How to Write All Year Round, The Pandemic Edition (+ Tuesday’s the Last Day to Join!)

This is the third and final article in our “new year to write” series! This article is about some of the lessons we learned in 2020 about writing all year round even in the most difficult and unexpected circumstances. 

In our Called to Write community, it feels like we’ve been through it all together — it’s always an incredible place for learning and growing in a powerful way. 2020 really put our collective writing mettle to the test and I’m grateful for all we’ve learned. 

Here’s what we learned at Called to Write in 2020 about how to keep writing year-round, even in the middle of a pandemic, to bring forward with us into 2021.

Writing with others helps TREMENDOUSLY.

Isolation has been a terrible problem for so many people during the pandemic. And since writers struggle with feeling isolated too? Double whammy. What we’ve found at Called to Write is that having a tight-knit community of writers committed to the cause of writing — even on the days when it just, well, flat out sucks — really helps us see it through. And the thing is, the bad days are so much less important when they’re surrounded by better days. Writing regularly in the company of other writers ends that sense of isolation.

Between our online writing sprints and our weekly, organized Zoom meetings, we have a sense of being in it together. Thank goodness. 

Tip: Find, create, or join a community of writers to help you stay motivated to write. (Hint: Join us!)

Creating MORE structure around writing helps with the timelessness we’ve been experiencing.

Yes, some of us believed having tons of enforced time at home under lockdown would result in equally epic tons of writing time (King Lear, anyone?), but quickly found that was NOT the case.

If anything, we struggled with a disorientation of time and place that felt impossible to manage. Whether you were home alone on your own or in a house filled with unexpected constant companions, making a regular writing schedule happen was Just. Not. Working. 

Oddly enough, in our community, we quickly learned that adding MORE structure for our writing than we usually use was what solved this problem. We added extra writing sprints (we went from one per day to four per day). We shifted to weekly meetings instead of twice monthly, and switched over to Zoom so we could see each other’s faces. We added Progress Journals to track our work and create extra accountability. And what we found is that adding extra structure and support for our writing made it easier to rebuild and maintain our writing momentum.

Tip: Set up designated writing time and lots of extra structure, support, and accountability to help you see it through (as much as you need).

Your “lights out” and wake times really matter.

Getting enough sleep is so important. But so is getting up early to write. These pandemic days are blurry. They squidge together in the most unpleasant way. Grabbing each workday by the horns and showing up to write, usually early, makes it far less important if the rest of the day goes off the rails with distance learning, weird shopping challenges, or other issues.

This is one reason why we ran our Morning Writing Challenge even in the middle of election week. We knew it was likely to be stressful, incredibly distracting, and possibly upsetting, but at the same time, I was determined not to let the state of our republic stop me from writing. And the big way I’ve been doing that — election week and otherwise — is getting up earlier and earlier to write, and going to bed earlier and earlier as a result. 

Here’s the big reason why: Early in the morning, we’re far less likely to get sucked into news, drama, or Other People’s Stuff. Putting your focus on your own work (keeping your eyes on your own paper, so to speak), keeps your writing moving forward, regardless of what’s going on in the rest of the world. 

Tip: Figure out how much sleep you need, and design your schedule around it.

Bonus: Get up early to write and reap the rewards of quiet writing time. 

Small increments of writing (still) work.

Something we’ve always taught about at Called to Write is the power of working in small increments of writing time, as a way to build or reboot a regular writing practice. And, as Vizzini from The Princess Bride says, when something goes wrong, you go back to the beginning. Well, some things went wrong this year. So we go back to the beginning. 

If you got off track with your writing in 2020, use the tool of working in small increments of time — even 5 to 15 minutes — to rebuild your writing practice. You can also experiment with working with small sections of your book or project too, if you’re revising, for example, which doesn’t lend itself as well to small increments of time. I jump-started my script revision by focusing on 15 page chunks; far less overwhelming than imagining tackling the whole thing in one go. It’s just a Jedi mind trick but it works, so I’ll take it. :) 

Tip: Use small increments of writing as a tool to help get yourself going again. 

Remember why you’re writing.

This has been a rough year. I know I’m not the only writer who wondered whether it was even worth it to keep writing in the face of the massive challenges we’ve been dealing with globally. It’s impossible not to question our actions when faced with life-and-death circumstances, oppression, and political crisis. What’s important? How should we be spending our time? Will our writing even have a place to end up? What will readers, viewers, publishers, and producers even want, after all this?

