Writing Tip Tuesday #6

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I’m not sure how I first came across this idea of SMART Goals, and if you’d like to learn more beyond my summary, a search will provide you with lots of information. SMART is an acronym for a system to help you achieve better results. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound.

I am all about the goal setting. Those of you who have been with me for a while now know this. If there’s a better way to go about achieving them…I’m all for it! And I thought you might be too.

It’s one thing to write down your goals – an elusive idea of possibility – and to have an external deadline, it’s usually what I need, to feel some pressure, it’s another to create a plan of attack, one that will help you visualize the path to success. To get down to the nitty gritty of goal setting, we have to be honest with ourselves and what it is we truly want.

Whether it’s a writing goal or another creative endeavor, choosing the goal we wish to pursue generally has a number of precursors, and a lot of forethought.

So here are the steps:

Specific: What do you want to accomplish? Why is it important to you? Be, as the word suggests, specific in the goal you wish to achieve.

Measurable: How will you know when it’s accomplished? What is the finish line to achieving this goal?

Achievable: Is attaining the goal realistic? Is it reachable? This is about being grounded in what is possible. Of course, I would never deny anyone reaching for the stars, we are dreamers, after all.

Relevant: Is this the right time to pursue this goal? Is it worthwhile? I’m not overly fond of the use of the word “worthwhile”. What I am fond of is the opportunity to achieve one’s goals. Dream big!

Time Bound: Set a target date. Find an external deadline. I like them. It offers a window of opportunity, something to work towards. I have often found that a hard line in the sand is a great way to feel the compulsion that only such a constraint can provide. A little fear. A little stress. They’re great motivators.

One of the notes I made, in addition to those above: Beware of goal setting that allows someone else to have power over it.

Good advice.

And then, like the image above, you can celebrate when you accomplish your goal. If you’ve used this method before, please share your thoughts. If you have any other goal setting tips, please share those as well.

Wishing you the best of luck!

Happy Writing!

Mid-Year Goal Check

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It’s June.

It doesn’t really feel like it, as the sun has only been out a few times this year so far. By now, in Vegas I would already be complaining about the heat, longing for cooler days, and here I am on the flip side, wishing for a day above 65 degrees.

Apparently, according to long-time PNW residents, this never-ending gloom is unusual. Like, hasn’t happened in 72 years. Didn’t they something similar last summer during the heat wave? Either way, I’m so happy we could be here to experience it. ((insert eye roll))

The lack of noticeable change in the seasons almost made me forget where we are in the year. Halfway through. Time for a check in on those annual goals.

You may recall I mentioned making them more “manageable” at some point.

Yes, this coming from the woman who wanted to watch a movie a week, read two books a month, read three screenplays a month, all while working full-time, having two dogs, writing, managing an Etsy shop, a desire to cosplay, starting a business, and so much more, in addition to all the other normal life stuff.

Yeah, hi. No wonder every year I was disappointed with my progress. I was out of control.

I decided to cut back this year, and having made it to the half way point, I am able to reflect with better clarity and rationale and say with all honesty, more attainable goals are so much more beneficial to my overall well-being.

This is something I’ve had to remind myself of, a lot – goals are just things to aspire to, not necessarily achieve. It’s a way to stay accountable. They are not meant to act as a measuring stick in order to judge the merit of our character based on whether we actually accomplished everything on our list.

*By the way, that’s all me. I’m guessing at this point, all those quotes I’ve shared have done their job.

We all want to make progress. We want some way of measuring how far we’ve come. Hence the goals. But when they are wildly out of reach when you have other responsibilities, the lack of reaching them can really hit our feelings of self-worth. That is so not the point.

My favorite Goal graphic

Things are hard enough as it is. Why torture ourselves further?

I’m happy to report that I’ve made some of my goals. This is big for me. I’m usually eyeballing December 31st with skepticism. I know it’s judging me. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but having achieved some smaller and some larger goals, I feel a bit more confident moving forward.

And that’s all we need sometimes. A boost to our self-esteem.

Here are a few of the goals I’m happy with so far:

  1. My screenplay, Fate(s) is done. I will not touch it again without compensation. Pop the champagne! The troublesome child is ready to go out into the world!
  2. I completed the first draft of my fifth feature, Projection. Gotta say, I’m pretty satisfied. A rare state.
  3. I’m polishing up the next chapter in my fanfic series to get that off my mind. I’m sure more ideas will come knocking soon enough.
  4. I chose to only watch two movies a month instead of one a week. I’m currently sitting at 20/24. Not too shabby.
  5. I limited my book reading challenge, and not understanding how the library hold system works, it had been a while, ended up meeting that goal early on: 17/15.

My other goals were to get a new job (check), create a new writing space (partial check), and meet with a screenwriting coach (check). This I will cover separately.

