Tag Archives: success

Looking Forward One Step At A Time

In two days I get to go white-water rafting for the very first time. In five days Eldest turns eighteen. In nine days he moves into his dorm room and two weeks after that, I send my littles off to school.

It doesn’t matter what we have in front of us, as long as we have something to look forward to.

In life, it’s getting an education, securing a career, raising children and retiring comfortably. In writing, it’s writing a book, sending a query and getting published.

Yet, amid the myriad of dreams, goals and expectations we have for ourselves, things can get off track. I’m here to tell you that this is perfectly okay–as long as we keep something in front of us to motivate us. By our very nature, humans need emotional fulfillment. We need to accomplish things–large or small. We need to succeed.

But we often set humongous goals for ourselves and keep those so tightly focused in our minds that we forget all the baby steps along the way. We get so overwhelmed by this seemingly untouchable dream that we lose our spirit, our motivation and our passion. We let this unattainable goal press down on us to the point where it forces our failure rather than leads to our success.

Last week we vacationed with Dear Hubby’s family. All twenty-one aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were there. During the course of the week, Eldest must have heard 2001 pep talks about his upcoming college endeavor. One had a huge impact on him and he relayed it to me on our way to his orientation.

His uncle pointed out that college is like a trip to California. You know where you will ultimately end up, but you can’t focus on that. You can’t look at the map of California and expect to arrive safely from across the country. Instead, you have to concentrate on what is directly in front of you–what you can see in your headlight beams. Because if you’re only looking at pictures of the beach, you’re going to crash right into the deer standing in your way.

When you feel overwhelmed by your life path, what do you do to slow it down? How do you keep focused and keep moving forward?

Curious minds want to know.


Afraid of the Flush: Writing Fears

Sock Dog returned from her first hunting trip a few weeks ago.  I cannot repeat in public Dear Hubby’s choice words over her performance.  So, off she went to a different dog trainer.

The verdict?

Sock Dog, the almighty pheasant hunter, is afraid of the flush.  She’s got a great nose, she’s enthusiastic and athletic.  She’s everything a great hunting lab should be–except terrified of the birds when they flush from the tall grasses.

Ever get the feeling that writers are no different?

It’s like we’re bred to write, but we’re afraid of success.  We hear the flutter of wings in the distance and drop back behind others.  We allow fear (of success, of failure, of ourselves) to paralyze us and keep us from taking that next step.

Anyone else ever feel this way?  How do you overcome the fear of the imagined and take the next step that will lead you to the very thing you’ve been dreaming of?  How do you learn to delight in the flush regardless of whether or not you get the bird?

Curious minds want to know.

Strap on Your Writing Helmet

My youngest son is extremely coordinated.  He rolled over at 4 days and never quit.  By the time he was 8 months old he was running.  Yet I never worried for his safety around stairs or climbing on things.  He had, and still has, an innate respect for his own limitations.


The darn kid is petrified to ride his bike without training wheels.  His fear is so strong that at six and a half, he’d rather run somewhere than hop on his bike.  The farthest he’s ever pedaled is about 200 feet, and only then because his big brother ran in front of him the whole time.

This is a child who will take a ball to the face catching pitches, climb the swingset poles (12 feet high) and hand over hand his way across the top so he can slide down the other side.  He does both front and back flips off the diving board and can maneuver a golf cart into a parking spot.

Certainly he could ride his bike.  If he could get over his fear.

I’ve seen great writers sit idle for years for this same reason.  Regardless of how well they master the craft, their fear of rejection gets in the way of submitting; or they scribble away for years, penning great works, and never tell a sole about their addiction.

I was one of those.  Not a great writer.  But a writing scaredy cat.  Under the guise of making my manuscripts perfect, I tinkered endlessly and submitted very infrequently.  I used all kinds of excuses why I submitted to only one or two agents every eight or twelve months. 

Some of them were valid–like the fact that I am picky.  I didn’t/don’t want to waste an agent’s time.  Sometimes I’m truly making great improvements with a full manuscript edit and this requires time.  Other reasons included trying to understand the market and the viability of my projects.  However, when you get right down to it, I was a little scared of what might happen.

I think I was as afraid of success as I was of failure. 

In the past year, I opened my writing life up to the public.  (That writing closet was just getting too tight.)  I joined a few forums, embraced a writing community and told everyone that I was writing.  I’ve spoken about it publicly.  I’ve spoken about other things as well.  All these experiences have gotten me comfortable with the thought of success.  I have strapped on my bike helmet.

