Wednesday, January 2, 2013

IWSG: Baby Steps


So going through successes and failures from last year and writing goals for this year got me thinking. There is something I am pretty good at that I don’t think comes naturally for everyone. And I believe it is the REASON I am able to be so persistent for so long on projects that can seem ENDLESS. So that is good help for others, ne? (and be sure to visit the other Insecure Writers today, too)

I am good at taking a huge, pie-in-the-sky goal and breaking it into manageable pieces. Not only does this help to DO the thing, it also gives you dozens of mini-successes along the way that reinforce you really CAN get there from here.

So in writing, there are a couple GIANT goals, each as intimidating as the next… WRITING THE BOOK (the first is always hardest) and PUBLISHING THE BOOK… So I thought I’d break down some of the steps a person might break out, though keep in mind everyone has a different process for both of these things.



WRITING A BOOK

If you like to plan ahead…
* Outline
* Character sketch
* Research (though beware of the black hole this can become—limit this to what is absolutely necessary for the story—DETAILS can be researched after)
* Get a few books you think fit the genre and get familiar with what DOES and DOES NOT belong in stories like the one you have planned.
* Write the pitch that will go with your book
* Write the synopsis if you are a superstar

Or if you are a pantser…
* Figure out the time of day that works for you and schedule it…
* Remember a page a day is a book in a year.
* Set reasonable wordcount goals

Or if you are in between like me…
* Make your timeline

NOW just write regularly… set your goal… a chapter a week? A scene a day? 1000 words a day? (or 500?)

And let yourself be proud for each thing you get done…


And then there is PUBLISHING
* Read blogs!!!! (I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned about this business from reading the experience of others)
* Go to The Writer’s Knowledge Base[http://hiveword.com/wkb/search] and look up the latest on the process including wordcount guidelines by genre if you are publishing traditionally
* Find someone to READ your book and give you feedback (edit, repeat, ad nauseum)—some people write relatively clean first drafts… like one in a thousand. Most of us THINK we write clean first drafts at that first book and learn we DO NOT.
* Look up the agents who represent your genre and read more specifically what they like OR find the small publishers who publish what you have
* (if you’d prefer to self publish, on about your 10th draft, hire a professional editor and shop cover artists—we have several of both of these within our blogging circle)
* As you research your process make your OWN list of baby steps. Because as I said, we all have different preferences, but know that networking can teach you of alternative routes, so keep that piece in the loop.


So there you have it… Baby steps + Just keep swimming = success.

Good luck to all of you trying to bit off something new and HUGE!

27 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

This is the perfect post because it breaks everything down into achievable steps! Nothing looks too intimidating when it's broken down.

And thanks for the WKB mention. :)

Mel Chesley said...

Baby steps. I need to keep repeating this mantra. Thanks Hart!

Old Kitty said...

Lovely Tart!! These are most NAKED wise words - thank you!! I'm all for baby steps but with focus - that's been my downfall - I dream away without any discipline!! Take care
x

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Seeing it broken down into little steps makes all the difference!

Misha Gericke said...

It's the same with me. I automatically see everything in my life in terms of short, intermediate and long term goals.

Good luck with yours for this year!

Siv Ottem said...

One day at a time, baby steps....O like that, makes me panic a little bit less :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Small steps and goals lead up to the big ones.

Alison DeLuca said...

Fantastic post. Mother May I take those baby steps? Why yes. Yes you may.

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm not very good with goals and hard deadlines, so I just plow ahead, getting as much done as I can, and not feeling bad if I don't. Happy new year, Hart!

Nancy Reece said...

Thanks for repeating what I need to learn - make it managable! I tend to look too far ahead and get lost in the big picture.

Happy New Year!

Sarah Ahiers said...

i'd say a good 50% of my manuscripts come out clean. It's awesome when it happens. BUT! I still take a good 5-6 months revising, because there's no reason not to make it as best as it can be

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Love the breakdown! And a page a day makes a book? Really? Cause I can DO a page a day! Thanks Hart!

tomorrownewsnetwork.com said...

I keep saying to myself "slow and steady." Getting just a little bit done each day adds up to a surprisingly large amount of writing.

-JS Pailly

Teresa Coltrin@Journaling Woman said...

You ARE a piece of the pie kind of girl. IF I can see the pie in pieces, I too can eat it one piece at a time in an organized way. Sometimes, it looks too big.

I need to find a critique group or even a person thats not a family or friend. Just saying. I do enjoy reading writer blogs (yours included). I learn so much.

Happy New Year, Hart.

Johanna Garth said...

I agree. Anything can be made manageable if you break it down enough.

Southpaw said...

I love this "Remember a page a day is a book in a year."

Kinda seems doable!

Hart Johnson said...

YAY! Glad some people found this helpful! Sorry for my absence this afternoon... had some family stuff...

Chary Johnson said...

Thanks for the link. I'm checking it out as we write. :D

Pauline Wiles said...

Some days, the only way I can get myself going is to think of the tiniest thing that would count as progress.
You're so right: if we view the whole project in its entirety, the challenge of eating the elephant is overwhelming.

Tamara said...

I think this in awesome advice. I'm making a list of goals tonight. Week by week goals for finishing the book I'm working on. Along with rewards if I actually complete them.

Thanks for the inspiration!! You're awesome, Hart. :)

VR Barkowski said...

Nibbles instead of bites: excellent advice. I write three hundred well-crafted words a day. After six years, I finally realized my internal editor is also my muse, and I need to quit trying to shut him out during the process.

Wishing you boundless success in 2013, Tarty!

~VR Barkowski

Marta Szemik said...

I agree that taking things one step at a time simplifies both writing and publishing. Nice post!

Ciara said...

I'm a huge fan of baby steps. I tend to lose focus with large ones. It's an attention span thing.
Happy New year!

Helena said...

Solid, practical advice, Hart. It shows me why you're such a success, 'cause you know how to work over the long haul. Me, I tend to go a little bit too gangbusters and then I need a rest. And I keep most notes in my head, which explains why I'm so spacey.

LTM said...

awesome, perfect, and you are SO right, my friend. It's all about breaking it down into the small steps that can be check boxes on the way!

I'm looking forward to 2013! So much happened last year, and here we are charging ahead! Can't wait to finish Medium, Wrong, start ABNA with you, and just keep swimming!

Glad I know ya, TH~ :o) <3

Michelle said...

I don't think I've heard of the writers kniowedge base.. I must check it out. Happy new year!!

sjp said...

Sometimes baby steps are so small I forget to take them :S