Wednesday, December 16, 2020

New Year, New Goals, New You

                                                                              


The New Year is upon us. I know. We're breathing a collectively sigh of relief, yet holding our breath at the same time. We don't want 2021 to be like 2020. So, let's not let it. Let's make it a great year. Let's take out this old year in the days that are left, make plans, and set goals, to make 2021 our best year ever.

For too many years to count, I have set goals-lifetime, ten year, five year, and yearly. So far, I have been lucky. Every goal I've set, I've attained, except one. More on that later. I've looked at what I've "really" wanted and gone for it.

When I was 23, I started my writing career. First, I just wanted to get published. I didn't care where. I had heard the odds were against me, so any publication was fine. Fearlessly, I sent out articles. Then, one day, I almost choked on my Sonic hamburger when the wind caught the pages of a magazine and blew it open to a page where my article was published. It was a magazine called Byline. The year was 1983.

Next, I set my sights on Writer's Digest. Within months, that was done and I not only cracked that market, I was writing for all their imprints regularly. That led to other national publications and a steady stream of newspaper articles. 

After doing articles and interviews for a number of years, I aimed for books. I knew to get a book published, I'd have to write one. The first goal in that series was to write a page or a scene a day while keeping up with my articles. I did it and the next year, I published my first book.

Through the years, I wanted a degree. After I turned fifty, I started college. Received my degree four years later and a certification in Health Information Management. 

Eighteen books, hundreds of articles, a degree and certification later, I've learned a little about setting goals and how to reach them. I'd like to offer a few of my suggestions below.

First, write your goals down. I tend to write mine at the beginning of the year. You don't have to choose that time, but I find a new year feels like a fresh start. There are two reasons to write them down. One, you have something tangible to guide you as you go forward and two, when you write them down, you become committed to those goals.

Next, I like to follow the SMART method of goal setting. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. I use this for my yearly goals as I work my way to my five, ten and lifetime goals. Let's look at each one of these areas a little more closely.

Specific - Instead of writing down, I want to write an article, write I want to write a how-to article about how to get a better job. 

Measurable - It's one thing to say I want to write and another to say I want to write an article a month. Without something you can measure, how do you know you'll ever reach the goal? And reaching a goal is a mighty satisfying feeling. 

Attainable - Look at what you want and see if it is reachable this next year. I am a firm believer that anyone can achieve anything they want if they want it badly enough. However, if you want to run the Boston Marathon, but walking across your living room floor leaves you out of breath, it's probably not going to happen in the next 6 months. But, you can set a goal of running x number of miles by the end of the year. 

Which brings us to:

Relevant - Is the goal you are setting now going to help you reach your five year or ten year goal? If you have big goals, breaking them down in to smaller, yearly goals, can help you reach them faster. If you want to run a marathon, starting out with one mile one month, three the next, five the next, will get you where you want to be at the end of the year. Just make sure your smaller goals can get you to the next level.

Time-Bound - Set a time limit as to when you plan on reaching your goal. For instance, for a yearly goal you can write, "By the end of this year, I will have twelve articles written and half of them published." Then break that down monthly. January, write one article or chapter of that book you've been wanting to write. February, do another one. March, another.

By breaking down your goals into smaller segments and completing them, you can reach your ultimate goal. You just have to keep trying and moving forward, even when you feel like you're moving backwards. (We'll talk about that in a later blog.)

So, what is the only goal I've not reached yet? The Bestsellers' List. I will continue striving to get there. I think of all the people who have made it before me, the struggles they've faced and yet, they did it. I will be one of those stories too.

If you'd like to share your goals, have questions about goal setting or writing, or simply want to keep up with my journey, email me at deborah@deborahbouziden.com or visit my website at www.deborahbouziden.com and I'll add you to my email list. 

Until Next Time, Keep Chasing Your Dreams~

Deborah

NOTE: If you are looking to start a blog, YouTube channel, get consistent with your social media, or make a Vision Board for next year, check out Shop Lovet Agency. They have all kinds of planners and tools to help you reach your goals. I have all their materials and they are game changers. Visit their website by clicking here: http://shoplovetagency.refr.cc/deborahb



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Change is Inevitable for Everyone on the Planet


This past year has been one of many changes. When the year started out, I thought I was headed in one direction. Then life, as well as COVID-19, happened and my life went into a willow sort of flexibility and fluidity like water flowing down a stream. I have had to be flexible and fluid not only my writing career, but my health care career as well. 

For four years, I set my sites on becoming a HIM professional. My goal was to become a coder or maybe even a supervisor/director of a HIM department where I worked. I went to school, received my degree and my RHIT certification. Graduating from the top of my class, I had no idea it wouldn't make a lick of difference in the place where I worked. They had an agenda and that didn't include me. I could have done the job and would have made a good supervisory professional. It wasn't to be. After multiple lies, I transferred to another position in the hospital, where I have been for over ten months. It's not the role I wanted, but my coworkers respect me and that's enough.

