by Annie Cronin Romano
At 24 Carrot Writing, we believe in the importance of rewarding yourself with "carrots" when you achieve a writing goal, be it finishing an outline, brainstorming book ideas, querying agents, or honing your craft through writing exercises or research. Back in March, I posted a blog sharing some writing-themed carrot ideas (see "Give Yourself a Carrot"). Now, as the holiday season is upon us, here are some more creative suggestions to add to your own wish list or as possible gift ideas for your writer friends. Included are a few repeats from my spring suggestions and some new discoveries!
Like working jigsaw puzzles? White Mountain Puzzles has a few jigsaws with a literary flair. This "Reader's Paradise" puzzle will keep you busy with 1000 pieces of literary atmosphere.
Love candles? There are candles out there perfect for writers and book lovers alike.
Check out the options at Gone Reading and
fill the air with writerly aromas.
Check out Red Bubble for a variety of items perfect for any literary enthusiast! They have more than just bookish items, but you can search by keyword to find the perfect gift for writers and readers! Their phone cases are particularly creative.
Book-shaped saucers and plates abound at Gone Reading. When you're settling in for a writing session, this cozy cup and saucer will help get you in the "write" mindset! (Sorry. I couldn't resist!)
At Uncommon Goods, you'll find an array of gifts for writers, from literary scarves to story cubes. This writing prompt book, "642 Things to Write About," got positive reviews from those who purchased it. And all writers know that sometimes we need a little idea boost to get the ink flowing.
If you're looking for clever t-shirts or mugs with writer-ly or bookish sayings, you'll find them at Cafe Press. You'll also find some other unique gift ideas, like this tongue-in-cheek writer's clock.
Want some bling? At The Writers Store, you'll find vintage typewriter necklaces and bracelets. A perfect nostalgic gift!
Many writers like to decorate their laptops, notebooks and journals with stickers that reflect their personality. Find some unique ones at Red Bubble and Cafe Press.
Need some liquid courage to get you through a rough patch in your revision? Celebrating a full request? If Irish Whiskey is your thing, check out Writers Tears, available at Walsh Whiskey Distillery
and other online liquor retailers.
Don't go for the hard stuff? Steele Wines might have what you'd
prefer. Their "Writer's Block" label is available in several varietals, including Malbec, Roussanne (shown here), and Pinot Noir. And
if you're still waiting on that first royalty check, their prices
won't break the bank either! Cheers!
At Lithographs.com, they make literary-themed gifts ranging from tote bags
and t-shirts to posters, scarves, and even temporary tattoos! With over 200 titles
to choose from, including classics, contemporary, children's, and young adult,
you're bound to find a beloved favorite.
I hope you've found some treasures to add to your holiday list.
Or maybe you've discovered some future carrots to reward your
achievements as you meet your writing goals in the coming New Year.
And remember the best gift you can give yourself...
All of us at 24 Carrot Writing wish you a
happy, healthy, and creative holiday season!
by Kelly Carey
I’ve never been a patient person. Sometimes this works out great. I’ve completed school assignments days before their due dates. I’m usually very relaxed the day before a trip because I have impatiently packed days earlier. And my kids get a huge selection of back to school supplies to choose from because I make them buy their provisions the first week in August. (My kids would argue that this is a negative.)
Other times, a lack of patience is a problem. Like when it comes to long car rides, lines for amusement park rides, and cookie dough (are we sure raw dough can really kill me, because I’ve tested this theory a lot and I’m still here?). And when it comes to a lack of patience and a writing career, waiting to hear back from agents and editors can be a BIG problem.
You can try to wile away the time before you sign with an agent or sell your manuscript by diving into a draft of a new story. Or you can distract yourself with revisions, writing workshops, Netflix, chocolate and gardening. But sometimes that impatience demands more - an offering of some sort.
I have found the answer for this impatient writing monster. Use Scrivener and Staples to take a sneak peek at your novel and you'll find your impatience soothed.
