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!