On the writing front, I got another book published. It has been quite the job to get the book before readers. I was in the midst of writing it when the COVID lockdowns began. We still managed to get the book released in September, but it has been an uphill battle to promote the book. My publisher has been great. The week I had book signings, I was evacuated from my home because of a huge wildfire and the book signing that was to be held in Fort Collins had to be done virtually because the bookstore shut down because of COVID. I stayed at my daughter's house and did the virtual event on her computer. 

I have told people I'm not a fan of change. It makes me uncomfortable, but over the past year, I have learned to take things in stride, bend, flow, and change when I've needed to. I feel more change is coming. I am up to it. I feel I have grown in the process of change. As human beings, I feel that is one of our attributes, our ability to adapt no matter what life throws at us. 

I don't know what the next year will bring, much less the next few months or even days. From my writing career to my health care one, I will do what I have to do, when I have to do it, change, flow, adapt as needed.  

To be human is to be constantly in flux, in the process of change. When we grow, we change. We aren't the same people today as we were yesterday. As long as we are alive, there will be change. It's part of life and I wouldn't have it any other way. We have to be like willows, bendable, and like water, fluid.

Until next time, stay bendable, keep flowing, and creatively doing whatever keeps you alive!!

Best~ Deborah


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

 Wow! Things change so quickly in my life. At times, it's hard for me to keep up. I finished one proofreading course I was taking with Phon Baillie and completed the book about Fort Collins. The book is scheduled to come out September 15, 2020. Since you've been on my website, I'm sure you've seen it. One of the reasons I decided to do this book besides getting me back in the "game" was the marketing lessons I could learn from Reedy Press. I have already learned so much from them like how to put a media kit together, gathering media gigs, and signing up to do big media events. I've done book signings in the past, but never knew about all the work beforehand. It is an excellent precursor to when I get my bestseller written. It's all a great learning experience! I will keep you posted as things go along.If you would like to pre-order a copy of my book, check the front page of my website.

Until next time, keep writing~

Deborah

Monday, June 1, 2020

People Part 2

Wow! The last two weeks blew right passed me. I forgot about doing this blog until Friday and I had crawled into bed. Sorry, I missed the last two week's post, but hopefully, we can move forward this week. I hope you made your list and you are ready to rock and roll.

This week, I want you to choose three of the people on your list and write a short scene about them. It might be considered a story, but just a short one. A snippet if you will of something you remember them doing or saying. Below is an example.

Uncle Johny
My Uncle Johny is my dad's youngest brother. He and I had a lot in common. We loved to read. My uncle received his doctorate through taking correspondence courses before they were popular. He joined the Navy when he was young and became a Navy Seal. According to family reports, he became sick when he was over in Korea and it grew into Crohn's Disease. He died about 15 years ago. He lived int he same town as my parents. When I would go up to visit them, I would always pop in to see him. We would exchange information on the latest books we were reading. I didn't know it at the time, but this particular visit would be the last time I saw him. He had a library just like I do. After we talked about books, he got on his ladder and was looking for a Louis Lamar book he wanted me to read. "I plan on getting on that New York Times Best Seller's List some day," I told him as I watched him climb the ladder. "Of course you will," he told me never missing a beat as his search continued. He didn't pause, didn't hesitate, didn't laugh at me like some of my other family members had done in the past when I mentioned it to them. His was a precise and definite affirmation.

When you're writing these small sketches, don't worry about grammar, spelling, or anything that can be cleaned up later. Just get the picture of the person and what happened in your head and write about it. I want you to be in the moment you were with the person.

Besides the short scene, I want you to list your persons' characteristics, what they looked like, what they believed in, what they stood for, and if you know or remember what they did for a living.

So, three people, one scene, list of descriptions, beliefs, what they did for a living each.

Next week, we'll continue on with our people study.

Best~
Deborah

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Those Pesky People

We are going to start these writing classes with the study of people, more commonly known as characterization. Why start here? Every story has characters, typically a main character and then supporting characters. Without characters, we don't have stories. Think about the stories you've read in the past. Think about the people in those stories. The characters that come most readily to my mind are Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, and Captain Ahab in Moby Dick. These characters are all so different, yet memorable. We remember them because we get to know them. They intrigue us. They interest us. They fascinate us in one way or another.

Just like the characters in a book, we know characters in real life. There are people who have crossed our paths maybe just once or twice, yet years later at the strangest time they cross our minds. We can remember the things they said, the cock of their head when they said it, the way they walked, the clothes they wore, and the way they parted their hair. Then there are those people who we have had in our lives for years, the ones we see everyday, the ones we identify with, the ones whose character and personality we know. How many times when you hear a story about one of these "characters", your first reaction is, "that sounds just like him."

It is because of characterization that writers study people. It's the reason why writers ask questions of other people, try to get to know them better. It's the reason why writers sit on park benches or in malls and watch people. They are studying them, trying to learn more about them and what makes them tick. That's what we're going to start doing this week.

