Tuesday, August 2, 2016

4: Understanding Your Writing Goals

 Understanding Your Writing Goals. 

 (Show notes: huntingthemuse.com/podcast/4

Welcome to HuntingTheMuse.com's Creative Writing Podcast.

Since last week's episode was so down-to-the-wire hectic, I tried to have a little more fun this time around. I hope the intro I made for the writing prompts doesn't bother anyone. It probably won't be a regular thing. I'm actually feeling a bit silly for including it now. Haha!

My week was pretty busy, but I still managed to get some writing in, about 3,000 words on 9, plus other bits of writing here and there, which is great!

We went to see the animals at the Dallas zoo and it was a scorcher out! Still, we got to enjoy some time in the kids area and even got to play some Pokémon Go with the older kiddoes. Other than that, we did a whole lot of walking.

Writing updates:

Chlorophyllium 9 is now down from all markets. I pulled it from KDP today and switched my old short stories back to KDP Select. I didn't mention this in the podcast audio, but you can now read those stories for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. What I noticed when I took those short stories wide was that ALL sales died.

I'm currently debating whether I should do a fresh release of Chlorophyllium 9 when I have Final Hope completely written. There are several reasons for me considering this. It would dump the 7 reviews I have, but I'll gain new release status in exchange. There have also been a lot of growing pains associated with how the story has grown since it was first published. I go into these a bit more in the audio of the podcast.

Not subscribed to the podcast? Get it now!

Along with this week's podcast topic, I'm taking a look at my goals.
I'm challenging myself to write faster. Things I've considered include viewing my writing time as if I were taking on a part-time job. Would that help me give myself permission to write? (See Episode 3)

Podcast News:

Just a quick reminder, please consider joining the Hunting the Muse Creative Writing Podcast group on Facebook. I envision this as a place where we can foster creative writing discussions and you can post your questions or suggest topics to be covered in future episodes. You can post links or snippets of your writing that stemmed from a podcast writing prompt.

This Week's Topic: Understanding Your Writing Goals

First things first, your goals belong to you!

You don't need to make someone else's goals your own. You are on a special journey. Sometimes it makes sense to evaluate what your goals are. Just make sure you're setting goals that align with what you really want.

It's been said that "Comparison is the death of joy." I think that saying could also be, "Comparison is the death of art."

What do your writing goals look like? Do they include a specific word count? Do you want to write short stories or novels? Do you write to achieve relaxation? Do you just want to develop your hobby, without concern for economic factors? Is this a potential career for you, or are you in it for supplemental income?

Resources and groups:

It can be helpful to seek out resources and groups that align with your goals. Maybe for you, that might include listening to this podcast. (If so, I'm honored.)

I have joined a few Facebook groups and forums for writing. Of course, not all of them have worked out. When they don't, I silently exit stage right.

20 Books to 50k

I recently saw a suggested, closed group on Facebook called: 20BooksTo50K. I decided to check it out and requested membership. Easy enough. Worst case, I figured I'd lurk for a while and then make a silent exit.

I have since learned more about the group, and the story is great for a few different reasons. Since I joined, I've listened to several podcasts that touch on this 20 Books to 50K concept. Most of these were older podcast episodes (from a few months back) that I was finally catching up on. Throughout this process, I uncovered more details about the group's origin.

Michael Anderle

Michael Anderle has a story. As I understand it, he started publishing his books on Amazon in early 2016 because he wanted to encourage his son to pursue his own writing efforts. (If Dad can do it, so can you! And hey, I can sympathize with that as a father of 5!)

To his surprise, his first book launched and started pulling in around $7.50 a day. Soon after that, he visited Cabo San Lucas with his wife and learned that the cost of living would be very reasonable if he chose to retire there vs. where he currently lives. He was so romanced by the beach, the water, and the atmosphere that he did some basic, presumptive math.

If one book was able to get him about $7.50 a day, he could potentially retire at just over 50K/yr if he wrote 20 books. It must have sounded reasonable, so he got to work and planned to be there within two years!

Of course, a lot of people scoffed at this. Some said it wasn't art. Some insinuated he might be a fraud.

Michael had something interesting to say in response.

Only my readers get to vote as to whether I'm meeting expectations. (I'm probably paraphrasing that to some degree.)

So I looked on Amazon to see what the readers had to say. All of his books appear to be very well reviewed with high marks. These are some dedicated fans!

