Thinking: First Backward and Then Forward

Soon my writing friend and I will Skype for a few hours about our 2013 goals.

We’ll discuss what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve given up on, and what is still challenging (and defeating) us.

Current State of Affairs

In past years at these goal check-ups, I’ve been both pleasantly surprised and chagrined at my progress. This year I’m happy finally with the amount of writing I’m getting accomplished (thanks to running four challenge accountability groups this year) and how I’m taking stronger steps in the marketing arena.

Another “plus” is how my writing life is flowing. For years my friend and I brainstormed more effective ways to draw boundaries at work, at home, with friends, and (most importantly) with ourselves. This whole boundary thing seems to be an ongoing challenge with us, but we’ve grown this year! We’re better at setting boundaries around our time and not backing down. (Several years of work on this issue resulted in my 2013 e-book Boundaries for Writers.)

Don’t wait until New Year’s Day to think about your progress in 2013. Begin to review it now. Think about it. Celebrate your successes. Be honest about how much work you’ve put into your writing career this year. If you got derailed, take time to think deeply and figure out why.

Thinking Ahead

Then begin to visualize and dream. Where would you like to be a year from now? What changes will you need to make?

For me, I intend to read what’s currently being published in my field a lot more. I’ve read a lot of middle grade books, but I need to do more. My granddaughter and I have hit several excellent book sales recently, and I’m stocked up! I’m also wondering if this is the year I try to find an agent.

Everywhere I turned this year, I got the same message (from writing friends, books, and conference speakers): If you want a rich writing life, cut out time wasters and replace them with reading—and reading a lot. Otherwise our creative wells run dry. Also socialize with a purpose more often (SCBWI conferences, critique groups, book discussion groups, book store readings, lunch with writers.)

I also want to market a bit better, but mostly I’d like to consistently do the marketing things I’ve started. If I could ask Santa for one thing this year, it would be consistency.

So think now about your goals for 2014. Journal about them. Think about how you’re going to hit them. Give yourself these six weeks before the New Year starts to ponder these questions–and then decide on a direction.

Memorize This

If you want a writing life that you’ve never had, you’ll have to do things that you’ve never done—and do them consistently. (Copy the preceding sentence and tape it to your computer.)

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10 Responses to Thinking: First Backward and Then Forward

  1. Liz says:

    Great post! I see a hint of The Slight Edge at the end of your post :) I am going to copy that and tape it to a book, and my journal, and my calendar[s] and. . . . . .

    • kwpadmin says:

      Yes, if people read THE SLIGHT EDGE and THE PRINCIPLE OF THE PATH, they probably wouldn’t need anything else! I will probably be praying for consistency for the rest of my life. 8-)

  2. Donna says:

    So true. A popular writer, S. King also said that to write one must read…a lot!
    Reflection; I agree is needed to know where we’ve been, then we will know where to go.
    I’ve always enjoyed your posts and tips on writing Kristi, they just make so much sense and are do-able.
    Thank You! Donna

  3. Bonnie says:

    This is a great reminder not to wait until after the new year arrives to think about what we have done this year and want to do in 2014. I tend to put my brain on hold around Thanksgiving and come to after Christmas. But by then I’m worn out and only want to survive and sleep rather than think about goals. My word for this past year was authenticity. I can’t remember why I chose it, which rather defeats the purpose. I did live it however much it didn’t help my writing. This year I’m choosing momentum since that seems to be a key to my productivity. Momentum is a word that can apply to any aspect of life including writing. Thanks again, Kristi, for provoking thought.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Bonnie, we’re a lot alike! By the time Christmas is over, the spirit is willing but the brain is dead. :-) I love both your words–authenticity and momentum! They both apply to so many good things. Thanks!

  4. Sheila says:

    I’m so glad you posted this. I usually wait until New Years Day or even later to start thinking about next years goal. This accountability challenge has really helped me. Thank you hosting it.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Sheila, you’re welcome. It’s one thing that, over the years, I’ve found to be more productive. I used to wait till January too, but then I didn’t give it enough thought, and I’d decide on goals that turned out to be not right for me, or not taking into account a few things I would have considered if I’d taken enough time. Also, knowing how much writing income I will need next year has prompted me to line up things now instead of waiting to send out resumes for educational writing, for example.

      The accountability challenge has helped me a lot too. I’m getting the novel writing done much earlier in the day, freeing me up for other writing which helps pay the bills! I do believe you all have helped me as much as I’ve helped you! :-)

  5. McCourt says:

    Kristi -

    I finally got around to reading The Slight Edge after you recommended it in April and I really got a lot from it.

    I walk around telling myself, “Easy to do, easy not to do” and try and choose the “Do” option more than “not to do”. Not only with writing, but with exercise and laundry as well!

    Thanks for the recommendation (and for the goal check-up advice!).

    – McCourt

    • kwpadmin says:

      McCourt, I just reviewed that book myself! It’s such good advice, but I have to keep reminding myself of its principles. It’s a dual proposition: you have to keep the end goal in sight “way out there,” but it’s the daily “slight edge” steps that make it happen. And it takes so little (done daily) to make a big impact. I use it with exercise as much as anything, and I now use my “4 minute aerobic workouts” DVD more than any other! :-)

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