#MicrosteppinginMay Over 50s Lifestyle

Author Toni Pike shares tips to achieve your writing goals

May 22, 2019
How to achieve your writing goals

#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.

Last week, I interviewed Patricia West Doyle who has just published her first book, Retirement Transition – An Innovative Approach.

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

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

How to achieve your writing goals

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

Website: www.tonipike.com

Instagram: @authorlovestravel  

Facebook: Toni Pike – Author

Goodreads

Twitter: @piketoni1    Toni Pike

Linkedin Toni Pike – Linkedin

Email: authortoni.pike@gmail.com

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28 Comments

  • Reply Toni Pike May 22, 2019 at 19:11

    Thank you so much for inviting me to write an article, Sue – I was thrilled. I’ve been really enjoying your Microstepping in May series. Toni x

  • Reply Debbie Harris May 22, 2019 at 19:54

    So good to read your thoughts on writing here Toni! I enjoy your books immensely and will try to catch up with you in Canberra one day soon! Thanks Sue for sharing Toni’s words.

    • Reply Toni Pike May 22, 2019 at 22:02

      Hi Debbie, Thank you so much for all your support, and I love reading your blog every week. You amaze me with all the things you manage to do. I would be thrilled to catch up with you in Canberra one day soon.

  • Reply Erica/Erika May 22, 2019 at 21:44

    Hi Toni, Nice to meet you. Writing a novel seems like a daunting task. Interesting how you described taking microsteps. Thank you for sharing how you balance writing and life. I look forward to reading your books:) Erica

    • Reply Toni Pike May 22, 2019 at 22:05

      Hi Erica, it’s great to meet you and thank you so much! I always find that the only way to achieve anything is by focusing on taking one microstep after another. I hope you have a great week. Toni

  • Reply Joanne Tracey May 23, 2019 at 08:24

    I love reading about other author’s routines. I still work (almost) fulltime so micro stepping is the only way to get my words done – even when I don’t feel like writing. I don’t write my synopsis at the start, but at the end, as I usually start with an opening premise and go from there. My editor now laughs when I send my draft through for a structural look-see and tell her, ‘okay, what you’ve got is not what I told you I was going to get you…’ Thanks, Sue, for introducing us to Toni.

    • Reply Toni Pike May 23, 2019 at 10:32

      Hi Joanne, it was great to hear about your routine – and it just goes to show that we’re all different. I know many writers love that approach, and it obviously works wonderfully for you. I agree with you about micro-stepping – the only way to stay on track when faced with any big task. Toni x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee May 23, 2019 at 08:40

    Wow. So prolific. I just need to sit down and do it. That’s where I’m falling apart at the moment.

    • Reply Toni Pike May 23, 2019 at 10:37

      Thanks, Lydia, and great to meet you. I’m lucky to have plenty of spare time to write. But even just a few minutes a day will get you started. I hope you have a fabulous week. Toni

  • Reply Natalie May 23, 2019 at 09:46

    Hi Toni – Nice to meet you. Great to hear you successfully pursue your interest in writing while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Thanks for sharing how to achieve your writing goals. Thanks, Sue, for introducing Toni to us. #lovinlifelinky

    • Reply Toni Pike May 23, 2019 at 10:40

      Hi Natalie, it’s wonderful to meet you and thank you for your lovely comments. I certainly find that staying fit and healthy is important to helping me achieve my goals. Have a great weekend. Toni

  • Reply Terri Webster Schrandt May 23, 2019 at 09:56

    Great tips, Toni, I have read most of your fabulous books! Thanks for hosting Toni, Sue, and of course, it is such a great story to hear that you were school mates back in the day!

    • Reply Toni Pike May 23, 2019 at 10:43

      Hi Terri, I can’t thank you enough for all your wonderful support over the last few years, I so look forward to reading your blog posts each week and seeing those amazing photos of yours. Yes, it’s hard to work out where all the years have gone, but Sue and I knew each other at school.