Michael Anderle understands his goals.

Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn has a great podcast! You can find it at www.thecreativepenn.com ('that's Penn with a double-N!') Joanna has been a juggernaut of positivity in the writing and self-publishing arena for years. Her podcast is personable and enlightening.

I listened to her (July 19th) episode this weekend while I was out mowing the lawn, and Joanna talked about goals. Not just writing goals, now mind you, but life goals as well.

She just completed her Race to the Stones -- a 100 kilometer trek that took her 2 days to complete! She said the second day was tough, and it really sounded brutal, but she pushed through and persevered.

You see, Joanna is a very goal-oriented individual. Though, if you asked her, she'd say she is goal-orientated. (I love her accent. She's very fun to listen to and her attitude is great as well!) She understands that, even though she's naturally goal-oriented, it's important to enjoy the story. As someone who is also very goal-oriented, this is very inspirational to me.

If you have a chance, please do check out Joanna's podcast.

What do Michael and Joanna Have in Common?

They aren't afraid to challenge normal conventions of what is or is not possible. Michael has proven he can publish a very well-reviewed book per month.

You know, maybe I could challenge myself to write a bit faster?

Likewise, someone might think, "I could never walk 100 kilometers in two days, that's insane!"
Yet Joanna did it. Maybe with the right training and gear, that's something "I" could do as well.

The Pitfall:

Here's where it gets hard. When setting goals for yourself, make sure your focus is on the journey, not just the outcome. Don't fall in love with someone else's results. Dreamers are especially susceptible to becoming Destination Addicts.

Don't become a Destination Addict!!!

Enjoy the Journey.

Gather a support group, if it will help. This could be other people with similar goals. Don't give up when things get tough because, more than likely, things will get tough.

My Goals:

I want to write great stories. You know, I've invested a lot in my IT career, probably way more than I needed to. I would love to be able to make a shift at some point to where I can write full time and produce podcasts that help fill a need for others.

I want to help other writers achieve their goals and I want to let them know they aren't along. Other writers, like me, understand their struggle.

Am I Successful?

That's a hard question to answer. A better question might be: Am I happy with where I am right now? To that I would answer, "Yes." I think I can be proud of where I am and how far I've come.

You see, I self-published my first short story on Amazon probably over 5 years ago now. There's a lot I could be ashamed of when you consider my goals. Look at all that wasted time. Look at what a fiasco Chlorophyllium 9 was. Why do I even bother calling myself a writer when my actions don't live up to my dreams?


How you see yourself, and whether you believe you can meet your goals, depends on your perspective. Instead of looking at the last five years and the growing list of writers who have launched their writing careers while I sat on the sidelines:
  • I should examine my personal success stories.
  • What have I learned?
  • What can I do better?
  • Are there any parts of my writing process that should be examined and tweaked?

How Can You Help?

Let me know if you found this episode helpful. Hit me up on Twitter @BradyFrost or on my Author Page on Facebook.

I'm currently looking into Patreon, but I don't want to spend too much time trying to build another page or resource when that time is better spent on my writing and developing the podcast beyond its infancy.

For now, if you find this podcast helpful or enjoyable, the best way you can support me is to share it with like-minded folks.

Tell Me About Your Goals.

Share your goals on the Facebook Hunting the Muse Creative Writing Podcast group. Or send me a tweet on Twitter @BradyFrost with the hash tag #HuntingTheMuse.

What you'll find below is a series of creative writing prompts to help get you through your week. There are no rules as to how you should use them, but I recommend taking your muse's hand; wherever she may lead you.

Whether you find yourself writing a descriptive scene or dialogue, in first-person or third, a poem or prose, or anything else (even if it seems entirely unrelated to the prompt), you have won. Happy writing, and may you find success in hunting your muse this week. 

1. Breaking All the Rules

As a life-long fan of horror movies, you’ve subscribed to a certain set of rules that have always served to keep you out of trouble. The rules are simple enough:

  • Never read a book of waking the dead or summoning a demon out loud. In fact, just leave those books alone.
  • Don’t make fun of things you don’t understand.
  • Under no circumstances should you ever take anything from the dead.
  • And never, ever, stray from a beaten path, especially when you’ve been warned not to.
These fundamental guidelines are put to the ultimate test one scorching afternoon when you’re out on a walk with an old friend at a local park. A strange object catches your eye and, against your better judgment, you feel powerless to do anything but investigate.
Bonus: Make your character break all the rules.

