As is traditional this time of year, we’ve been doing a bit of goal setting / planning here on the blog recently. Jilly kicked us off by sharing her 2017 watchword Publish, and several others chimed in with fun, happy, finish, clarity, intention, story, and live. All great words.
I’ve been mulling over my own watchword for several days now; considering and then discarding any number of possibilities. In the past, I’ve generally decided on an idea or direction for the coming year. I was tempted to go with write for my 2017 watchword, but that seemed a little too close to my 2014 “resolve to write” idea.
Back in 2011, my Idea was to embrace a “so what if you’re afraid – do it anyway” mindset. That was the year I took my first graduate writing class and my first class at Oxford. In 2012, when my momentum seemed to slow, I went with “quit procrastinating and just do it,” because while I was doing great at planning things, my implementation skills needed some work. The McDaniel program was that year and, while I didn’t eliminate my tendency to procrastinate, I did find a way to use it to my advantage.
More recently my yearly ideas have been more end-goal focused, namely of the “finish the darn book” variety, but they haven’t been particularly inspiring or, in hindsight, motivating. While I wrote over 50,000 words last year, as well as a few dozen short stories / flash fiction pieces, it felt like something was missing all year, which brings me to my 2017 word: Joy.
As a glance at any day’s headlines will show, life is truly uncertain. I’ve always liked the quote: “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.” For 2017, I’m mentally updating it to “Life is uncertain, do what brings you joy.”
For me that means less time spent worrying about writing xxx words per day or submitting to xxx contests, and more time spent with discovering new characters and figuring out what’s happening with a few old favorites. Expect to see Cassie & Nicolai in a few Friday Writing Sprints, along with a few other recurring couples. Maddie and Dan from my recent Mistletoe Reboot story have been stuck in my mind for the past few weeks and I’ve been really enjoying figuring out what happens next for them. Although I didn’t get a chance to post any more of their story in last Friday’s Random Word Improv, I will be posting a bit more of them this Friday.
On the flip side, don’t expect to hear much (or anything) about Michael and Abigail (from The Traitor). After 3 years (or has it been 4), I think they’ve gotten enough of my time. Their story isn’t perfect or fit for human consumption, but it’s done and it served its purpose. It qualified me for PRO membership and proved that I could plot and write out a complete story from start to finish. Moving on now.
Joy also means branching out into new terrain. My current day-job boss is a trained journalist and photographer, who adores romance novels and is very supportive of my wring. She’s helping me explore potential non-fiction and human-interest type pieces that tie in my love of photography and she is helping me really clarify what my creative “brand” is. We’ve already met with a web developer and graphic designer for my website and we’ll be meeting monthly to keep each other motivated (she’s starting up her own blog) and go on occasional creativity-inspiring photo walks. Nothing but good times ahead there.
To keep myself on track, I’ll be posting at the end of each month on my “Joy” progress. I’m thinking that a mindset of joy will foster creativity and, ultimately, productivity. We’ll all just have to wait and see about that.
Right now, stepping away from the internet and reading Loretta Chase’s Vixen In Velvet for today’s shot of joy. I can’t believe I let it moulder away on my TBR shelf for so long.
So, where or how have you found Joy lately?