First – thank you so much to everyone who read and shared my Learning Year post. It got over 5000 hits in 2 days, which is an awful lot for this little blog. I was overwhelmed – in a nice way! – by the number of tweets, Facebook comments, blog comments, and private messages and emails from writers at every stage of their careers. To me, this indicates a real need for more transparency about the ups AND downs, successes AND struggles, of the writing and publishing life. It can be really difficult to make yourself so vulnerable – hey, internet, here are my innards! – but for me it was very worth it. I feel much lighter and less alone. Thank you all for that. And if you are ever feeling alone in it, but don’t want to post publicly – my inbox is always open for other writers. It is really important to me to pay forward the kindnesses that have been shown to me by those who debuted before me.
I’ve been ruminating for the last few days on what my word for 2014 should be. Instead of making a resolution, for the last few years I’ve chosen a word of intention. The last few have been PATIENCE (the year I was querying), RELEASE (the year I spent mostly on submission), NOURISH (the year I started out on submission with Born Wicked, after my first book was shelved), CREATE & CELEBRATE (my debut year), and BALANCE (last year – which was, er, less than successful).
My 2014 word is CONSISTENT.
It’s not as buzzy as some of those other words, but I think it’s what I need most right now. Last year, I knew I needed better work-life balance. I said I wanted to do more journaling and yoga and walking and cooking and board games and girls’ nights and reading. But I didn’t really quantify any of that, or make any workable plan for how to achieve it. And consequently, I still tended to binge-write (usually around deadlines) and then kind of binge-life, without writing at all for weeks – and with the added side effect that I was usually so burnt out all I wanted to do was sleep and eat comfort food and watch tv. My health has fallen by the wayside. I recently tapered off anti-anxiety medication that I’ve been taking for years, and I have a ton more energy – but taking care of myself emotionally is even more important now.
So. Consistency. What does that look like, in measurable terms?
Writing: I’d like to write 1000 words a day, at least 5 days a week. More is great, but that’s going to be my baseline. Revising a chapter (in my new project, that’s 2-3000 words) also works. Each of those things earns me a sticker on my calendar. As far as creative challenges go, I’m trying to create a sense of setting as almost another character in my new YA project, and I’d like to try my hand at writing my first MG project.
Reading: Reading is the thing that refills my creative well. All of my book ideas have come from me reading something and saying, “Ooh, but what if I did A and C instead of B and D?” I learn so much from reading. It is vital that I make time for it. My goal is to read 100 books in 2014, and specifically to make time to read every day. (I’ve gotten in the habit of playing a word search game on my phone or checking Facebook and Instagram before bed instead. No more!) I posted my 2013 reading stats yesterday, but I’d specifically like to read more second and third books (as opposed to only debuts or books by seasoned authors) and to read more diversely (books featuring LGBTQ or non-white protagonists).
Non-writing business stuff: Weirdly, I am making a goal to do less. I feel like during the last two years I’ve said “yes” to almost everything – which is both exhausting and costly. Travel is a huge trigger for my anxiety, too. I only want to go on retreats that I know I will enjoy and I only want to do events that are absolute yeses. It’s still really important to me to answer all emails and tweets and messages – but I will be more patient with myself if it takes me a few days or weeks). No one will die if I do not respond to their tweet immediately. I will not perish from this earth if I don’t check social media for a few hours.
Health: I need to use my treadmill desk more! Lately I’ve been walking for an hour a day, 5x a week, and doing yoga once or twice a week. I’d love to keep that up. Bonus goal: I’d really like to get to the point where I feel comfortable enough in my body to take yoga classes again. I miss that. I also hope to continue to treat myself to a monthly massage. (My dad gave me a spa gift certificate for Christmas that should almost cover 2 months – yay!) I also downloaded a new food-journal app because my comfort eating has gotten out of control. The Playwright and I are hoping to start a family soonish, and I really want to get to a healthier weight first.
Cooking: I really enjoy cooking, but I have gotten out of the habit. This results in way too much takeout, which is hazardous both health-wise and financially! But I got a 365 Days of Soup cookbook for Christmas, and I’ve decided to undertake a soup project – every week, I’ll make a new soup! (This week I made Old Fashioned Tomato & Rice soup, and it was super yummy and really filling and healthy!) I am bizarrely really really excited about this.
Other: I’m instituting a weekly game night date with The Playwright. Continuing my years-long tradition of Tuesday night dinners with my BFF. I’d like to get in the habit of hosting a game night or a girls’ night every month, too.
I think accountability is a huge thing for me, so I’m going to try to blog every Wednesday about how all of this is going, using the “Year of Consistency – Week X” post.
What about you? What are your goals or resolutions or intentions for 2014?