On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Persistence Matters More than Big Bites

When I tell people I'm an author, often I hear the wistful (or defensive), "Oh yes, I've always wanted to write a book. But I don't have time now. I'll get to it eventually."

Folks, eventually never comes. If you want to write, or run a marathon, or get a different job, or find a spouse, or whatever, you've got to plan for it. Time slips unless you deliberately take hold of it.

One comforting thing I've learned is that persistence matters more than big bites.

I have been amazed to see in my own life how WRITING DOWN GOALS dramatically increases the chances that I will reach those goals. It's almost like magic, really -- the process of articulating, writing, and seeing the goal seems to embed it into my brain. So, for you, step one is to determine what one thing you want to accomplish first, and WRITE IT DOWN. Then, write down WHY you want to do this. Is it to avoid something, and/or to add something to your life? Figure out all the benefits that will come to you if you can accomplish this goal. Finally determine a time by which you WILL have (not want to have) accomplished this goal.

After you write down your goal/benefits/time, put one or more cards with this info in different places where you will be sure to often see them: your bathroom mirror, the refrigerator (my personal favorite :-)  ), next to your computer, taped onto your steering wheel, and so forth.

For the day-to-day stuff, break down the goal into little pieces. For example, if you want to go running later and you have 15 minutes right now, you can do 100 sit-ups or change that broken shoelace on your sneaker. If you want to write, take 15 minutes to list possible plot point solutions or write a blog entry. Don't, instead, turn on the television. You get the idea.

Most important, schedule significant chunks of time for you to pursue your goal on a frequent, regular basis. During these chunks start with running two miles and push it up, or start with writing 300 words and push it up. If you can, make it a habit to work at the same time every day. Don't let other things interrupt. Repeat to yourself why you're pursuing this goal if you're tempted to be distracted.

Keep a written log of your daily progress. Put this log in a prominent place where you often will see it. If you mess up, not to worry -- just start again the next day, and keep up. Remember, persistence matters more than big bites. Keep with it.

Find cheerleaders if you can who will encourage you. But if you can't find those cheerleaders, just do it for yourself.

No one ever reached a big goal without significant planning and dedication. As Nike says, JUST DO IT.

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