Monday, January 4, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Onward

Okay, so for my first post in 2010, on my way into my sophomore year of stepped-up writing dedication, I'm going to take a quick peek back at nine things I learned during my freshman year of this part-time hazard to my social life. But before you get to the list, I want you all to stick your head out the window or the door and take a deep breath of air.


That right there, cold as it may have been (sorry northerners - I just got back from up there and I don't envy the fog on your glasses preventing you from reading the rest of this post), is a lungful of oxygen from the best year of your life yet. Sure, 2011 will be even better, but why waste the time middling along for another day? Get a headstart on Fantastic. Get a foot on the threshold of your dreams. And get ready to bash in the door to success in 2010 -- before the world expects you!

Okay, pep talk done. Here's the list:

9) The best laid plans are a waste of time. Emergencies come out of the woodwork, critique partners run into crunch time, old friends drop by for the weekend, major events get planned and your presence will be required in all capacities. Lesson learned, but steps to help myself cope with said lesson are still far from reach. I had no contingency plans in place and I got further and further behind until I just had to toss some goals completely out the window. I'm trying to add some sliding time in for these dealings so my goals don't get railroaded again -- hopefully I will be able to report success in 2011's January post.

8) Setting realistic goals takes trial and error. Far more of the latter than optimal. I found my average slow range and began using it to gauge my goals late 2009. That's also what I'm using now to determine reasonable deadlines.

7) Muses love snuggly warm showers but despise chilly tile flooring. For my birthday (it's coming up later this month, folks) I want a waterproof notebook. So many of what I thought were brilliant ideas somehow got lost between the tub and the bathroom door.

6) Pitching to an agent is not as terrifying as I thought. Wait, no. Still terrified. But I don't regret the experience and I now have a better idea of what's expected and how to present a query in pitch form.

5) Every aspect of the writing process comes easier when not counting words. I found out early December that when I'm not fussed about my word count, I'm in the meat of the story, much more connected to the inner workings, instead of the outer influences. Yes, I did NaNoWriMo again and I made it at a steady pace. But after NaNo, the moment I let go of the numeric stressor, clean words began to fly.

4) 15 minutes of Morning Pages a day keeps the muse happy, healthy, and calm. For the first time in a couple of years now I set my morning pages aside. For the month of November, I only worked on my word-count projects. Then, come December, I lost almost a week of sleep to Manic Midnight Muse Madness (quad-mu?). The words came and they didn't stop flying onto the page. They didn't always make the most sense at 2 in the morning, but they were there. It was about a month's worth of 15 minute playtime for my muse . . . for the sake of my health I now know better than to deny her playtime ever again.

3) Accountability begins at home. I have the hubby's support and goal reminders, but we're still working on the whole "do-not-disturb during writing time" lesson.

2) When all else fails, call a TriMu. As writers we all go through rough patches of doubt and worry. As people we all go through up times and down times. Friends tell us the hard, honest truth; give us a look when it's time to stop whining; catch our silly, you-should-know-better mistakes before we humiliate ourselves; teach us something new every day; and remind us that a break is in order to catch our balance. I can't finish a recap of 2009 without raving about the stunning ladies who alternate posts with me on this blog. I'm intensely grateful that I met and am able to work with such talented professionals and steadfast friends.

1) There is nothing more beautiful than spending the entire day writing a story your heart is desperate to share with the world. I had an opportunity to take a couple unpaid weeks off of my full-time job to work on revisions for my novel. Those two weeks were nothing short of fantastic, and memories of those two weeks are going a long way to fueling my need to become a full-time writer someday.


Doc said...

Good luck with your writing this year.

Speaking of old friends dropping by. I really must make it down there again now that the holidays are over and we are getting back into our regular schedule of over-work.

I'll have my people call your people and we'll do lunch... or probably dinner lunch requires me getting up to early for the drive.


Sarah Templeton said...

Thanks, Doc! I'll need all the luck, mojo, what-have-you I can get. Even if it means paying my muse overtime. In flavored coffees.

And yes, we should figure out some dinner plans for next time you're out this way or we're hopping over the border toward you.