Here's how it works:
1. In Scrivener under File, select Compile.
2. In the Compile screen, choose to Format As: Paperback Novel.
3. Now you have three routes you can take. You can either a) print the pages yourself (print them one-sided only and full 8 ½ x 11) OR b) you can download the compiled document onto a flash drive to take to Staples OR c) You can email the document to Staples and place your order with them electronically.
4. I’m a hands on gal, so I chose the first option and printed the pages. And this may satisfy the harping impatient writing imps in your soul. And maybe you happily three-hole punch the printed document, slide it into a binder and enjoy hugging this tangible evidence of your wonderful creative energy and your impatient writing self lies dormant for a bit.
This actual printed novel version of my manuscript is not only a balm for my impatience but a talisman that I can hold up to motivate my quest for publication and ward off the pitfalls of self-doubt that will come with even the most polite rejections.
And my heart does a little satisfied sigh when I come across a family member reading my novel.
So go ahead – be impatient and take a sneak peek at your novel.
by Annie Cronin Romano
Like working jigsaw puzzles? White Mountain Puzzles has a few jigsaws with a literary flair.
This book "Best Sellers" puzzle will keep you busy with 1000 pieces of literature's favorites.
How many have you read?
The bookplates below are just a few samples of the designs you'll find at
Gone Reading, a web store for reading enthusiasts.
Ever wished a perfume could capture the aroma of libraries, leather-bound
books, and Mr. Darcy? Well, a few claim to have done it! Check out
Sweet Tea Apothecary for their "Dead Writers" scent (hey, I didn't name it!)
or head over to Demeter to discover "Paperback."
Okay...do NOT tell me you wouldn't love walking into that next critique
group meeting with your appetizer served on a book-shaped platter!
I mean, how fun is this? You can see all the size options at Gone Reading.
Wish you could wear a favorite book around your neck? Don't we all? Well, you can if you web surf your way over to Uncommon Goods. They've got scarves featuring passages from Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, and Wuthering Heights.
I hope you enjoyed (and try) some of these suggestions for writing rewards.
Now, go treat yourself to that hard earned carrot!
And keep striving to meet your upcoming goals.
I'll share some more carrot ideas in a few months!
by Amanda Smith
This is my carrot for completing PiBoIdMo 2014.
When it is in my kitchen it reminds me to follow my heart and go write.
When I carry it upstairs to the office, it reminds me of what is essential for writing success.
Heart. Brain. Tea.
When it sits on my desk, it reminds me to get to work!
During 2014 I participated in a number of online writing challenges. When November came around, I felt worn out from a productive writing year. I had numerous manuscripts in various stages of completion and I almost, ALMOST did not sign up for Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo. Between shopping and packing for a visit to South Africa, and planning for a 14 hour layover whirlwind trip though Paris, I could not foresee room in my brain for 30 story ideas.
And yet, when the time came to sign up, my heart led me straight to Tara’s website. Having participated in PiBoIdMo the previous two years, I knew the joy and satisfaction this challenge brings. During the month I was surprised at how easy the ideas came. PiBoIdMo certainly was not my focus this year, but still, somewhere throughout each day and idea would come knocking and I would jot it down in my notebook, thinking “Well, that’s nice.” Lo and behold, the end of November came and I had 33 new ideas.
On the first day of December, I cleared my writing desk, filed all my works in progress and declared the office closed for December. I somehow remembered to sign the PiBoIdMo Winner’s Pledge. December 8, a mere 4 days before our planned trip, I received an email from Tara announcing I am a grand prize winner. I never win anything. Ever. Except this time! I had a week to “flesh out” five story ideas and submit them to one of her lovely agents for critiques. Can you say tizzy?
We flew out of Boston on a Thursday evening. We whirled through Paris on a wet Friday. We landed in South Africa on a sunny Saturday and reunited with family on Sunday, and on Monday I sat down in a bright corner at my sister-in-law’s dining room table to put meat on the bones of my story ideas.
Here is what I've learned:
Keep writing. And some day, when you least expect it, you might get the “grand prize winner” e-mail.
