Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Writers, is Everything Going According to Plan?

By Maggie Wells, @MaggieWells1

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: When a new year rolls around, most of us make plans and feel motivated--which of course wanes as the months unfold--but it doesn't have to. Please help me welcome Maggie Wells to the lecture hall today to share some tips on sticking with you plans.

Maggie Wells is a deep-down dirty girl with a weakness for hot heroes and happy endings. By day she is buried in spreadsheets, but at night she pens tales of people tangling up the sheets. The product of a charming rogue and a shameless flirt, this mild-mannered married lady has a naughty streak a mile wide.

Fueled by supertankers of Diet Coke, Maggie juggles fictional romance and the real deal by keeping her slow-talking Southern gentleman constantly amused and their two grown children mildly embarrassed.

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Take it away Maggie...

Like most people, I set some goals for the coming year at the end of 2016. Great goals. Beautiful aspirations that will make me feel like Queen of All Things when I hit them. But over the past few years, I’ve found that the year-end plans end up being a bit more arbitrary than they seemed that ambitious day. When you have 365 blank pages stretching out in front of you, anything seems possible–and everything is–the key is to keep things realistic and your eyes on the prize.

Things change. Life moves fast. The only thing that is practically guaranteed is that your days will not unfold exactly as planned. That’s why I like to reassess my goals and business plan at the end of the first quarter. It’s sort of a reality check. This way, I can revamp those goals before too much time passes, or worse, I become discouraged.

The most important part of any planning or goal-setting exercise is to review and reestablish who you are and what your path is going to be. I’m hoping that at the end of last year you took some time to review your core story elements and reaffirm whether they still fit you, and if you are doing them justice with your current works in progress. If not, this is an excellent opportunity to see if you are on the correct path for delivering your particular brand of story to your target audience.

Once you are confident that you’re hitting the basics of who you are and where you’re heading, it’s time to look at obligations and timeline goals. Most of us already know the basics of this, but as a reminder, make your goals S.M.A.R.T.

Specific – We left pie in the sky behind in December. Now that we’re into the nitty-gritty, it’s time to nail it all down.

Measurable – I believe that tracking progress is essential to keeping motivation high. And I think it’s important to celebrate the milestones along the way.

Attainable – No point in planning for something you have no control over reaching. Set goals involving the elements that you control. Chasing those you can’t will only derail you.

Realistic – This is the one that shifts like quicksand. What’s realistic today, may not be tomorrow. That doesn’t mean it’s not a valid goal. Just be ready to adapt.

Timely – Does this goal jibe with who you are and what you should be doing at this particular point in your career?

Back in December, I planned to have two books written by mid-Q2. Now, I’m a fairly fast writer, so this wasn’t completely out in left field. But I wasn’t really thinking about the three other books I have in various phases of editorial process. Oh, and a day job. There’s also a husband. A house. Meals. Laundry. Did I mention the dog? She’s a bit bossy…

But this was still a S.M.A.R.T. goal. It was certainly specific in terms of what had to be written, I just didn’t factor in the full scope of my workload. You can bet your bippy it’s measurable. I have every word count tracker under the sun telling me I’m way behind. Attainable? Sure. If I had stopped spending time with friends and family, eating the food, cuddling the dog, I probably could be on track right now. Realistic? Yeah, not so much. But it is timely. This is where I am in my career, and I am loving every bit of juggling.

Luckily, my publisher deadlines are far more reasonable than the ones I set for myself. It’s just time for a reality check and some reassessment on my end.

Welcome to the second quarter of 2017. How are things going so far? Everything working out as you’d planned?

About A Bolt from the Blue (A Worth the Wait Romance)

True love, like lightning, never strikes twice—or does it?

As a free-spirited young woman, Hope Elliot was desperate to escape her snobbish high society family. So she ran off to Paris, where she lived for twenty-five years. Now widowed, she’s come home to settle her family’s massive lakefront estate. But before she can put her mother’s house on the market, it needs a major renovation. Enter master electrician Mick McInnes, a traditional guy who’s about to turn her life upside down . . .

Aside from the fact that Mick is hopelessly attracted to his latest client, Hope represents everything he doesn’t want in a woman. She’s ridiculously rich and adventurous, yet she doesn’t seem to know much about the real world. Besides, his policy is to never get involved with clients. But he can’t seem to resist the Chicago heiress’s sizzling advances—and soon enough finds himself in her bed, feeling like a teenager once again. And like teenagers, the two of them will just have to convince their families that opposites can not only attract, but they can also make the perfect match . . .

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  1. Julie Evelyn Joyce4/18/2017 11:58 AM

    This was an awesome reminder for me to check my goals, Maggie. Now that we're a third of the way into the year, I really need to pull up my socks and start checking things off my list so I can feel a little better about my productivity...or lack thereof. :) Great post!