In addition to Canada celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year, we also have another milestone to celebrate in 2017 namely the 25th Anniversary of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild.
Founded in 1992, the Guild has gone through a lot of changes over the years, but one thing remains constant – our desire to help our fellow writers achieve their goals. Whether it be learning the basics of fiction writing, or its more specialised help like learning how to draft that killer query letter we’re here for each other. As individuals we may not have all the answers or the experience, but as a collective we have a very broad and diverse range of experiences that serve us well.
At our first meeting of the New Year on January 26th, I hope you will join me in sharing your personal writing goals for 2017. Maybe you’re the type that always itemizes your writing goals for the year complete with spreadsheet and timeline, but more likely than not you’re more like me and you have some vague goal of finishing that book, or getting published. That’s where we need to spend some time thinking about what it is we want to accomplish and what are things we can do to make it happen. We need to focus on what we have control over and what concrete steps we can do to make things happen.
One of my own goals this year is to read more books about writing craft. I tend to get in comfortable spot in my writing where I think I know enough to be a decent writer, but then I stop and read a book and I realize that I don’t know everything. It’s okay to admit that you don’t know everything! For me the great thing about reading about other people’s writing experiences is that they often are able to put into words concepts and ideas about writing that you have been poking around the edges at for years. Suddenly something someone says about plotting or characterization clicks for you and you’ve got a new tool in your writer’s toolbox.
The problems with goals (and New Year’s resolutions in general) is that if we don’t put concrete plans in place to making them happen, they tend to be pie-in-the-sky wishful statements. Even my goal of reading more books on writing is too vague. How many? Over what time? You may have heard about writing SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
If I say I want to read 4 books on writing in the 2017, that’s a pretty good start. But is it specific enough. What would be even better is if I said what TYPE of books I wanted to read. Do I want to read about outlining, grammar, or something else? Even better would be to list the titles of the books I am going to read. That way, when the time comes I don’t use the excuse that I couldn’t find a book I wanted to read on the topic.
Also my current goal allows me to procrastinate to December 2017. It would be better if I planned to read 1 book by end of March, the 2nd on by end of June, etc. So you can see I even need to work on my 2017 goals a bit more before the end of the month. That would make it more measurable and allow me to correct if it was taking me too long to complete the reading. Maybe I need to read fewer books, or maybe switch from paperback to audio.
Is it attainable? Have I chosen a goal that I am capable of achieving given everything I know about myself and my other commitments. I’d like to think so. I typically read around 24 books a year. Fitting in 4 books on craft should be attainable. Measuring whether something is attainable is more important when stating goals like “I want to write 1,000 words a day” or “be published by my next birthday.” In that case I would ask – How fast do you normally write? Do you write everyday? Or with regard to the publishing goal unless you have an agent and a contract with a publishing house, the chances of a book coming out in the next 12 months is not attainable (Unless you’re self-publishing it).
Is it relevant? Does it help further your overall goal? My reading 4 books on writing craft definitely helps me provided they are relevant to areas I want to improve on. While reading a book about the history of hip-hop, while might be interesting an great fodder for story ideas, may not fit with my goal and may not be relevant.
Is it time-bound? Yes – I said up front that I am planning on reading it before the end of the 2017 and that now that I have thought about it I will plan to read one book per quarter (or one every-three months). THat gives me some time to balance other goals and also to absorb what I learn from one book before diving into another one.
There are a lot of resources on the internet about setting goals and especially about writing goals. Here’s one website where I took some information from.
See you at our next meeting – Thursday January 26th, 2017 at 6:30. Doors open at 6pm.
Our first meeting of 2016 has been pre-empted by a workshop being hosted by Barbara Kyle on January 21st, 2016.
The workshop will be conducted via Skype and members of the guild will be participating as a group from the Older Adult Centre at the YMCA in Kinsmen Room “C”. We’ll meet at 6 pm and the workshop is scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm.
The topic will be “Crafting the Page-Turner: Magic and Verve in Your First 30 Pages.” The talk will be approx. 45 minutes, followed by a Q&A session.
As part of the workshops Barbara is conducting in January she is hosting a draw to win a free manuscript evaluation of the first 25 pages of the winner’s WIP. There will be one winner from across all the workshops.
For more information on Barbara Kyle please visit her website – http://www.BarbaraKyle.com
The Sudbury Writers’ Guild meeting scheduled for January 28th, 2016 has been cancelled.
The next regularly scheduled meeting will be February 25th, 2016.
If you’re looking for books about writing, from world building to getting published, StoryBundle.com has a deal for you. To celebrate NaNoWrioMo (National Novel Writing Month), Story Bundle is offering 13 e-books about writing for the price of $15, but there’s more!
Contribute $25 or more and you unlock the 2nd Tier of books which adds another 12 titles to the pot. 25 books for $25 is pretty sweet deal if you ask me. With authors like Judith Tarr, Chuck Wendig, Kevin J. Anderson, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch represented you know there’s going to be a lot of useful information.
