We are more willing to repeat this behaviour because we feel good about ourselves. And we will work harder to achieve a better reward.

My favourite reward is time to read, or a trip to the bookstore.

How do you reward yourself to stay motivated?

What’s Stopping You. . . Part 2

We are now well into September, and our routines are, if not settled, then nearly so. Do you still find you’re unable to take those small steps towards achieving your goals? Maybe you just don’t feel like you have the energy to get started after a long day, and need to use your weekends to recuperate. What if you’ve already taken the time to look at and re-evaluate the problem and what you need to fix to keep moving forward and you still can’t see your way forward?

Take a closer look at the situation, the project, and the overall outcome you are hoping for. What is it about the projject that keeps needing to be fixed? Are you tired of it? Is this the project that is going to give you the outcome you desire? Is it worth your time to continue on it? What is it you are really protesting? Is it a wrong step, or would a different project be better for you and get you to your desired outcome?

I encountered this situation this past week. I’ve been working on a project for the last year. Several times I’ve thought I was well on my way to completion and then I’d get stuck. I’d look back at it, figure out where I went wrong, go back to that point and start fresh, only to get stuck again. This happened several times. It got to the point where I dreaded going back to it. and yet I felt the pressure to continue, to finish, because I don’t believe in abandonning projects just becasue it isn’t working out once or twice. But after a year of struggling, I started paying attention to what my mind and body were protesting. The real protest was that this was not the right project for me. I finally decided to set that project aside for now or indefinitely and to work on a new project. I don’t quite know what that will be, but I’m looking forward to it.

Once I made that decision, I felt relief and joy. I knew I’d listened to myself and know what is right for me. And now, for the first time in a few years, I am excited to be working on a new project. It is in the same field and with the goal of the same end result, it is just a different way of getting there.

What is really stopping you from moving forward?

Coaching Conversations With. . .

In my other life I’m a Fantasy writer (Thus the reason for “Silencing Your Inner Saboteur” being a tool for writers). I blame this imaginative side of me for what you’re about to read. Througout my trainging as a coach and now in my practice there is a lot of discussion about not judging the client or imposing my own values on them, which is all fabulous. But it makes the writer in me worry that one day I’ll have a client who needs help achieving their goal of becoming a serial killer. Now, given that the laws and my contract state that should I fear for someone’s safety, I can report the client, this shouldn’t be a worry. But then I get to thinking that maybe I shouldn’t judge the client and not impose my values on them. Then I began to imagine just what one of these coaching conversations would look like.

DISCLAIMER #1: This is not a real coaching conversation. Some of the questions asked might come up in an actual coaching session, but the structure and duration is much shorter than a real session.

DISCLAIMER #2: Any characters appearing in “Coaching Sessions With. . .” are fictional, I do not own the rights to these characters. This is my own interpretation of what they might say. This is not fan fiction. This is not, in any way, an attempt to alter or add to the canon of any given character’s story arc or the world of their creators.

DISCLAIMER #3: There may be spoilers ahead.

And now, I give you: Coaching Conversations With. . . Darth Vader

Me: Now, Lord Vader, we have 30 minutes together, what would be the BEST use ouf time together?

LV: I’m having trouble completing my Death Star. There are just so many distractions and demands on my time. And then there are these pesky rebels who want to blow it up. But I know that if I finish it, they will leave it alone. Why can’t I just finish it? There are just so many . . . Prioritization. I need to work on that. When to choke hold, when to plan tactical maneuvers, when to build.

Me: Priortization is the absolute most important goal for today?

LV: I think so. Maybe not. No. I’m just so frustrated.

Me: What would you like to feel instead?

LV: In control.

Me: And why is being in control important to you?

LV: If everyone would just listen to me and do what I tell them to, the Death Star would be finished already, and the rebels would be crushed.  Well maybe not crushed, my son and daughter are working with them. If they have half of my tenacity, they’ll be a challenge to destrly. But they’re my blood, for Palpatine’s sake! If the Empire would just listen to me, these rebels will be dealt with swiftly. I know how they think. I know what they’re up to.

Me: When you are in control, everyone is listening to you, doing what you tell them to do, who are you being?

LV: I’m actually a fun guy, you know. I don’t want to be all scary threatening with the choke hold and giving a lightsaber smack-down. When I’m in control, I can lauh a little, go for a drink with some of my underlings, regale them with stories of my pod-racing days.

Me: How would you know, at the end of this session, that you would be in control?

LV: You hear how raspy my breathing is? Everyone thinks it’s because of this mask. It isn’t. It’s because I’m so stressed out.

Me: So you’d breathe easier.

Lv: Yes. And I wouldn’t feel the need to kill so many for their incompetence.

Me: Breathing easy and calmer. On a scale of 1 to 10, how in control are you now?

LV: I’d say about a 4.

Me: And what makes it a 4?

LV: Not everything is a complete loss, I guess. My army, though they’re rather incompetent, at least they listen to me, and for the most part get done what needs to be done.

Me: And where would you like to be on that scale at the end of this session?

LV: An 8.

Me: What do you need to get you to that 8?

LV: A better HR department.

Me: How do you see yourself making this change of HR personnel?

LV: The current staff are as good as dead unless they can prove themselves. I’m going to review all the applicants for a while, until the new HR people know what it is I”m looking for.

Me: What else do you need to get that control?

LV: Fear. I need them to fear me. Obviously I haven’t been as thorough in my discipline as I need to be.

Me: What are some changes to your discipline that you need to make?

LV: I can feed them to the trash compacter dwellers. They’ll obey before their baby toes are nibbled off.

Me: Of these actions, changing your HR department and your methods of discipline, which one are you most committed to over the next couple of weeks?

LV: The discipline is the easiest one, so that shouldn’t be a problem. The HR thing is going to take a lot more time. I don’t know if I can do anything on it right away.

Me: On a scale of 1 to 10, how committed are you to making the changes to employee discipline?

LV: 10

Me: And when are you going to make those changes?

LV: As soon as I get back to the ship.

Me: On a scale of 1 to 10, how in control do you feel?

LV: A 9

Me: A 9. What would make it a 10?

LV: Actually putting my plans into effect.

Me: What was the win of this session for you?

LV: I really needed to come up with a plan and I feel like I have that now. You can tell, my breathing isn’t so raspy. It will help me sneek up on my victims. Thank you.

Me: Thank you for allowing me to share this journey with you.