Here I’d like to take us in a more general direction and talk about a few of the thoughts that writers and editors can reflect on during this week and the ensuing month.
1) What’s that smell? Do you have a lingering odor from 2011 that is stinking up your office? Did something happen (or not) that left a bad taste in your mouth? When I look back at the year, I cringe at the amount of writing and publishing I did NOT accomplish.
I’ll move on in just a minute to the idea of celebration, but for right now I want to dwell in that unhappy space to conjure up my feelings of shame, disappointment, guilt and ANGER, mostly so I can gain the momentum to ensure that 2012 does not languish in the same inertia.
Now make a plan, whether it’s reading more frequently, writing more regularly, seeking better feedback, or implementing the feedback you have. Write it down, put it on your schedule, get it out of your head and onto your calendar so that you can exorcise the demons of 2011 and move into a space of celebration so that 2012 will be a year of accomplishment and not disappointment.
2) Fast forward to the end. December 31, 2012, where do you want to be? Physically, yes, but also spiritually, financially, and in terms of your career. Now I know most goal-setting gurus will have you draw a road map to get there. But just like I asked you to sit with the stench, I’d like you to stay with this image for a minute.
In fact, draw it. Who will you BE by December of this year? As you reflect on the differences, I imagine you’ll pretty naturally figure out the way to get there. And don’t forget to celebrate the similarities, too. After all, you’re pretty fabulous right now – remember that!
For me, this means booking regular speaking engagements to capitalize on my strength (teaching) to widen my network, my client base, and my income stream. So in December of 2012, I’ll be celebrating with a whole bunch of new friends who are grateful for all that they have learned and eager to know more. I’ll be able to do so with my family safe and secure, knowing that my mortgage is up to date, my bills are paid, we have plenty of heat and food, and I can concentrate on teaching and writing and loving my neighbors.
That’s a pretty fabulous picture! I could sit with that all year long. And as I do so, the hard work I know it will take to get there won’t seem like work at all.
3) Double the recipe. We are writers and editors. And the only way we know our craft is to carefully study those who practice it. So how much reading did you do in 2011?
I know I didn’t do nearly enough. I’ve already committed to read one work of literary a fiction a month. But that’s a pretty poor start.
I have discovered a number of fabulous online writers this year that I am so grateful for, including Shakirah Dawud, Mark Nichol, and all those at Ragan Communications. And my Poets & Writers is indispensable. But my MLA Profession is languishing, as are H. L. Mencken’s The American Language (1921) and Antonio Damasio’s Self Comes to Mind, books I discovered with such joy in beautiful, independent bookstores along my yearly travels only to neglect. Shame on me!
4) Buy something! You need tools to help you do your job. When was the last time you bought a grammar handbook, a style guide, a usage manual, an interview with a writing expert? You know, language is organic. The rules change. And it’s your job to stay current.
Yes, I’m selling you stuff. But it’s good stuff. You can go browse elsewhere if you like, or you can take the advice of an expert and choose from the selection I’ve collected especially for you.
5) Rearrange your office (and your email). Remember all those files you put away, hoping to do something with them, eventually. Well now is eventually.
It’s time to get inspired!
Pull out that article, report, newsletter, magazine clipping, blog post, short story, journal entry, recipe – whatever it was and act on it. When you clean out your office, you’ll be surprised what you discover in your bookshelves and filing cabinets and closets that gets you motivated to be the writer, editor, business owner, and person you always wanted to be.
And it’s just good mojo. I mean, let’s admit it – it’s hard coming back to the office after we’ve had so much fun with our families over the holidays. A fresh, clean space, newly decorated with a loving touch makes that experience a lot easier. I’ve even found myself looking forward to it, especially now that I’ve installed my rocking chair to ensure I stick to my reading commitment.
Speaking of which …