Deanna Adams’s Top Ten Tips for Achieving Your Goals

1. Know the Difference between a Dream and a Goal. A dream is an unrealistic vision (like winning the lottery), a goal is something is attainable, WHEN you apply the necessary steps toward achieving it.

2. Be Prepared. Have one place in your home where you write and do nothing else but write. This helps trigger the creative process. Also, try and keep the same writing schedule. Same time. Same place. Every day. You’ll see the words begin to flow easily as a result of this consistency.

3. Manage Your Time. Give yourself permission to write, and no more excuses. Get up an hour earlier to write, or stay up an hour later. Don’t waste time watching a lot of TV, it won’t enhance your life and won’t make you a writer. Email, too, sucks up a lot of time. Tell everyone you know not to send you those forwards and jokes. If they still do (and some will) delete them without opening them. Of course, as a writer, you have to check your email, but do it after you’ve written at least one or two hours. (If possible.)

4. Take Classes, Attend Writers Conferences/Workshops. Invest in yourself and your career. Whether a novice or veteran, we all need that shot in the arm, and there’s always something new to learn. These events give you the needed encouragement, stimulation, education and camaraderie you get from others who share your passion. Can’t afford a conference? Make a goal toward the next one you want to attend. Then start putting as much money as you can away each week (even if it’s just $10) and soon you’ll be there!

5. Network Whenever Possible. Surround yourself with successful people. “You are who you associate with” is a wonderful, and true, expression. Meet them. Learn from them. Stalk them. (Kidding.) Then follow their lead. Read their works so you can ask them questions on how they did it. Exchange emails or phone calls, and make yourself a new writer friend.

6. Read Great Works, Have Literary Heroes. You can glean so much from reading great books. My literary heroes include (but not limited to) Amy Tan, Anne Lamott, Mary Karr, William Zinsser, David Sedaris, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Who are yours?

7. Understand You’ll Need To Pay Your Dues. That’s how we all learn and grow. There is not one successful writer out there who has not known rejection. The difference is what they did afterward—they’ve learned from it and DID NOT GIVE UP! If you’re lucky, your rejection letter will include a personal note from an editor or agent, giving you a tip on how to improve the piece, or just some encouragement about your writing.

8. Review your Goals Now and Then, and Revise if Necessary. You may get halfway through a novel or researching a book and decide it’s not working. By all means, drop it and begin something else. Or revise your contents, extend a deadline if you need to. Things change. You change . . . It’s okay.

9. Celebrate Achievements, No Matter How Small. Celebrate after finishing a book chapter or get an article accepted, or, especially, when you get a YES! from an agent. Go out and buy yourself something (another book?), enjoy a good meal at your favorite restaurant, sip a chocolate martini, or drink of your choice. The point is, writing is hard work and you deserve to treat yourself!

10. Believe in Yourself! Remember, if you love the art of writing, then you’re already good at it. No one willingly does something they’re bad at. Because there’s no joy in it. You feel the joy of loving what you do, which makes you want to do it more, learn more. Which makes you accomplish more . . . which ultimately results in . . . TA DA – Success!
*Deanna will be a presenter at this year’s Pennwriters Conference. She will speak on Drafting the Nonfiction Proposal and The Art of Creative Nonfiction

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