My perspective is that all writing is needed and has a place (I’ll make an exception for hate speech). As creators, we entertain, heal, inform, and grow through writing, and we do the same for our readers and viewers. And it doesn’t matter what we’re writing. Fiction entertains, comedy lightens hearts, feel-good movies lift spirits. Serious pieces offer food for thought. Non-fiction teaches. Our writing has a place and a purpose, and if we’re called to write, we simply have to trust the muse and seek to fulfill that calling.

Tip: Remind yourself why you’re writing and what’s important to you about it.

 

It’s a New Year to Write!

Let’s design our 2021 writing vision and goals together.

Even if you haven’t had the successes you wanted in 2020, it’s the perfect time to think ahead to what comes next and how you’ll get there. 

When you join Called to Write, you’ll have access to the Make This Your Year to Write course materials and our live course events, including two Zoom gatherings and one live chat event to help you work through the steps and refine and share your writing vision and goals. You’ll have all the support, camaraderie, and accountability you need to help you work through the course materials and design an actionable vision and goal plan for your writing in 2021. 

Our events start on January 5th!

Here are the steps we’ll be working through together:

  • Step One: Reflect On Your Writing Life & Career So Far (this lesson today, which we’ll review and discuss together on January 5th)
  • Step Two: Notice Your Writing Patterns, Challenges, & Lessons
  • Step Three: Tune Into Your Vision For Your Writing Career and Life
  • Step Four: Tap Into What You Want For Your Daily Writing Life
  • Step Five: Examine the Gap In Your Writing Life
  • Step Six: Set Goals for Your Writing Year
  • Step Seven: Design Your Writing Plan
  • Step Eight: Create Your Support System

Ready to join us? Find out more and register here: https://calledtowrite.mn.co/

Tuesday’s the last day to join in time for the kickoff Zoom event. 
 
 
First photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels
Second photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

 

7 Mistakes Writers Commonly Make With Goal Setting & Writing Resolutions

Since it’s the first day of the year, and like many writers you probably have goals and resolutions on your mind, I want to highlight a few common mistakes writers tend to make when setting goals for the year, to save you the trouble of possibly making them and stymying yourself or creating unnecessary frustration or disappointment. 

Know in advance that I *am* a fan of goal setting when it comes to writing (and that’s what we’ll be doing with our Make This Your Year to Write process), while at the same time I also know it benefits from forethought.

Here are some considerations to take into account as you plan your goals and resolutions.

7 Mistakes Writers Commonly Make With Goal Setting & Writing Resolutions

Mistake #1: Setting page count or word count goals in a vacuum.

It SOUNDS great to say you’ll write 250 or 1000 words or 3 script pages a day (I’ll write a book/3 scripts a year!), but is it really that great?

When you set a goal for the entire year’s worth of writing focused on a word or page count goal, you’ll most likely be neglecting the reality that writing projects typically also require all kinds of OTHER work that is critical for moving a writing project forward (and counts as writing), like research, development, editing, revising, plotting, structuring, character development, and more.

What happens when you set a word count goal but you’re at a place in your book where you need to edit and revise? Do you end up writing “new words” even when they aren’t relevant to your book… and end up feeling like you’re spinning your wheels? 

What happens when you set a page count goal but you need to restructure your script in order to move it forward? Do you work on two scripts at once… and thwart your forward progress as a result?

The issue I have with word and page count goals set in a vacuum is that they have the potential to create an inherent conflict with yourself; if you focus on meeting the goal, you’re not doing the work you actually need to be doing to move your book or script along. Or if you go ahead and ignore the goal and do the work you need to do, you create an uncomfortable tension within yourself and feel like you’ve let yourself down.

👉 Antidote #1: Design SMART goals that reflect what you’re currently working on and the stage you’re in.

Mistake #2: Focusing on don’t break the chain resolutions.

I gotta be honest, I’m not a fan of “don’t break the chain” resolutions and strategies. I’ve seen too many writers triggered into an obsessive, uncomfortable place trying to keep their streak going. These kinds of goals and resolutions don’t account for days when life goes sideways on us, like getting sick or even just needing to take a day off.

