Tag Archives: goals

Summer Bucket Lists For Writers

I have a bucket list for my kids this summer.

Among other things, we’re going to make homemade ice cream, go to Vacation Bible School, go to the library regularly and swim in Grammy’s pool at every opportunity.

My bucket list for my life includes spending a month in England, reading 100 books a year, owning waterfront property, and having grandchildren. I’d also like to have a book for sale at Costco, be featured on NPR,  and speak at a writer’s conference. I know for a fact those things aren’ t going to happen this year — but they could in ten years.

So I was thinking — what would a bucket list for writers look like?

What do we read? What do we write? How do we push ourselves? What new things should we try?

Bucket list items should be measurable. If you’re going to travel the world this summer, does that mean only transatlantic flights or transpacific? Measurable goals can keep us focused.

Bucket list items may need planning. I’ve never traveled the world, but imagine a little planning would be wise. Even your less ridiculous items need planning at times. Before you find yourself already at July 4, look at your summer and take a minute. How can you plan your activities so you can cross something off?

Bucket list items should be realistic. It’s all fun to have fantasies, but in the limitations that you have for June, July, August be sensible about what can be accomplished and what needs to be put off until another time.

Here are a few suggestions for your summer bucket list.


  • Set up a blog
  • Blog on a regular basis
  • Post blogs on Twitter and Pinterest
  • Marketing
  • Research free review sites
  • Buy business cards
  • Contact local library and give copies of books away


  • Write a specific number of words a day
  • Complete that story that’s been sitting around
  • Outline the next project
  • Spend ten minutes on a prompt
  • People watch regularly
  • Journal regularly


  • Create a Goodreads List to mark books that are read
  • Make a plan to go to the local library weekly
  • Read craft books to help you become a better writer
  • Read stories on Wattpad to support other writers.
  • Collect writers blogs from which to learn


  • Offer to Beta read someone’s manuscript
  • Join an online group for writers. This one is my favorite.
  • Join a local writers group.
  • Join Scribofile to meet other writers and comment on others’ work.

The reality? Bucket Lists are just a cute way to say, “MY GOALS.”

Goals, in order to be a reality, have to be married to hard work and determination. So before summer gets going, spend a little time thinking about your bucket list.

And if you tell me what you put on it, I’ll share some of my ice cream!

Like this post? You may also like:

50 Cheap And Easy Ways To Improve Your Writing This Summer  or,

Finding Time to Write (With Toddlers in Tow)

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Forget the Resolution! Are Your Goals SMART Enough For 2017?

If you are going to set goals for 2017, you need to think SMART!

 Unlike goals, promises and resolutions are full of hot air.

Those flighty resolutions float through our minds at the fresh, breezy start of January. They usually settle, forgotten in the corners of our minds before that groundhog pokes his head out.

But a real, workable, practical, life-changing goals look entirely different. Plans that are still a part of your life in March and April will be SMART.

Forget the Resolution! Are Your Goals SMART Enough For 2017?

Are Your Goals SMART Enough For 2017?

Are they SPECIFIC?  This means you envision tasks that are easy to visualize. For example, In 2017, I want to read 100 books, I want to write 500,000 new words and I want to complete two nonfiction proposals. These goals are way more specific than “read more, write more, send stuff out.” As you think about your goals for 2017, rewrite them into the most specific way possible, use numbers not just vague adjectives.

Are they MEASURABLE?  Your goals should be a black and white event — they should either be done or not be done. If you have something measurable, say write 500,000 new words in 2017, then you would know what you’d have to write on the average daily to meet that goal. (That’s 1370 words a day, in case you’re wondering. ) You’d know what you would do to make the words up if you missed a day. You’d be able to accurately measure, as the year progressed, if you are going to meet your goal or not. Are your goals measurable? Can you break them down to a daily task? A weekly one?

Are they ATTAINABLE?  This may be the hardest part of goal setting: What are you really capable of? Does your reach exceed your grasp? I know that if I say I’m going to do Couch25K in 2017, that I probably won’t. As much as I’d like to meet that goal, think exercising three times a week is a much more attainable. To find the most attainable goal, you’ll need to know your strengths and weaknesses well. You’ll also need to admit where you’ve failed in the past. But this is the nice thing about goals and the New Year: It’s never too late to start over. Be honest with yourself and check that your goals are attainable.

