2016, Archives, December 2016, The MFA Years

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year… To Work

Happy Holidays, everyone!  This season marks a lot of things, the observances of many religious and secular celebrations, cold weather and for many a break from work and school. For some this time of year is happy and filled with family, and friends. Unfortunately for others this is a tough and sad time. I sincerely wish for everyone that they are able to get whatever it is they need now and over the next few months as we brave the cold and dark inside and outside while we wait for the warm light of spring.

One thing we all have in common is that a new year is coming. No matter what we thought of 2016 it is coming to a close for better or for worse. While it is important to take stock, celebrate, and have rest and relaxation it is equally if not more important to prepare for a brand new year.

Folks are talking about resolutions, and while I’m not a fan of the concept of ‘New Year, New Me’ for many of us there are things we want to do better or differently. I urge you not to wait until the ball drops to decide what you want in the new year and how you are going to get it. Wanting something is a first step but without knowing how you will go about getting it, it’s doomed to failure.

A smarter way is to take this time of year and turn it on it’s head. If you are applying to or in a grad school program your nose is already to the grindstone but renew yourself in your goals and finish strong in what you are doing.

For the rest of us writers, editors are planning for the first quarter of 2017. If you want to publish more or to regenerate your writing business now is the time to research and plan. Narrow (or expand) what you want to focus on in this big and competitive writers world. Jump into pitching, don’t wait until January. Even if editors are already on vacation you will get answers in January as opposed to starting the process.

Take some time to look at your workflow. This goes for students, professionals, and anyone who makes all or part of their living from writing.  Once you write your mission statement for what you want to accomplish in the new year, break that down into quarters. Establish accountability no matter if that is through an accountability group or a bi weekly or monthly check in.

Write It Down: I use paper planners over a virtual calendar. Studies show that the act of physically writing down information has a substantial impact on retention over use of computers and smart devices. Information can also be in your phone or tablet but it’s worth it to have that physical planner and pen. Check sales at big box stores like Staples, Barnes and Noble and Target for sales on planners and planning related items.

Break It Down: Break goals down into manageable, quantifiable chunks.

Accountability: Find people who are invested in achieving their goals, and create an accountability circle. This doesn’t have to only other writers, other people who have or want goal oriented careers or business can be wonderful accountability partners.

Identify but don’t Ignore Problems: Do you or a loved one have health issues or needs that take special care and consideration? Don’t ignore these things when creating your plan. Don’t assume every day will be a good day. Think carefully about how much you are putting on your plate and be realistic about what is already in play.

As I was writing this post I did see a video from writer Tamara Woods making some similar points. Her video is wonderful and gives some excellent pointers about goal planning. Don’t forget to go over and give it a watch.

Don’t Stop Working: This is not to say that you shouldn’t take time to enjoy a slice of pie and some hot cider because you absolutely should but it’s much easier to work at something that isn’t stop and go. Schedule in breaks and vacations but be careful not to lose sight of or become frustrated with your goals when you do.

Don’t Worry about What’s Done: You didn’t land the pitch, you didn’t get the job. You got overwhelmed or sick, or the week or even the month did not shake out the way you would have hoped. Your best laid plans didn’t work out. It happens. The longer you stew over it however the less time you are writing, publishing, studying, applying or whatever you have planned to do. It sucks, it’s okay to feel bad, to be disappointed but don’t miss the next opportunity just take a hint from Dory and keep swimming.

Best of luck in writing and everything else. See you in 2017!







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