Monday, January 21, 2013

Meet Dottie

by Sue Viders

 
Branding. Marketing. Standing out from the crowd.
These are todays problems for the writer.
 
Not the writing. Not creating a fascinating story. Not creating memorable characters.
 
No. It's all about name recognition. Or as they call it now-a-days... "branding." I hate the word "branding"...as I always think I'm a cow waiting for the numbered tag to be stapled on my ear. I much prefer the word marketing. That I can handle.
 
So when I decided that I should begin marketing my name and what I do, the first problem I faced was how to separate my blogs and my identity from all the other hundreds of bloggers who wrote about writing.
 
I needed an image to put with each blog. As an artist and former art teacher I always notice the pictures, images, photographs bloggers use. Some are interesting, some are blah, and some, well most of them, hold no interest for me at all.

 
Plus the images are always different. I'm dyslexic. I have a hard time remembering names so I cope by remembering visual clues. But since most bloggers change their pictures with each blog, I can't keep track of the blog, the site, or even the writer's name.
 
I wanted an image that people would remember, for better or worse, when they saw the image...they would think...a blog on writing from Sue Viders. What image to use? I spent days looking through microsoftclipart.com to see what I could use...well I'm too cheap to pay for a picture every time I write something. It needed to be free. For hours I searched. Nothing looked right.
 
Fast forward a few days when my youngest daughter called. Could she come over for lunch? Of course. As we worked on a tossed salad she began telling me about one of her "jobs" coming up...she did caricatures. She was going to do them for several birthday parties and for our city on the nights we have "music in the park." I told her about my futile search for an image. "Not a problem mom. I'll create one for your blog."
 
Back to the search. After going through literally thousands of pictures, photographs, illustrations and even cartoons we decided on a mouse. Why a mouse? Should be obvious, we writers use a mouse on our computers...grin.
 
My daughter spent several days drawing mice. I threw in my ideas and together we came up with a drawing of a mouse trying to write a story. A female mouse with a "mouse" earring and a very big pencil...and three dots, because I use dots all the time. I absolutely hate commas, semi-colons and especially plain colons.
 
So...Dottie was born! I'm planning on using her when and where ever I can...heck, I may even put her in my email signature line.
 
Look for Dottie. And when you do see her you'll know Sue is at it again... writing something about writing.

Friday, January 18, 2013

KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR GOALS


by Becky Martinez

As we begin the new year we often think about goals and what we want to accomplish this year. I echo Sue Viders’ thoughts on setting goals and writing them down. When they are written down, they become much more real to us. We can see what we are striving for and we can go back later and see what we have accomplished.

Checking back later is also important. A goal that gets written down and never re-visited is as useful as a goal you carry in the back of your head. It is kind of there but not really. If you have written down your goals and posted them where you can see them everyday you will be much more likely to have them in mind as you work and you can readily see what you are accomplishing.

The idea of having a deadline for goals also can work to make certain you accomplish them. For 30 years I worked with daily deadlines. In a TV newsroom, if you don’t make your time slot your work probably won’t get on the air. There was no option to fail. You got it done on time or else. In my case as a producer, I had no choice. My show was going on the air with or without me so I better have it ready to go at 5pm or 11pm. Come 6pm or 11:35, the day and opportunity were over.

Those daily goals worked wonderful for me as a great procrastinator. As a news person I knew that 95 percent of my goals had to be done by the end of the day. Come 6pm, if I hadn’t accomplished everything it was done for the day. It made me work much faster and keep a good daily schedule.

Now as a writer I have much longer range goals, but I still find that if I don’t set some sort of daily deadline for myself I am not nearly as successful. I like the idea of having at least 500 or 1000 words as a daily goal. It means I will get something accomplished. If I know if I set a monthly goal, I’ll find myself busy on the 29th or 30th frantically trying to write 30000 words.

My point is to set a goal that works for you and then add one more thing.

Keep track of your work. It’s one thing to go back and check it off, but I have come up with a chart to keep track daily of how many words I write so that at the end of the month I can check back to see how successful I was.

The idea was a result of NaNoWriMo. I always enjoy that November writing month because it spurs me on to write every single day and to post my numbers on a daily basis so I can see the total accumulate. See, there’s that daily deadline coming back to haunt me. Several years ago I decided I was going to keep a daily total for myself once the month was over.

I made up my own spreadsheet and began keeping track. What I discovered as surprising. When I knew I was going to write down a number I made sure I reached my goal. I hated writing down fewer words than the previous day. Of course some days I couldn’t hit my goal, but that only made me try harder the next day.

