Between the Lines: This Writer's Journal

Writing Sprints: Achieving Goals

Last week, I set this extreme goal of writing nine poems a day. It didn’t happen. I simply didn’t think it was possible.

Then yesterday I participated in two 15-minute sprints. I drafted eight poems in total.

Keep in mind these are drafts. They are not the finished poem. Revising will happen on another day.

So, if you feel it just isn’t possible to achieve that personal best, take a coaching tip from me. Dash to your computer and set a timer for 15 minutes. Write. Then repeat. See how far you get. Then, keep practicing. Maybe you’ll get even further tomorrow.

Between the Lines: This Writer's Journal

Goals: Keeping Up with the Laundry Between Chapters

At Christmas time, my mom asked my sister and me if we have any goals for 2018. This is a funny question for my mom to ask because, as she would say, her main goal is keeping up with the laundry. My sister chuckled. Like my mother, she isn’t apt to map out her goals even though she has them. That would be me.

A year ago, I asked for goal planners. Notice the plural. I used one throughout last year, and then started the other one in December. Goal-setting helps me to maintain focus on what is happening with my writing and my household.

Sometimes the household tasks take precedence. After all, the laundry does need to get done. Grocery shopping is a necessity with a husband and three adult-sized sons. But, setting a standard for myself pushes me to take time to write in the middle of vacuuming up pet hair and cleaning the bathrooms.

I do keep these writing times flexible. Sometimes the dogs need to go out right when I want to sit down and compose for a while. Sometimes my youngest son wants to tell me what he learned about the Third-Century Crisis and how its wars compare to the War Between the States and the Cold War. Sometimes my oldest son, who has been working all morning, needs a break, and we’ll go on errands. Sometimes my middle son calls just to check in. Sometimes my husband stays home to work, and I have to discover new ways of quietly chopping vegetables while he does conference calls in the kitchen.

It’s all good.

Everything can become part of the story and advance the ultimate goal of writing every day.



Character Study

Character Study: Commitment

I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment, and life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve. This level of resolve can move mountains, but it must be constant and consistent. As simplistic as this may sound, it is still the common denominator separating those who live their dreams from those who live in regret.

~ Anthony Robbins

When I read this quotation, I couldn’t help but think of my recent blog post titled “Resolve.” Many of the sentiments I expressed are echoed here.

Since commitment and resolve are akin to each other, I consider my current testings. Raising a quality, well-behaved puppy requires constancy and consistency even at three o’clock in the morning. Home educating three boys seems monumental at times. Keeping a daily log of my writing and household tasks can appear to take away from my precious time.

Yet, then I get a few more minutes of sleep. What seems like a steep incline into the educational unknown results in one child graduating, another soon to follow, and a third at the beginning of high school. I see checks along the edge of my list.

Before each testing, however, came a trial period. A puppy’s first year is generally the training period when personality quirks are identified, and behavior modifications made. When we started our home education journey, we committed to one year. We will soon celebrate a decade of this endeavor. Every new year sparks a generating of goals with trial and error until the right combination is attained. The original intent may have been adjusted several times, yet the end result can still be obtained.

So, as I pondered this quotation and these ideas, I thought back to my Bible reading for the day in the book of Hosea. Suddenly, my to-do list paled in comparison.

  • Marry a prostitute.
  • Name your children in ways that reflect rejection.
  • Be continually faithful when the people in your life are not.


Something else occurs to me. Hosea didn’t have a trial period.

When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute,so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.”

So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son.

Hosea 1:2-3 NLT

Hosea didn’t put his marriage on a trial basis. The stipulations weren’t something he said he would do when he met Gomer. He made the commitment to marry a prostitute before he met her.

He did it because he had a prior commitment.

He was first and foremost committed to God. It was that commitment–not the one he had made to Gomer–that gave Hosea the stamina to sustain through the testing of having a wayward wife. He knew his actions were visible proof of God’s commitment to God’s chosen people.


It is the signature under the resolution. It binds the covenant.

Resolve says…

You may be whatever you resolve to be. Determine to be something in the world, and you will be something. ‘I cannot,’ never accomplished anything; ‘I will try,’ has wrought wonders.

~J. Hawes

Commitment says, “I can” and “I will.”

Commitment says, “I do.”

What are your commitments? Are they based on a prior commitment? Is a recommitment after a time of testing something to add at the top of your to-do list? Then do more than resolve by saying, “I will try.” Commit by saying, “I will.”