Click on over to their site and take a look at the titles and judge for yourself.
I will definitely be buying into this. Good news is the deal goes until the end of December and you can give it as a gift. Give it to another writer in your life or put it on your own wish list.
Margo Little of the Manitoulin Writers’ Circle has a few events she would like to share with Sudbury and area writers:
Invitation to Open Mic Afternoon on the Waterfront
As part of Gore Bay Harbour Days Sat. July 25, 2015 an open mic featuring water-themed flash fiction, poetry, reflections or memoir will be held at the Gore Bay Harbour Centre. Bring your water-themed material to read from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Hosted by Gore Bay Museum and Manitoulin Writers’ Circle. Below is a list of water imagery prompts to wash over you and inspire you. A book sale will be held at the same time so feel free to add your titles to the table.
Starter ideas for Water-Themed readings
1) This life is like a swimming pool. You dive into the water, but you can’t see how deep it is. –Dennis Rodman
2) Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water. – Christopher Morley
3) A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is, until you put her in hot water. – Eleanor Roosevelt
4) To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. – Alan Watts
5) Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. –W.H. Auden
6) No water, no life. – Sylvia Earle
7) Water is the driving force of all Nature. – Leonardo Da Vinci
8) Cry, forgive. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness. – Steve Maraboli
9) Don’t be ashamed to weep; ‘tis right to grieve. Tears are only water….. –Brian Jacques
10) Anger is like flowing water; there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you let it flow. – C. Joy Bell
11) She was a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city. – Roman Payne
12) Water does not resist. Water flows. If you cannot go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does. –Margaret Atwood
13) It is life, I think, to watch the water. A man can learn so many things. –Nicholas Sparks
14) I’m so thirsty. –Jarod Kintz
15) You never really know what’s coming. A small wave or maybe a big one. –Alysha Speer
Marion Seabrook Memorial Writing Contest
Short story writers are reminded to submit entries to Marion Seabrook Memorial Writing Contest by July 15. Mail to Box 333, Mindemoya, ON P0P 1S0. Adult and youth prizes. Blind judging. Guidelines at 705-377-4045 or email@example.com or Manitoulin Writers’ Circle 705-282-1714. Sponsored by Central Manitoulin Historical Society with support from Manitoulin Transport. Readings to take place August 20 at Pioneer Museum.
by Renny deGroot
Left-Right-Left! Maybe it’s because, decades after leaving the military, those words and the accompanying thump of boot heels hitting the parade square in precision, can still make my heart beat faster. Maybe it’s because both my parents had also been in the military and organized our family with crisp routines. Whatever the reason, discipline comes naturally to me which is a good thing because that’s what it took for me to get all the way through the drafting, writing, re-writing and editing process of successfully producing the 240,000 word novel Family Business. Discipline and having a compass.
Early on in the process I decided that I would work on the book three days a week. It was a realistic target given my other commitments. I also had a goal for each session – usually a page count and I stuck with it until I got there. I had a separate writing space in the house where I would go which immediately got me into the right ‘head space’ for writing. In the summer months I treated myself. I set up my computer outside in my screened in deck with the sound of the waterfall in the background, but it was still a mental ‘going to work’ kind of experience. So – applying myself in a disciplined approach was one element to successfully getting the novel done.
“Where’s the story?!” was a favourite cry by my first creative writing instructor, James Purdie. It was a bit like when one of my English Lit professors used to tell us to apply the ‘So what?’ rule to everything we wrote. Every sentence, every word needed to have a point. Purdie used an example that still stays with me twenty-five years later: “The King died, and then the Queen died” (not a story) “of a broken heart.” (A story!).
What I took from this was that the theme, in my case, the concept of freedom both at a macro level and at an individual level, needs to be clear and everything must be grounded around the theme. I wrote an outline to have the main milestones and timeline determined, but after that I trustedto my theme to continue to move me forward. Whether it was about the oppressive mother attempting to control her sons, or the occupying forces restricting the Dutch population, the theme of freedom was my compass that kept me moving forward. I have heard of people who prefer to have only the vaguest notion of what they will write about when they begin and that may work for them. I tried that as well once and I never got further than ten pages of aimless clutter. For me, having a framework of main milestones and a thematic compass, worked well. It still left me plenty of scope for creative discovery. How wonderful it was to realize that Tiineke was such a strong young woman and well able to deal with her mother-in-law. The characters seemed to reveal themselves as I wrote, without conscious effort on my part.
In mid May, as we honoured our Canadian military effort in Afghanistan, I reflected on my ten years with the Canadian Forces. Honing my discipline, teaching me to keep commitments, learning to set a course and stay with it – all of these skills have helped me to become a writer.
Although, to tell the truth, using an actual compass was right up there with using a slide rule; I never did quite perfect it.