Happy New Year!!! How is it possible that we entered a new century fourteen years ago?! I swear 1999 still feels like yesterday.

But on to the topic at hand… For the last few years, I’ve been picking a ‘word of the year’ instead of declaring a traditional resolution. In 2013 I aimed to be more present, and the year before that I strived for balance.

This year, I’m going with…

 

Focus.

 

Or more specifically, in 2014, I want to focus on things I can control.

Jessica Spotswood wrote a beautiful and honest post the other day about managing expectations when it comes to our writing and publishing endeavors. She concludes her thoughts with this:

The craft – the writing itself – is the only part that is still all mine. The finished product belongs to my readers. The business worries belong to my publisher. But when you’re happy with the writing, no one can take that away from you. When I was eight or ten or twelve, writing stories about horses at the barn where I took riding lessons, or later writing stories about girls who rode horses and bantered and kissed boys, I didn’t think about being a published author. I didn’t know any real live published authors. I wrote because I couldn’t not write, because my brain gets restless and dissatisfied when I don’t. I am saner and happier and more me when I write. In my heart of hearts, it might be as selfish as that.

In the second half of 2013, I started to fall back in love with writing. Debuting is such a traumatic experience—wonderful, but traumatic—that it left me feeling a bit scarred. The very act of writing no longer felt fun, but terrifying. I knew the long road ahead for any story I typed out that might then see publication. I knew the highs and lows that story would go through if it was bound and sent into the world for readers. This knowledge became paralyzing.

It took me a loooong time to learn how to write again, to tune out the things that made it stressful and just lose myself in the joy of creating worlds and going on journeys with my characters. (I blogged a bit about this two days ago, when I discussed lessons I learned while debuting.)

I don’t want to fall into the trap I did with Taken again. I don’t want to lose the three months prior to and following my sequel’s release to stress and stalled writing.

In 2014 I want to stay focused. On my craft, on my writing, on the things I can control. The Taken trilogy is mostly wrapped up—I’ll have copy edits on book three soon, but the actual writing and revising is done—and I want to focus on the next book. And the one after that. I want to return to the time when I couldn’t wait to curl up with my laptop and type feverishly for hours on end. When characters haunted me and dialog played in the back of my mind all hours of the day.

I want to love writing for all of 2014, and if I focus less on sales and ranks and reviews and all the other things I can’t control, I actually don’t think it will be that difficult.

What are your goals this year? If you had to pick one word for all of 2014, what would it be?

12 Responses
  1. Christina

    Wow. I mean, I’ve been writing for quite a bit of time and I certainly have my hopes and dreams, but this post and Jessica’s were really honest, open, and humble. Your wisdom continues to show through on your blog posts (I read your posts on debuting). In the end, as a reader, I know that business aside, promotion and mass appeal doesn’t matter as much as how much of an impact a book left on a person. What it really comes down to in the end is how your book changes one reader’s life–dramatically.
    Keep writing, Erin. I look forward to the rest of the Taken trilogy, and what you have in store in the future.

    1. Thank you so much the kind words, Christina. Writing for publication certainly is a wonderful (though sometimes trying) experience. Can’t wait to share more books with the world. Good luck with your manuscripts as well!

  2. I’m trying to remind myself, to be myself. Online or offline. If people don’t like me, that’s okay. I cannot please everyone and that’s okay. Also not to worry about cliques online or off. That everything will be okay.

    So I guess my word is “myself”

  3. Katy Upperman

    My focus word for 2014 is similar, Erin. It’s “stoicism” and for me, that means I’ll not stress about what’s out of my control, and I won’t let my emotions rule my actions. Here’s to a fantastic 2014. 🙂

  4. Krispy

    Erin, you and I must be brain twins when it comes to these word resolutions. I had just decided the other day that my word for 2014 would be “focus,” and then today I come here and see that you were thinking the same thing! (And we had the same 2013 word too!) I found both your post, Jessica’s post, and Katy’s to be so insightful about goal-making and remembering there is only so much you can control.

    For me, I settled on focus because I wanted a somewhat more active word for 2014. I think “present” helped me a lot in 2013 to not stress out about things and to enjoy life as it was, but in 2014, I’d like to not coast so much and work harder to make things happen. Anyway can’t wait to see what the new year brings for everyone! I wish you all the best with your goals and yay, more books! 🙂

  5. I love that you picked the word FOCUS for 2014. It sounds like such a powerful word mantra to have, and I’m certain you’ll succeed at it! If I chose one word for 2014, it would be BUILD. It’ll be the first year I’m married for all 12 months (!), looking for a job (!!) and writing again (!!!). So I want to build up all these things – relationships, career and stories.

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