New Year’s Eve Goal Review December 31, 2010
Rewards & Positive Reinforcement–Even When You Don’t Succeed November 12, 2010
I didn’t grow up in a household where there were a lot of rewards for good behavior. And we sure weren’t rewarded for trying to be good either. So I came to this little idea of rewarding myself for not succeeding very slowly.
Apparently cleaning bathrooms after finishing a major project is not considered a reward. This is how well-trained I was not to get something good even when I deserved it for all my hard work.
But that is just stinky. Literally. Who wants to clean house after they’ve finished a paper, written a book, painted a picture, applied for graduate school, graduated from college, and the list goes on. I’ve learned to give myself breaks, but I had to teach myself to give myself rewards.
Kelly L. Stone articulated that precept for me at the GRWA Moonlight & Magnolias Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. She gave me a few new ideas about how to reward myself while I am working toward a goal. I came home from the conference and implemented one. A successful author pays herself a quarter every time she meets her word count for the day. I decided to make a Reward Jar and got $20 in quarters to fill it.
Note: It’ll take a LOT of those rolls to fill my cutesy decorated tin can!
Any rate, I modified the reward system to include meeting every goal I set for the day as a writer (I might add exercise to that because I have been slacking off–which is a post for another day). So if my goal was to get a submission ready, a contest entry ready, a chapter read in my media book by Kristen Lamb, or my homework completed in the Alexandra Sokoloff online workshop I’m taking then I drop a quarter into the jar every time I meet the goal.
Another thing I’ve done is reward myself for having tried and failed. As a writer I must put myself out there all the time with query letters, sending out partials, full manuscripts and entering contests. I am not really into the administrative end of this business, so it is like poking a fork into my eyeball to do these things. I’d rather write my stories or blog than do it. Seriously. But the work must be done. The possibility of rejections must be faced.
So here’s how I cope. First, I get a quarter for completing the task. Then I devised a system for rewarding myself if I didn’t get the answer I wanted (BIG YES or YOU FINALED!!). I pay myself for not getting those answers. Yup. Now these numbers can be adjusted to be coins, less money, more money, Hershey’s kisses–you get the picture.
Here’s my payment scale:
Rejected Query? $1
Rejected Partial? $5
Rejected Full? $20
Didn’t Final in a Contest? $5
So last week I didn’t final in a contest. BOO. That stinks. I was down in the Personal Pity Party dumps. But then I remembered I got to pay myself $5 for not finaling. That brought a smile to my face. Yay! I put all the money I pay myself into a pretty box on a shelf in my office. It’s up to you where you put your money (or Hershey’s kisses). I am saving the quarters till I have too many to count, rolling them and putting them in the box as well.
What am I saving this money for? Anything to do with my writing–nice dress for an awards ceremony, shoes, dinner with writing friends, etc.
Now if you’re not a writer and you’re pursuing another goal or dream, you can modify this little reward system to suit your dream’s not-so-happy days. For instance, if you are trying to get into university you can pay yourself for every application you send (a quarter cause those apps are expensive), for every study session you take for the SAT/ACT, for every interview you go on, for every college you tour, and for every good grade (say a B or better).
But hey? What if the college doesn’t accept you? What will you pay yourself for trying so you’ll try again?
See? This system takes the sting out of not getting what you want and gives you motivation to try again.
Try it. In fact, give yourself a quarter for reading this blog today!
Positive Peer Pressure October 29, 2010
You’ve embarked on a journey toward a goal. One you believe in and want to achieve. You tell someone about your dream. That person laughs, asks if you are crazy, rains on your parade and tell you it is unattainable.
Now, if you are a 70 year old and you’ve just told your wife you’re thinking about becoming a circus high wire act despite the fact that you have no coordination then you might deserve the above scenario.
Yes, dreams should be realistically attainable.
If your dream is realistically attainable, and someone in your life says you shouldn’t try to attain this dream, then you need reevaluate your relationship with that person.