Are they REALISTIC? It’s one thing to dream big, it’s quite another to understand what really could happen and adjust your dreams accordingly. Do you have an adequate understanding of your other time commitments so you can meet this goal regularly? It also probably wouldn’t hurt you to ask a trusted friend if they think that your goals are realistic. And as disappointing as it may be, a little adjustment of the goal could be called for. It’s better to have a realistic goal you can make than break your heart later after reaching for the impossible.

Are they TIMELY? What are the time constraints you’ve put on yourself for this goal? Is this goal something that you must do now, or would it better to wait for another time? Can you address the meeting of this goal on a regular basis throughout the course of a year? We only have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year to accomplish what we want. Analyze your time well and set your goals to fit between your needs and commitments.

Your goals for 2017 should be so much more than wishful thinking and broken resolutions.

Successful writers plan for success. And if you are to be successful, you will need to think about how each of your goals meet these requirements.

2017 will be a great year, if you plan it the SMART way!

I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. 

Top 10 Tricky Things You May Have To Do In Order To Achieve Your Goals

We can’t be the writer we want to be if we keep doing the things we’ve always done.

This is the time self-involved, sensitive writing types, think about how we can make this upcoming year the best ever. Especially if we are participating in Nanowrimo. This is an exciting time of year and it’s also kind of scary.

We’re going to have to make some changes. Sigh.

This week’s list is the Top Ten Tricky Things You May Have To Do In Order To Achieve Your Goals.

Top 10 Tricky Things You May Have To Do To Achieve Your Goals by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

1. You may have to say no to the expectations of others. This is tricky because in the past you may have said yes too much. You may not have been firm with your boundaries. You may not be known for taking time for yourself. If you are a 10 minute writer, then it is very reasonable to request that the people around you allow you that little bit of creative time.  I want to encourage you to love yourself enough to say no. This is an excellent article from PsychCentral about how to reclaim your boundaries and take care of your own needs. 

2. You may have to write down a plan and stick with it. This is tricky because in the past, you may have given up on things too early. You may remember the sting of failure. You may remember the times that having goals did nothing but taunt you because it didn’t work out. But writing down goals and keeping them visible often create a hope in us to keep going. Here’s another list of 10 — 10 Simple Strategies for Sticking to Your Goals. This is good advice.

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
Louisa May Alcott

3. You may have to go to bed earlier or get up earlier to find time to write. This is tricky because sleep has a way of claiming us. Setting an alarm means we have to take action. Being disciplined often isn’t as much fun as late night television. But your writing goal will cost you. I’d like to remind you that if you can find an extra ten minutes each day to write, and you write 500 words in that 10 minutes, that’s 3500 new words this week. That’s 14,000 new words this month. That’s 168,000 words this year. All you have to do to get those kinds of numbers is set your alarm. Here’s another encouragement to do this from Write To Done.

4. You may have to make writing a priority even though you’ve never treated it as one. This is tricky because this means you may have to face your fears. Some aspiring writers aren’t writing for legitimate reasons, like say, their fingers are broken, or their computer was smashed by an angry toddler. But some non-writing aspiring writers don’t write because they are just afraid to sit down and do it. They fear failure. They fear disappointment. They fear rejection. The difference between a writing aspiring writer who is afraid and a non-writing aspiring writer who is afraid is that the first one is sitting on their butt, putting words down.  All of us are afraid. Write anyway. Find a way around your broken fingers and record your voice instead. Get out a sharpened pencil and notepad while you wait for your computer to get fixed. Despite your fears, write for 10 minutes today. I bet you’ll want to keep going. 

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”
Albert Einstein

5. You may have to change your expectations for time spent in other areas, like housekeeping or meals. This is tricky because we have to live. I understand this. There are seven people in my household and they’re under the impression that they should wear clothing and eat occasionally. I believe that all of your required, general life tasks can be made more efficient so that you can find little pockets of time here or there. My favorite ways include doing my errands all on one day, or making meals in my crock pot and rice cooker. I also delegate most of my household chores to my children. Take a day or two to think through exactly how your time is spent and come up with a plan. It’s likely you’ll find pockets of time that will make all the difference.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” ― Karen Lamb

6. You may have to apply yourself to learning about craft and then be teachable. This is tricky because beginning writers often have a lot of confidence. Or worse, they have well-meaning relatives who sugar-coat what the aspiring writer. If you’ve never been in a critique group, taken a writing class or workshopped your story, you may not know where you need to improve. If you are serious about pursuing your writing dreams, then you need to be serious about learning. Here’s a list of cheap and not-so-cheap ways to learn to be a better writer. Here’s a list of ways to meet other writers so you can know your work is “good”. And then, of course, a link to the coolest writing group on Facebook. 