Click http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/ to find out more about PiBoIdMo. Registration begins the last week in October. Thank you, Tara, for creating wonderful opportunities.
by Francine Puckly
The journey to honing your craft and completing large projects is a long, arduous one. It takes dedication and commitment, and even the most driven and confident individuals need incentives to keep going during those hair-pulling, “why-am-I-doing-this-anyway?” moments of doubt. It is imperative that we take the time to reward and recognize our creative spirits for the completion of the hard work we tackle each day.
As Annie mentioned in The SMART Key to Your Carrots (Sept. 22, 2014), it’s critical that your established goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant to the task at hand, and timely—a realistic timeframe in which to complete the work. In creative work, it’s easy to lose the long-term focus as we march toward the completion of a project that may take six, twelve or eighteen months to finish. In the novel writing I undertake, large projects are broken into smaller tasks, and rewards are set in proportion to the completed work.
I establish a large carrot that encompasses the entire project, but each of the smaller tasks has a small reward associated with it. These baby carrots are nothing big and expensive—I’m a starving artist, remember! It might be a single rose for my desk, a steaming cup of chai from my favorite café, or an hour to play hooky and browse the travel section at my local bookstore. But the large reward at the end of the project? Now that’s something pretty special. It has to be in order to keep me moving toward the horizon.
So what projects need carrots?
Ask yourself: What are the things standing between me and my long-term goals? What am I having a hard time completing, either from procrastination, time constraints or intimidation? What task haven’t I started because I’m afraid to fail?
These are carrot-worthy tasks.
Afraid to dip your toes in the ocean of social media but your agent or editor expects a strong presence? Give yourself a reward for opening a twitter account. Indulge in a bigger reward after you’ve made 10 tweets and learned how to retweet something you loved.
Struggling with designing your website? Give yourself a carrot for setting up and purchasing your domain name. Then give yourself little rewards for each page you design (your home page, your blog page, etc.). Then a BIG reward when it goes live!
Illustrating a picture book? Reward yourself when you complete the sketches. Pamper yourself after each completed spread. Reward yourself handsomely for the completed project. It doesn’t matter if it sells or not. You must keep rewarding your creative spirit.
Try it for a week. A month. A year. See how much you can accomplish when you give yourself the credit you deserve!
THE SMART KEY TO YOUR CARROTS
~Annie Cronin Romano
If you’re planning on jumping aboard the writing carrot cart, the first thing you’ve got to do is set a writing goal. This may sound straightforward, but it’s not quite as simple as you might think. Setting goals is, in itself, a kind of art. “I am going to write a novel” is not going to cut it. Why? Believe it or not, it’s too broad. Of course, you need this overall objective, but you’ll want to break it down. To be viable, writing goals, like all goals, need have certain elements. In business and education, these are called SMART goals. Really! I’m not making this up. Let’s take a look at these, shall we?
SMART is an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (or Time-based). These are the characteristics you want your writing goal to have.
First, your goal needs to be specific. What are you going to be working on? A poem? Generating ideas for picture books? A chapter of your novel? Researching agents? Decide what project your goal relates to and specifically state it. “I’m going to work on a picture book draft.” Good start.
Making your goal measurable will help you gauge your progress. How much are you going to accomplish? You need your writing goal to state how you are going to measure your progress. Are you going to write three poems? Come up with five picture book ideas? Complete one chapter of your novel? “I’m going to complete a 600-word picture book draft.” Even better.
Is your writing goal attainable? That means you’ve got to be realistic. Ah, we writers are totally based in reality, aren’t we? When my book hits the NY Times Bestseller List… Be honest! We’ve all thought it! And there’s nothing wrong with that. Yet it’s crucial that your writing goal is based in reality, or you’ll set yourself up for failure. Life will get in the way and prevent you from meeting goals from time to time. That’s okay. But if you only have two hours free this week, then setting a goal to write ten chapters of your book is probably not feasible. Make sure you have--or are willing to make—the time. You want to push yourself…just not over a cliff! “I’ll draft, revise, edit and my entire novel, research editors, and have my manuscript submitted by the end of this month.” Whoa! Really? Good luck with that. “I’m going to complete a 500-word picture book draft by the end of the month.” Now you’re getting somewhere, Sparky!
