Why Authors Use Pseudonyms

Have you ever wondered why authors use pseudonyms? There are a wide variety of very good reasons that we’ll explore in this two part series, starting with the first two which affect me.

The Name Is:

Too Common

When your name is too common, it not only gets lost in the crowd, but chances are that there are other authors with the same name. Hence, the reason I chose not to write as Karen Fischer. There is another. I chose to write under my maiden name, Karen Van Den Heuvel, which is a pseudonym since it is no longer my legal name. It is unique, I could find no other author with the same name, and I actually like my given name. But alas, this brings us to the second reason.

Too Long and Difficult to Spell
Hidden Bloodlines, romantic suspense, Colorado Rockies, Karen Van Den Heuvel
Hidden Bloodlines

What I did not consider was the fact that not only is Karen Van Den Heuvel a long name, but it is difficult to pronounce and spell — the reason I chose another name for my website (I had one too many people being taken to someone else’s website by mistake when trying to come to mine). Although you can still find me at www.KarenVanDenHeuvel.com, it redirects to something everyone can spell, www.LoveBooksandBling.com. I recently made the decision, to continue to write my romantic suspense under a new pseudonym. As my readers, I’d love your input, so I’ll share my thoughts at the end of this article.

Gender

Unfortunately, sexist views on gender still exist. There are men who write romance, but in order to sell their books, they need to write under a female pseudonym. The same goes for women who venture into an area typically controlled by men. They need to either write under a pseudonym or use initials to mask their gender.

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L.A. Sartor

A writer I personally know, won the contract to write, Cry of the Dove. ABC studios thought that she shouldn’t be immediately identifiable as a woman writer due to the intense scenes of prison and war. They felt as a woman, she would be dismissed. She used her initials to mask the fact that she was a woman. Fortunately her initials worked well with her last name, L.A. Sartor. If you haven’t read one of her books, I highly recommend you check her out at https://lesliesartor.com. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop.

In closing, I will bring you back to the use of a new pseudonym for my fiction. I need a pseudonym I can:

  • relate to
  • answer to (in public signings, author gatherings, etc.)
  • won’t get lost in the crowd,
  • is easy to spell,
  • short in length, and
  • bold to attract my readers.

For me, this was a struggle, so I brought my predicament to my writers group. Leslie Sartor made the initial suggestion, followed by the buy-in of others, but as my readers, I would love your thoughts on this potential pseudonym: Karen Vann

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Hooding of Victoria by Her Grandfather

It is an abbreviated part of my name used by my father’s patients for decades so I can relate to it and will answer to it, and there are no other authors with that name.

What do you think about the name, Karen Vann?

© 2019 Karen Van Den Heuvel Fischer

SEO: Make Your Content Stand Out

The idea is to increase your ranking. The more hits the better. In addition to using the right key words, make your content stand out. After all, it’s your content that will make or break you.

Be appealing and useful

Ask yourself this question — What value will your viewers receive from viewing your content?

Be Appealing and Useful
Purpose

Content should have a purpose and plan. If it doesn’t, it will be confusing, bland, and redundant. Once you have an understanding of why you are creating your content, it will be far easier for you to write, video tape or photograph.

Value

Content should offer something valuable to its readers/viewer. For example, if you can make someone laugh from a video, it has value. If people learn something new from a blog, it has value. If a tweet breaks news, it has value.
Be unique. If you can provide your niche with a perspective no one else has offered, your content will stand out. It’s different, not the same old, same old.

Answer a Question
SEO, value, quesiton
Answer A Question

Your content needs to answer a question, even if it’s “Why am I here?” If a person is searching the world wide web for information and so happens to land on your article, will they quickly move on or stay to read your article?

Relate

Your readers like to relate to a video or blog post where they can nod their head in agreement. For example, a video that shows what kids might do in the back seat on a long ride might cause the parents to share the content because they can relate.

Variety

Add variety to your content – mix it up! Experiment with videos, photos, and written content. Remember, variety is the spice of life.