Plus I find that often writers using these streak maintaining methods can end up feeling rebellious and grouchy being locked into something, not to mention a horrible feeling of “losing” all their progress if they miss a day. If anything, breaking a streak, accidentally or otherwise, can quickly become a major deterrent to writing. Once the streak is broken, writers sometimes use it as an excuse to give up on themselves and their goals. 

👉 Antidote #2: Set goals that match your life, are flexible, and allow you to pick yourself up and get back to work if you miss a day here or there or get thrown off track for whatever reason.

(I focus my writing time on weekdays and take most holidays off, and take vacation time off as well.)

Mistake #3: Not setting realistic, achievable goals.

Another common mistake is not setting goals that are actually attainable. I love Jon Acuff’s advice in his book Finish, where he recommends either halving your goal or doubling the time you give yourself to accomplish it. 

All too often writers set “high” goals that don’t allow for real life to happen or put so much pressure on themselves that they more or less implode, giving up on their goals entirely and feeling discouraged and disappointed. 

Having said this, sometimes I see writers who only seem to be able to give themselves permission to write when they are under pressure or in special circumstances (think of binge writing to meet a deadline, only writing during a writing intensive, during NaNoWriMo, or on a writers’ retreat). If you’re wired this way, you might want to consider working with a coach to identify the underlying reasons you’re afraid to write the rest of the year. It’s extremely likely that some level of resistance is getting in your way and that designing a regular schedule with small increments of writing will be a bridge to a regular writing habit and a path to making writing happen more consistently and productively, without the associated burnout that binge writing usually produces. 

👉 Antidote #3: Make your goals so easy they’re pleasurable to fulfill. 

Mistake #4: Not studying your past lessons.

One of the greatest disservices we inflict on ourselves is not giving ourselves time and space to learn from what has worked for us and what hasn’t.

If you set writing goals, and didn’t achieve them, rather than chalking it up as failure and resolving to push through a second (or tenth) attempt, instead reflect on where things went awry.

It usually isn’t what you think it is.

You’re not lazy, or too busy, or don’t have enough time (common myths that stop people from writing).

Odds are you instead set goals that weren’t achievable or didn’t have a workable action plan to help you write all year round or didn’t know how to handle the natural and common resistance that emerges when you’re pursuing a big dream like writing. Or maybe you hadn’t actually picked a clear project to work on yet! There are many, many reasons why writers don’t follow through on their goals, and taking time to learn from those experiences helps you set goals that actually work this time around. 

👉 Antidote #4: Review what worked and what didn’t this year and see what you can learn from it (and yes, you get something of a pass because of the pandemic — and — I’m sure there’s still something to be learned.)

Mistake #5: Setting goals you can’t control. 

Another common mistake writers run into with goal setting is choosing goals they don’t have control over. “I’m going to sell my book (or script) this year!” isn’t an outcome you can control or predict. You can, however, set a goal to send out 50 query letters. Or to make a list of 100 possible publishers for your book. Or vow to submit your script to a specific contest deadline or make 50 pitches. These are goals you can set and control. 

👉 Antidote #5: Put your focus on goals and outcomes you can take action on by yourself. 

Mistake #6: Not reverse engineering your goals to create an action plan. 

Related to mistake #3, not setting realistic, achievable goals, many writers neglect to reverse engineer their goals and make sure they actually work. Often this involves a fair amount of fantasy thinking around how long it actually takes to fully develop a story, do a read through of a script while taking notes, design a full revision plan, or assess how much work there actually is to revise a draft.

So if a writer says, for example, “I’m going to revise my NaNoWriMo draft by the end of January!” when they haven’t read through their November draft yet and don’t really know what they have, or what it’s going to take to get through a revision, it can be pretty discouraging to realize that revising the draft chronologically isn’t going to get them very far, and almost certainly not by the end of January. 

Plus, if you don’t have a plan, you may find yourself procrastinating well into your completion timeline because you haven’t properly assessed all the steps required to get you from A to Z. 

Want to finish a book revision by September 1st? Or write two screenplays by December 1st? Work backward from your intended deadline and map each stage of work to a calendar and writing schedule to see what seems doable. Adjust the goal as needed. Then pad the heck out of that schedule so you’ve got some flexibility for real life to happen along the way. 

👉 Antidote #6: Map your goals to your calendar so you know what to do when, and are motivated to see them through. 

Mistake #7: Not setting goals that align with your bigger vision.

From my Make This Your Year to Write course: “It’s important to start with a long-term vision before setting goals, because [you] want to make sure that your shorter-term, year-long goals are in alignment with your long-term vision.