My youngest son asked me yesterday what my 2017 resolution is.

I told him I have a lot of goals. But, I didn’t tell him what they were or name my resolution.

Honestly, I had to give it some more thought.

I came to the conclusion that we get the word goal and resolution confused.

A goal is something we hope to achieve. We set down objectives. We spend hours at it. The result is a to-do list of mountainous proportion we might cross off by December 31, but we are likely to abandon before mid-February.

A resolution is something we determine to achieve. The objectives are set. The list is made. Our goal? Follow.

But, what about the mountain?

It’s there. Yet, so is the path. Just stay on it.

That’s resolve.

Resolutions, unlike goals, mean a life-altering decision has occurred.

When Daniel resolved to refrain from eating the royal food, he made a conscious decision at the beginning of his captivity. He never wavered in that determination even when that food was offered to him. He challenged the authorities that demanded he eat it by saying he would be healthier if he continued on his diet of vegetables and water. While the other captives gorged on the rich morsels, he and his three friends continued what they had already set their minds on doing. The end result? They were proven healthier. And they got promotions.

Great job with a divine health plan, right? Maybe. Except that I don’t think Daniel’s friends expected an all-inclusive trip to the fiery furnace nor did Daniel plan that his corporate climb would include a decent into the lion’s den. Otherwise Daniel might have added a goal of “lion-fighting” to that year’s to-list, and his friends might have taken a course in fire-fighting.

So, how did they get through these setbacks?

Another resolution, of course.

They prayed.

They prayed the way they had been taught before they were taken into captivity. No matter what happened, they never stopped.

Prayer was part of their lifestyle. Even when their lives became threatened. Daniel and his friends, whether tempted with choice food or choosing life or death, resolved to stay on the determined path.

So, what is your resolution?

Don’t confuse it with a list of goals you only hope to achieve over the course of one year.

Make it a decision to live starting now and in the years to come.

Maybe it’s a word you used to know, but have somehow forgotten. Maybe you simply need to know how to get back on the path.

Choose a word that goes beyond what food to eat. Choose a word that depends on life and death.

Pray. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV)

Live. (James 4:13-15 NASB)

Love. (1 Corinthians 13)

Hope. (Romans 5:3-5)

Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)

Then resolve.





Personal Parables, Uncategorized

While Waiting for Words

Now that The Forget-Me-Nots is published, I find myself in a situation I haven’t been in for quite some time. I’m between projects. So, what should I do next?

  • Start a list of book ideas. An idea is percolating. That’s a good thing for it to do. Jumping right in to the next project isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes the better one is to brainstorm another adventure for these characters or contemplate an entirely new cast and setting. Besides it’s Christmas. Why not write several prompts about what these characters do to celebrate? It could be a pivotal scene in the next novel!
  • Set goals. I have already started a few goals as described in my recent blog entries. Maybe asking for a planner is a good plan. I did! But, not just any planner. A novel planner!
  • Study craft books. Another way to generate ideas is to read about what others have done. Craft books are an excellent source of inspiration. At present, I am reading Jeff Gerke’s The First 50 Pages.
  • Scribble. Sometimes simply putting pencil or pen to paper generates ideas. Grab the nearest scrap of paper–even if it is a napkin at the coffee shop–and write down the first word that comes to mind. Get inspired with a word-prompting adult coloring book. Splurge on a journal and fancy pen. Go back to the spiral notebooks and dime-a-dozen pens from school days. Practice that signature for the future best-seller that will begin with the word just written on a gum wrapper.
  • Survey my surroundings. Speaking of the coffee shop, sharpen those sensory hacking skills and troll the patrons for character traits and dialogue. Describe this typical cafe with its whirring cappuccino machine and place it on the outskirts of a nebula named after a best friend or first enemy. Or have your own characters walk through the door and set the scene.
  • Seek out solitude. Speaking of coffee shops again. Find an escape. Maybe it is five minutes in the car after everyone else has gone inside. This is a good time to put those scraps of paper to use. Or it could be a pretend conversation on the phone. Be sure to write down what was not said on the other end.
  • Search for new books. Surf Amazon for bestsellers, new authors, and free offers. Fill that wish list and pass it on.

Whatever you do while waiting for words, don’t forget to add The Forget-Me-Nots on that must-read list!