Entertain

Consumers enjoy interesting, educational, intriguing content. If your reader is entertained, they will want to see even more content from you and may even want to buy your book or services.

Visual

Catchy, vibrant, intriguing photos will grab your readers’ eye and they’ll be interested in seeing how it relates to the content.

writing, journey, publishing, Thyme for Writers
Inspire
Inspire

You want your content to encourage a reaction, whether it’s a link to additional information, a call to action, an invitation to share or comment. Your creative content should inspire your readers to take some type of action.

Scannable

Most people do not have much of an attention span on the web (unlike paper print) so make sure your content is broken up into small chunks that is easily consumed replete with headings, images, subheadings, numbered lists, and bullet points. It’s easier for your audience to take away something valuable.

Compatible

Your content should view and read well across all types of mobile platforms.

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Karen & Joni
Shareable

You not only want your readers to enjoy your content, but you want them to love it so much they want to share it with their friends. The more people who share, the more people get exposed to your brand.

Regular Publication

You don’t have to publish daily, but when you are consistent with your posts, people have something to look forward to. For example, if you post your blog every Thursday, like I do, your readers will visit your site every Thursday to check out your new content. Marketing research shows that blogging twice a week is best for marketing your book. Again, consistency is important and if you can manage twice that’d be great.

What value do readers receive from your content? Next month we’ll take a look at four more points to increase your hits!

(C) 2019 Karen Van Den Heuvel

Writers Beware of the Legal Pitfalls – Copyright Basics Part 3

This is the last in the Copyright Basics portion of Writers Beware of the Legal Pitfalls series, but not the end of the series. This article addresses some important issues for writers, and bloggers in particular. As a reminder, every article in this series is to be used as a general educational resource only, NOT as legal advice. If you reside in Colorado, California, Wyoming, or Nebraska and are interested in legal advice, feel free to contact me at Karen@McDonoughlawllc.com. Our firm, McDonough Law LLC, represents clients in all 4 states.

Creative Commons license

Provides a standard way for authors to declare their works as “some rights reserved” (instead of “all rights”). When you are quoting from a source that has a Creative Commons license or public domain dedication, you may have extra rights to use the content. For example, the attribution license allow you to copy, distribute, and display a work as long as you name the original author. Share-alike lets you make derivative works as long as you use the same license for the re-mix. If a work is in the public domain, it’s no longer under copyright protection so you may use it any way you want.


Creative Commons License, copyright
A Note to Bloggers

Of Particular Note to Bloggers

Comments: Comments entered on a blog for public display is most likely giving an implied license at least for that display and the incidental copying that goes with it. To assure clarity, add a creative Commons license to your blog’s comment post page and a statement that says by posting comments, writers agree to license them under it.

“Deep Link”: Most are happy when other websites link to them. One of the features that have helped blogs take off are the “permalink” features to which others can link directly. Some website owners complain that deep links “steal” traffic to the homepage or disrupt the intended flow of the website. So far, courts have found that deep links to web pages are neither trespass nor copyright infringement.

Boca Lake

Images: Subject to same copyright and fair use laws. Check for Creative Commons licensed images. The safest images are the ones you take yourself — you own them.

If you don’t have one you need, you can buy them or search for sites that offer Creative Commons Zero (CCO).

This means that you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial products without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer and/or designer.

To read the definitions of all the different Creative Commons Licenses, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/.

Songs: You may quote the title to a song, but none of the words to a song.

Hidden Bloodlines, romantic suspense, Colorado Rockies, Karen Van Den Heuvel
Hidden Bloodlines

Book Covers: You can post a picture of a book cover you are recommending or reviewing — it’s fair use.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 USC Sec. 512: Provides service providers who “respond expeditiously” to notices claiming they are hosting or linking to infringing material a “safe harbor” immunity from copyright liability. Sips are not liable if they do not remove content, but the DMCA gives them a strong incentive to take the content down. In turn, that gives anyone who wants your material removed from the internet a strong incentive to make claims of copyright infringement.