“Think about it. If you set goals for the coming year that have nothing to do with where you want to ultimately end up, you can end up in an entirely different place than you intended. That may sound obvious, but I can’t tell you how many writers I’ve worked with who set goals that take them to the wrong place, often because what they think they should be doing or what someone else wants for them isn’t necessarily a match with what they want for themselves.”

Antidote #7: Design your overarching career vision first, then create your goals. (Hint: we’ll be doing this in my Make This Your Year to Write course.)

 

It’s super important to me to help writers set goals that work so we can make regular, consistent progress toward finishing all our writing projects and getting them out into the world where they belong. 

 

It’s a New Year to Write!

Let’s design our 2021 writing vision and goals together.

Even if you haven’t had the successes you wanted in 2020, it’s the perfect time to think ahead to what comes next and how you’ll get there. 

When you join Called to Write, you’ll have access to the Make This Your Year to Write course materials and our live course events, including two Zoom gatherings and one live chat event to help you work through the steps and refine and share your writing vision and goals. You’ll have all the support, camaraderie, and accountability you need to help you work through the course materials and design an actionable vision and goal plan for your writing in 2021. 

Our events start on January 5th!

Here are the steps we’ll be working through together:

  • Step One: Reflect On Your Writing Life & Career So Far (this lesson today, which we’ll review and discuss together on January 5th)
  • Step Two: Notice Your Writing Patterns, Challenges, & Lessons
  • Step Three: Tune Into Your Vision For Your Writing Career and Life
  • Step Four: Tap Into What You Want For Your Daily Writing Life
  • Step Five: Examine the Gap In Your Writing Life
  • Step Six: Set Goals for Your Writing Year
  • Step Seven: Design Your Writing Plan
  • Step Eight: Create Your Support System

Ready to join us? Find out more and register here: https://calledtowrite.mn.co/

 

Stay tuned

for the next article in our New Year to Write series, coming on Sunday, January 3rd, about setting yourself up to write all year long (even in the middle of a pandemic!). 

 
First photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels
Second photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

 

Complete Your Writing Year (+ A New Year to Write Registration Opens Today!)

I’ve got a special exercise for you today. As we begin working through the Make This Your Year to Write process in my Called to Write community, we start by completing the current writing year. 

To give you a taste of what we’ll be working on (and give you a jump-start!) here’s the first step of the Make This Your Year to Write process:

Complete Your Writing Year

We start first with reflection to establish the foundation of where you are right now. 

This is important because most of us have a tendency to focus purely on the goals and resolutions we’re setting for the new year and what’s next, but skip over the realities of what’s happened for us over the last year and what our current writing life looks like. (And yes, this HAS been a highly unusual year, but there are still insights to be gained from what worked and what didn’t.)

Without learning from what is, we create a recipe for pie-in-the-sky goals we are less-than-likely to succeed with. And we want you to succeed, right?😉 

So first, to begin this process, we’ll look at where you are right now, and where you’ve been, before we move on to what’s next. 

I call this completing the year.

We’ll do this by answering a series of three simple questions:

1. What has your writing given you over the last year? And in your writing career so far?

First, we’ll start by having you look at what your writing has given you. What gifts has it brought to your life, and what opportunities?

While you consider this, think back over the preceding year, and also your writing career as a whole.

For example, when you think about the trajectory your writing career has taken, are you enjoying it? Are you happy with the track you’re on or feeling dissatisfied? What has being a writer brought to your life that you would not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience? 

2. What are you most proud of?

While you’re contemplating your relationship with your writing, also ask yourself, what are you most proud of? 

Here again, look at both this current year and your writing career so far.

And please don’t be hard on yourself. If you have a hard time coming up with something you feel proud of, see where you can stretch your awareness. There is always something to be proud of, even if it’s something like, “I always kept my goal to be writing at the forefront of my mind.” Or, “I am crystal clear that writing must be a high priority for me in the next year.”

3. What did you accomplish with your writing over the last year? Make an inventory of your writing accomplishments.

One of the biggest mistakes we tend to make as writers is to keep our eyes only on how much further there is to go, without remembering to take stock of what we have accomplished and completed.

We want you to examine what you accomplished, regardless of how big or small.

How many words, pages, books, scripts, blog posts, days of morning pages, queries, etc., did you write? What did you put out into the world with your writing? Are there intangible things you accomplished with your writing?