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

7. You may have to express your needs to your spouse or significant other. This is tricky because your determination to write will definitely affect your relationships. You may have to communicate your needs. Some spouses and significant others will jump at the chance to help. Others may not be so enthusiastic. Take the time to express how much you need space to work and time to work. Come up with practical solutions that create minimal interference in others’ lives. Make sure that you are reciprocating and supporting them in in their goals too. Jeff Goins has some great stuff to say about this. 

8. You may need to learn a new organizing tool or system in order to reap the benefits. This is tricky because if you’re like me, you’re lazy. If you’re like me, you don’t get excited about learning curves. If you’re like me, you believe that the old ways are good enough. They may be, but if you’re in the habit of losing your work, then you need to find a better system. If you follow 10 Minute Novelists on Pinterest, then you can use our board on apps and software that can make your writing life easier. Good organization is critical for good performance. Don’t let laziness or reluctant learning get in the way of you being your best.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

9. You may have to lower your expectations on social media. This is tricky because everyone tells authors that they need a Facebook page, a blog, an Instagram account and a million other things and they all take time to keep up with. I suggest that you pick 2 or 3 social media platforms that you are the most comfortable with, and get the most excited about, and only do those. I have a blog, I lead a group on Facebook and I try to maximize Twitter and Pinterest. Are you leaning toward Twitter, but you don’t know how to make it work? I can help! 

10. You may have to go easy on yourself in some areas. You may have to kick yourself in the pants in others. This is tricky because every day is a battle. We have to overcome our inner selves to face the tasks in order to achieve the goals. Every day we have to make the little choices that will add up to the big choices. Every writer faces this. You are not alone. I’d like to suggest that the most important step you take in becoming a writer and pursuing your dreams is knowing who you are. Once you know, or at least have a hint, then it will be far easier to make all the changes I listed in steps 1-9.

The creation of words, at times, can be the expression of the inner workings of our soul. The more secure we are on the inside, the more excellent our words will be on the outside. 

You may have some tricky things to do now. 

 Do them anyway. If you fail, keep going.

Your dreams are worth it.

How Decisive Action Can Change Your Year (Like It Did Mine)

It’s January, so I’m starting over. My year is fresh and clean like a New England snow storm. Perhaps this is the year I’ll be a millionaire, or a size 4, or hit the NYT Best Seller List. Or maybe I’ll just make some great decisions.

This article from Writer’s Digest inspired me to think about how the accomplishment of goals. Sometimes resolutions, dreams or wishes are shape shifters and we’re not sure if they are real or imaginary. Goals like “to be a famous writer” is vague and frustrating and undefinable. How do we know we’ll achieve something in June if when can’t make up our mind what we want in January?

Decisive action is the only way to change.


When we look at our daily schedules we need to look at them as full of the tiniest decisions. The tiny decisions I made each day in 2014 paid off in a big way. I decided to not just sit on the couch with a remote. I decided not to read books that weren’t rich in literary nutrients. I decided to train my children to do a lot of chores and carry a lot of responsibility so that I can put my time elsewhere. If I slacked off, or if I was undecided, then I was setting my future up for failure or disappointment.

I’m pretty proud of the decisive actions I made in 2014. Some of these I didn’t plan for in January, I just found inspiration and jumped at the challenge.

I started a community around the idea of writing in 10 minute increments.

I designed new website and build it entirely myself even thought I had never done that before.

I wrote an average of 1000 words a day and by November 5, I had written 365,000.

I helped my children with all of their academic goals.

I prioritized my health. I exercised and ate right.

I designed a plan for future books — the drafting, revising, editing, publishing and marketing for each.

If you’ve never faced a new year with decisiveness and determination, I challenge you to do it for 2015.

Decide that you’re not going to slack off. Decide you are going to start good habits. Decide you’re going to use the time that you have before you. Decide that your desires are worth fighting for.

What are some of the decisions that you made? What steps are you taking to succeed so far?

Ditch Resolutions for the New Year and Create Some Goals and Objectives for Your Writing A Guest Post By Gail Gauthier

Every Thursday, this blog features guest posts from members of our 10 Minute Novelists community. Today we welcome Gail Gauthier.

Kelly McGonigal says in The Willpower Instinct that we tend to be optimistic about the future and what we’ll do then. That is certainly true of how many of us feel on January 1st of any year. All we have to do is resolve to behave differently or to get things done during these future months, and we believe it will happen. Yet New Year’s resolutions are notorious for not producing results and even being forgotten long before winter is over.