If your ISP sends you a DMCA takedown notice and you believe the material you posted does not infringe copyright, you have the option to counter-notify. An ISP is able to put the material back up after a counter-notification and still keep its immunity from liability. You can even use the DMCa’s sec 512 (f) to sue back if you are harmed by an erroneous take-down demand.

Hope this helped. Next month we address disclosures.

(c) 2018 Karen Van Den Heuvel Fischer

Angelica Encounters with God: Writing Fragrance in the Holy Spirit By Kathryn Ross

Kathryn Ross is my guest today on Thyme for Writers with Angelica Encounters with God: Writing Fragrance in the Holy Spirit. This article is a part of the series — The Write Spice: Writing Tips for Flavorful Words.

Recently returned from the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference (GPCWC), my thoughts in the aftermath swirl while thumbing through pages of notes and organizing photos. I review new friendships forged, linking with each on social media. Reconnecting with other kindred writing peers I only get to see once a year also requires follow-up. My to-do list lengthens with the addition of information and inspiration for accomplishing my goals—and setting new objectives to advance my writing and publishing aspirations.

Angelica Encounters with God: Writing Fragrance in the Holy Spirit by Kathryn Ross

Conferences overwhelm a writer’s brain cells and sap valuable energy. Spending fourteen packed hours for three days or more moving from learning labs to continuing sessions to workshops to panels to keynote addresses, with worship, meals, and one-on-one appointments squeezed in between, I need a few days recovery to reorder my writing life with all I’ve absorbed.

Retreat to advance. And the best place I know for retreating is the presence of God.

Sitting down in my Secret Place corner, I breathe in deep and relax into God’s Word to inform the many words poured into me at the conference. I ought not take in anything I learned unless it be infused with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit. I’m thankful for the many professionals and mentors who gave of themselves, pouring into all the writers gathered this past weekend, but I have learned that such a banquet must be sweetened by the Lord’s direction, or all my efforts to follow through will be bitter.

The central theme of the GPCWC stems from director Marlene Bagnull’s original vision for it—to equip and encourage Christian writers and communicators to Write His Answer. Habakkuk 2:2, the inspiration for the conference for over thirty years, acts as a compass to keep writers focused on the main thing:

Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. (NLT)

I’ve attended this conference for many years and always come away sensing a greater need to make my words healing words—correct words—in whatever genre I choose to work. Writing has long been considered a solo profession—an author and keyboard alone. Extract brilliance from the mind. Distill it down into words that persuade, entertain, correct—and heal.
This brings me to a fascinating ancient herb, linked to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and prized for its sweet, healing constituents that once protected against the plague. Large green, glossy leaves extending from hollow stalks, flower in green and yellow clusters on or near May 8, the historic feast day of Michael the archangel.

Originally sourced by medieval herbalists and Renaissance doctors, Angelica continues to enjoy a hallowed reputation in healing aromatherapy. Referred to as “root of the Holy Ghost,” its precious essential oils infuse perfumes and colognes with a sweet fragrance to lift the heart. Its seed flavors Chartreuse liqueur. Pastry chefs candy its stalk and leaves for elegant cake decoration.

Kathryn Ross, writing, Holy Spirit
Healing Words

All these uses elevate Angelica to a pampering herb useful to refresh and renew mind, body, and spirit. Just the thing when one needs a retreat.
Retreat to advance: in the same way a writers conference bathes one in the sweetness of inspiration, instruction, and kindred spirits; in the same way seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the aftermath of a conference brings focus and correction to one’s writing ministry.

When our writing is rooted in the Holy Ghost, we grow our words from the leading of Christ. In so doing, the scent of the goodness of God permeates our message like the sweetness of perfume fills a room.

