This has been a year when my steps, personally and as a writer, have faltered. Some missteps were because of the pandemic. Some were because of disheartening and tragic occurrences in the world that both saddened and angered me and stopped me in my tracks. And some were because of my own doing...procrastination, being too easily distracted, or just wanting to frolic around my home doing anything besides pecking the keys of my computer keyboard, pretending I had no writing cares or (deadlines) at all.
But as we enter 2021, a year I'm hopeful will be one of, "less struggle, less brokenness, and more silver linings," paraphrasing an inspiring message my niece sent me recently, I am ready to order my steps. I am excited about applying new principles to my writing life, and life in general, to cultivate a more positive, creative and "go get it" attitude.
Here is a list of nine guiding principles I hope will order my steps as a writer in 2021:
1. Each morning when I awaken, and especially before I sit down to write, I will put on fresh armor. I will take off the old garments of self doubt, or worry I may have clothed myself with from the day before and put on a finer tapestry, one that glitters with self assurance, knowing that I can reach whatever writing goals I set out to do.
2. I will create more structure in my writing life. I will organize my writing space so that it isn't a catchall for junk mail and a bevy of other nonessential writing items. Everything will have it's rightful place, from pens to reference books. I will plan my writing schedule the night before too. It will be flexible, not written in stone to allow for those daily hiccups in life we all have, but I know a written schedule will help me prioritize my work and life and be more productive.
3. I will work on strengthening other areas of my life. I will eat healthier, exercise more, and nurture myself not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. When I am feeling good from the inside out, I am a more fruitful writer.
4. I will choose to leave my writing bubble more often. Writing is full of so much solitude, but I don't have to go it alone as a writer. I will reach out to other writers more for support and wisdom and stand next to, even virtually, to those whose visions are akin to mine, thus meaning they are passionate writers who know this is their appointment, to write. Their creative minds and spirits can fuel my own and vice versa. I will remember there is strength in numbers when we come together as writers to show and offer support, and to ask for support in whatever form we need it be it an ear to listen to our frustrations, a question about marketing, or some much needed laughter.
5. I will look my writing monsters in the eye. Those hairy, sharp fanged monsters, that are always lurking nearby- my fears, even at times, the fear of success. They have caused me to be immobile at times, to pull the covers over my head and shiver and hide, frightful about what's next. It's time to shine a flashlight on them, just as my father did when he looked under my bed as a little girl, and remember they are just in my imagination. I can boldly face my fears. If I truly think about it I have already. I can look those monsters in the eye each time I put pen to paper and submit my work or not worry about getting a rejection in my inbox. Each time I do I gain courage and those monsters will begin to scatter.
6. I will choose a quote a week to encourage me. Quotes can inspire me and infuse me with positive concepts I need to keep writing. A quote that inspires me is by science fiction author, the late Octavia E. Butler, who was also the first science writer in 1995 to receive the MacArthur Fellowship. She is quoted as saying, "You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence."
7. I will write outside the box. Writing outside of the box will allow me to write less predictably. It will allow me to take chances and give myself permission to try something new, like writing in another genre. I always wanted to try my hand at science fiction. So what if I fail, at least I tried something out of the norm.
8. I will embrace failure. Failure isn't the end of the world or my writing career. Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying, "There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction."
9. I will be my best friend as a writer. I will learn to be kinder, gentler, less hard on myself. I will give to myself what I give to others, belief in my dreams, faith I can accomplish them, and optimism for what is to come.