{flickr photo}

{by guest blogger: Lauren Boyd}

When I was growing up, I participated in a lot of extracurricular activities. However, I never truly mastered any of them.

I took gymnastics, but my lack of abdominal muscles – and my hearty appetite – kept me from advancing very far. I took tap, but when it came time to wear the high-heeled tap shoes, I didn’t want to, so I stopped taking tap. I played the piano, and was the best among my peers, but when my studies began to consume most of my time in high school, I gave up the piano.

What was my problem? Why did I give up on all these activities before I ever mastered any of
them?

I hadn’t set any goals for myself.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I heard my parents discussing that year’s Chief Junior Marshall and Valedictorian. I had never heard of those terms, so I asked my parents what they were. When they told me, I decided right then that I was going to be both. During the rest of my high school career, I did what it took academically and made sacrifices. Sure enough, I was Chief Junior Marshall my junior year and Valedictorian my senior year. What was the difference between those successes and my lack of long-term success when it came to my extracurricular activities? I’d set a goal and had the determination and desire to see it through – and it worked.

Fast-forward to the more recent past. In 2009, while reading picture books to my own children, I decided that I wanted to write a children’s book. I set a goal for myself. I wrote a manuscript at the end of that year and submitted it to literary agents. While the manuscript was on submission, I researched the publishing industry to learn as much as I could about it. I discovered that magazine publishing credits will build a writer’s resume and may help a writer get noticed by an agent or editor.

With that in mind, I requested a sample issue of Highlights for Children, the magazine I’d grown up reading, and studied it. I found a monthly feature that I felt fit my writing style, so I wrote and submitted my first piece. It was ultimately accepted, and I was offered a contract. I submitted lots of subsequent manuscripts that were rejected, and it was discouraging. However, I knew from my research that rejection is simply part of the publication process. I’d liked how it had felt to have my work accepted for publication – and I very much enjoyed the craft of writing – so I continued to submit my work to Highlights. Over the past two years, four of my submissions have been accepted by Highlights and one by Stories for Children.

It’s still my goal to have a children’s book traditionally published. In fact, at the moment, I have four picture book manuscripts on submission with publishers. I’ve also set a goal to have a book published for adults. In 2010, I wrote a novella, which is currently on submission, and I’m presently writing my first novel.

What’s my point?

If you love to do something, set a goal for yourself related to it. Don’t give up on that goal until you’ve achieved it – because it’ll be so worth it when you do.

Lauren F. Boyd has signed four contracts with Highlights for Children, one contract with Stories for Children, and two contracts with Southern Writers. You can find her on Facebook and G+, as well as @laurenfboyd on Twitter. You can reach her via email at laurenfboyd@.

 

  • Thanks for having me, Brandi!

  • Dawn Malone

    Good for you, Lauren, and congratulations on your contracts. Goals definitely help. It’s much easier to follow a predetermined ‘map’ than get lost by winging it!

  • Hi, Dawn! It’s great to see you here – thanks for commenting! I’m with you: I work much better with a ‘map’ so I can know where I’m going.

  • buyemura

    Hi Lauren. So grateful to have you as a guest! Your story inspired me to keep writing. I know it will inspire others.

  • Joylene

    Bravo, Lauren. Set a goal, work towards it, and see it through to the end. Nothing bad ever comes of that.

  • Hi, Joylene! It’s great to see you here – thanks for stopping by! Your words are so true, and I completely agree!

  • Thanks, Brandi! Your words make me feel great!

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