#MicrosteppingingMay has been about changing habits and working towards our goals. Obviously, we want to create a healthier and happier lifestyle but we may have other goals in life that we wish to pursue. For example you may have an inner desire to write a book and have it published.
If after reading, Patricia’s interview you are inspired to write a book, then my next guest will help you get started as she shares her process and tips for how to achieve your writing goals.
This week, I’m delighted to have Toni Pike as my guest.
Apart from being a school friend who I reconnected with 40 years after leaving school, Toni has inspired me by fulfilling her dream of becoming an author.
With several books under her belt, including the Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series plus other fiction and two non-fiction books, I asked Toni if she could share how she achieves her goal when writing a book. I was surprised at how health and fitness plays a part in achieving her writing goals. It appears that health and fitness is important no matter what we want from life.
Enjoy Toni’s article and you will find how to connect with her through her website and social media at the end.
How to achieve your writing goals
I was thrilled when Sue invited me to write about achieving my goals as a writer. I’ve always loved her blog and her inspirational articles have helped me to lead a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.
I retired a few years ago and, at about the same time, we downsized and moved into an apartment in the city. One of the many benefits of those changes was that I had more time on my hands to pursue my own interests. I knew that I wanted to try writing a novel, and a thriller seemed like the best choice for me. I wanted to write a fast-moving story that was propelled along by its own momentum.
Achieving My Goal
I’ve always been well organised and addicted to writing lists, so I approached my goal in a fairly methodical way. Writing a novel is a huge task, and it can only be achieved by taking daily microsteps. That applies even if you have the freedom to write for several hours a day.
My first task was to learn as much as I could about how to write a novel. I read articles and books about the principles of story structure, developing fictional characters, the finer points of writing dialogue, and the characteristics of thrillers.
There are some people who begin writing a novel with no idea where it is headed. They let the story develop as they go along. However, that is definitely not my technique. My next goal was to develop some story ideas and create the characters. I tried to imagine what each person would look like, their background, their personality and their full name.
After that, I wrote a brief story synopsis and then a very detailed outline of about ten thousand words. It included every scene, and everything needed to lead inexorably towards the climactic scene.
Once satisfied, I began to write the first draft. I wrote almost every day and kept a tally of the total number of words. That was a great motivator and gave me a sense of achievement. Slowly but surely, I approached the finish line – and it was a huge relief to write those magic words: the end.
Having a detailed story outline allowed me to focus on the task at hand each day, and also to maintain focus on the final goal. If I needed a break or didn’t achieve my goals for one day, then I picked myself up and continued on the next day. I tried to encourage and be kind to myself, rather than being self-critical.
Creating a new story idea was probably the most difficult and nerve-wracking part of the whole process. I never suffered from writer’s block because I followed my detailed outline and always knew what I would be writing about each day.
When you’re working on a big writing project, it’s easy to become totally absorbed and neglect other areas of your life. But to maintain my motivation and energy levels, I tried to stay fit and healthy. I went for a long walk every day, and also had a well-balanced diet that included fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, a small amount of lean meat or fish and some dairy products. I also took some time to enjoy myself and relax. I like to take a coffee break at a local café, and also love travelling.
I felt a great sense of achievement after publishing my first book, but then realised that was only the first step. Most authors only develop a following after writing several books. Since then, I’ve published five more novels and also two non-fiction books – using exactly the same methods each time.
Editing and Publishing
After finishing the first draft, editing is essential and just a few changes can make a tremendous difference to the finished product. When I first started, I didn’t appreciate how vital it was to have other people check your text because you can’t see so many of your own mistakes. I go through my own first draft to correct errors, and polish the manuscript until I think it’s ready to go to my two amazing editors. Paul is brilliant at suggesting ways to improve the story, and Christine is wonderful at finding typographical and grammatical errors. My husband, Jon, also reads it and usually has some great ideas for improvement.
The publishing process is the next step, whether you publish independently or follow the traditional route. Whichever path you follow, you will always need to spend a great deal time of preparing the manuscript and, once it’s published, trying to promote your work. There is so much competition, and the number of books for sale is growing at an exponential rate.
I feel that, with experience, I’ve become a much better writer and that is reflected in the reviews for each book. I often say that I’m now an authorholic, and something seems to drives me on to continue writing.
Meet Toni Pike
I’m Toni Pike and I enjoy writing exciting thrillers as well as non-fiction books. My other loves are travelling and being with family and friends. I live in Canberra, the capital of Australia, and firmly believe that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day.
Do you like books that you can’t stop reading? I’m the author of Desolation Bluff, Dead Dry Heart and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series: The Magus Covenant, The Rock Of Magus, The Magus Epiphany and Holy Spear Of Magus. They’re all available at Amazon.
I’m also the author of two non-fiction books. The One Way Diet is a no-nonsense guide to losing weight and coping with the journey. Happy Travels 101 is a short book of tips and advice for anyone who wants to travel overseas.
All my books are available at Amazon.
Connect With Toni
Facebook: Toni Pike – Author
Twitter: @piketoni1 Toni Pike
Linkedin Toni Pike – Linkedin