By the end of the month I was pretty much on target. Imagine my shock and the months piled up and the totals kept accumulating. I was getting some writing done for a change.  When I finished the book I found myself with some time to regroup, but then I started also keeping track of how many pages I edited. Yes, that spreadsheet grew, but by the end of the year I was amazed at how much I accomplished.

I did the same thing the next year. This is the fourth year I will be keeping my chart, but that brings me to something else.

Celebrate those accomplishments. Don’t just keep the goals but give yourself a special reward when you meet them.

At the beginning of the year I not only write down my goals for the year I also write down what I accomplished in the last year. It always amazes me how much I did accomplish every year. It also provides new drive to try to be better next year.

When I feel like I’m not getting anything done I’ll go back and look at the goals I’ve set and whether or not I’m getting them done, but I also look at what I DID accomplish and that makes me feel a whole lot better and ready to push forward.

So, write down those goals, but don’t forget them, and always remember to celebrate those accomplishments!  

 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Setting Goals for the New Year

by Sue Viders

Yep, it’s that time of the year again...
Once again a new and untried year has been born.

And once again we make new year promises, that even before they are written down are doomed to failure.

Why? Why are all these great writing goals going down the drain with the days dish water?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I do know how it works for me.
The biggest problems I have had in past years are:
  the goal(s) were pretty vague, such as

  I’d like to get the mystery story published this year,
  or change “published” to finished this year
  I never write the goals down

  which means I never printed them out
  which means I never saw them

Just the other day, my publisher/agent called. She was in the midst of writing up a contract for my Weekend Writer series of guides that I am developing. One of the first questions she asked me was “Sue, where do you see yourself in the next five years?”

Ohh, how to answer that? Hmm, lots of thinking. Pondering.

Now I could have answered with wonderful sounding goals such as

  I’d like to have five new books published or
  Maybe 10 new books up on Kindle
  A speaker on a national tour. No. Scratch this one. Been there. Done that. And it’s not worth the time, energy and constant traveling problems.

So minutes later the gray cells got their act together and I told her frankly that all I wanted was the money.

Crass.

Perhaps.

But honest.

As I have been published before, (two writing books with Random House) I wasn’t concerned about getting published, I was and am concerned about how much money I will make. The royalties I have received so far have given me a few new clothes and a couple of fancy dinners. In other words, not much.
To be brutally frank, for the time and energy that goes into producing a book, I want some decent financial returns.

Forget the fame, there really isn’t any.

Forget the adoring audiences, they are few and far between.

Forget the money, there isn’t much.

The bottom line, as in any business, is... what is the profit? And writing is a business. After the expenses are paid, the monies that go out to the cover artist, the copy editor, the formatting computer guru, the reams of paper that I printed and those expensive cartridges for the new printer, oh yes, the old printer gave up the ghost...had to buy a new one... after all the expenses are calculated, is there any profit?

I want enough to cover these expenses and then some to cover the time it took to write the damn book. And two or three dollars an hour for my writing time isn’t enough.

Everyone gets paid for the work they do, why not writers? At a decent rate. Even minimum wages would be great.

So back to my goal for 2013.
 
Simply stated it is “Money.”

So my goals for the year are very specific:

  Get and sign the damn contract
  Set a deadline for this
  One week from today and if she hasn’t called, call her
  And if that doesn’t come through, find another publisher
  Finalize or at least set in motion a detailed marketing plan for the guides
  Have them written down in detail
  Set up a calendar with cover artist
  Set up a time table with copy editor
  Get the first guide finalized and up on the web
  Set a date for this
  Decide on dates for the rest of the guides

Set up a huge calendar on the wall that had the above data in large red  print and lesser dates and deadlines in pencil. The penciled in dates being deadlines I would like to achieve, but because they involve other writers and people, sometimes they have to be moved around, therefore they need to be erasable.
So... that’s my list of 2013 goals.

Are they achievable? I think so, but then life always happens so we’ll just have to wait and see.

But meanwhile, back to the computer to finish up another section in one of my guides.

Setting writing goals are easy, one just has to sit down every day and write.

It’s the other goals that surround the actual writing that are more difficult to set and follow through on.

I’ll do my best. That’s all anyone can do. However, writing them down, printing them out, tapping them up on the office wall, does help me stay focused.

Okay, enough venting, back to the computer. What about you? Any goals for the New Year?

 

 

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