Monday, January 18, 2016

Looking Forward in 2016




And in a blink the year is gone and we writers are faced with the dilemma of what to do this coming year.

The new year is a place where nothing has yet happened. The calendar, while full of family errands and work related events, remains blank as to our writing goals.

Which, of course, poses the question, the huge question, of what we will write this coming year. What are our writing goals? Do we start a new story, poem or play or do we work around our writing, spending time doing publicity, finish up what we didn’t finish this part year orspend out time going to even more classes or meetings? What do we do?

Or do we want to look back and bask in the glory of what we accomplished this past year?

Maybe. But mostly no.

What has been written this past 12 months is history. It’s done. And unless there is something that needs to be carried over into the new year, sometimes it’s simply better to start fresh.

Okay, not always.

For example, I had spent most of the last few weeks finished up an outline for my next book. It was perplexing, as it is the third in a series with many old and new characters, each of which needed a new goal, which in turn needed a new plot.

Sigh. But with the holidays in sight, I managed to finished it up. Now, I’m not pleased with all the sub-plots, but I did finalized the last part, weaving all the various strings together into a neat and colorful tapestry.

But with the new year in sight, I deliberately put the outline aside, waiting to start on the first page of the new calendar where I could begin to fill in my writing goals. So many words here, exchanging a critique with my writing partner there and so on, until the empty spaces on the calendar were full of penciled goals.

Penciled in. I never use ink. In the writing game, it pays to always have options. Always have the ability to change the goal. Never get it up, but sometimes re-think the ultimate outcome you have in mind.

And now the new year is here. I look at my first goal, “write the prologue this week, goal, 2000 or so words” and I begin.

I love beginnings. I love the new year.
For me the new year always seems like a new beginning. I really love the idea of starting over, even if I am working on a project I started last year.
There is always new opportunity in the new year. On the last day of every year I make a list of what I accomplished last year and then keep it. The next day, on January 1, I make a list of what I want to accomplish in the new year.
It's great to be able to look back on those lists in future years.  For instance this year, I was able to post that we had finally finished and published our first Dottie booklet.  For this year I listed the next three Dottie booklets as goals for finishing and getting published.  That would be a wonderful accomplishments, because we have wanted to publish our class lessons for several years now and we have continued to work on them every year, even as we teach new classes.
We're also going to be teaching our own classes that feature some of those booklets this year. Working with students is always a great way to get our own inspiration for our fiction writing.
I suggest making a list of what you want to accomplish in the coming year. We're still in January so making the list now gives you eleven months to get it all done.  These can be wonderful motivation, not only to get things accomplished, but I love looking back on my old lists.  Seeing the publication of my book, Blues at 11, in 2015 was wonderful, because it had been on my list of projects for several years. Now it is published! 
So I recommend, look forward to what you want to do, but don't miss out on looking back too. Celebrate what you've accomplished in the past year.