I feel rather late to the New Year’s Resolution/Goal Setting/Watchword party, but it’s been interesting to read about everyone else’s approach, from Jeanne’s specific, measurable, time-limited SMART goals to Elizabeth’s ultra-flexible pursuit of happiness.
There are still 51 weeks of 2019 ahead of us, so I’m going to join in the fun 😉
For the last few years I’ve picked a watchword to epitomize my approach to the coming year. It’s less prescriptive than a set of resolutions. More of a theme, in the sense of “an idea that recurs and pervades.”
My word for 2018 was TRIMMINGS, courtesy of Michaeline. On 30th December, 2017 she said:
We live in a time where we can get online support and critiques, buy the best organizing tools ever, and even publish ourselves with only our own Inner Censors as the sole gatekeepers of our work. Or we could get a pencil and paper, and then publish pictures of our handwritten pages on Instagram. It’s all trimmings. What really matters is the happiness you get from writing.
TRIMMINGS turned out to be a useful word, but not for the reasons I’d expected. A couple of weeks after I wrote the post, my mum died, my best-laid plans went up in smoke, and I had a sharp lesson in focusing on the things that really matter.
I didn’t do any more writing until April, and then I sat down with a blank sheet of paper to think about how I wanted to spend the rest of the year. I decided the best way to get my mojo back would be to take on a new self-contained project or two that would get me into my happy writing place again and carry me in the right direction but without too much pressure.
I chose two challenges: start afresh with Christal’s story, a prequel in the same world as my Alexis book, and use the self-imposed delay in my publishing plans to enter the last-ever RWA Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers.
I’m pleased to report that my re-boot was a success. I prepared and uploaded three GH contest entries, including a major rewrite of a contemporary romance I hadn’t touched in almost three years. I spent maybe a couple of months wrestling with the dratted thing, which might seem crazy given that I have no plans to publish it, but…to publish or not is TRIMMINGS, right? And whether I final in the GH or not…more TRIMMINGS 😉 . I wrote three entries that are as good as I can make them, and the process of working on them helped me to get in the right frame of mind to write Christal’s story. Her book’s not finished yet, but I think it’s the best thing I’ve written so far. I’m super-happy and excited about how it’s shaping up, and suddenly I’m feeling ready to revisit my publishing schedule.
Told you that to tell you this: my word for 2019 is CONCENTRATE, which means:
- To focus all one’s attention on a particular project or activity; and
- To distil something to its essence by removing or reducing any diluting agents.
There are lots of writing and publishing things I want to do this year, but unless the universe smites me again, my priority is to self-publish Christal’s book. Then to publish Alexis’s book, or have it prepared ready to go in early 2020. I’ll CONCENTRATE on those two milestones, and pick off as many peripherals as I can manage along the way.
More importantly, I chose CONCENTRATE to remind me that I’ll have to make lots of choices in preparing the books for publication. I’ll have to decide about content edits, titles, genre positioning, covers, blurbs, and so on. I want the books to be professional, and marketable, but most of all I want them to be the clearest, strongest, most intense version of my voice and story vision that I can achieve, even if that puts me into a niche.
So although CONCENTRATE may seem like a harder watchword than last year’s fluffy TRIMMINGS, I hope it will get me to the same place: enjoying the maximum personal happiness from my writing.
If you haven’t shared your plan for the year already, please feel free!
And here’s hoping that this year all the Eight Ladies, readers and friends of this blog achieve their heart’s desire, whatsoever it may be 🙂 .