But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.
2 Corinthians 2:14 NLT

Whether you’ve had the opportunity to retreat for a few days at a writers conference or not, breathe in the revitalizing effects of Angelica through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Let Him inform your words to heal like a sweet perfume. To correct that which plagues you in meeting your goals. Though I have grown through the years of conferences, and the ministry of the mentors and training found there, apart from that growth being rooted in the Holy Ghost—Angelica—I cannot hope to pen words that heal and ultimately, spread the knowledge of Christ.

Make time for an Angelica encounter with God to sweeten the scent of your words every day.

(C) 2018 Kathryn Ross

clove, lemon oil, cinnamon, garden, harvestwriters, spice, fall recipes, editors, healing, manuscript
The Write Spice: Writing Tips for Flavorful Words By Kathryn Ross

Writer-speaker, Kathryn Ross, ignites a love of literature and learning through Pageant Wagon Productions and Publishing. She mentors writers as a book shepherd and publishes homeschool enrichment and Christian living books for home, church, and school. Her passion is to equip women and families in developing a Family Literacy Lifestyle, producing readers and thinkers who can engage the world from a biblical worldview. She blogs and podcasts at TheWritersReverie.com and PageantWagonPublishing.com. Connect with Miss Kathy on Facebook.

SEO FOR WRITERS — KEY WORDS

This is the third article in the SEO for Writers Series and it answers the following questions: What draws people to your site? How do you increase those hits in a positive way? The answer lies in key words… .

Keywords

Keywords are those terms and words people use when they look for something on the internet through a search engine, whether it’s Google, Yahoo, or another. A label is another good way to look at it. It states your post’s purpose in a few words — sometimes only one. Usually groups of words are used because that is how people search (one word often gives too many options). Your goal is to match as closely as you can what someone will input for a search.

Key Words
Guidelines to effectively use keywords include:
  • The keywords should always be used in the title.
  • Within the first 50 words of your article, repeat the keywords at least once.
  • Throughout the rest of your article, spread out the use of these keywords as a natural part of the article. For example, in a 350-400 word article, the keywords should be used at least 3 or more times.
  • Remember, the search engines use algorithms. This means they won’t necessarily understand and pick up on the way you cleverly use words or a double meaning. For example, a clever title of Chili That’s Too Hot to Handle will rank a lot lower than one with the title Vegetarian Homemade Chili. The reason is because the algorithm used the literal meaning of the words and because the clever title doesn’t include the word “vegetarian,” it will receive fewer clicks.
SEO, search engine optimization, key words, search engine, Google, Yahoo, writers, social media, titles, descriptions
Guidelines to Using Key Words

My goal is not to quell your clever thoughts, we just need to be deliberate when and where we are clever. For example, that chili recipe with a name like Spicy Hot Vegetarian Chili would be a hit, and in its description, include the clever tag: too hot to handle.

Linking your website/blog with your social media will bring in even more traffic, but remember, if your social media site is set on private, Google can’t review these pages regardless of how great and active they are.

What is your experience?

(C) 2019 Karen Van Den Heuvel

APODS – Priorities: The Opportunity Cost by Amanda Cabot

This month we’re going to conclude our discussion of priorities by talking about opportunity cost. Are you familiar with the term? The basic concept is that resources, whether time, money, energy, or something else are finite and that the cost of something is not absolute. Rather than measuring dollars or minutes, opportunity cost measures what we give up when we make a choice.

Video Game or T-shirt

Consider a child whose allowance is enough to allow him to buy either the video game he wants or the T-shirt with his favorite sports star’s picture on it. If he chooses the game, he cannot buy the T-shirt. Therefore, the opportunity cost is the T-shirt. When he buys the video game, he’s making the decision that it’s more important to him than the T-shirt.

As writers, we make the same decisions each time we set (or ignore) our priorities. In our case, the precious and finite resource is time.

If you remember one thing from this post, I hope it will be the following:

Time to write is not free.

You might want to print that out and post it everywhere you posted the picture of your goal, because it’s equally important.

The End

In your quest to reach “The End,” you should ask yourself two questions.

(1) How important is writing to me?

(2) What sacrifices am I willing to make?

