Posts Tagged ‘Trista Herring Baughman’

Forget the Resolutions…

Set Goals Instead!

By: Trista Herring Baughman

As 2021 comes to a close and 2022 approaches, for many, it’s once again time for making New Year’s Resolutions: get fit, quit bad habits, get organized, spend less time on social media, and more time with loved ones, etc. These are noble ambitions, but I am not one of the many. I stopped making resolutions long ago. 

Although well-meant, my resolutions tended to be feckless aspirations. I suppose resolutions are a good starting point, but they aren’t enough. What I needed were goals. 

What’s the difference? I can track my goals and see the progress I have made. I assign smaller milestones for each objective; each milestone is time-bound. 

I don’t do this solely at New Year’s but throughout the year. I often re-evaluate goals to ensure they are still the right goals. Here’s a checklist to help form and maintain your goals. 

 Goal Evaluation Checklist

  • Is my goal specific?  If your goal is too general, too vague, you’re likely to wander around aimlessly–especially if you’re a list-maker like me.
  • Is my goal realistic?  Can you accomplish it in the given time? 
  • Why is this my goal?  Your why is very important. If you don’t want this, you will not succeed. Motivation is key. 
  • What is the deadline? Not every goal will have a deadline. However, giving a deadline helps with motivation. If I have only a certain amount of time to complete a task, I’m more likely to get it done. 
  • What is the consequence if I do not reach said deadline? What’s the reward if I do?  Didn’t finish your 1000 word per day writing goal? NO cookies for you! 
  • In which category does this goal belong? (daily/weekly/long-term) It helps to prioritize your goals. You want to make sure your top priorities–your big rocks–come first. You will want to check these often to ensure you stay on task.
  • What steps should I take to meet this goal? Smaller objectives to reach long-term goals are often more attainable. Baby steps!
  • Is this goal still relevant; should I adjust it? It’s ok for goals to evolve or change completely. You don’t want to be too wishy-washy, though, or it will defeat the purpose. 

For me, goals are exceptionally vital for writing. Think about some things you want to accomplish with your writing: getting your work out there, marketing your book, finding a literary agent, becoming a freelance writer–whatever you’re hoping to do as a writer–to help form your goals. Also, think of things you want to stop: procrastination, being too hard on yourself, etc. Doing so will help you formulate plans and construct manageable steps to ensure their realization. 

Your assignment? Take out your writing notebook and take that first step. Make your list of goals. 

 Goals to get you started: 

  1. Write daily. It doesn’t matter what you write–just do it. You can write your story outlines, character sketches, journal, or work on your current project. Set a writing goal of words per day. 1000 to 1500 words is a good start. Find time the best time to write and be diligent. Commit to finishing your projects. Give yourself deadlines and stick to them. 
  2. Learn to say “no”. Is Facebook calling your name? Look away! Neighbors and friends dropping by in your designated writing time to chat? It’s ok to say no. If you don’t take your writing seriously no one else will.
  3. Learn to say “yes”. Enter contests. Submit your work to magazines and send query letters. Self-publish. Start a blog. You don’t have to do it all, but pick a few things and say yes. Share your talent with the world. 
  4.  Prioritize. There’s a Chinese Proverb that says, “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” Choose your goals wisely and pursue one at a time. Multitasking is not always your friend. 
  5. Read more. At least half of your job as a writer is to read. Reading fuels your imagination and feeds your writing soul.  
  6. Travel. Nothing boosts your creativity like going to new places and experiencing new things. 
  7. Update your website and social media pages. Let your readers know about your current projects. Reply to comments on your posts, that sort of thing. 
  8. Stay positive. You won’t reach every goal on time every time. Don’t give up. Find some inspirational quotes to cheer you on. Print them and hang them near your workspace. 
  9. Enlist an accountability partner. Having someone to swap reads and edits with is a fantastic motivational tool. 

You don’t have to do it all at once. Consider your other obligations and choose three or four goals to start. Once you have your list, be sure to implement it. Now is as good a time as any to begin good habits. You can do this! 

Whether you’re smashing plates at midnight, watching the ball (or Moon Pie) drop, kissing your sweetheart, or something else, take time to reflect and to soak in the traditions. I wish you a very happy, productive, and blessed New Year on behalf of Pikes Peak Writers and myself.

Trista Herring Baughman

 Trista Herring Baughman is a proud military wife and a homeschool mama.  She isthe author of The Magic Telescope. Her second book, Zombiesaurs, will be available soon at Barnes & Noble Press. You can find out more about her books on her website, or catch up to Trista on Facebook.

Be a Magpie

By: Trista Herring Baughman

Or a Raven. Or a Rook. Even a crow. Any of the corvids will do.

These perspicacious creatures are said to be fascinated by shiny things.

Your ‘shiny things’ as a writer are ideas. Keep an ear and eye out for peculiar sayings, idiosyncrasies, uncommon names, and unique predicaments.

The best thing I’ve done for my writing lately (besides writing) is to get back in the habit of keeping a writer’s notebook, which is, I suppose, still writing.

Ok, I have more than one writing notebook. I actually have a notebook hoard, most of which I don’t write in; second rule of writing and all.  I keep a tiny notebook in my purse and another on my nightstand. I use these for jotting down snippets of conversation, interesting words, or those flashes of genius that reveal themselves subliminally.

When I’m out and about and have forgotten or misplaced my little notebooks, I have Trello*. Trello is awesome. You can access it from any device. I have a board for writing and separate ones for each project on which I’m working.  I can make checklists, add attachments and labels to things, etc. It keeps me very organized. Trello isn’t the only app out there for writers, but it’s my favorite so far. Bear, Just Write, Evernote, Scrivener are a few others, but there are tons.