Take the time to look back over the last year and make notes about what you’ve accomplished. 

If you don’t have any tangible progress, make some notes for yourself about what you DID do this year you feel proud of.

Writing Prompts

Here are your writing prompts for Step One, assembled in one place for your writerly convenience. Remember, you can write out your answers privately in a notebook or journal, or on this page in the comments section below — whatever feels and works best for you. 

  1. What has your writing given you over the last year? And in your writing career so far?

  2. What are you most proud of? (This year and career, both.)

  3. What did you accomplish with your writing over the last year? Make an inventory of your writing accomplishments.

It’s a New Year to Write!

Let’s design our 2021 writing vision and goals together.

Even if you haven’t had the successes you wanted in 2020, it’s the perfect time to think ahead to what comes next and how you’ll get there. 

When you join Called to Write, you’ll have access to the Make This Your Year to Write course materials and our live course events, including two Zoom gatherings and one live chat event to help you work through the steps and refine and share your writing vision and goals. You’ll have all the support, camaraderie, and accountability you need to help you work through the course materials and design an actionable vision and goal plan for your writing in 2021. 

Our events start on January 5th!

Here are the steps we’ll be working through together:

  • Step One: Reflect On Your Writing Life & Career So Far (this lesson today, which we’ll review and discuss together on January 5th)
  • Step Two: Notice Your Writing Patterns, Challenges, & Lessons
  • Step Three: Tune Into Your Vision For Your Writing Career and Life
  • Step Four: Tap Into What You Want For Your Daily Writing Life
  • Step Five: Examine the Gap In Your Writing Life
  • Step Six: Set Goals for Your Writing Year
  • Step Seven: Design Your Writing Plan
  • Step Eight: Create Your Support System

Ready to join us? Find out more and register here: https://calledtowrite.mn.co/

 

Stay tuned

…for the next article in our New Year to Write series, coming on Friday, January 1st, about mistakes writers commonly make when setting goals for the new year. 

Join my mailing list to get the articles sent right to your inbox.

 

 

First photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels
Second photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
 
 

Join us for a free New Year’s Day Writing Sprint

Some people believe how you spend the first day of the year influences how you will spend the rest of the year. Let’s start off the new year “write”!
 
Called to Write is hosting a free New Year’s day writing sprint. Our Writer’s Coaching Circle runs online writing sprints at 9 a.m. Pacific Time on weekdays and on the first day of the year, we’re inviting everyone to join us! This is a terrific way to start off the new year WRITING.
 

Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals, Part I: Clearing the Decks (and a Free TeleClass!)

It’s back-to-school time. For many of us, regardless of whether we have kids or are going to school ourselves, this means we’re both recovering from summertime and tuning into the back-to-school fall energy. Which is usually highly motivating and exciting. 

It also means we’ve hit that moment where the end of the year is in sight.

If you take the time to think about it, this is the ideal come-to-Jesus moment for meeting your writing goals for 2017 — far better now than to try to pull out all the stops on December 15th. Maybe you didn’t get as much writing done this summer (or year so far) as you’d intended. Maybe you did. If you’re on track, more power to you! If not, this is a great time to adjust your course.

Goal setting at the beginning of the year is often a magical, inspired effort. And by magical, I mean, magical thinking. Somehow, in the thick of the holidays and year’s end, it seems as if the year ahead will not be filled with… anything! We’ll miraculously have oodles of time. We declare that we’ll finally focus and achieve things we haven’t achieved before. And then January happens. Then February. And March. And suddenly it’s end of summer and we feel like we have whiplash looking back trying to figure out where the time has gone.

I know I was unexpectedly affected by illnesses for much of the winter and spring, various challenges with my parents’ health, as well as all of the political happenings. I didn’t have space built into my writing plans for any of those things. I haven’t stopped writing, but I certainly haven’t been as efficient as I’d intended. I’m okay with that. Life happens. But I also still want to make a solid stab at reaching my goals for 2017.

My Deep Dive writing intensive is a big part of this plan for me. I’m looking forward to making a big boost of progress on the sci-fi script I’m working on to help me jump start a broader push through the end of the year. I’m also looking ahead, knowing the holidays are coming, along with my birthday, and my older son’s birthday (10!), plus flu and cold season, so I’m aiming to take action while the energy is here. 