You can say that writing is important, but as the adage reminds us, actions speak more loudly than words. If you procrastinate, if going to a movie or (shudder) cleaning your house is what you choose to do rather than finish your chapter, you’re demonstrating that writing isn’t as important as you claim it is.

opportunity costs, priorities
Actions Speak Louder than Words

The second question is where opportunity cost becomes critical. I used the word “sacrifices” deliberately, because there will be not simply tradeoffs but true sacrifices if you make writing and reaching “The End” your highest priority. There will be times when you’ll have to turn down an invitation you’d like to accept, simply because you need that time to write. The cost of that invitation is finishing the chapter. Don’t mislead yourself by saying, “just this once won’t matter.” Each choice you make is significant.

As you accept the fact that time is finite and that you will have to make choices about how to spend your time, it’s important to decide what will not get done. I recommend the following three steps.

Review your current time use analysis. Remember how you tracked your time for at least a week and categorized how you were spending it? That analysis is an invaluable resource and a key to establishing priorities.

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Warning — There May Be Side Effects

Differentiate between urgent and important tasks. If your child has broken her arm, taking her to the doctor is urgent. Doing laundry may be important, but – unlike an urgent task – it can be delayed.

Substitute writing for the least value-added tasks. Did you discover that you spent a lot of time watching television or reading tweets and Facebook posts? While you might consider those important, are they more valuable than writing another chapter? The opportunity cost of the time you spend on them is time you didn’t spend writing.

Establishing and following priorities isn’t easy, but it’s essential if you want to reach “The End.” Each time you make a decision about how to spend your time, consider the opportunity cost. And, one final bit of advice: “No” is an acceptable response when someone asks you to do something that will interfere with your writing time.

(C) 2019 Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot is no stranger to getting to “The End.” She juggled a sixty-hour a week job with nonnegotiable deadlines and building a house long-distance at the same time that she wrote two books a year. Whether or not she kept her sanity during that time is debatable. Amanda is the best-selling author of over thirty novels, eight novellas, four non-fiction books, and what she describes as enough technical articles to cure insomnia in a medium-sized city.

Her most recent release is A Tender Hope, the third in the Cimarron Creek trilogy.

Amanda Cabot, Cimarron Creek Trilogy
A Tender Hope, by Amanda Cabot

You can find Amanda at:

www.amandacabot.com
https://www.facebook.com/amanda.j.cabot
https://twitter.com/AmandaJoyCabot/
http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com/

Writers Beware of the Legal Pitfalls — Copyright Basics Part 2

Writers Beware of the Legal Pitfalls is a multi-part series intended as a general educational resource. The last article was the first of three articles on copyright basics. This article will delve into the Work for Hire exception, transfers of ownership, Fair Use, federal documents, and facts and ideas.

Please use this article as an educational resource only, it is not meant to provide legal advice. If you reside in Colorado, Wyoming, California, or Nebraska and would like legal advice, please feel free to contact me at Karen@McDonoughlawllc.com. Our firm, McDonough Law LLC, represents clients in all 4 states.

What is the Work for Hire Exception?

When someone creates an original work for someone else, (i.e. an employer or commissioned work), the employer or company, the individual who commissions the work owns the copyright and all the rights and benefits that attach. A work for hire must be agreed to by the creator in writing.

Work for Hire Exception

Transfers of Ownership

You may transfer ownership of your copyright or any portion of it but it must be in writing to be valid unless it’s a non-exclusive license. Transfers of ownership may be recorded with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Ownership of Copyright vs. Material Object in Which It’s Fixed

It’s different. This means that when, for example, an original painting is sold, it’s the sale of a thing, not the copyright, unless the owner of the copyright and the buyer agree specifically in writing that the copyright is sold together with the tangible object.