Be relevant. “This week, I am going to teach myself how to make the perfect chocolate soufflé.” Good for you. I always wanted to try making one of those myself. But what does that have to do with writing? Unless you’re writing a cookbook or a culinary memoir, that goal isn’t relevant. Make sure to keep your goals in line with your writing project. “This month I am going to read four middle grade novels with 1st person narrators to get myself in the mind frame of 1st person point of view for my book.” There you go! Relevant!
Timing is everything, isn’t it? And having a timely, or time-based, goal is key. Saying you’re going to write a novel is terrific, but if you don’t give yourself a time frame, you could still be saying that ten years from now. Set a deadline and stick to it. “I will draft the first three chapters of my novel by May 15.” Ha! You got it!
Consider all these SMART goal elements when setting goals for your writing. Of course, you’ll have a big-picture goal (I’m going to write a young adult novel), but breaking that goal into specific, doable pieces and sticking to your deadlines will help you make progress and meet your ultimate writing goal.
Now go set those SMART-y pants goals and earn those carrots! Chocolate, that bottle of wine, a round of golf, a trip to the book store, a beach day, chocolate…did I suggest chocolate already? Hmm…
Like everything in life, your writing career will require balance. A balance between writing and the work of writing. 24 Carrot Writing is a mental tool you can use to find that balance.
Every month, set two writing goals. One goal will focus on writing, while the other should focus on the business or work of being a writer.
Once you have found the amazing writing community, you will be overwhelmed with all the buzz and activity: blogs, webcasts, seminars, conferences, Facebook groups, pages and pages of information and sharing and support. But don’t get so lost in the sea of community that you forget to write. Or worse, you use it as an excuse not to write.
While it is essential that we continue to work on craft, like we have to keep going to the gym, we also need to just write. Don’t let that wonderful basic act of writing get lost in the slew of learning, rules and marketing.
Your first goal each month will be a writing goal. The writing goal you set involves just you and your manuscript. No blogging, no websites, no chat rooms and if it frees you up – no grammar or spelling. Just write. In the words of Jane Yolen, butt in chair!
Make sure your goal has a purpose by assigning it a measurement like words, pages, or chapters. You can target a picture book revision, or a rough draft, or a plot outline. The only rule is that it needs to be a quiet moment just between you and your writing. Think a date with your writing. No kids and no distractions. Light a candle and get in the mood to write!
Work of Writing Goal
Your second goal each month will require you to spend time managing the business of being a writer.
Put your manuscript away. This is a time for learning and connecting with the craft of writing and with the writing community. Use this goal to set targets like researching agents, attending a seminar, reading those writing bulletins sitting in your inbox, or managing your website.
Again, give yourself an attainable but measurable goal. I will research five agents or I will read bulletins for an hour a week this month. Or be brave and use the time to write two query letters and send out two manuscripts.
This is the goal that asks you to improve your craft. You can take a writing class, expand your writing community by having tea with a fellow writer, or move yourself toward publication by connecting with an agent or editor. This is not a solo goal but rather asks you to interact with the industry and community of children’s writing.
Now that you have set your two goals for the month – and written them down to keep yourself honest – it is time for carrots. Carrots are the rewards you offer yourself for hitting your targets. You can motivate yourself to complete your goals by promising a manicure, or a trip to the book store, or a treat from TJ Maxx (the place my husband calls the crack house because I am addicted to TJ Maxx carrots!).
Just like your goals, carrots need to be specific and attainable. You cannot pick a fourteen day trip to Paris with Brad Pitt as a travel companion as a carrot, but you can decide to spend the day dreaming about that trip as your carrot. Personally, I’d rather have a new pair of shoes from TJ Maxx but we all have our own carrots.
Everyone needs carrots on the long road to publication. Reward yourself for every step you take towards realizing your dream of being a successful children’s author.
If you set two goals a month and hit them, by the end of one year you will have rewarded yourself with 24 carrots and you will be a 24 Carrot Writer.
Set your goals and pick your carrots!
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