Tip for the Day: Surround yourself with positive, supportive people as you pursue your dream.
I wrote about my own journey from solitary writer to writer with a wealth of support here. I’ve heard the negative comments. One close relative said “you’ll never get published” when I told her I was writing a book. Do I share my dreams with her now? No way because I believe I will get that call. But it’s more than my own faith in my dream. I want the people in my life to be excited for me because I’m doing something I love. It feeds my soul in ways that I never expected. The end result? Publication? That’s just part of the dream. I am living my dream. I am a writer. I write. I am happy because I am writing.
Here’s the thing: people who are negative about your dreams and your goals aren’t happy so they don’t want you to be happy either.
Trust me. I’ve learned this lesson and it has served me well. I repeat: when someone is mean or nasty to you and rains on your parade it is because that person doesn’t want you to be happy and fulfilled.
I am writing because it brings me joy. Sure there are days that I want to drop kick my laptop to the ends of the earth. I get frustrated. I feel the sting of rejection and throw personal pity parties (for a finite amount of time), but I keep on writing because that is when my positive community of support comes into play. These are the people who remind me about how much fun it is to do what I do. They encourage me. They lift my spirits. They make me laugh. They drink wine and eat dark chocolate with me while they tell me YOU WILL SUCCEED.
Surround yourself with positive peers who celebrate your dream and encourage you to keep working hard to attain the prize you seek. These are the people who must be in your world as you pursue your dreams. They are the people who want you to be happy and fulfilled. They are the people who want you to have joy in your life.
And when you reach your dream? They will be first in line to celebrate your victory!
My Father’s Daughter August 5, 2009
I am a bit emotional about the Maggies and the whole editor/agent appointments and how cool everything is for me.
I haven’t done any writing in a while, or any organizing of my writing in a while, but I have managed to read and digest a lot about marketing my writing.
It’s daunting. But it’s also forced me to think about a lot of ways to approach this process when I return from our vacation. For several years, I’d not considered E publishing because too many people said there wasn’t any money in it, or it would not be recognized by RWA as valid. I focused primarily on HQN, AVON, and other largers houses’ red lines/steamy lines. But I’m rethinking it all.
Why not go for the two or three e publishers, one in particular, who are recognized by RWA and who are just now branching out into the print world? The truth is, I can’t see why not? As long as I see some of these e publishers in the first sales section of the RWReport, then they are recognized. And isn’t that the point? Getting published is part of the writing process.
The other thing that occured to me is that if I can get my foot into one door, then there’s a good chance I can get my foot into more doors and swing them open as well. It is a numbers game. And my numbers for attempts at publication have dropped to zero in the last twelve months (with good reason–hello? can we say move?). Now I need to amp them up.
If I can get my goal of 3 working first drafts going per year and increase my production levels, then I’ll be able to work in three levels of the business, four including the classes I will continue to take throughout the year.
Level 1: Write New Books–it’s key. If I don’t produce, I have nothing to sell
Level 2: Revise Existing Books–an important ongoing element that is very different from first draft writing.
Level 3: Market/Query/Enter Contests: I consider this the selling element of writing. But I am cutting down on the contests. The contests must provide great final judges, editors in the final round I am targeting, and/or an opportunity for excellent feedback. Querying is essential. I must do it more often and to more houses. Marketing is querying along with polishing what I submit.
Level 4: Learning to Improve My Writing: always a must. On-line classes, bootcamps on PRO, attending as many chapter meetings as I can if the topics are relevant.
If, out of all this hard work, I get published by the time I am fifty, I will be very pleased. I have four more years to achieve the goal. Then I’ll have done it for ten years. Actively for five. At that point, much will depend upon finances. Do I continue chasing a rabbit without compensation just because it is my dream to write? Well, I don’t know. I am driven to write. I want to write. But at a certain point, I may reevaluate where to put all this talent and energy.
Or I may not.