Fair Use

This is the limitation on the owner’s exclusive rights. It allows a person to use limited portions of a work, including quotes, for purposes of criticism, commentary, scholarly reports and news reporting. Among the factors to determine “fair use” are the character and purpose of the use (i.e., non-profit, non-commercial, and educational uses are more likely to be seen as “fair” as opposed to commercial gain), the nature of the work copyrighted (i.e., the more creative, the less likely it will be viewed “fair”), the amount and substantiality of the “portion” used in relation to the work as a whole, and the effect the use will have upon the potential value of or market for the work.

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Fair Use – Government Documents

Federal Government Docs

Works produced by the U.S. government, any government agency, or person acting in a government capacity are in the public domain. Additionally, the texts of statutes and legal cases from federal or state government are also in the public domain. Note though, that the private contractors working for the government can transfer copyrights to the U.S. government.

Facts & Ideas

You can report the ideas and facts embodied in a web page or in another person’s article. Copyright only protects the expression — the combination of words and structure that expresses the factual information — not the facts themselves.

Next month we’ll address topics particularly interesting to bloggers including the Creative Commons License among other issues. It’ll be the last of the copyright basics before we hit other important topics. By the way, the U.S. Copyright Office has made it particularly easy to copyright your work online. Simply go to www.copyright.gov and follow their step by step instructions.

(C) 2018 Karen Van Den Heuvel

APODS – Priorities: The Four Ps (Part Three – Plan and Part) by Amanda Cabot

This month we’re going to conclude our discussion of William Bridges’s Four Ps (Purpose, Picture, Plan, and Part) by outlining the way to develop a successful Plan. The final step will be to identify the Parts everyone will play.

In prior months, you developed a Picture of what it is you want to accomplish. Now it’s time to create the Plan. I might have called it the schedule, but that would destroy the symmetry of the Four Ps, so Plan it is. This is where you determine everything that you need to do to reach “The End” and organize it into a logical sequence. That may sound daunting, but it becomes doable if you break everything into small tasks.

Step 1: List everything that needs to be done

Depending on where you already are in the process, creating the task list may be as simple as listing the chapters you need to write. But, if you’re at the very beginning of a story, you may also need to develop your characters’ background stories and research the location or other key elements of the story. And if you’re like me and write multiple drafts, your list of steps will include those multiple drafts as well as a final review.

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Thyme to Write – Make a List
Step 2: Arrange those tasks in logical sequence

After all, you can’t write the second draft until the first one is finished.

Step 3: Estimate how long each of those tasks will require

In this step, we’re talking the amount of effort involved, not the elapsed time. Does it take you sixty hours to write a chapter and thirty hours to complete the second draft? Of course, it varies, but do your best to estimate how much effort is involved in each of the tasks.

Step 4: Divide each task that exceeds 40 hours into sub-tasks of no more than 40 hours

Please note that the forty-hour limit assumes that you devote forty hours each week to writing. If your writing time is longer or shorter, adjust your sub-task effort limit accordingly. Having tasks that require no more than a week to complete is important because it allows you to measure your progress and take corrective actions, if needed, before too much time has elapsed.

schedule, priorities, realistic
Establish a realistic schedule
Step 5: Establish a realistic schedule for completing those tasks

What do I mean by realistic? One that has a high probability of success. That means factoring in life. Even if your normal work week is forty hours, there will be times when you can’t actually work a full forty hours. Recognize that up front and give yourself slack time, ideally on a weekly basis. Remember that your goal is to succeed, not to discourage yourself by falling behind because you developed a schedule that’s impossible to meet.

Once the plan is complete, it’s time to assign Parts. While writing is primarily a solitary occupation, and the majority of the responsibility for getting to “The End” falls on you, others play roles as well. It’s important to recognize those other contributors at the very beginning of the project and to get their buy-in to the schedule so that they’ll be ready to play their parts when needed.

And there you have it: William Bridges’s Four Ps as applied to writers. I hope you’ll come back next month for a discussion of opportunity cost.

