47 Mind Hacks for Writers by Karen Dimmick & Steve Dimmick
and using the exercises as blog post prompts.
Map the end goal
If writing a book is a journey, then it’s up to the writer to determine the destination, the point where the author considers it a success.
“…end goal where you and only you are contributing to the outcome.” (Line from the book.)
So my bucket list goal of “sell 2,000 copies in one week or 8,000 copies in one month” won’t work here, because I cannot control sales. I can take actions to influence the outcome, but unless I’m personally the one buying the copies, I can’t directly contribute to this outcome. (And, honestly, even if I did buy that many copies, it wouldn’t be reaching the goal, not the true spirit of the goal especially. Technically I didn’t write “to other people” in there, but I believe anyone in the publishing industry will agree that it’s strongly implied and obvious.)
Technically, after hitting the “publish” button on a book-selling site, can a writer control anything? Steps can be taken to influence goals after that (doing book tours, interviews, hoping for reviews, etc), but once “publish” is hit, are the writer and no one else contributing to the outcome of any further success goals?
“Polish and publish” might seem like a good goal, and indeed it accurately describes what I’ve been focused on for the last few years. But polish is a vague term. My inner critic is a psychotic perfectionist when it comes to book editing.
Perhaps the best goal for me right now would be:
To consider the feedback of two (already lined up) Beta Readers and then self-publish Fractions of Existence in 2017.
After that, I intend to work on Anah’s story.
As you can see, a majority of voters are in favor of it becoming a book. I did sacrifice several storylines to create it as an A to Z post.
(If you don’t know what that means, consider Harry Potter — if you read the books, you know what S.P.E.W. is, but if you’ve only seen the movies, you don’t. There was no room for S.P.E.W. in April.)
Great news for anyone who ever wondered… it looks like readers don’t mind if a story (or a large portion of a story) is on a blog first. No one ticked that box at all!
In all honesty, I’d want to publish Anah’s story at the end of March 2018. It exists because of the challenge, so I’d want it to debut for the #AtoZChallenge 2018. So there you go, goal two wrote itself.
Self-publish Anah’s Story by March 20, 2018.
The high fantasy series I’ve written has several holes to patch. As much as “waiting for lightning to strike” is a bad plan, that’s what I’m doing right now. It feels like the answer is right there, just slightly out of grasp yet, but “Eureka” is coming.
I have a high fantasy short story that I never finished. It has five or six scenes that would tie it all together, but the scenes never made it from my head onto a page. The story was one I was working on before my near-death (or temporary death, depending on your point of view). I really like the story and the characters, but every time I start working on it, I’m taken back to that moment, and sort of go off the rails. Perhaps I need a goal of getting around that block. Of not associating that story with that time.
Find a way (emotionally, mentally) to complete the high fantasy short story.
There’s also a story I wrote for a competition. I had to cut a lot of it due to word count restrictions. But it’s a complex story that spans time and generations, and cutting it down made it very confusing. Plus, given the mythology element, it was asking a lot of the reader to accept that there was an unexplained element at work. Someone is both in a room and not in that room at the same time. Or rather, the person is in the room, but hidden in a kind of pocket of magic. (There have been time travel stories along this line, where the traveler can only observe, but is otherwise in a ghost-like state, unable to be detected.) The story is actually person-versus-nature, but the cut-down version seemed like it was two person-versus-person storylines.
Redo the longer version of the tribal story, then self-publish it in 2018.
I feel confident that the only person who can contribute to making those four goals happen is me. None of those rely on another person doing something. Therefore, I believe I’ve done this exercise correctly.