More manageable goals are really the way to go. A feeling of accomplishment can really help the whole state of being and help on the long journey of our creative path.

How are your goals shaping up this year? Let’s celebrate our accomplishments and cheer one another on!

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week

Almost 7 years ago to the day, I shared this quote. This knowledge, to some degree, makes me sad.

7 years?!

A new goal?! A new dream?!

While I absolutely agree with this quote, I am reminded that I still haven’t reached said goal from 7 years ago.

Now, while I haven’t done everything in my power to achieve my dream of becoming a professional writer, the passage of time is a harsh reminder that I have wasted a lot of it. Call back to a previous post. The time does, honestly, fly, and it flies with even greater speed the older you get. I have been spouting words of positivity and chasing your dreams all this time and simultaneously been dragging my feet.

I finally took the next step I’ve been talking about to work with a screenwriting coach. Before I speak with her directly, she has asked me to fill out a questionnaire that will save time in the “getting to know you” phase. There are some questions that are making me come to terms with my journey as a writer.

I am a procrastinator.

This is not newsworthy. I’m well aware of this problem, and even though sometimes I think I’m doing better…BAM! I discover I’m not. Hi. 7 years.

I have fear.

I’ve discussed this a time or two. Fear of the unknown. Fear of success. Fear of actually getting the thing I want because then what do I do? That’s a bad joke. But the nervous energy of the potential/wish fulfilling change is real. So many of us are comfortable with the known mundane.

I need accountability.

Because I’ve had to rely on a day job in the interim, often times that schedule takes precedence over all else. Bills have to be paid. This is a sad part of reality for all creatives before they can work full time at their passion. Beyond the job we have families and a slew of responsibilities that usually push our creative outlets to the back burner. The unsatisfying nature of some of our day jobs leave us tired and emotionally drained. Also, there’s no one to answer to at this stage.

The only one I’m letting down at this point is me.

At a day job, there’s accountability. There’s a hierarchy. A dependency. It’s what I want from my writing, to be responsible for only that.

So why this quote, you may be wondering? Given the above. Because as I now officially take the step towards accountability with a career coach, swallowing my fear and putting procrastination in the corner, I have to remind myself that age is just a number and taking this goal seriously, finally, is worth the effort.

With age comes a shift in perspective, obviously not everyone benefits from experience (i.e. the current state of things), but I know my sense of humor has changed. I find all sorts of random things fascinating thanks to exposure, and all that has affected my writing. Sometimes I think, I’ve had to wait until now to become this writer because I wasn’t ready before.

The story I’m running with started out as a fluffy romance piece, and now it has depth. Without some life experience under my belt, it never would have become what it is today. I have to remind myself of some of the quotes I’ve shared over the years, one of them being:

Trust the timing of your life.

So, no matter your age, no matter the goal, attempt the thing and who knows…maybe you’ll surprise yourself.

Best of luck! xx, Rach

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is one that struck me hard upon seeing it. I’ve been floundering a bit this past week or so. Maybe it’s a little burnout, maybe it’s a bit of that fear about my goal setting/achieving sneaking in. Whatever it is, I feel the passing of time, and I don’t like it.

This is one of those lessons you learn as you get older.

When you’re young, time is endless – it seems there’s so much of it, there’s so much of it ahead of you, to do with it what you want, to waste – and then as you get a little older you start to panic that there’s not enough.

I suppose I’m the proper age for a mid-life crisis. I’m currently of the mindset that all my time must be allocated for specific purposes, and if not, I feel a sense of guilt. It’s not to say that I don’t find myself still wasting a bit of it scrolling through Pinterest or shopping for things I know I’m not going to buy any time soon, but I feel properly remorseful in the aftermath.

I still suffer from procrastination.

Thankfully, it’s not as bad as it used to be (but as of this post, I haven’t finished my taxes nor taken that second step towards my writing goals, so there’s that).

So take it from someone who has wasted a great deal of time, and who lives with someone whose job it is to work with the dead (a morbid fact of life), while time may feel infinite, it isn’t. We may never feel 100% ready to take the leap towards our long held dreams, but at some point, we have to be brave and take the chance because we have to use the time we have available to us. I suppose whether it works out or not is another part of life, but using our time wisely will at least give us more options.

Hmm…I like that.

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week

This is one of those quotes that when you read it, and let it sink in for a minute, you think, “Wow. Reality check.”

There’s a strange security in the unknown. If you never attempt the “thing”, then you have this false sense, a suspended belief that everything is just fine. There’s no rejection, nothing to rebound from. We can continue on in the delusion.

It’s not me. It’s them.

It’s when we take a chance, and put ourselves out there we take the risk.

And that’s scary.

What if everything we’ve hoped for, worked for, dreamed of is not possible?

But what if it is?