I have a regular-sized notebook as well. I use this notebook for–well, notes. It has the same function as the other notebooks and Trello (I always like to have a hard copy of things; it is convenient to keep them in one place). If I take a class on writing, I write my outlines here. I also use it for mind mapping, diagrams, character sketches, storyboarding, and goal setting–anything and everything related to my writing endeavors. I use highlighters and lots of sticky notes. Flipping back through my notes,  I often come across great ideas that get my creative mojo in gear.

Sometimes I get carried away with all the shiny things; it’s hard to focus on just one-the one on which I should be working. I often work on more than one thing at a time That is why making a list of goals and prioritizing them is imperative. When I set deadlines for myself, I’m more likely to accomplish those goals.

Your notebook can be ordinary or fancy, paper or digital–it doesn’t matter! Get yourself a notebook and get into the habit of noticing things. You’ll be glad you did.

Here are a couple other resources on keeping a journal and collecting shiny words:

How to Keep a Writer’s Journal
The Best Writing Software

Trista Herring Baughman is a proud military wife and a homeschool mama to two handsome (if she does say so herself) sons. She is the author of The Magic Telescope. Her second book, Zombiesaurs, will be available soon at Barnes & Noble Press. You can find The Magic Telescope on her website, or catch up to Trista on Facebook.

19 Days ’til Halloween

By: Trista Herring Baughman

Countdown to the most spectacular time of the year-the Spooky Season crowning moment-has begun.  If I’m honest, it started last year on October 32nd. (Yes, that’s a thing. Didn’t you know? ;))

Take a deep breath. Do you smell that? The cool night air brings with it familiar scents; freshly fallen leaves, campfires, adventure — Ahh! — and pumpkin-spice everything! 

Your favorite creepy songs are on Spotify. Hocus Pocus is playing on some channel, somewhere, every night. The neighborhood is starting to look like a haunted forest. (Goblins and Witches and Ghosts! Oh my!) These Autumn tokens evoke the phobophilia (the love of fear) inside writers and movie watchers everywhere.

While not everyone enjoys a good horror movie or book this time of year, I think it’s safe to say most of us do. There are so many subgenres of Horror–Psychological, Killer, Monster, Paranormal–that can be further categorized into sub-subgenres. From slightly spooky to gory and disturbing, there’s something for everyone.

What is it about Horror that so many people love? What is so intriguing about menace and murder? And where might one find inspiration to write such stories? I have a few ideas.

Why we love Horror

Idea numero uno:

Curiosity. What makes a serial killer tick? Which characters will make terrible decisions and die? What would you do if you were in the same situation?  It’s like looking at that roadkill on the side of the road. (You know you’ve done it.)

Ask yourself the above questions when you’re crafting a scene to keep yourself on the right track. If you’re curious about what happens next, your readers will be. Of course, you will know the answers to these questions, but hopefully, you will keep them guessing. At least for a little while.

Idea number two:

Perhaps our love of Horror is more thrill-seeking in nature. We’ve all experienced an underlying need to prove ourselves to our peers or significant others at some point. For example, riding on one of those crazy carnival rides (that you were dared to ride). It spins you around until your guts creep up into your throat and threaten to spew all over the gyrating world below.  Fun times.

Or perhaps you find yourself on a date to see a scary movie. The lights are dim; the foreboding, anxiety-inducing music is playing. You know something awful is just around the corner and then BAM! It happens. Your date grabs your hand with a shriek. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Think about these things as you write. What makes your heart pound?

Idea three:

Could it be that we’re attempting to keep our feelings in check?

If you’re depressed or lonely, or even anxious, Horror can be a welcome distraction. Shifting the source of your anxiety can make you feel more in control. And who doesn’t have that one nemesis that they daydream about turning into a potato and gouging their despicable little eyes out with a fork? (No? Just me?)

Although it’s unlikely you possess the ability to turn someone into a spud, gouging their eyes out with a fork is doable. However, I must point out that this is frowned upon in most civilized societies. You’d likely end up in the looney bin.

That latent lynch-mob mentality lies deep within us all. Reading, watching, and especially writing Horror, allows one to “act” on their darker urges without physically acting on them.  Think of this as a form of release, if you will. And this is a terrific place for inspiration.  Take those forbidden desires, those impermissible longings, and transform them into a spine-tingling tale.

These are just a few reasons why we gravitate to Horror. I’m sure there are many. What are your reasons? What inspires you to write it? 

If your own experience is lacking, or you’re looking for inspiration to write horror, pick up a novel. There’s no better way to fill your creative psyche than to curl up with a good book. Dim your lights, leave that window slightly ajar so that your curtains billow eerily in the breeze. Now you’re ready.

Here’s a list of some well-known horror writers and their work to get you started:

  • Edgar Allan Poe – The Cask of Amontillado
  • W.W. Jacobs – The Monkey’s Paw
  • Stephen King – Secret Window, Secret Garden
  • Henry James – The Turn of the Screw
  • H.P. Lovecraft – The Call of Cthulhu
  • Bram Stoker – Dracula
  • Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House
  • Dean Koontz – Night Chills
  • Ray Bradbury – Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Neil Gaiman – Coraline
  • Clive Barker – Books of Blood

I hope I’ve given you some insight and inspiration. Happy Spooky season; don’t forget to check your backseat for serial killer contortionists.

Trista Herring Baughman is a proud military wife and a homeschool mama to two handsome (if she does say so herself) sons. She is the author of The Magic Telescope. Her second book, Zombiesaurs, will be available soon at Barnes & Noble Press. You can find The Magic Telescope on her website, or catch up to Trista on Facebook.