I heard someone joke that January is when you can’t find an open treadmill at the gym, so you might as well start your resolution in February when the treadmills will be open again.
We all start the year with such good intentions, don’t we? The promise of the new year is like an extended Lent: we’re giving up sweets! Snacks! We’re going to eat better, cleaner; we’re going to work out every day; we’re going to speak kinder, gentler. But February rolls around and some of us are making little edits to that 365-day promise to get a new job, lose weight, clean a closet a week, AND write that book.
But a movement’s been circulating. It isn’t new, I first heard of it from an author on the Today Show a few years ago, but it’s been the buzz in books and blogs: such as a book by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olson (one word about what you hope God will do in your life) and in blogs about happiness (this year author Gretchen Rubin chose “upgrade,” which is taking areas of her life to the next level.)
The general idea is to choose a word you’d like to be your “theme” for the year. Run every project or goal through this filter to see if this is something you want to take on. Resolutions can be all-encompassing, but what one goal do we hope to achieve in our lives? Maybe it’s “peace.” You ask yourself, does doing this activity bring me peace?
Have you thought about this concept as it relates to your work as a creative, and the projects you take on? I asked several other independent writers how they were streamlining their goals. These masters of communications shared with me their words for 2015. What can you count on writers to practice this year?
Author C. Hope Clark has 5 books under her belt, including the popular Carolina Slade mysteries, and a solid online readership as editor of www.FundsForWriters.com, with 45,000 subscribers. “Life usually lulls at this stage with many people tired and riding on the laurels they have,” she says. Not her, as her promotion and marketing schedule for her books don’t exactly show signs of slowing down. And she’s not looking for a new personna or a reinvention. She concludes instead that “depth” will define her in 2015. “I want my writing to provide meaning and afterthought to the reader as much or more so than money in my pocket. Because I feel that people will remember me more if what I have to say, fiction or nonfiction, literary or commercial, taps a reader deeply, making the words more alive than what results from writing quantity in a short period of time.”
“The Internet and social media has accelerated communication: email, web sites, blogs and profiles everywhere. So many businesses looking for their return on investment from marketing when sales has not done the work to create a conversation. Stop talking AT people, speak WITH people, and engage your customers in a meaning ful conversation,” says the communications pro.
Author Paul Vachon says prosperity is an important focus. “I’ve done a bit of research on this word, and while it most often refers to a state of being financially successful, it also has a somewhat broader meaning. According to Dictionary.com, the word denotes “a successful, flourishing or thriving condition,” he says. He’s looking at this deeper meaning. “To be successful in this regard means that my work will inform and delight my readers–in addition to earning me a living. Therefore, my goal for the coming year is achieve a reasonable level of prosperity.”
Journalist, teacher and director Christopher Johnston advocates the streamlining concept. “I’ve been working on a few long-term projects for several years, including a book about a group of Marines who served at Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War that is now my main focus for 2015. During that time, those projects all began to bleed together or get interrupted by other new projects. So this year I am working to completely refocus on one or two of those primary projects and set the others aside until I am clear to work on them,” he explains.
Writers, like any other occupation, seek a healthy balance between work and family, wanting more time on both. Freelance writer Alanna Klapp says last year was the first year she freelanced without having an official day job to fall back on. Adjusting to life with a new baby and pregnant with baby two, she still plans to write. “The last quarter of the year my productivity slowed because of first-trimester symptoms. Now that I’m feeling better, I want to ramp up my output during the second half of my pregnancy and do as much as I can after giving birth, though I realize I may have to slow back down temporarily once I’m in the newborn phase. My goal is to write and publish more in 2015 than I did in 2014, even if it’s not a whole bunch more.”
Sometimes it’s all a matter of showing up and doing the same job–over and over. Freelancer Steve Sears believes a solid career in freelance writing boils down to this simple word, consistency, which he will focus on 2015. “One of the things that has helped me in the past maintain a client base, earn money, et cetera, is being consistent with my goals of delivering assignments before deadline, sending queries or letters of introduction to prospective clients and following up with current and former clients. Consistency is key,” he says.
What word do you claim for 2015? What will be your focus in how you approach your work?
Kristine Meldrum Denholm is an independent journalist and ghostwriter who has been published in best-selling anthologies as well as dozens of media outlets, covering topics of health, wellness and safety. Her experiment with picking her word for last year, courage, was successful, and will be the subject of an upcoming article.