Years ago, I made a goal of getting published by the time I turned 40. Um...that didn't happen. So then I switched it to having a contract and agent by the time I turned 40. That didn't happen either. Now, I feel closer than ever, but I've decided not to make this kind of goal anymore. No matter how much I revise, get feedback and revise again, attend conferences or intensives, and find a way to target the perfect agents or editors...it's out of my hands once I submit my manuscript. Other than always striving to do my best work and constantly grow as a writer, I've found that putting a time or age goal on it isn't the best way to motivate myself. So as I celebrate my 43rd birthday tomorrow, I won't make new goals like this. I do hope it'll happen soon...with the perfect agent and editor for me, but my goals will be things I can control, like finishing a round of revisions on my MG, gathering new ideas for future projects, and polishing up a few more picture books so I'll have even more that are ready to submit when the time is right.
To help me reach goals like these, I'll definitely turn to contests that motivate writers--and there are several amazing ones coming up soon. Check them out when you have a chance!
* Right now, Jo Knowles is in the middle of JoNoWriMo, which has you set your goals from mid September until the end of November. It's a really supportive community that helps cheer each other on.
* For all you picture book writers out there (or those who have thought about writing them), there's PiBoIdMo, run by Tara Lazar. Picture Book Idea Month encourages you to come up with a picture book idea each day in November, for a total of 30 ideas in 30 days. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it last year, since I participated in NaNoWriMo…but in addition to writing a 50,000+ word novel in November, I also came up with 38 picture book ideas! Several of them have sparked into great manuscripts, and I can’t wait to see what new ideas I’ll have this year. There are daily blogs to inspire you…check out the posts from last year. Don’t forget to look at Tara Lazar’s website for current info! If having 30 shiny new ideas to mold into manuscripts by the end of November isn’t enough incentive, anyone who signs up for the challenge and completes it can win awesome prizes…including critiques!
***I usually flesh out my favorite ideas for a while, then write first drafts of them in Paula Yoo's NaPiBoWriWee, where you write seven picture book drafts in seven days the first week of May. I was so excited about my PiBoIdMo ideas, that I ended up writing 8 manuscripts instead of 7!
*Many of you know about NaNoWriMo, which takes place from November 1st through the 30th. I've participated (and won) National Novel Writing Month every year since I first took the plunge in 2006. It's a great way to tackle the first draft of a new novel. It definitely helps to come up with character sketches and an outline ahead of time (or if you're like me, a general idea of the plot with some specific details).
The best thing about the motivation contests is the amount of support you get from other writers. It can be such a long journey, with so many hours spent locked in a writing cave--working toward a common goal with writing friends is a fun way to motivate yourself to make your goals! Plus, it's something you can control.
What helps you make it through all the long waits?