I like to think ahead.
Nope, that’s a lie.
I can’t help but think ahead. If something is coming up on a weekend and I’m not sure how it is all going to unfold by Tuesday – Wednesday at the latest – I start getting antsy. I want to know when I need to leave or what the responsibilities are, if everyone who is involved is aware and prepared.
Which means I’m looking at how to make 2018 better than 2017.
I haven’t started planning yet, but I have been taking windows of time to reflect and understand. I’ve been taking time to be honest with myself, about how I used the time and resources available to me, how I can be better with them in the future. Today, I’m going to walk you through my process just a bit.
The first question I have to answer for myself is where am I with my writing. The short answer is agented and on submission. But that’s not the honest answer.
I’ve been spinning my wheels instead of writing. I’ve been giving myself the excuse to watch an episode (or three) of The West Wing. While I have outlined two stories and have a pretty solid idea of where they are going, I haven’t been doing the work that I know I need to do to get them written.
I don’t know where my ambition went. I don’t know why I’m not writing. This is not going to bode well for making next year better.
There is really no reason that I can’t have several completed manuscripts in my proverbial file cabinet right now. I know lots of authors who sign with a publishing house and then get all sorts of requests for more. If I am really thinking ahead and because I know that I have several story ideas, my goal needs to be to complete.
But that’s too broad. It’s like lose weight (yep, that’s another one). Sure, it’s a nice thing to say, but until there is a measurable way for me to mark my progression, it’s not going to happen.
The goal needs to reflect dedicated steps that will assist in accomplishing. For me, I need to write. Probably every day. Probably at least 500 words a day. I need to honor the time I do have to write, be true to myself and my craft, and write.
I need a dedicated ritual to prime the writing part of my brain to work. There is something about me showing up in a particular space that allows me to really hone in on the work that needs to be done. I have a ritual when I get up and get going in the morning. I have a ritual when I get to work. I used to have a writing ritual, and there were several mental and physical and emotional curve balls that made me duck and cover instead of stand and hold my ground. I need to get back to where I was, and that will only happen if I commit to something and then tell my team.
I have a few teams that I’m on when it comes to my writing. The first is my family. They know how to honor what I need to do, know how to solve their own problems a lot of the time, know that writing is important to me. I need to get back to communicating when I am taking time for my craft and when I’m taking time to be a mom and wife. I need to make sure that I do both.
I need to communicate better with my CPs. They are strong, driven, creative women who are pursuing the same thing as me. They are also kind and generous, which is the very best thing to be, and sometimes a little enabling. I need to recommunicate that they have permission to give me the evil eye if I don’t have pages for them to critique. I need to lean on them as I would hope they would know they could lean on me.
I also have an incredible agent. I can share frustrations and ideas with her, can ask for her professional opinion on matters related to the submission process and have learned much through the editing she has shared with me already. One of the big lessons I learned this year, that I need to carry forward through the next is that asking questions is okay, and that as her client, I’m not bugging her when genuine concerns exist. In fact, that’s one of the hats she is happy to wear.
Finally, I am on my team. It sounds strange and perhaps a little obvious, but I am really good at taking care of things that people expect of me and if it comes down to what others want vs what I want, I will nearly always take care of others first. It is sometimes the necessary choice. It isn’t always the best choice. I need to remember that working for me and on my craft is one of the reasons I am able to share with others: I have to be a fulfilled person myself before I can hope to genuinely contribute to the lives of others.
So, as you are looking forward to a new year, what is your present context, goals and needs? Who is on your team? How do you plan to improve in 2018?
Tasha Seegmiller believes in the magic of love and hope, which she weaves into every story she creates. A co-founder of Thinking Through Our Fingers, she is the managing editor of the writing-focused website as well as a contributor to Writers in the Storm. She is passionate about helping women nourish their creativity and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, where she serves as a board member. The former high school English teacher now assists in managing the award-winning project-based learning program (EDGE) at Southern Utah University. Tasha married a guy she’s known since she was seven and is the mom of three teens. She is represented by Annelise Robey of Jane Rotrosen Agency.