2. A Captive Audience

You’ve just arrived at an obligatory gathering, and within a few short moments, you’ve already found several faces who might benefit if an unfortunate “accident” took you out of the picture for good. After a few uneventful hours, you decide to make the best of it and try to enjoy yourself.
Of course, as things like this usually go, that’s exactly the point when you notice something strange. The other guests around you are beginning to look drowsy. This isn’t the usual high-brow boredom you’re used to. When they begin to slip, one by one, into a deep slumber, there’s no denying that you’re being singled out.
It’s abundantly clear that someone has gone to great lengths to acquire a private audience with you. After watching the last hold-out topple over and begin to snore, you gather your senses and head for the exit. It’s locked. And now you’re the perfect captive audience. Why would someone go to this much effort? Who are they and what do they want?

3. Another Cup of Joe

It’s late at night and you’re sitting all alone at the bar of Racquel’s, a near-empty diner . It’s been a long night and you could use some good hometown cooking without much fuss. Lucky enough for you, Racquel’s is open late and the staff don’t ask many questions.
You’re just about to prompt the man behind the counter for another cup of joe when the bell on the door behind you chimes as it swings open. You glance back casually but are surprised when one of the newcomers seems to recognize what you really are. While none of their companions seem to be able to see through the veil, this could cause some unwanted complications with your evening plans.

4. Distractions

A group of people bring randomness to the word by coordinating appearances in the background of live news feeds.
It all started with a scuba diver climbing out of a water fountain during a piece on city hall. The next big thing was a skydiver dressed in a utility company uniform landing and then climbing into a sewer access point behind the newscaster in a related piece about the city upgrading the utility infrastructure in the years ahead.
Each new iteration seems to be ramping up the sheer, brazen craziness of it all. Just last night during live coverage outside the governor’s mansion, regarding a special budget approval session, a man who was engulfed in theatrical flames was “saved” by clowns spraying fire-retardant foam out of seltzer bottles. When the gig was up, all the performers piled into a disproportionately small car and sped off while the woman performing the interview stood, shocked into silence by the sudden outburst of activity.
With fear of copycat hijinks popping up around the world, a special investigator has been put on the case. Is this just a desperate attempt by one of the networks to hike up ratings that got out of hand, is it some amateur college art project, or is there something bigger at play here?

5. A Letter in Time

You get home after a long day at work. You’re ready for the day to be over, but it seems like fate has different plans. When you check the mail, you find a very strange looking letter. It is addressed to you, in your own handwriting, but you don’t remember ever having written such a thing. Perplexed, you take the envelope inside and open it. Enclosed is a hastily written note and a small key.
Either someone is playing an elaborate hoax, or some other version of you is trying to warn you about events to come.
The handwriting gets progressively worse, perhaps frantic with desperation, as the letter goes on. When you turn to the second page, you find what looks to be a few droplets of dried blood, a coded warning, and one last instruction.

6. Good Morning, Sunshine

You wake up in someone else’s bed in a room you don’t recognize. You haven’t been restrained and there isn’t any evidence of a struggle. After snooping around for a while, you realize you’re the only one home. No matter how hard you try to remember, you have no recollection of how you ended up in this strange house.
At this point you figure you have two options, you can either cut your losses and high-tail it out of there before whoever lives in the house gets home, or you could stay and investigate. If you choose to stay and look for clues, you might unearth valuable information to help you figure out what caused the loss of both time and memories, but risk encountering a less-than-hospitable host.

7. The Legend of the Sleeping Prince (Or Princess)

Some say the royal family was cursed. Never has anyone seen a young prince (or princess) with such a sour face. The king’s advisors all predicted that the child would one day grow into a more pleasing disposition but, despite their optimism, the young man/woman never learned to smile. Nor had laughter ever escaped their lips.
Distraught with the idea that their son/daughter would never know true happiness, the royal family have released an edict to the citizenry. To anyone who could manage to make their beloved child smile and laugh, they would grant a special gift, their progeny’s hand in marriage, knighthood (with lands and servants equivalent to the rank), or more bags of gold than the strongest man could carry.
Naturally, the kingdom is abuzz with the news as comers from all across the region gather and prepare to put on their best shows.

I hope you've enjoyed this week's episode and creative writing prompts.

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