The new picture

Last December, my first novel was published. Demon’s Heart had a beautiful cover, a legit publisher, and all my words stacked up so neat and pretty inside of it. It was in Barnes and Noble, people!

It was a big deal. This had only been my life’s dream since fifth grade. I certainly had never imagined that it would happen by the time I was twenty-four.

That whole year was kind of an upheaval for me. When I signed the contract back in March 2014, I was still a brand-new mom without the slightest idea of what I was doing in any area of my life. I juggled a lot of mommy-learning and publishing-learning, and sometimes I really wondered what I was doing there.

After the release and the fanfare and the blog tour and book launch and signing and all that craziness were over with, I went home with my little family for “quiet” (read: no Demon’s Heart-related activities) Christmas. And I wondered:

What happens now?

There were two more books in the trilogy to work on, of course. There was marketing, there was blogging, there was social-media-ing.

But I was in such a different place, and I didn’t know what to do with that. Things changed. I changed. A lot of things I thought I’d known about books and writing and the world changed.

Nine months later, I’m accepting the changes. I have a new path laid out, a path that will inevitably twist away from where I see it going, but one that at least gives me a direction to start walking.

I wanted to do something to kick off this new direction, and I decided to make it something I’ve been reluctant to do for a long while: changing my picture. See, my profile picture on all my social media accounts has been the one in the back of Demon’s Heart, because I felt like it somehow connected me more solidly to the book.

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But the thing is, I don’t look like that anymore. I started wearing glasses instead of contacts, I chopped off my hair, and all my freckles came out in the summer sunshine.

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I know, I’m not wearing glasses in this picture. But reflect-y glasses make good pictures difficult.

So this is me letting go of that insanely frazzled, lost, and terrified person of last December. This is me accepting that my goals have changed, my opinions have changed, and my paths have changed. This is me taking a few baby steps into foreign lands and hoping I’ll run into some old and new friends along the way.

Wish me luck!

Writing Goals

They’re everywhere. There’s no escaping them. 500 words. 1000 words. 739 words. An hour. Five hours. Eight hours, with seven-minute breaks every 43 minutes.

Writing goals are a great thing for many authors, it seems. Unfortunately, when I sit down with a word-count goal in mind, I tend to sit and stare at the word count in the lower left-hand corner of the screen the entire time I’m writing. When I sit down with a time goal, I stare at the clock in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

I’ve learned it’s better for me to just not go down that path.

But that doesn’t mean I’m without goals. There is one overarching goal that encompasses my entire writing philosophy:

Write every day.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 1000 words or 10. It doesn’t matter if it’s the manuscript I’m supposed to be working on, a flash of inspiration for a new story, or a project that’s been simmering on the back burner for a while. If I open a Word document and type something, I’ve filled my goal for the day.

It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes. There are times that I don’t feel super inspired, but I’ll start working and the words come pouring out. Then again, there are times that I don’t feel super inspired and I get maybe two sentences on the page. But that’s still two sentences more than I had the day before.

The only way to finish writing a novel is to get the words onto the page one by one, and that’s never going to happen unless you are diligent about sitting down to work regularly. The effort of writing daily will not only get those words on the page, it will also make the words better, smoother, tighter. With practice, writing rises in quality and efficiency.

With all the goal-setting rage that comes with the new year, find the writing goal that works for you, be it simple or complex, lax or stringent. Then go forth and tackle your writing endeavors with spirit!

What are some of your writing goals? Do you stick to them strictly or give yourself some wiggle room?