Thursday, October 29, 2015

Set Goals to Achieve Writing Success

Overcome writing blocks and writing anxieties by setting goals!

If you find yourself wanting to become an Expert Author, but are anxious about your writing abilities, or feel you have exhausted every writing bone in your body, listen up: YOU CAN WRITE!

Goal setting, in article writing, in business, in publication and even in one's personal life, helps you focus your efforts into a plan. Whenever you are stuck or feel anxiety looming, you can refer to this plan and stay on the road to success.

Here are some tips on how you can effectively set goals and conquer any writing anxieties once and for all.

1. Set a Goal
Setting a goal can be as broad as "I want to write more articles or books," or something a little more focused as "I want to master 2 niches related to my expertise."

Once you have set a goal, it will become your mission to achieve this goal. When you are in a tight spot, you can revert back to your original goal and consider the following:

  • My Goal is…
  • Will this help me achieve my goal?
2. Plan Strategically
Now that you've set your goal, begin implementing measures to achieve it by breaking the goal down into manageable tasks over a period of time. Most writers feel overwhelmed because they focus on the big picture or overall goal.

By breaking down your goal into smaller goals you take pressure off your muse and stop focusing on the main finish line. Instead you might focus on acquiring resources to develop your knowledge base. Challenging yourself by stepping a degree outside of your comfort zone.

You'll surprise yourself with what you can do!

For instance, if my goal is to write more blog posts, my plan might look like this:
"I will write 5 blog posts this month."

Once I've achieved that goal, I'll step it up and write 10 pages of my novel the next week.

3. Set Milestones with Quality Checks
In order to stay the course and prevent yourself from goal derailment, ensure you've set milestones and quality checks.

Milestones can be used to reward yourself and measure your progress. Quality checks can be used to ensure you don't derail completely and sacrifice your credibility and writing time.

For example, I will reward myself when my 5 blog posts are finished. To ensure I'm reaching my audience, providing informative content, and not submitting my blog posts with reckless abandon, I will track which posts were published and if there were any problems along the way.

For example on my book/novel goals, I will reward myself when I've completed 10 or 20 pages. To ensure I'm engaging my readership and providing engaging content, I will submit my work to my critique buddy for feedback and double check what I've written against my book's outline.

No matter your goal and play it's important to write every day. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thoughts from the Director: 2015 St. George Book Festival

When I began as the Director of the St. George Book Festival three years ago, I had a dream of what it could become. I wanted the book festival to be more than just coming to hear an author talk about their latest book. I wanted it to be a family, reader of all ages and community event. But even though I had this vision of what could be, making it happen was another matter.

A lot of people pat me on the back for a job well done, but in all honesty, I couldn't have done it without my committee: Dave Smith, Darren Edwards, Dawn McLain, Lenore Madden, Lin Floyd, Bonnie Anderson, James Duckett and Ami Comeford. Or without our partners and supporters: Joel Tucker and Alan Anderson at the Washington County Library System, Pam Graf and the Spooky Town Fair committee, Mary Nell Lundquest and her team at the St. George Children's Museum, Jon Braaten at Abby Inn, Donna MacBean, and David Rowland at Comics Plus.

It's been a long road and this year was filled with growing pains and uphill battles. I didn't do it alone and nor would I want to. Everyone I worked with is the backbone of the St. George Book Festival and our community is lucky to have them. They are the group that supports my big dreams and help make it possible.

They are the ones who put up with my crazy ideas such as let's decorate the Literacy Charity Dinner ourselves this year. Or how about have anywhere from 2 to 3 events happening each day of a week long book festival.

They helped find and suggest some of the best speakers we've had. They came to every event and didn't complain, but just asked, "What can I do to help?"

This is what the committee, supporters and partners of the St. George Book Festival are able to do and I'm thankful they can so I can keep dreaming of what the book festival can be while they make that dream reality.

Here are the people who really deserve a pat on the back for a job well done:
Jessica Elgin, Spooky Town Fair Committee Member

Darren Edwards, SGBF Vice Co-Chairman

Janice Brooks, Speaker at SGBF Kick-off

Lin Floyd, SGBF Youth Poetry Contest Coordinator

James Duckett, Technology/Social Media Coordinator

Bonnie Anderson, SGBF Treasurer and Lenore Madden, SGBF WCSD Coordinator

Ami Comeford, SGBF DSU Coordinator & Utah Humanities Boardmember

Jack Rolf, Speaker at Kick-off

Brad Wilcox, Keynote Speaker at Kick-off

Justin Osmond, Speaker at Humanities Night

Jonathan Diaz, Speaker at Humanities Night

Dawn McLain, SGBF Sponsorship/Media Coordinator

Dave Smith, SGBF Vice Co-Chairman

Pam Graf, WCSDF and Spooky Town Fair Director

And so many others...

Thank you everyone for making 2015 one of the best year's ever this October!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Do you remember your nursery rhymes?

Write Poetry

Who hasn't written a poem before? Even once? I believe most people go through a phase in life and it pushes them to pen a poem; ok, or something that resembles a poem.

At an early age, we have been exposed to poems. Remember the nursery rhymes? They're poems. Someone put melodies on them so adults can sing the rhymes to little kids and the little kids can remember them easily.

