For Readers & Writers

from Susan Dennard

October 30, 2015

What's in this heart-to-heart?


Recent Goings On

Don't forget!! I'm auctioning off a critique + Truthwitch ARC + 15-minute Skype chat in an attempt to raise money for UNICEF! More details here!
In other news, tomorrow is Halloween. While the rest of the world is being super fun and carving pumpkins and gorging on candy (all while in costume), I'll be...writing. Because deadlines, man. Deadlines!

For the Mislanders:

Truthwitch Pre-order Giveaway!

On Tuesday, Tor unveiled the glorious Truthwitch website!!! You can check it out here and bask in the beauty that was designed by the very talented MESS team!

Tor also unveiled an even-more-glorious Pre-Order Giveaway!!! If you're in the US/UK/Canada and you order a copy of Truthwitch, you're eligible for a signed bookplate + poster!

Learn more here for US & Canada!

Or learn more here for the UK!

And on that note, I just need to thank everyone for the AMAZINGNESS that went down last #TruthwitchTuesday after we shared the new website.  When I asked for help reaching 100 RTs so we could unlock a Truthwitch excerpt, y'all NAILED IT.

In fact, we got 100 RTs so fast that the program couldn't keep up! 😂 We were >100 before the software even realized and actually unlocked the scene!

SO GO TEAM. And thank you. There'll be more unlockable challenges coming in November!!

Oh, and don't forget!! The international #MySeaFox coloring contest is STILL going on! Check out #MySeaFox Madame Chompsalot here. (Remember, the winner gets an ARC of Truthwitch!)

For the Daydreamers:

How to Set Goals You'll Actually Meet

So, I am the QUEEN of setting lofty goals that I can't possibly meet.

And then I'm the QUEEN of getting really mad at myself for "failing miserably."

The. Queen.

Let me give you an example: a few summers ago, I decided it was time to start exercising. With my writing career, I had become super sedentary. Worse, I felt weak. Slow.

I'm gonna get back in shape, I thought. I'll do kettlebells everyday and jog 3 miles and take a spin class once a week. And to make sure I actually stick with it, I'll use this fun habit-forming app!

And I'll burn out too, apparently.

I threw myself in too fast. Because here's the thing: while you can definitely teach an old dog new tricks, you can't teach an old dog a LOT OF NEW TRICKS ALL AT ONCE.

So, after a month of attempting of being Super Fitness Girl, I skipped a day...then another day. Then I was totally done, and I didn't work out again for almost a whole year.

The same thing applies to writing. You know you've all done it before: you've set a goal that's not only unmeetable, but it's exhausting.

Like, I'll have one great day and hammer out 5,000 words. And then I'll think, If I could do this every day, I'll finish this book in 20 days!

Then, two days later, I'm burned out, angry with myself for not reaching my goals, and suddenly, I've spiraled into a week-long stretch of ZERO productivity.

So what should I do? How can I meet not only my fitness goals but my writing goals? Or my revising goals? Or my karate goals, too?

I have to set an unintimidating goal, and I have to give that goal the path of least resistance.

So, what is an unintimidating goal (aside from a word that my spellcheck insists isn't real)? It's a goal that is SO EASY you can't not hit it.

I'm talking, this goal is as easy as brushing your teeth. It doesn't scare you off, so instead of hemming and hawing away from it, you actually just do it.

Like, even on a day when the world goes to hell, you can STILL meet this goal.

So, back to my pursuit of physical fitness, about three months ago, I decided to incorporate a fitness routine I'd actually stick to. One that wouldn't scare me off and that I could manage even on a crappy day. One that would also -- over time -- produce results.

I ended up with a 1K jog every morning as soon as I wake up.

That's it. I literally jog for about 6 minutes, and then I can check that off on my habit-forming app (I love apps; it's a problem).

Rain, shine, cold, warm -- this goal is SO NOT SCARY that it's actually become easier to just do it than to avoid it and face the resulting guilt monster.

Best of all, I'm finding that on a good day, I want to keep running (so I do). On a bad day, those 6 minutes will almost kill me -- but hey! At least I did something!

So, to put this in a writing context: what's a writing goal that is SO EASY, you can't make an excuse to avoid it?

Maybe it's writing a single paragraph every morning right after you wake up.

Maybe it's using the first five minutes of every lunch break to scribble down as much as you can--from new words to new ideas to revised pages.

Maybe it's typing 100 words on your phone right before you go to bed.

Whatever it is, it's so easy you can't resist.

So what's my writing goal? Well, I used to shoot for a minimum of 1000 words a day, but it turns out I don't always have something to write. Some days, I really just need to brainstorm or rewrite an old scene. Then I would get really frustrated with myself for not writing 1000 words, and I'd end up typing nonsense just to meet the goal.

Those words would then ultimately get cut, so it was a waste of my time.

These days, I shoot for at least 2 45-minute sessions of what I call "mindful focus" throughout the day. It doesn't matter if I'm writing new words or revising old ones, as long as I have my full attention on the project at hand (no interruptions allowed!) for 2 rounds of 45-minutes, then it meets my goal.

Many days, I'll do >2 rounds of "mindful focus,"bBut even on a REALLY CRAPPY DAY or a day bogged down with Other Stuff, I can still hit my 2 sessions of 45-minutes easy-peasy.

There's one more important component that goes into the unintimidating goal, and that is that your goal must fall along a path of least resistance.

You need to eliminate ALL excuses to avoid doing this sucker.

For my fitness goal, I have my workout clothes right next to my bed. When I wake up in the morning, my feet hit my sneakers...and I put them on.

You can do something similar with your writing: put writing utensils beside your alarm, so as soon as you're awake, your fingers hit your pen and paper.

Keep a notebook in your lunchbox (or somewhere easily "stumbled upon" during lunch.) or perhaps beside your toothbrush.

Whatever you do, make your unintimidating goal easier to do than to avoid, and eventually the goal will melt into part of your daily routine -- just like my morning jog. Just like my 2 sessions of mindful focus. I do them naturally every day now, and I can't imagine a day without them.

So what about you all? Are you super good at hitting daily goals? And if so, what's your trick?


Upcoming Events:


NCTE ALAN Worskshop
November 21-23, 2015
Signing Truthwitch 12PM, 11/21
Panel on Fantasy 2PM, 11/23

Link Roundup (NaNo Edition):

As always, here are some links to wrap up your Friday!

If you have a moment, please let me know what you thought of this issue!

photo by Emily Rae Photography

Copyright © 2015
Susan Dennard
All rights reserved.

110 West 40th St., Suite 410
New York, NY 10018

I'm a misfit, a daydreamer, a fangirl, an animal-lover, and a (now gluten-free) cookie-eater.