That’s scary too. For a whole slew of other reasons.

Tired of the unknown, I took the first step this week. I quit the day job. It was like a weight was lifted immediately. There is now light at the end of the tunnel. There is possibility. There is also now a freedom to make the next job work better with my goals.

So now I can turn my attention to finding out if my writing has the merit to get me to the dream job, because not knowing is growing tiresome. I’m taking the second step this week. An evaluation to learn what may need attention.

Wish me luck.

Is there something you’ve been afraid to try for fear of disappointment? Are you ready to stop wondering? Share your thoughts below and let’s commiserate.

I wish you the best of luck and the courage to face what comes next!

Quote of the Week

I had my first conversation with one of the screenwriting coaches I wanted to meet with and I found myself saying things that I didn’t expect.

For as positive as I want to be, being honest with myself about my goals, my hopes, and my fears, left me feeling a bit unnerved. Until recently, I had been afraid to chase my dream, but now I’ve done a 180 and don’t want to waste any more time. After saying this phrase a few times, Lucy, my potential new coach, said I hadn’t been wasting time but living my life.

If only she knew.

If the state of the world is any indication at how precarious it all is, then we need to take advantage of the moment.

We have to silence the inner demons, squash the dark side of ourselves, and believe we are capable of achieving whatever goals we have set. I always think, there are so many people doing what I want, so why can’t I? They stepped up. They believed in themselves. It’s time I did the same.

Finish the project. Get it out into the world. See what happens. And no matter the result…try again. Repeat until desired result achieved. 😉

How do you build self-confidence? Share your tips or advice below and let’s encourage one another!

And Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

After the big revelation in my last post, I needed a couple of weeks to recuperate.

Anything I wanted to say in the aftermath was tinged with bitterness.

I couldn’t look at, let alone think about posting another positivity quote. It felt false. Still sort of does.

I needed space. And to get my head on straight.

I’m not sure if I’ve shared this quote before, but it feels like the right choice at the moment. There are a great many things out of our control, but on the flip side, there are so many things we do have control over, and making a choice, coming to a conclusion, one simple action can lead you on the path towards better things.

Taking my own advice, I’ve made some decisions on how I will pursue my goal of becoming a professional screenwriter.

And I’m going to put it out into the universe in an effort to manifest it, and keep myself accountable.

After a polish on the screenplay, I am going to employ the services of a screenwriting coach. I’m going to face the music, face any hard truths, and come out on the other side with a plan.

It’s the one decision I hope will lead me to where I want to be.

What’s a decision you’ve been wanting to make, but haven’t yet, but are ready to?

Here’s to taking chances! I wish you all the best!

The Other Side of Goal Setting

As another year draws to its inevitable end, it’s hard not to reflect on the goals I set for myself and how I fared. Where did I succeed? Where do I need improvement?

As many of you are now aware, The Sis and I had a rough start to the year. That chipped away at a big chunk of productivity overall. Months were lost, and when I realized how soon 2021 would be gone, I was stricken with a sense of scrambling to make my year end goals. This led to exhaustion, and a bit of depression.

The last month or so I have felt little motivation, in any regard. It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t seen the sun in weeks either. How can the sun just not exist here?! It’s too cold. It’s too gray. *Side note, I had a Facebook reminder today that 8 years ago I was basking in 81 degree weather and was rubbing it in the faces of my East coast friends. Today I’m avoiding the fact that I’m now in 14 degrees and my car is buried in the snow.

The day job is mind numbing, and I’ve already said enough on the topic. It won’t change until I make a change, so that one is on me, but compounded with the above, I’m feeling the effects.

I think I also may have been too over-reaching this year in my goal setting. With the big move, a sick pup, and the two above-mentioned downsides, it has been harder than usual to stay the course, so I should have reconfigured the list sooner so as to not feel this disappointed by not being able to mark my goals as “complete”.

So this is where we come to the moral of the story. When determining your goals for the new year, be reasonable, and a little lofty in your aspirations. The “resolutions” are meant to be inspiration, something to strive for. While some of them may feel out of reach or grandiose, the point of making a goal a goal is so we have a measuring stick for our accomplishments. They shouldn’t make us feel bad about ourselves. They should offer us something to work towards; to help us gauge each step in our progress, and that falling short doesn’t mean we’ve failed because at least we were willing to try (and are possibly continuing to do so).

This is something I’ve had to remind myself of, and why this week’s quote struck me.

I allowed my inability to accomplish all my goals affect my feelings of self worth. I have let a number of years slide without a second thought as to my aspirations, but this year was different. When I had that lightbulb moment about my writing, that newfound desire to follow my dreams resonated so deeply within me, that I think the thought that I couldn’t accomplish a few simple tasks hit me harder. “If I couldn’t finish a movie watching goal, what makes me think I can be a professional writer?” Those two things do not have any bearing on the other, and it was an easy spiral to find myself in as a way of discouraging my progress.