I know my youngest will do the same one day.  He will wake up and realize he’s missing an entire world by not riding his bike.  The excitement of what lies ahead will overcome his fear.  He, too, will strap on his helmet and never quit pedaling.

What are your biggest writing fears?  What steps have you taken to overcome them?  Do they keep you from truly enjoying the writing process or do they stifle your chance of success?

Strap on your helmets, writing buddies, and let’s ride!

Assessing Success

Most resolutions include some form of weighing.  Usually nekkid on a scale, hoping the holiday extra-helpings have disappeared from our hips.  I do have a small niggle in the back of my mind that wants this to happen, but I’ve learned long ago that weighty resolutions and I don’t mix.

I think one reason weight is a common goal is that the outcome is so tangible.  I can easily measure if I have a) lost weight or b) have skinnier buns.  Tape measures and scales tell it all. 

So how do we weigh the failure or success of other goals/resolutions/lists/hopes/dreams?  Writers often say: I will get published this year.  Mothers can say they want to parent better.  Dieters state a desire to lose weight and slobs can vow to clean up their acts.

Yet all of these goals are generic.  They are indefinite and therefore immeasurable.  I learned all about goal setting and data tracking years ago as a job coach for the developmentally disabled.  Without definite expectations that can be tracked, goals can never be reached.

A better goal for the mom would be, “I will quit yelling when I am angry.”  This is measurable.  Losing ten pounds is not ambiguous, but rather has strict expectations that can be reached.  Or not.  Likewise, the disorganized individual.  Like me last year, he could set the goal to organize a specific area.  Closets, dressers, office, etc.  Trust me when I say this can be measured with great accuracy : )

Another necessary component to assessing a goal is the level of control one has over the outcome.  “Get Published.”  A writer has no control over this.  Not unless they plan to self publish.  Then, by all means set it and stick to it.  We are not agents and editors.  We do not have the power to place our books on the printing press.  We only have power over the process.  A better goal would be a submission goal.  “Two times per month.”  This is attainable and most undoubtedly within our control.

The last major factor a goal should have is realism.  Losing 200 pounds in one year is unhealthy and unlikely.  Fifty two (a pound a week) is best.  Setting a 220 pound weightloss goal is a guaranteed set up for failure.  Fifty would be appropriate and realistic.  Any extra is a bonus. 

It has definite expectations that can be measured, the outcome is within an individual’s control and the goal can realistically be attained. 

Weight is not my goal for the upcoming year, but weigh is.   As my word of the year, I hope to live by the guidelines I set out for this fabulous word.

To weigh something is to assess its value.  This year, I will deliberately weigh my actions and reactions as well as the events that occur–to me or because of me–and how they impact those around me.  In other words, I will be more mindful of my life and how I live it.

I have also decided to create my own version of NaNo’s Big, Fun and Scary Challenge.  My 2010 Challenge to myself is officially titled Words, Whimsy and Writing.  Each word has a personal goal and writing goal. 


  1. Integrity.  Personally, I want to be true to myself and those around me.  My blog is a start to that.  By sharing it with others close to me, I have left myself open to scrutiny on both public and private levels.  If you’re not sure what integrity means to me, check out the quote from William Backus on my side bar. 
  2. Consistency.  My goal is to write consistently (4 times per week minimum).  I did it during NaNo and it worked well.  I plan to keep up a routine that gives me time for all the important things in my life without shorting any of them.  Too often in the past, I have been a binger and a purger where my writing is concerned.  It’s all or nothing and that gets me absolutely no where.


  1. I will golf with my husband this summer once per month.  I love spending time with my DH and need to open up an avenue that allows us to extend our relationship beyond raising kids.  I don’t want to wake up next to a stranger in thirteen years when Youngest flies the coop.
  2. I will write and submit a short story, poem or article for publication.  These are outside my typical writing goals and should add an extra spark to my writing life.  It will give me something to do when editor’s block sets in!


  1. I will write thank you notes.  Ach, my achilles heel.  I say thanks, but often forget the paper copy.  Everyone needs to feel appreciated for their efforts and a simple card shouldn’t be so hard to figure out.  After all, I’m a writer.  Right?
  2. I will write another complete novel.  It may be during NaNo if I can’t fit it in elsewhere.  Ideally, however, finishing two would be the bomb!

Each of my goals are attainable, within my control and measurable.  Yet, I cannot execute any of these goals without weighing the impact on others or the process of reaching the goal itself–hence my word of the year.  Let the introspection begin!

How do you assess your success?  Do your aspirations have realistic and measurable outcomes?  If not, think about how you can improve your goals to better ensure success.  After all, nothing is worse than setting yourself up for sure failure. 

Best wishes in 2010!