Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Birch House Press). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website including the free novella, Throwing Stones.
While I'm a big fan of goals, in the last few years I've become an even bigger fan of systems. For example, if your goal is to write a book this year, your system is how you plan to get it done. Maybe by getting up an hour before school or your summer job and using that time to write, or by not letting yourself go to bed until you've written 500 words for the day.
I had already been kicking around the idea of having some kind of summer writing challenge on the blog when I received an email from my friend Lydia Howe sharing some exciting news. (She'll talk about her good news in a moment—I don't want to spoil it!)
Lydia had a goal. She wanted to get more serious about her writing. And she built a system that has worked remarkably well for her. To celebrate her accomplishments, she's generously giving away Amazon.com gift cards to three lucky commenters.
I'll let her talk about what she's been up to for the last few years, and then I'll be back at the end to share about the writing challenge we're having this summer:
Goals are important, especially when it comes to being an author. It seems like so much of what we do is done in the quietness of our bedrooms/offices/workplace without anyone hanging over our shoulder, prodding us along, and sometimes it’s hard to stay focused.
Having accountability when working on a goal is important to me. Sometimes when I feel like procrastinating I’ll remind myself that my mom or sister or writing buddy will be asking me how it’s going and that’s normally enough to kick me into gear.
In September of 2012 Stephanie hosted a challenge on Go Teen Writers to write a hundred words for a hundred days in a row. Since I’d been wanting to get into the habit of writing every day, I made it a goal to complete the challenge. It was a lot of fun having a whole group of people keeping each other accountable and by the time the challenge was over I had developed the habit of writing at least a 100 words on my WIP each day so it wasn’t too hard for me to keep going.
Looking back I can see how much writing every day has helped me. Sure, not all those words make it to the second draft of my book; in fact there have been times that I’ve thrown the words away as soon as I write them. But taking the time each day to remind myself that I’m a writer and to spend several minutes working on improving my craft is priceless.
Here are some of the things I do to help ensure I accomplish my writing goals:
- I have an alarm on my phone that goes off each night reminding me to write if I haven’t already.
- I turn off my internet and silence my phone so I can spend dedicated periods of time on my writing.
- I remind myself why I’m writing and that other writers have gone through the same issues that I’m going through.
- I take writing very seriously.
- I bribe myself and celebrate when I’ve completed a goal.
Remember that your dreams are important and that you have a huge group of fellow writers here on GTWers who are cheering you on and ready to celebrate with you. This group really helped me get serious about my writing and we’d love to help you, too.
And now to celebrate!
Yesterday was the 1,000th day in a row that I’ve written at least a 100 words on my WIP.
1,000 days is a long time. Since I started writing every day I’ve gotten three books published, traveled to three continents, had three birthdays and welcomed four nieces and nephews to my family. I’ve hiked up mountains, gone snorkeling, slept in caves, and moved to a new house. No matter what was going on each day though, I made sure I wrote at least a 100 words. And I’m not sure if I would have ever done it without the help and support of Stephanie and all of you at GTWers.
I would love to take y’all out for a milkshake to help me celebrate reaching my 1,000th day (that’s what my family did yesterday), but since I can’t do that, I figured I would host a giveaway for y’all!
Stephanie here. I'm amazed at what Lydia has accomplished these last thousand days, and I'm also continually touched by her generous heart.
Writing 100 days everyday won't work for everyone, but here at Go Teen Writers we want to encourage you to think of something writing-related that you would like to finish this summer. So we're kicking off a writing challenge, and here's how it will work:
The Go Teen Writers Summer Challenge:
1. You think about something writing-related you want to accomplish between now and Monday, September 7th. (Which is Labor Day in America, and the unofficial end of summer. If it's not summer where you live, no biggie!) It can be a broad goal like, "I want to finish my first draft," or it can be a system like Lydia's, "I want to write 2,000 words every week."
2. If you want, you fill out the form below to declare your goal. For some of us, it's helpful to write it down and share it with someone else. The form will be live for the next week, so you have until next Monday to determine your goal.
3. If you like, and if you fill out the form, I email you a time or two over the summer to see how your goal is going.
4. On September 7th, you tell us how you did. We celebrate with you and enter you to win some bookish, writerly prizes.