Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

Never stop dreaming, 'cause the day you stop dreaming, is the day you stop living.


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How to Achieve Your Goals

Friends

A friend's support for my first journey into National Novel Writing Month, last year.

Everyone has something they want to meet. It’s only natural and it’s our internal survival instinct. Survival of the fittest, people often say. Well, only those who take action can live among the fittest. Laying back and watching time fly by like the wind will only serve to waste precious moments that could have extensive productivity in them.

How you deal with this is your choice. A common question is how to maximize productivity, and not have it disappear. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Choose your goal!
    A deadline looms ahead – an essay, project, or test. Perhaps you intend to write a novel, short story or poem. Maybe it’s not even related to writing; lose weight or start working out. All valid goals, but small details are a necessity to making it that far. These goals are too open. Narrow them down.
  2. Narrow it down!
    So, you think you can make it work? Not if it’s that broad, you can’t. Set a deadline, a daily, weekly or monthly goal; figure out exactly what you want to do. You want to write a short story? How long, by when, and about what? Tomorrow, next week, next month? 1k, 2k, or 4k? Lions, tigers and bears, or something else?
    The more detailed you plan, the more likely you are to succeed.
  3. Solve the dilemma!
    So, you know the what, by when and how much. Great! Now, let’s figure out when you’re going to get around to working on it. After class or work, after dinner, before you leave the house in the morning? Pick a time and minimize distractions. For writing, turn off the internet during your writing period, so you can focus. Turn off your phone, bolt the doors and enjoy being alone.
    Figure out the best way for you to work productively. Without that, it’ll be a long ride.
  4. Find some support!
    What’s life without those people who stand by you? Without a friend or family member who will listen to your troubles and help you through them, how can you succeed? Find a person or two, however many you need, whom you trust and are close to.
    Inform them of your plans. Let them help you. You’ll be surprised how useful it is.
  5. Get to work!
    Now that you’ve figured out what to do, what stands in your way? The greatest enemy who stands between you and that task you wish to accomplish, no matter how small it is, is you. If you can’t make the time and discovery what works best for you and you alone, then how can you manage your time?

You can do it. All you have to do is try.

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Inspiration: Do you wait for it?

Fireworks

Image via Wikipedia

Everyone always talks about inspiration, or their muse and how important it is for writing. Those two things tie together. Sure, both of them are a tremendous help and it’s best to never turn down amazing ideas they give to you, but is it right to only focus on the task at hand when they help you?

Is writing a task only meant for when ideas flow to you from within?

No, it’s not. At least I don’t think so.

Consider this: How often are you inspired to the extent that scene after scene pours out of you, making it seem like you must write? How often do characters beg for your attention and lure you in with chocolate-coated ideas of intriguing goodness?

How often do you get that spark that ignites the fiery passion within you?

Judging from my personal experiences, not often. I won’t claim it’s the same for everyone, but experience tells me that those moments strike when you least expect them and are sparse in occurrence. Embrace them as they hit you, but what happens once they end? Do you sit back and wait for another monumental moment to come?

Chances are, if your muse is anything like mine, you’re lucky if it happens once per month.

If you only write when your inspiration says it’s time, novels will take ages until completion. It’s always a goal to get things done swiftly, if possible. Writing is no different.

Don’t wait for the writing to come to you; chase it down.

Take control. You want to write the story and despite inspirational influence, it’s your job to make it work. Write, even when you don’t feel inspired. Try to get words down every day. Not much. Just enough to keep the writing process going will guarantee more frequent days of motivating experiences.

More motivation means more writing.

More writing means that novel you’re working on will reach the end quicker.

Reaching the end quicker will put you that much closer to publication.

Who can say no to that?

What are your experiences when it comes to inspiration and your muse? How do you deal with those bursts of wondrous ideas and the time around them?