In December, I wrote about setting goals for being a better writer in 2015. As it is now March and we’ve had three months, it seemed a good time to check in. How are you doing? (If you want to check what you wrote, go to the comments here.)
Leaving out my usual quantitative goals, which are particular to my own writing style and won’t be interesting or inspiring to others, I wrote that my goals this year were:
–to do something that scares me, take a chance on the work in a way I haven’t done before
–to choose a particular aspect of writing to study
–to find writers I haven’t read and classics I haven’t explored
–come up with new ways to fill the well, “maybe take a class in watercolors or something.
–think about what would make my work more joyful, stronger, exciting to me
One thing worth mentioning is the fact that my output has been quite slow. We traveled in early January and I’m still healing from two knee surgeries, so my brain is not functioning at full power just yet. This is part of life, too, that we are not always writing under perfect conditions. I was happy to have written 13000 words in February, mostly in short stints sitting in my chair with my leg propped up and piled with ice. It’s not enough to meet my goals for the year, but it’s okay for a month when life was compromised.
–That book is fulfilling one of my goals—to take a chance, to try something that scares me. I have no idea where it will go from here, or how, but I’m glad to be leaping off the ledge again. It’s exhilarating.
–I haven’t chosen any particular thing to study this year. So maybe that will come later. Or maybe it won’t. It sounds tiring right now, so as a creative professional, I’ll let that go for the moment.
–Reading new to me writers: yes. I’ve done lots of that. I read more than 25 novels in January and February, and many of the authors were new to me. I liked a lot of them, loved one (Us, by David Nichols). Since Outlander is coming back on in a couple of weeks, I’ve resolved to read the second book in the series before it starts. It’s…uh…really long. Not sure I’ll make it in two weeks, but it’s fun to try.
—New ways to fill the well. Done. I’m madly in love with watercolors and I’m taking a class, and a friend gave me another series for when I finish this. It’s exhilarating and pleasurable and difficult in entirely different ways than writing. I find myself at ease after I paint, and we all know that ease is a great place to begin to open to the writing work. Open, at peace, willing to serve the muses. Yeah, that.
—Think about what would make my work more joyful to me. This has been the best part of the year thus far. The book that’s testing me, urging me to go in new directions makes me feel nimble and alive.
But also, I have discovered over the past year that I love the New Adult genre. I’m writing book #5 in the series (Going the Distance) and it’s the most actual fun I’ve had writing in a decade. I didn’t know it would suit my voice so perfectly when I began—I only tried it as an experiment because I was ambushed by a character, and I never, ever turn down a gift book. Turns out it that I love the frankness, the freedom to be earthy and not play by the rules of romance, exactly, but make some of them up as I go. It is a blast, and I’m going to keep writing it. A new series is brewing.
That last bit, the joy, is one of the most important parts of being a creative professional. The world thinks it knows what it wants in terms of art and entertainment. It makes rules and creates academies and passes down pronouncements on what’s good and what’s bad art. But we as creators are born to take things apart and blow them up and play with new visions and see what makes our own souls sing. That’s where breakout hits like oh...Twilight or The Art of Racing in the Rain come from. My soul is singing right now, and that’s the best possible place to be. I believe when I’m in line with that, I’m doing my best work, and whatever I have to do to find that spot is worth it.
Not that the actual work is easy of course. Just that the pursuit is joyful.
Maybe I’ll get around to reading some classic writers and maybe I won’t. So far, the year is going pretty well and I’m enjoying the work. That’s good.
How about you? Did you come up with something to focus on this year? Are you making progress? Have you changed your mind, or shifted direction? Do you need to re-commit to something or let it go? Let’s talk.