Here’s where I’m starting the process. I’m writing this “(You Can Still!) Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals” series to help all of us bring awareness to the fact that the year end is a heck of a lot closer than we think. (There are 80 working days between today and the end of the year, and that doesn’t factor in winter break vacations for those of us with kids.)

Today, we’ll talk about Clearing the Decks to help you meet your writing goals.

In the next three posts we’ll cover Revising Your Goals, Boosting Your Progress, and Setting Yourself Up For Success

Part I: Clear the Decks for Your Writing

Clearing the decks for writing is a fascinating topic because it can be such a slippery slope — I don’t want anyone to decide they have to KonMari* their entire home before they can write — so it’s worth being mindful about how you approach this.

At the same time, when I’m looking at doing a two week stint of intensely focused writing, I know I’m going to have to make some extra space in my life to accommodate that. So I want to look to see, are there places in my life I can streamline, clean up, delegate, and clear out to make more room for my writing (and for me!)?

This is also a great time review any schedule creep that’s occurred — in other words, have I taken on any extra commitments that I perhaps should postpone or eliminate? Have I back-slid on scheduling my writing time or my resolve to meet it? 

I recently led a free teleclass to go over all this in detail. (It was be recorded so you can still listen to the recording.) If you’d like to listen, click here to join my mailing list and get the recording details.

Here’s a preview of some of what we’ll be talking about — I’ll be sharing tips about each of these as well:

  1. Logistically: What adjustments do you need to make to your schedule to make space for your writing? What events, guests, responsibilities, and commitments do you have coming up that you’ll either want to reschedule or decide how to accommodate around your writing? 
  2. Physically: What do you need to do to make your physical space more conducive to writing, if anything? Is there clutter? Are there distractions in your line of sight? How can you take great care of your physical needs with healthy food, snacks, beverages, sleep, and exercise? 
  3. Mentally: How will you reward yourself for writing? Are there any open loops you need to close or resolve so you can focus? How will you handle new writing ideas that may come up during your writing time? How will you handle negative self-thoughts if they come up?
  4. Emotionally: How will you handle emotional challenges that may arise around your writing? How will you handle non-writing emotional challenges? What support systems can you put in place?
  5. Digitally: How can you minimize or eliminate digital distractions so you can focus on your writing?
  6. Financially: What bill paying and other financial tasks can you handle now or automate so you can prioritize your writing? 
  7. Relationally: How can you guide your family, partners, friends, and colleagues to respect your writing time? 
  8. Spiritually: How can you spiritually prepare to make the most of your writing time? What intentions and positive visions are you holding for yourself as you write?


Click here to get the free Clear the Decks teleclass recording.

 

And check out Part II, here: Reverse Engineer and Revise Your Goals, Part III, here: Boost Your Writing Progress (Or, How to Design a Writing Intensive), and Part IV, here: Setting Yourself Up For Success.

 

Make Massive Progress on Your Book (or Script!)

The upcoming two-week Deep Dive Writing Intensive starts on Wednesday, September 20th and the last day to join us is Tuesday, September 19th. Join us and get tons of support and accountability to make deep progress on your book or script. Find out more and register here

 

* The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

 

Save the Dates for the Two-Week Writing Intensive: Project Deep Dive

Coming up this month: The Project Deep Dive Writing Intensive! 

*** REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN HERE ***

If you’ve been wanting to really focus on a writing project in a deep and concentrated way for a short burst of time, this is the program for you.

With your input I’ve been pulling together a collection of terrific support tools for you so you can make massive progress on your writing project in a short period of time, whether it’s a book, novel, script, short story collection, or anything else your heart has been longing to have more time to write.

This is also a great opportunity to prep for NaNoWriMo so you can make the most of the month of November if you’re planning to participate.

I’ll be posting a registration page later this week, but in the meantime, here are the important dates for the intensive so you can mark your calendar if you’re planning to join in the fun:

  • Project Deep Dive Writing Intensive: Starts Friday, October 14 and runs through Friday, October 28 (fifteen days in total).
  • Live Calls (all will be recorded & email questions may be submitted if you cannot attend the live session):
    • Free Clear the Decks Call on Monday, October 10, 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time (this call will be open to all the members of my community and people interested in the intensive, so if you’re not on my mailing list, now’s the time — see the sign up form in the upper right on my blog page.)
    • Project Deep Dive Kick Off Call on Thursday, October 13, 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time
    • Weekly Coaching Calls:
      • Monday, October 17, 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time
      • Monday, October 24, 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time
  • Weekly Ask the Coach Live Chats (in a chat room):
    • Friday, October 14, 11 a.m. Pacific Time
    • Friday, October 21, 11 a.m. Pacific Time
    • Friday, October 28, 11 a.m. Pacific Time
  • DAILY 60-Minute Writing Sprints at 9 a.m. Pacific Time including weekends, starting Friday, October 14 and running daily through Friday, October 28.