You've probably written a poem of some sort in the past. Whether you write poems for fun, for personal reasons, or for publication, here are 3 poetry prompts you can try out:

1. I Am. For each of the letters in your first name, think of at least 3 positive adjectives. Next, go over your adjective list and circle the ones that describe you best. Then use those adjectives for your "I Am" poem. 2. A Quinzaine. Quinzaine is from the French word quinze, which means "fifteen." A quinzaine is an unrhymed verse having 3 lines and 15 syllables. Line 1 gives a statement and the remaining 2 lines ask a question that relates to line 1.

Here's the form: line 1 - 7 syllables
line 2 - 5 syllables
line 3 - 3 syllables
And here's an example of a quinzaine:
Sun's radiance shuns shadows
Will the morning steal
the darkness?
3. The Object Poem. Choose an object. Next, list down the reasons you think the object you chose represents you (or your personality). From your list of reasons, which one is the most powerful? Which one conveys the strongest image of yourself? Once you've chosen your main image, list at least 10 things that support this main image. Build your poem from there.

Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

About Shery: Shery is the creator of WriteSparks!™- a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks!™ Lite for free at

Friday, October 16, 2015

When you aren't sure where to start writing, simply write where you are

Write Where You Are

I caught the writing bug when I was ten, when I joined an essay writing contest. The topic was: "Where did you spend summer and what did you do?"

I wrote about the summer I spent with my grandparents. I described how grandpa taught me to climb trees, and how soon after that, I discovered how scary it was to climb down from a branch ten feet above the ground. I described how my grandma brewed strong coffee, and how the aroma drifted and lingered throughout their little hut every morning. I described the long walks and spontaneous swims in the rivers I took with my aunts and uncles.

It was a simple topic, but it had a tremendous impact on my life. I knew writing was what I wanted to do.

And now, nearly 20 years later, I can still hear grandpa's laughter, still smell grandma's coffee, still shiver at the memory of how cold those rivers were. Their little hut is forever etched in my memory.
I grew up; now I'm a writer. And whenever I'm stuck and ideas seem to run out, I remember that summer. My grandparents may be gone but they left me with memories from which I can draw inspiration. They left me a place I can go back to in my mind -- their home. In a way, they never really left.

And that's enough to make the words come out again. I re-discover the wonder of writing each time I remember where I was the summer before I turned ten.

If you feel yourself running out of words to write, try writing where you are. Stop thinking, worrying, doubting. Simply lean back, close your eyes and take yourself back to that one place that gives you peace. Then for 3-5 minutes, simply write about that place, and how it makes you feel.

Here are 5 prompts to get you started:

1. Where do you go when you want to get away from the pressures of life, family, work, etc? 2. In 150 words, describe the place where you are right now.
3. Where were you last summer/winter?
4. Which room in your house do you spend most of your time?
5. In 400 words, create your ideal place.

Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
About Shery: Shery is the creator of WriteSparks!™- a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks!™ Lite for free at

Friday, October 9, 2015

Aren't you tired of staring at a blank page?

7 Writing Muse Kickers to Fill Up That Blank Page

Nothing is more daunting for any writer than having to stare at a blank sheet of paper.
When we stare at a blank sheet of paper, we often think, "What am I going to write?" A few minutes later, it becomes, "Oh my goodness, I can't think of anything to write!" And several minutes later, it turns into something like, "Write, darn it! Write! Write! WRITE!"

Some writers call this writer's block. But I call it the "Writing-Muse-Needs-A-Kick" syndrome.
And that's exactly what we're going to do with your writing muse gone truant. We're going to kick her back into gear so you can fill up that blank page.

Here are 7 writing muse kickers for you to try right now:

1. First Line: Begin a story with "There was once a chance I didn't take..." 2. Cliche Starter: Weave a story or poem around the cliche, "keep your powder dry."
3. Power of Metaphor: What does "a string of laughter" make you think of?
4. Proverb Mix: "Beauty breaks the camel's back."
5. Story Words: Use the words "pianist, pencil, high-rise building, running shoes" in a story.
6. What If? Story: What if you're going to write a story about betrayal, with a young man as the main character and a locket as the key object? Set your story on a ranch.
7. Quick Prompt: Write about what you'd say to an uninvited guest.
Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
About Shery: Shery is the creator of WriteSparks!™- a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks!™ Lite for free at

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October is Book Month and My Favorite Time of the Year!

The Month of October is finally here and with it comes not only National Book Month...but the St. George Book Festival!

I have been director of the book festival for the past three years and even though I don't get to be involved like all the other authors, poets, readers and families get to, I still enjoy this festival more than any other event in my hometown. Why?

Book festivals, conferences and writing workshops are a time for those who love to read and write to network, shine and just enjoy the joys of literacy. The month of October is one of the busiest months with so much to offer all around the United States. Just hop online and Google "book festival" and see what pops up. You'll be surprised at the list and list of events all over.

There is so much to do during the week of October 19th thru October 24th in St. George during our book festival from Author appearances, Speaker Panel Discussions, a Poetry Slam, Contests, Writing Workshop, Performances, Literacy Charity Dinner, Comic Spook Day at Comics Plus and Book Expo at Spooky Town Fair.

Fun for the Whole Family - Events and Activities for ALL AGES!
See full schedule for the book festival and get information at