As a writer, you have to know people. When you choose a character for your story, you have to know what makes him do the things he does, why he would do one thing and maybe not another. You have to know him backwards, forwards, up and down. You have to get in his skin, know what he would do in any given circumstance and why he would do it. You don't want your characters doing anything "out-of-character".

But before we get to our imaginary characters, we're going to deal with some real life characters.

I hope you have your spiral notebooks ready. We are going to be using those and they are going to be our lifelines as we work through this series of exercises. So, if you're ready, let's get started.

For the next week, I want you to make a list of all the people you know, past and present. They can be friends, relatives, coworkers, classmates, adults, children, acquaintances, or neighbors. The only rules are, you must know their names and you must have spoken to them a handful of times.

You will probably start off with a great list and then your thoughts and memories will slow down. Keep your notebook handy because when you least expect it, someone new, maybe someone you haven't spoken to or seen in years will suddenly pop into your mind. That person will probably lead you to an entirely new section of people to add to your list. That's fine. Just keep adding them.

Don't be rigid with yourself. Just relax and start with the people in your immediate circle. There is no magic number. For now, you are just making a list. Keep this list in your notebook. We will be adding to and working with this list in the coming weeks.

Email me if you have questions. I am always available at deborah@deborahbouziden.com.

Best~
Deborah

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Change

I read a quote recently. "Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." Over the last few months, we have all had to grow and change. It was this change I have been thinking about for quite some time. What did I want out of my career? What did I want out of life? What did I want out of my writing and this blog?

I had started making changes to my career back in January, tweaking my life here and there, and expanding my writing dossier, but this blog was a little more challenging. I don't know why I thought it was that way. It is mine. It is a platform, one I could mold and shape into anything I wanted. Over the years, I have used it as a tool to share what I was doing. That became old and boring. Look back through several of my posts and you will see a writer's life can be...somewhat boring. Why do you think we make stories up?

But I digress.

I've been thinking about how to change this blog's focus for a while. I've been wanting to get back into teaching. I've also been wanting to build my blog readership. I was getting ready for my night job, when it dawned on me.

"Teach your writing classes through your blog." Well, duh!

With that, I began building a frame work and next week will be the first class of this instructional blog. I'm going to call it "Writing 101" and then there will be different subtitles each week. We will cover characterization, setting, point-of-view, plot points, and more. We will take writing, break it down, write, edit, and even look at marketing along the way. I want this blog to be a step-by-step how-to manual to get you to writing yes, but also to help you get published.

So for now, for this week, I want you to gather your writing tools. You will need a notebook, preferably spiral, a writing pen that feels comfortable in your hand, post-it notes, and a calendar to write down and remind yourself to check next week's blog on Monday.

Through this process, know I will always be available for questions and if you would like me to look at your work, I will post the link to my editing/proofreading site below. In the meantime, if you are really interested in writing and want to take your writing to the next level, gather your tools and meet me back here in a week. We'll get started.

Hope to see you then.

As Always,
Deborah

Proofread and Copy Edit Plus






Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Trust Yourself

Everybody has dreams. Maybe yours is getting published, being on the bestseller's list, being financially set for life, perhaps winning the lottery. I have a lot of dreams and goals. On occasion, I have purchased lottery tickets. I usually pick my own numbers. I have a little system I learned from a friend of mine who has won $20,000 at least three times in the nine years I have known her.

Recently, I ran across another guy who, according to reports, has won the lottery (I'm talking big money) seven or eight times. He has a system too. I haven't done too badly on my choice of numbers, but thought I'd give his system a try. I did and after not getting even one number from his picks, I said, "that's it. I'm done." It was then I heard a little voice in my head. "Trust yourself."

At first, I laughed. I had heard that voice before. I had even used similar words when I was talking to a friend about a circumstance I was going through. "As long as I have control of the situations in my life and don't hand that control over to someone else, I can accomplish anything I set my mind to," I said. "I just trust myself and things happen."

Throughout my life, in certain "circumstances" I have given that control away. That has always gotten me into trouble. I have learned if I set goals for myself and other people "hold the puppet strings", they are the ones in control of my life. Just like those lottery ticket numbers. I was playing, but someone else had all the power because I was using his numbers, not my own.

The next day, I used my own numbers and won back my original investment. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough to make a point and that was trusting myself is where my power truly lies.

I feel this philosophy should carry over in all areas of our lives, publishing included. Many years ago, I was in a private writing class. I had written a story and took it to class to be critiqued. My classmates chewed that story up and spit it out. They told me it would never get published because for one, it was too personal. There were other reasons, but I felt it was a good story, so I cleaned it up and sent it out. On my third submission, Lady's Circle bought the piece and by fall, the story was in print.

So, if you want to write a book, write it. If you feel inclined to write an article and you feel it's worthy, submit it. Don't let anybody tell you not to or let them control the direction you want your project to go. Trust yourself. The payoff in the end may be bigger than you could possibly imagine.

Until Next Time~
Deborah