Special Circle member pricing will be available. 

Your commitment: You’ll to commit to writing for a minimum of one hour per day, ideally between 90 minutes and 2 hours per day (more if you like). You’ll accrue that time on only ONE writing project, and you’ll do super-short check-ins twice a day on our site (we’ll be using a different platform than the one we use for the Circle… I’ll be announcing those details on the registration page) and briefly support and cheer on your fellow Deep Divees.

My commitment: To write furiously alongside you and support you relentlessly along the way. I’ll coach you through the challenges and the ups and downs. I’ll provide structure, containers for your writing, coaching for when you struggle, and accountability to help you see it through.

Stay tuned for more details and registration information this week!

If you have burning questions, feel free to post them the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you, if not here, then certainly on the registration page.

*** REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN HERE ***

It’s our 5th anniversary… and we’re having a sale!

As I promised in yesterday’s post, we’re having a special sale to celebrate the 5th anniversary of my Called to Write Coaching Circleand it starts today!

Waaaayyyy back in 2011, we launched our first ‘beta test’ group for the Circle. Now we’re running five groups, with a talented coach at the helm of each one.

To celebrate, we’re offering an ongoing savings of 10% on ANY of our subscriptions, whether a single-session, a four-session, or our popular annual subscription when you sign up using the coupon code HAPPYANNIVERSARY.

You’ll love how good it feels to take action on your writing and make your writing life happen right now

When you join us, you’ll have access to our coach-led group writing sprints to boost your writing energy, coaching calls to help you keep writing (led by yours truly), and daily, personalized coaching support from your small group writing coach.

You can find out more and register for the Called to Write Coaching Circle here. Just make sure you register by MONDAY, September 12 before 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time to join us and use coupon code HAPPYANNIVERSARY to save 10% on the subscription of your choice. Your rate will be locked in for the life of your subscription.

We can’t wait to write with you!

Warmly,

Jenna 

Got Questions?

If you have any questions about the Circle, feel free to ask! The fastest way to get a response is to email us at circle@calledtowrite.com or use our online contact form here. We’ll get back to you ASAP.

Get My Free Guide to Crafting Your Premise Line (With Guest Expert Jeff Lyons!)

Earlier this year, my writing pal and colleague Jeff Lyons and I put together a two-part article series called “Five Essential Steps to Crafting Your Premise Line.” It’s been such a popular post (we even did a Writer’s Chat session on it), that I decided to compile the article into a free guidebook for you, along with a workbook for helping you craft your own Premise Line.

For writers, whether you’re writing fiction, screenplays, or creative non-fiction, a premise line is an incredibly valuable tool that will help you both develop and test the basis of your story. 

A premise line is more than just a logline or synopsis. They’re related, but different animals.

Using a premise line has become an integral part of my story development work. Not only do I use a premise line to develop my story, I use it to track my work, test the concept, and more. In the guidebook (or in the two-part article here and here), you’ll find out how to develop a premise line yourself. Then you can use the workbook to craft your own. The workbook comes in two formats: A PDF format for printing and handwriting your answers into and an RTF format for easy importing into Scrivener or Word, where you can type into it directly (my favorite!).

Enjoy!

Download the Master Your Premise Line Guidebook here:

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I’d Love to Get Your Feedback On a New Writing Program

I’m planning to run a short-term Writing Intensive this fall (specific dates to be determined), and I’d love to get your input on it.

My vision is to create something along the lines of NaNoWriMo but with a smaller group, more support, and direct interaction with a writing coach. The purpose of the Writing Intensive would be to pick one specific project that you’ve been wanting to do a push on and focus on moving it forward significantly for the duration of the Intensive.