So be kind to yourselves. Set goals, but understand they may take longer than the time we set for ourselves. Celebrate the small steps or accomplishments toward a greater goal. Find people who will continue to encourage you. If you can make changes to the things that are inhibiting you, be brave. And Good Luck!

Here’s to a new year of new goals and to crushing them!

xx, Rach

Another Year Already?!

About nine years ago, I had been out of work for a year, had applied for probably 75 jobs or more (I used to remember the exact number) to which I only received two responses, and found myself terribly depressed (and not writing).

Finally The Sis encouraged me to just focus on my writing and build up my career, she would take care of the rest. It was a hard pill to swallow, letting my much younger sister carry the burden of our expenses, but I was no closer to getting a job, and at least I could write.

I had been reading articles for years, knew what I needed to have in my portfolio, and so basically, I started from square one. I wanted to create a pseudonym, create a new identity for the writer side of me, and actually started creating social media handles and a blog under the name Caedan Marek. I liked the name (and spelling of) Aedan, but so did everyone else, and cadence is the flow of sounds, and I’m a writer, hence the combination and eventual conclusion to the first name.

After some time, I realized it didn’t work. At least not for me at that moment. I didn’t want to be in meetings or what-have-you and not hear my given name. My real name is Rachael. Hi! But I would keep the last name. It held special meaning to me and I had decided upon it pretty quickly. I took it from a character in Michael Crichton’s book, Timeline. When I read it, I sort of fell in love with him, Andre Marek. I identified with him. And then stole his name.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know how I’ve struggled from time to time with my writing here and for the career I desire. Life often gets in the way of the pursuit of a dream only we can see.

So it’s now been 8 years. 8 years?! ((sigh)) I’m not sure if I should be proud or you know, not.

Reflecting on all these years of blogging, my first full year, 2014 was my most productive and most interacted with year. 2015 and 2016 were also pretty good, but then I took a sharp decline in 2017. That’s when I started working at the country club, and I was generally exhausted all the time. 2018 was worse, and then got slightly better in 2019. All while still at the club. Ugh. That place was like an energy sucking vampire. We all know what 2020 was like, and I’m already doing better this year, so there’s that.

Pinterest is my biggest referrer. Ah, thanks Pinterest! You know I love you too! And the writing prompts are my most often viewed posts. I’m glad they’re making themselves useful.

There have been a lot of things I’ve learned and discovered since I started blogging, and I have to thank The Sis for her encouragement and support all these years. We all need someone in our corner, and it is because of her that I will succeed. I felt this shift in my mentality recently. I must be more dedicated to my career goal, as it would basically be an insult to her belief in me otherwise.

So, Happy Anniversary to A Writer’s Discrepant Memoirs & Other Tales! And a big ‘Thank You’ to all of you for your continued support! This has been a place of refuge, where I can geek out, and keep track of my progress, and hopefully, in the very near future, it will be a place I will share the highs and lows on the actual journey to reaching my big dream. Wish me luck! 😉

xx, Rach

Quote of the Week

July 2nd was the halfway point of the year, so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on where we are with our goals.

I have set goals for myself the last few years because somehow, one time, the whole year had passed and I hadn’t read a single book or watched more than half a dozen films. Who knows what that meant for my writing…

What happened that year?!

When I came to that realization, I started to create a list of goals I wanted to accomplish each year. Call them goals or resolutions or even part of your “to do list”, but without some sort of structure, a clear path to follow, it’s easy to allow them to just remain an idea, a figment, a wish.

Goals do not have to be secured at the beginning of the year, we can create a new one anytime. We don’t have to wait for November to power through a writing challenge. Every day is a chance to start. Each day is an opportunity to get a little bit closer to where we want to be.

So whatever goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year, check in on your progress. What adjustments need to be made? If you want to create a new goal for yourself and/or your work, do it. Make a step-by-step list of how you can and will accomplish this task. What do you need to do? Who can help you? What is a realistic time frame? Are there tools that would better help you if you had them available? Set a deadline for yourself, or find an external one, like a contest entry that will keep you on track. What steps will bring you closer to achieving your dream?

Write it all down. Make it visual. Sometimes seeing a large goal is overwhelming because there is a vagueness in how you might get from A to Z, but when it’s broken down into more manageable steps, the objective doesn’t seem so unattainable. Also, small steps toward the larger goal can help maintain your positivity and momentum as you see yourself checking off those tasks.

I am in no way always successful, but I’ve come to the conclusion that by at least acknowledging the things I’d like to accomplish, it gives me something to strive towards, even if I sometimes fail.

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors, and if you ever need a cheerleader for a bit of encouragement, you know where to find me. 😉