(C) 2019 Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot is no stranger to getting to “The End.” She juggled a sixty-hour a week job with nonnegotiable deadlines and building a house long-distance at the same time that she wrote two books a year. Whether or not she kept her sanity during that time is debatable. Amanda is the best-selling author of over thirty novels, eight novellas, four non-fiction books, and what she describes as enough technical articles to cure insomnia in a medium-sized city.

Her most recent release is A Tender Hope, the third in the Cimarron Creek trilogy.

Amanda Cabot, Cimarron Creek Trilogy
A Tender Hope, by Amanda Cabot

You can find Amanda at:

www.amandacabot.com
https://www.facebook.com/amanda.j.cabot
https://twitter.com/AmandaJoyCabot/
http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com/

APODS – Priorities: The Four Ps (Part Two – SMART Goals) by Amanda Cabot

Welcome back. As I promised last month, we’re continuing our discussion of picture, the second of William Bridges’ Four Ps (Purpose, Picture, Plan, and Part), with an explanation of how to make your goals SMART.

SMART, as you undoubtedly guessed, is an acronym. It stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound.

You need all five characteristics to have meaningful goals. We’ll discuss the reasons why SMART goals are important later, but first let’s look at two examples.

NYT List

A Not-so-Smart Goal
“One of my books will appear on the New York Times bestseller list.” I suspect this is a goal many of you share with me. It’s wonderful to aspire to bestsellerdom, but on closer examination, as a goal, it’s lacking several of the SMART characteristics.

  • Is it specific? Not really. Since I’ve phrased the goal as “one of my books,” it could apply to a book I’ve already written or one that I’ll write twenty years from now.
  • Is it measurable? Yes. It’s simple to determine whether my name appears on the NYT list.
  • Is it attainable? Possibly, but since I have very little control over whether my book reaches enough of the right readers at the right time to catapult it to stardom, I would suggest that it’s not truly attainable.
  • Is it relevant? Absolutely. Since reaching the NYT list would be an important step in my career, this is definitely relevant.
  • Is it time-bound? By that I mean, have I specified the time within which I will reach the goal? No. The goal says nothing about timeframe. As a result, it’s difficult if not virtually impossible to establish a plan to reach it.

While it’s a valid aspiration, this is not a good goal.

A SMARTer Goal

A SMARTer One
“I will write two chapters a week so that I can finish the first draft of Amanda’s Great Adventure no later than November 1, 2019.”

  • Is it specific? Yes. I’ve identified the manuscript by title and have given myself implicit interim deadlines by specifying “two chapters a week.”
  • Is it measurable? Again, yes. Each week I can determine whether or not I’ve met my short-term goals, and on November 1, I’ll know whether I’ve completed the first draft.
  • Is it attainable? For me, yes. I can typically write two chapters a week. However, if this were my first manuscript, it might not be.
  • Is it relevant? Since finishing this particular manuscript is important to me, this is a relevant goal.
  • Is it time-bound? By including the interim target dates as well as the final one, I have made this time-bound.

This goal met all five SMART criteria. That means that I can use it when I develop the plan, which is the next step in the Four Ps.

Amanda Cabot, APODS, time management, calendar, analysis, productive, timer, personality type, use of time, getting to the end, goal, Cimarron Creek Trilogy, priorities, successful people
APODS – Priorities: Getting Started by Amanda Cabot

Now, let’s talk about why SMART goals are important. The reason is that they serve as guideposts, helping us reach success and keeping us from setting ourselves up for failure or frustration.

Using my SMARTer goal example, if I’d set a goal of writing four chapters a week when I knew that that wasn’t attainable, why would I even try? The objective of a SMART goal is to help define the picture, which – as we discussed last month – is one of the critical Four Ps, and to prepare us for the plan.

We’ll conclude our discussion of the Four Ps next month by developing the plan and identifying the parts. In the meantime, I wish you a joyous end to 2018 and a happy, productive beginning to 2019.

We’re looking at picture, the second of William Bridges’ Four Ps (Purpose, Picture, Plan, and Part), with an explanation of how to make your goals SMART.