Unlike NaNoWriMo, we wouldn’t necessarily have a shared goal (in NaNo, everyone aims to write 50,000 words during the month of November), but rather start off at the beginning with a specific stretch goal that you personally want to meet, and have a structured timeline within which to meet it. We’ll have a collection of support tools to help you get there that may include things like: daily check-ins online, a special chat group for discussion and interaction, writing sprints, frequent teleconferences, and more (I’m refining the specifics about this on the basis of your feedback, hence this post).

I’m currently planning to use the platform I use to run my Called to Write Coaching Circle, but with a different focus (intensely focused on heightened productivity rather than daily writing habit building and ongoing productivity), additional tools, and even story coaching if warranted. 

If you’re interested in this and you’d like to give me your input on it, I’d really appreciate it! I’ve set up a survey here.

You’re also more than welcome to leave comments here on the blog.

Thank you so much! I appreciate it.

Free Guide: How to Choose Your Next Book (or Screenplay)

…When You Have Way Too Many Ideas to Choose From

As someone who used to struggle to come up with a single idea but then became overwhelmed and paralyzed by the sheer number of story ideas I came up with, I’ve had to find a way to navigate through the realm of choosing writing projects. Each one of my ideas seemed equally important and valuable, and I couldn’t stand the idea of trying to “just pick one and write it,” lest I make the wrong choice, betray one of them for another, or worst of all, let any one of them go.

I had to come up with a process to help me make decisions.

Luckily, as a coach and entrepreneur since 2002, I’ve had my fair share of decision making challenges and support in making those decisions over time. And thankfully, the processes I’ve learned translate brilliantly into choosing writing projects.

(And by “writing projects” I generally mean long form books or screenplays. :) )

In 2015 I wrote a three-part series of blog posts about these methods, called “Choosing Your Next Writing Project.” Writers all over used it to choose their next book or screenplay from among their many, many ideas and found great relief in knowing what to move ahead with next.

Rather than feeling stuck in the paralysis of not being able to choose or having to “give up” any of their ideas, these writers felt empowered to choose and run with that choice.

I’ve now put together a “reprint” of my original blog posts, edited, updated, and assembled in one place for your ease of reading, along with a step-by-step workbook that will walk you through the process I describe for choosing your next book, or screenplay, which you can download below. (If you prefer, you can read the posts in the original series online here, here, and here.)

Here’s what you’ll want to know about it:

  • This process assumes that you have some number of possible book or screenplay ideas that you’re trying to choose between. If you’re instead in the place of needing to come up with ideas, this particular process won’t be helpful to you yet, though you may want to read it to see if it sparks ideas for you start with. I expect to create a book brainstorming guidebook at some point down the line, so stay tuned if that’s something you need help with. (In the meantime, you might like this post.)
  • This process is also specifically designed for choosing among long form writing projects (novels, feature scripts, books, etc.). This is because long form projects tend to trigger a different kind of stuckness than short form projects do (usually because they require less commitment, though there are certainly plenty of ways we can get stuck with short projects too).
  • You can read all the posts online without getting the download but you might prefer to have the new guidebook I’ve put together since I’ve updated the content and also included a workbook version (both in a PDF you can print out and write on by hand and in an RTF format you can import into Word or Scrivener and work on digitally). 

If you’re wondering how this works, check out this comment from Naomi Dunford of ittybiz.com, who used the process to choose her next novel project:

naomi dunford“OK, I have more project drama than anybody else on earth. I really don’t think I’m exaggerating here. You see, I always wanted to be a writer. The dream was always so big, so real, so important. But sometimes with dreams that visceral, the detail gets lost in the shuffle. In this case, the detail was ‘for God’s sake, woman, you know you’re going to have to pick something and start, right?’

That one critical element always felled me.

There was nothing I couldn’t use as an excuse to avoid picking a project and getting started. Resistance! Procrastination! Yeah-buts! Fear of failure! Fear of success! I’ve got the whole gamut. It’s driven my parents crazy, my kids crazy, and two husbands crazy, too.

But! I went through your exercises and I’m happy to say… I have selected my project, and I feel SO confident about moving forward.

To anybody reading this, if this can work for me, it can work for ANYBODY. I am the Resistance queen of the world, and it even got ME going. That’s saying something. Highly recommended.”

Want it for yourself?

Download The Guidebook Here

The Guidebook includes an overview of the process in a PDF format, along with a workbook in a PDF and RTF format. You can import the RTF into Word or Scrivener and work with it there.

Click the image below to subscribe to my mailing list and download the Guidebook now.