Debra Eckerling is the Founder of Write On Online and the D*E*B METHOD®. She is the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures. Follow Write On Online on Facebook and Twitter, and if you write, definitely join the Write On Online Facebook Group. Follow The D*E*B Method on Facebook and Twitter, join the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, and subscribe to the Guided Goals Podcast. Needless to say I was grateful that Debra found time to talk about her new book YOUR GOAL GUIDE: A ROADMAP FOR SETTING, PLANNING, AND ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS, which is now available!
Dave Watson: Congratulations on a wonderful book. How did this come about?
Debra Eckerling: Thanks, Dave. So happy to share my story with your readers.
I have been leading Write On Online, a live and online community for writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs, for many years. It started as a live writers support group, and evolved into a hybrid of live LA meetups and online Facebook page and group. I even added the #GoalChat Twitter chat as my community offerings in the beginning of 2018.
My background is in communications and project management, and over time, I started leading goal-setting workshops and coaching individuals and businesses on their goals and projects.
Near the beginning of 2018, I took the systems I have been using with my clients and community created the D*E*B METHOD®. DEB stands for Determine Your Mission, Explore Your Options, Brainstorm Your Path. These are the three steps you need to figure out what you want and how to get it.
I had planned to self-publish a book to go along with my new business brand, when I was re-introduced to Paul Levine, a literary agent who spoke at a workshop I attended maybe 10 years ago. He suggested I try the traditional route, and asked me to send him a book proposal. Since my goal was to help as many people as possible, I figured it was worth a shot. I had my first call with Mango about a year ago, and got the go-ahead to write the book last spring.
DW: Are short-term goals as valuable as long-term? Does it depend on the writer?
DE: All goals are valuable. Just as personal and professional goals work together, so do long-term and short-term goals. Think of it this way. Long-term goals are made up of short-term goals. Short-term goals are accomplished by achieving benchmarks. Benchmarks are made up of action items or tasks.
Before you set goals, you want to start by Determining Your Mission. Why do you want what you want, and how will it help you and others? From there you look at the different possibilities - Explore Your Options - in order to figure out the specific destination. Then you can Brainstorm Your Path. That’s when you write out all your goals - long-term, short-term, benchmarks, and tasks, organize them into categories, and come up with a plan of action.
Remember, some goals work together. For instance, if your ultimate goal is to become an award-winning screenwriter, then one long-term goal would be to become a paid screenwriter. In order to become a paid screenwriter, you need short term goals of learning the craft (through continuing education), expanding your community, so you have intros when you have scripts to show (networking), and writing screenplays. While the priority level and time-commitment will be different, learning, networking, and writing should all be done in tandem.
DW: When were you inspired to become a writer?
DE: Ever since I learned how to write, I loved to write. In high school I took extra writing classes - it was awesome. And it was my creative-writing course in high school, which instilled my love of journaling, and journaling is a key element in my process of how to figure out your goals.
DW: What writers inspired you growing up?
DE: I remember loving Mark Twain when I was a kid. I just loved how he could tell a story.
It’s funny, growing up I had dreams of writing the Great American Novel, and every now and then, I still get involved in a creative-writing project: a NaNoWriMo novel or screenplay draft. However, I have been writing mostly non-fiction since my early 20s, which is something I never would have imagined in my youth.
DW: What writers inspire you today? Do you know about their work ethic?
DE: Since I have been leading communities and helping others complete their passion projects for years, I find what really inspires me is when others achieve their goals.
No matter what someone’s primary profession, when they make the time and find the energy to work on things that have a long-term benefit, it’s tremendously motivating for me and others.
DW: Writing appears to be the quintessential balance between spontaneous creativity and structured practice. Would you agree? Why or why not?
DE: YES. The key, however, is to schedule time - appointments with yourself - for that spontaneous creativity. Write a schedule and keep it as best as you can. And also always have a notebook on hand - digital version is fine - to write when inspiration hits.
DW: Screenwriting is a particular form of writing as are all genres, YA, Crime, Romance, and so on. In your experiences, should writers find their niche and stick to it? An example is I love reading crime/mystery/thriller and writing in it. Would trying new things and breaking out be “healthy?” I hate to use that word…
DE: Writing is something that improves with practice. While it’s great to have a writing niche, in many cases what makes you a better writer is exploring other genres and types. The other benefit is you could discover you are great at something new.
My recommendation, whether or not you are attached to your genre and medium, is to set a weekly or monthly appointment to just play, have fun with a new potential writing project. See where it goes, because you never know.
DW: What’s next for you?
DE: Am looking forward to a successful book launch. I have several live and virtual events planned, and even set up a Facebook group specifically to support readers of Your Goal Guide.
Am very excited to get my book - and my methodology - out into the world, so I can help as many people as possible define, plan, and achieve their goals. As far as other projects are concerned, I try to set three to four projects in motion each year. The book is clearly my first launch of 2020. I have a few other things planned, so stay tuned.
DW: Finally, since this is a movie site, what is your favorite cinematic moment?
DE: One of my favorite movies growing up was Broadcast News. Others were Casablanca, When Harry Met Sally, and Strictly Ballroom, so you see I have very diverse tastes.
Anyway, in Broadcast News I remember watching a power-producer, played by Holly Hunter, tweak a scene at the last minute to get a story just right, so then Joan Cusack’s character had to run through the studio to get the tape to air. I love those two elements together - the quest for perfection and running to make a deadline. It’s such an important and delicate balance.
While one of my mottos is done is better than perfect, that quest to do the best job you can, even when time is limited - and we are constantly balancing the things we have to do with what we really want to do - is something that made an impact at an early age.
Clip: Broadcast News
Dave Watson is an author and educator in Madison, WI.