(C) 2018 Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot is no stranger to getting to “The End.” She juggled a sixty-hour a week job with nonnegotiable deadlines and building a house long-distance at the same time that she wrote two books a year. Whether or not she kept her sanity during that time is debatable. Amanda is the best-selling author of over thirty novels, eight novellas, four non-fiction books, and what she describes as enough technical articles to cure insomnia in a medium-sized city.

Her most recent release is A Borrowed Dream, the second in the Cimarron Creek trilogy.

Amanda Cabot, Cimarron Creek, A Stolen Heart
A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot Cimarron Creek Trilogy

You can find Amanda at:

www.amandacabot.com
https://www.facebook.com/amanda.j.cabot
https://twitter.com/AmandaJoyCabot/
http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com/

APODS – Priorities: The Four Ps (Part One) by Amanda Cabot

Last month we talked about the fact that getting to “The End” often involves change and that change can be difficult. The good news is that change can and should be managed. That’s where the Four Ps can help.

What are the Four Ps? William Bridges identified them in his book, Managing Transitions.

  • Purpose – why we want to make this change
  • Picture – what the successful conclusion of the change will look like
  • Plan – when, where, and how the change will occur
  • Part – who’s responsible for each aspect of the plan
  • These are like the four legs on a table. You need all four to succeed, and if any one is shaky, the whole table will be shaky.

Purpose

First is purpose, because if you don’t know why you want to make a change, that change is highly unlikely to occur. As we’ve done before, we need to answer several questions to fully identify our purpose.

Reaching “The End”

What do you hope to accomplish? Since we’re talking about reaching “The End,” the answer to this question is straightforward: we hope to finish our books.

Why do you want to do this? This is a bit more difficult and harkens back to Analysis. The reality is, if you don’t have a strong motivation, you’ll never reach “The End,” because higher priorities or even simple distractions will send you on detours and drain your energy. It doesn’t matter what your motivation is – whether you need the royalties to pay for groceries or whether finishing a book will satisfy your deepest inner longing. What’s important is that your reason for wanting to write this book must be so compelling that it’ll sustain you through the inevitable difficult times between “Once upon a time” and “The End.”

Whatever it Takes

Do you have the WIT factor? Are you familiar with that acronym? It has nothing to do with humor. Instead, it stands for Whatever it Takes. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to finish your manuscript? Will you forgo lunch with friends, the movie everyone is recommending, or even a weekend away in order to get your writing done? If your answer is “no” or even “maybe,” you’re going to have difficulty getting to “The End.”

Next comes the picture. If you can’t envision what the result of the project you’re undertaking will look like, how will you know whether you’ve succeeded? Furthermore, how will you motivate yourself to work toward a nebulous goal? You won’t.

So, create a picture – a tangible picture, not simply a mental image. Remember the book cover that I encouraged you to make when you were developing a culture of writing? This is the perfect time to make sure it’s posted everywhere. You don’t want to forget the reason you’re going through the admittedly difficult process of change.

The second part of developing a picture is to formalize your goals. Again, this needs to be tangible, so once you’ve identified your goals, both the intermediate and ultimate ones, write them down and print them out.

Next month we’ll talk about making your goals SMART and developing the plan as well as identifying parts. See you then!

(C) 2018 Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot


Amanda Cabot is no stranger to getting to “The End.” She juggled a sixty-hour a week job with nonnegotiable deadlines and building a house long-distance at the same time that she wrote two books a year. Whether or not she kept her sanity during that time is debatable. Amanda is the best-selling author of over thirty novels, eight novellas, four non-fiction books, and what she describes as enough technical articles to cure insomnia in a medium-sized city.

Her most recent release is A Borrowed Dream, the second in the Cimarron Creek trilogy.

Amanda Cabot, Cimarron Creek, A Stolen Heart
A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot Cimarron Creek Trilogy

You can find Amanda at:

www.amandacabot.com
https://www.facebook.com/amanda.j.cabot
https://twitter.com/AmandaJoyCabot/
http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com/