Finding the Right Consequences as a Writer With Goals

My husband and I formed a writer’s group with some fellow writers in our area. We meet monthly to discuss our writing issues, goals, and to give criticism of projects we’ve submitted for critique.

But all of us have admitted to a similar issue: the discipline to sit down and do our non-job related writing on a daily basis.

We each have started various writing projects, but never completed some of them. Even things as simple as a short article might never be finished, or a short story for a contest or call for submissions may not be finished by the deadline.

So, we asked: what can we do to fix this issue? How can we be accountable for our writing?

We’ve created consequences that actually motivate us not to miss our mark each week at the weekly check-in via email.

We set up a variety of rules to help keep us in check and to keep things reasonable. For example, we must all check in with each other by 10pm every Saturday, giving new writing goals for the week, and all updates from the previous week’s goals.

We each then have until 10pm Sunday night to respond with any questions, need for clarification, etc. from the emails sent the previous day.

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And, finally, whoever is the “least” writer for the week is required to do a dreaded task: write in the unfavorable genre of choice for 10 minutes, as given by the leader of the pack.

For example, if I were the “least” writer for the week, and my husband was the leader, he would have to choose between the five genres I told him I most would hate to read or write, and I must spend a minimum of 10 minutes writing that genre. I have one week to finish the assignment and must submit it with my update the next Saturday.

This has been a cost-free, highly effective motivation for all of us thus far. We’re still working out the kinks, but let me tell you: I do not want to write Glee fanfic for even a minute, let alone ten.

If you’re part of a writer’s group, even one that cannot meet in person, you could try something along these lines to help you stay motivated to write every day. Or, if you’re isolated in your writing, give your best friend or spouse a list of the five genres you most hate and ask that person to assign your consequence any week you miss the mark.

Just be realistic in your goal setting, and create a realistic list of valid excuses for yourself. Being in the hospital, have another type of medical or legal emergency or anything along those lines should give you a pass on the days not affected. But don’t go soft on yourself, either, and claim your sprained ankle that kept you from running also kept you from sitting on your butt writing your memoir.

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Why I Write Romance Novels

Last night, at writer’s group, we discussed with the group, what projects we’re working on. And as I opened up about the historical fiction that I so dearly love and have recently gotten back into writing, we discussed the aspects of romance in novels, especially in Christian novels.

Despite technically being labeled a “Christian romance novelist,” I hate, no despise, the romance genre. Why? Because 99% of it is graphic garbage, that focuses on the shallow end of lust. The entire group agreed.

So the question came up of what makes my work different, and how I can justify writing it if I hate the genre so much.

The answer: I use romance to tell a story, I don’t use a story to tell romance.

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Image credit: Marina Shemesh

That might seem a subtle difference, but it’s really not. In fact, it’s the most significant difference that exists in any genre. When your plot devices are used to tell a story, they work. When a story is used to portray a plot device, well, there is no story.

I use romance to tell the story of people. Nearly all of my fiction is biographical. Whether it’s the story of a girl in love with a rock star, like in Nobody’s Girl, or my first heroine, an abused child who ran away from home and fell in love with her rescuer, their romances tell the story that’s at the core of my being. The stories all come back to the one and only message I live for: the salvation offered in Jesus Christ to all.

My characters are often marginalized and betrayed by the people that they should be able to trust. They live through broken relationships, often abusive lives, and never have things easy in any department of life. Why? Because I can relate to them. I’ve been betrayed, abandoned, rejected, unwanted, abused, forgotten and ignored. And, since you’re alive, you have experienced most, if not all, of these tragedies yourself.

And romance is one things that nearly every human being on the planet has in common. We all want one–a beautiful, glorious, earth-stopping love story that changes us and everyone around us.

And that, dear readers, is why I use human love to depict heavenly love through earthly situations and struggles.

NaNoWriMo Day 2

Day 2 has hit. I’ve only written a few hundred words, but I’m okay with this (especially since yesterday I had already exceeded the minimum for today as well). I have to function in this world, making a living, cooking, cleaning, blah, blah, blah…can’t entirely stop everything for NaNo, much as I’d love to.

Thus far, I’ve figured out where my lead character and her husband live, what the premise behind the mystery is and a few key factors in what isn’t the mystery. I could very easily be going about this all wrong, but I’m okay with that. Exploring the writing of a new genre is supposed to be filled with errors, mistakes, inconveniences and new discoveries. I have the feeling that will definitely happen a lot in this one.

I haven’t quite found the narrator’s voice, nor the exact location of where the story is taking place. I’ve picked a generic region of the country, even a large town to focus things around, but, yeah…nothing beyond that.

What discoveries are you making in your novel this year?

NaNoWriMo Has Begun!

Here we go people! It’s November 1, and it’s time for our 50,000 words! The world needs our novels, as NaNo says, and now it’s time to let them shine!

This year, I’m taking on a whole new genre from anything remotely ever written by me before. With brand new characters, a totally new setting, and lots of crazy humor happening–at least, that’s the goal.

I’m excited to take on a new genre. But, I will still have that element of music here. I can’t help myself.

And to start things off for my butt-kicking, Krav Maga instructor turned bounty hunter/jazz singer leading lady, here’s the theme from Cowboy Bebop (don’t judge it by the name, seriously!).