Saturday, August 30, 2008

WORD: My Mantra, My Mission, My Super-Sized Daisy Dollop of Success

by Gabrielle Linnell

As I write this, I'm 2380 words from finishing a 50K first draft, due on September 1. YAY! You know what's even cooler? On or around July 18, I had 25,000 words that had taken six months to write. Long way, short time.

The reason this has worked is a combination of a realistic deadline, a mantra and a long-term vision into one place. I made this using principles from books like The Success Principles for Teens and Time to Write with help from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens and a little knowledge of reality TV.


I have a three-point mission statement when it comes to writing my books: I wrote a sentence about how I want to write, how I want to sell, and a promise to myself. If you're building a freelance career, this still applies. Make it cheesy, make it serious, make it personal.

I put my mantra on top of my goal/deadline list, so that I know why and how I am going there. Becoming successful means nothing to me if I don't enjoy and learn from the ride. I know this. So looking at my mantra every time I check my long term schedule is vital.


Everything is in high def now, as is your goal list. Since I'm working on a book, this list is made up of goals like: On September 1, I will finish a 50,000 word first draft. On October 15, I will revise, etc. I go on all the way to querying fifty agents about my book next winter and Spring.

Each step of the way, I have and will continue to identify my daily little steps. For my first draft, I had to write 550 words a day to keep up. When I start revising, I'll probably use a page-per-day goal. I know when I start to query agents, I'll be working on two or three queries a week.

I need tunnel vision. I'm a product of the GPS culture, but it can help me get where I want to go without getting lost. Adapt this to suit your own needs, and check out Kelly Stone's chapter on WAPs if you want more help.

WHAT GOES INTO IT: Facing Insecurity and Embracing Success

Doesn't that sound cheesy?

Insecurity is almost inescapable, especially as a collegebound teen. I hate it, but I look at other teen writers and automatically double-check: Am I doing more than s/he is? Am I a better writer? Have I been published more? I look at potential friends as potential competition, and it's a horrible thing.

Do not worry that you only write 200 words a day. Do not feel bad because you've been published twice in smallville. Do not compare, unless you are attempting to learn from your peers. It will get you nowhere, and it will cheat you of enjoying the success you've found. That isn't cheesy at all.

Gabrielle Linnell has been published more than thirty times in national and international magazines. She cites Donald Trump in her artist's mantra, has seen Mamma Mia twice and is known to be an absolute dunce at anything involving circular objects in motion. She guest blogs every two weeks at

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