  • Reply Min @ Write of the Middle May 23, 2019 at 10:31

    Thank you so much Toni for sharing how you went about writing your first book and the books since. It fascinates me to hear how Authors go about the process. You have my admiration! I would love to write a book but have no great ideas yet. I’m hoping that a brilliant idea will come to me one day and then there will be no stopping me. Thank you Sue for introducing us to Toni. 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • Reply Toni Pike May 23, 2019 at 10:49

      Lovely to meet you, Min and thank you for your kind comments. Judging by your wonderful blog you have plenty of brilliant ideas every week. I hope you have a fabulous weekend. Toni

    • Reply Donna May 24, 2019 at 03:48

      Hi, Toni and Sue – I fully agree that micro-stepping can help us to achieve goals that would otherwise overwhelm us. Thank you for sharing this writing journey with us. It is very inspiring!

      • Reply Toni Pike May 24, 2019 at 06:48

        Thank you very much, Donna. You’re right, taking those micr-steps is the best way to achieve anything. Have a great weekend. Toni.

      • Reply Sue Loncaric May 26, 2019 at 08:22

        Toni is such an inspiration Donna. We weren’t friends at school but re-connected at a school reunion. We are firm friends now and it is wonderful to see her achieving her goal of becoming an author. xx

  • Reply Trisha Faye May 23, 2019 at 10:39

    Great advice here! I’m amazed at how many words you had in your first outline – almost a huge chunk of a book. But your methodical approach has been a benefit to your writing journey. I loved reading your guest post.

    • Reply Toni Pike May 23, 2019 at 10:53

      Thank you very much, Trisha – and thanks for stopping by. You’re right, my outline was quite long and took quite a few weeks to write, but once it’s done I then have something to follow each day. Have a fabulous day. Toni. x

  • Reply Miriam May 23, 2019 at 17:39

    Hi Toni, wonderful to meet you here and to read how you’ve achieved your goals. You clearly have established what works for you and balance it all with a healthy lifestyle. Fabulous. Thanks for a great read and introducing us to her Sue.

  • Reply Toni Pike May 23, 2019 at 19:42

    Hi Miriam, it’s great to meet you and I’m looking forward to reading more of your travel adventures. You’re right, I have found what works best for me in my writing – and I also enjoy taking time out to do some travelling. Toni

  • Reply Denyse Whelan May 23, 2019 at 21:30

    Great to read this Toni and thanks for sharing the story Sue. How good to reconnect after a long time. I have no discipline to write other than on the blog so I admire those like you, and Jo who go for it. Well-done.

    Denyse

    • Reply Toni Pike May 23, 2019 at 22:08

      Hi Denyse, and thank you so much for your lovely comments. I really enjoy writing fiction, but I must admit finding it challenging to write articles – so I admire people like you and Sue. It has been wonderful to reconnect with her after all these years. I hope you have a great weekend. Toni

  • Reply Pat May 27, 2019 at 03:16

    Toni, I was speaking with someone just yesterday about the challenge of writing character, dialogue, and description in fiction! Next time I see him, I’ll recommend your approach – “read articles and books about the principles of story structure, developing fictional characters, the finer points of writing dialogue”. In non-fiction, you don’t need that! Well, structure, yes, but not a story arc. I too had a detailed outline of my book, but never became an “every day writer”. Even my blogging isn’t everyday writing…. only my journal is. I have however, put your first mystery on my reading list! It is a genre I enjoy reading. Thanks for sharing your approach with us via Sue.

    • Reply Toni Pike May 27, 2019 at 09:07

      HI Pat, it’s nice to meet you – and thanks for putting my book on your reading list. I definitely think it’s good idea to read articles about story structure, writing dialogue and all the other aspects of writing fiction. There’s always something to learn and, as I’m sure you know, writing is hard work. I hope you have a great week. Toni

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au May 27, 2019 at 11:33

    When I see the background work that goes into writing a novel I am always so respectful of the process. I’m also rather relieved that I’m one of the few bloggers who don’t have a novel or self-help book sitting in the back of their head waiting to be written. I think writing would be the fun part – formatting, getting all the back story and structure in place, then editing, then etc etc would just do my head in. Toni you are amazing to be able to do it time and time again!

    • Reply Toni Pike May 27, 2019 at 12:30

      Hi Leanne, thank you so much for that. But I feel the same way about you – maintaining a blog takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication. I agree with you – writing is the fun part! Toni

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