Monday, March 20, 2006

Confessions of a Goal Setter

Hope you are all having a happy Monday! This is going to be a short entry today because I have a couple deadlines I need to meet, both self-imposed and imposed by others.

And that is my topic today. Deadlines. I’m curious as to how other writers approach them. So many daily tasks and responsibilities stand in the way of our writing time--family, health, day jobs--and writing might not even be a priority for you. But even so, do you still set a goal and then a deadline as to when it needs to be finished? How do you stick to it? Do you need to trick yourself into finishing a project on time? Or are you strong-willed enough to tell yourself you’re going to do something and you do it? What works for you?

For example, I like to write my goals on my computer’s calendar. I have daily goals, such as writing X number of pages a day, or a synopsis, or a blog, or an article, and because I know how much I enjoy crossing items off of a To Do List, I know I’ll devote at least some time toward finishing the project. Now, that doesn’t mean I meet all of my self-imposed deadlines every day; no, sometimes I’ll complete the project a week or even a month past when I'd planned to--as long as no one is counting on me to have it completed by a certain date. But I do eventually reach my goal. So, I guess I’m confessing that I trick myself into finishing a project because I can’t stand seeing items left on a To Do List! Sheesh. It’s sad, but true.

Also, when working on a novel, I’ll write a daily goal of only a few pages. That way, when I surpass the goal, I think I’m on a roll and waaaay ahead of the game. Then I tell myself to keep going and not to lose steam. That little trick keeps up the excitement level. And with continued effort, I reach the end of the story, which is the ultimate goal. Woo-Hoo!

Okay, so I need to trick myself to reach my goals, but the point is…it works for me. And that’s all that matters.

So what about you? I’d love to hear how other writers approach deadlines, either self-imposed or imposed by others.

Michele Cwiertny

Friday, March 17, 2006

In Between Working on...

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s been a surprisingly productive week for me. Always a good thing, right?

My website is up and running. You can visit me over at, as well as here. I hope to fill it with helpful information and links soon. Any suggestions? Of course, once I sell I can put the book cover and news about the book on the home page—can’t wait for that day! Tee-hee.

I’m also co-editor of ORANGE BLOSSOM, so with the help of the awesome Louise Ahern, I’ve been putting the April issue together before the deadline (And we certainly couldn't do it every month without our fantastic contributors. Thanks, guys!).

And here’s the surprising part: I’ve actually managed to sneak in some writing time on my contemporary story.

BUT in between working on the above, I’ve been reading Mary Castillo’s IN BETWEEN MEN--which I love, by the way. The characters are humorous, yet sensitive, and they behave like human beings. Love that. She makes me care about everyone in the story, and dang it, I’m having a hard time putting the book down so that I can get back to work! Ah, such talent. So, if you get a chance in between working on your own projects, check out IN BETWEEN MEN (and note the green cover—perfect for St. Patrick’s Day).

Okay, back to work…

Michele O’Cwiertny

Monday, March 13, 2006

Wait...It Gets Easier, Doesn't It?

On Saturday, I heard romantic suspense author Rebecca York speak, and one thing she said really surprised me: Even after about 100 fictional stories published, she still feels fear when she sits down to begin a new story.

Now, I’m assuming there’s excitement and anticipation mixed in with her fear, but just hearing her say that tells me that even the most experienced, seasoned writers can feel insecure at times (of course, York obviously knows how to deal with it, move on, and finish the story). But this made me wonder what other writers feel when they start their stories.

Okay, you all know it by now…I’ve made no secret of the fact that I plan, plan, plan before I sit down to write chapter one. But even if I have a 20 to 30-page outline of the entire plot and I’m thrilled as heck to get started on fleshing out the characters and story, my chest still tightens when I look at the blank screen. It takes me a day or so of writing before I’m relaxed enough to lose myself inside the story. Thankfully, I do manage to move past that terror; however, I’m really hoping it'll get easier the more I write. Perhaps it will…

What about you? What emotions rush through you as you start a new story?

Michele Cwiertny

Saturday, March 04, 2006

It's Just First Draft Stuff

After reading some of the comments on “Write to Sell or Write for Yourself,” I began to wonder what other writers considered a first draft. A few of us commented that we prefer to finish a draft before we ask for feedback, as that is the draft we simply need to get out of us before we revise and get down to the core of the story.

But what do you consider to be a first draft?

After my novel writing classes where we spent MONTHS on about 50 pages of a 400+ page story, I had to break myself of the habit of revising and revising a page before I could move on. If I’d kept on at that rate, I’d never finish a novel because, frankly, I’m not one of the fastest writers, and it is too easy for me to get hung up on trying to perfect a paragraph in the first draft that may or may not be cut once I step back and look at the story as a whole. So perfecting as I go along doesn't work for me.

Once I gave myself permission to plow through the story, to get it all down on paper, I finally felt that sense of relief and accomplishment when I typed the last sentence. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll let anyone read that draft (I cringe when I read it. Yikes.), but at least I have a better handle on my characters, their motivations, their conflicts, and the plot in general. Then the revisions begin, which usually take longer than the first draft.

So, I’m curious…What do you consider to be your first draft? Is it a polished work of art (yeah, I know some of you are out there)? Or do you plow through it in order to ground your beginning, middle, and end? And how much revising do you do along the way?

I can’t wait to read your thoughts on this…

Michele Cwiertny