Are you an Aspiring Writer?

I hear many people say they are an aspiring writer. I read a lot of blogs – by writers, written for writers – that talk about being an aspiring writer. But I disagree with that term, and here’s why.

To aspire to something is to reach for it, hope for it, dream about achieving it. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to greater things in life – in fact, everyone should have at least one or two things they aspire to. Otherwise you have no goals and dreams, and frankly, life’s pretty bland if you’re just existing.

So what if you’re wanting to be a writer? Well, let’s break this down. Do you want to be a published writer? Do you want to be a full-time writer (as in you’re published and selling enough to quit your day job)? Do you want to be a successful writer? (This means different things to different people. For some it might mean getting one story published in a magazine, for others it might mean having a book on the NY Times Bestseller list). Continue reading

How to Set Goals for the New Year

Tis the season for new year’s resolutions. We look back on what we’ve accomplished – and didn’t – in the past year, and resolve to do better and do more in the coming year. While this is a good sentiment, there’s a reason that a lot of traditional New Year’s Resolutions wind up being forgotten or discarded before the end of January.

My goal is to party like it's 1916...

My goal is to party like it’s 1916…

I prefer to call my decisions “goals” instead of “resolutions.” The reason is because a goal is something specific. A goal is a desire with a deadline, rather than just a nebulous “Imma do better this year.” So here I’ll give you a few tips about how to set goals that you might actually be able to achieve, instead of just struggling futilely with the “Imma do better” thing. Continue reading

Second Chance Again

Just a short post, as it’s New Year’s Eve.

It’s that time when we reflect on the past year. We celebrate the victories, we mourn the losses, we meditate on the regrets, and we decide to do better next year. That’s the great thing about a new year – it’s a chance to start again, to go for those things that we missed last year. It’s a second chance again.

I didn’t hit the majority of my reading and writing goals for 2014. But that’s okay, because I still accomplished a lot, and I learned even more. I’m excited about taking what I’ve learned this past year – learned from both successes and failures – and applying it to this new year. It’s my second chance again.

Happy new year, everybody!

Reading Goals for 2014

As I mentioned in my New Year’s post, one of my goals/resolutions for 2014 is to read more. I had a very modest reading goal last year, and I didn’t come close to hitting it.

Since leaders are readers and writers are readers, I really can’t call myself a leader (of myself, let alone anyone else) if I don’t read. Nor can I expect my writing craft to improve tremendously if I don’t read other well-written works.

To be fair – lest you think I spent all of 2013 rotting my mind with nothing but trashy TV or lolcat pictures – I have been constantly reading content online. Articles and blog posts about writing, social media, linguistics, daily devotionals, travel – I read more than a few posts every day. But it’s still not the same as reading books.

So here’s a list of some of the books that I intend to read – or re-read – in 2014.

Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

I’ve followed her writing blog for some time, and found valuable tips to help me improve my storytelling. I’m sure her book will help me even more.

A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert

Having loved the Little House on the Prairie books, this book about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose looks like a fascinating read.

Imagine Big by Terri Savelle Foy

I read this book last year, and I want to read it again. In fact, this is a book that could – and perhaps should – be read every year. It’s about using the power of imagination to set goals and create the life you want for yourself.

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Another re-read for me, and another “success” book that is really just about living a productive and fulfilled life. Who doesn’t want that?

East by Edith Pattou

I found this book at a used bookstore some time ago, and it’s been sitting unread on my shelf for ages (along with too many other books). Time to get caught up on those.

The Legend of the Ice People – Spellbound by Margit Sandemo

Another on-the-shelf-too-long unread book. A friend sent it to me, so I will be (finally) reading it this year in her honor.

Prince by Bonnie Watson

I read the first book in this trilogy last year, so now I want to read the next one. Hopefully I’ll finish it just in time for her to publish book three.

Bone series by Jeff Smith

I’ve mentioned this series before, so it’s another re-read. It’s been several years since I’ve read all nine graphic novels in order, plus the prequel stories (yes, graphic novels count as reading). This epic saga is a masterful combination of humor, high fantasy, and hand-drawn art.

I intend to read far more than just these few books this year, but I didn’t want to make this blog post any longer. If you want to see how I’m progressing with my reading goals, you can find me on Goodreads.

What are you reading this year?

Season of Change

This past weekend was the autumnal equinox. Fall is here—my favorite season.

Even though I’m a fan of winter, where I live, we don’t really have winter. Some winters it gets below freezing, some winters we have several inches of snow and loads of ice, some winters we can keep the windows open all the time because it never gets cold. I’d be a bigger fan of winter if I actually lived somewhere that had winter beauty and winter sports.

But anyway, fall is here now, and it’s my favorite season for many reasons. First and foremost, the weather starts getting cooler. Days when the air is dry and so it’s warm in the sun and cool in the shade, and nights when you need a jacket–I love it.

Apple cider and bonfires on chilly nights. Crunching on acorn caps on the sidewalk. Standing under a tree waiting for a breeze to blow a shower of colored leaves down.

Like spring, fall is a season of change. Summer disappears suddenly and everything about the world becomes different. Some might see fall as a season of death or of going to sleep, as trees become bare and the hours of sunlight grow shorter.

But I see it as a bringer of joy. The fall brings the harvest–apples, pumpkins, squash, and many other things that we have waited patiently all summer to receive. Longer dark nights means more time for looking at the stars. And after autumn comes winter, with its many celebrations, like Christmas.

To me, this season of change often is a turning point in my mind for making changes in my personal life. Of course I make resolutions at the new year. And any time is a fine time to set a new goal or start a new habit. But with change literally in the air all around, in the fall I feel prompted to reevaluate myself.

What did I accomplish in the past nine months? What can I do with the 1/4 of a year that’s left to me to achieve some of the resolutions I’d set back in January? Has the quality of my writing improved? Have I been meeting my daily or weekly writing goals and being disciplined with my writing time? Did I find a critique partner like I said I would? I wanted to read a certain number of books this year–am I on track for that?

If you’re a writer, these questions may resonate with you. If you’re not a writer, I think they still apply. There are about three months left in this year. How close are you to accomplishing your 2012 New Year’s resolutions? Have you hit your goals already? Then celebrate! Are you so far behind that you’re thinking why bother to get started now? Get started anyway! You might surprise yourself.

Share your thoughts! Do you have any changes you’re making in your life? This year isn’t over yet!