Ditch ResolutionsFor The New Year (1)

Resolutions Are Not Goals

Resolutions don’t provide resolvers with any kind of plan for what they’re going to do. They are also rarely specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound or any combination thereof. Goals, on the other hand, are.

Resolving to “write more” next year, for instance, could mean anything because what’s “more?” More than what? How can writers measure their progress with that vague a resolution? How can we tell if what we’re really just hoping to do is attainable or realistic?

Setting a goal of “writing for 90 minutes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings,” on the other hand, is very specific. It’s also measurable because we can easily keep track of whether or not we’ve written at the stated times. Is writing that many evenings a week an attainable and realistic goal? If not, it’s unlikely we’ll be successful in reaching it. We’re better off adjusting goals to improve our chances of reaching them. One way to do that is to make them time bound, as in “writing for 90 minutes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings for the month of January.” At the end of that time period, we can determine how satisfied we are with how we did, adjust the goal accordingly, and move on.

Goals provide us with specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound targets. But as with resolutions, we still don’t have a plan for how we’re going to reach those targets. For that we need objectives.

Goals Are Not Objectives 

Though many people use the terms goals and objectives interchangeably, they are two distinctly different concepts in planning. Goals are what we want to accomplish. Objectives are the steps we need to take to reach the goals. Goals are what we want to do. Objectives are how we are going to do it. Writers may have only a half dozen goals for 2015. But each goal will have a number of objectives, which end up being a plan.

– Goal: “Writing 90 minutes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings.”

– Objectives for Goal: Avoid volunteer/social commitments for T/W/T evenings

– Plan evening meals for T/W/T that require less work and cleanup

– Plan week’s home maintenance tasks around keeping T/W/T evenings free

– Learn to use the dvr

– Develop a TV/other leisure activity habit for weekends

– Plan how to use writing time during the week: Tuesday review of last  week’s work? Thursday mini-outline to get started the next Tuesday?

Depending on the goal, some objectives can seem like very minor efforts. But because there are usually several of them for every goal, taken together they can result in a lot of activity.

Pay Special Attention to the Attainable/Realistic Aspects of Goal Setting

A goal that is dependent upon someone else doing something is going to be very weak in terms of being attainable and realistic, because we can’t control what others do. “Getting published this year” and “getting five-starred reviews” are poor goals because we have no control over editors’ decision making or reviewers’ opinions. A better goal would be “Submit Manuscript A to X number of publications this year” and “Contact X number of bloggers before June with review requests for Book A,” because those goals involve us doing something and we can control what we do.

By the way, the objectives for a submission goal like the one I just mentioned could involve  researching publications to find those appropriate for our manuscript and creating a method of tracking submissions. Objectives for the blogger review goal could involve researching bloggers to find those who have an interest in the type of book we’re requesting reviews for and tracking who we’ve contacted.

The Benefit of Goals and Objectives Over New Year’s Resolutions

The benefit of goals and objectives is that they really do spell out for us what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it. Additionally, they also provide a way to measure whether or not we’ve succeeded. They help us to create a very concrete plan.

Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions are just wishes.

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#Top10Tuesday Top Ten Questions To Ask Your Beta Readers

Beta readers are the best!

They are an author’s second readers. I’m guessing, and don’t hold me to it, that the alpha reader is the author himself. God knows YOU’VE read your book enough, right?

Good writers use beta readers’ opinions to iron out the story’s wrinkles, find out what’s missing and see what the writer doesn’t see.

Top Ten Questions To Ask Your Beta Readers
Top Ten Questions To Ask Your Beta Readers

You can use beta readers early in your writing journey, say, after the first draft. Or you can wait several drafts into it and then let trusted people read it.  Either way, you may find it helpful to give them specific questions to answer about your manuscript.

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is this!

#Top10Tuesday Top Ten Questions To Ask Your Beta Readers

1. What were the strengths of the book?

2. Who was your favorite character, why?

3. Did you think that the plot lines were plausible?

4. Did you think anything was missing?

5. Where you ever tempted to put it down and not pick it up? Why or why not?

6. Did you find the setting fully described?

7. Did you find the characters to be distinctive?

8. Did you understand the goals of each of the characters?

9. Did you “see it coming” or were you surprised by the progress of the story?

10. Do you wish that other things had happened to the characters that didn’t?

Once your get your answers, handle them gracefully. You don’t need to follow every suggestion. Just use them for what they are: another helpful tool in your novel-sculpting.