This is the time of year when I do a lot of thinking.
And I don’t mean like when my kids were small and I’d try to take a tiny nap and tell them not to disturb Mommy because she is thinking. I mean, sure, my eyes are sometimes closed and I will often fall asleep during all this ruminating, but honestly, I’m seriously thinking.
It’s important, this thinking. I will start with taking a look at what I’ve done in the past year and that informs new dreams, new plans. Because dreams do change, y’all, but how often do we take the time to really think of how we’ve changed and how that impacts our wants and needs and goals or dreams?
Certainly, my writing career has come a long way from where it started. When I left teaching, the principal of the middle school where I worked asked what my plans were, and at that point, my “plans” were to write. But I sensed she was expecting me to say something a bit more substantive, more impressive, if you will, and so I blurted out, “I’ve got an idea for a novel, a cozy mystery.” And the principal must have been truly impressed since she announced my plans at the end-of-the-school-year gathering. Everyone clapped and I tried to crawl under my chair. A novel? What was I thinking, saying I planned to write a novel?
Well, I wasn’t thinking at all. I read an awful lot of mysteries and believed I could write a mystery novel, if I put my mind to it. And I actually did attempt a novel that first year. But after ten or so pages, and slap out of ideas, I was done. Good heavens, how did authors get an entire novel written?
My end-of-year thinking pushed me toward flash fiction and essay-writing and I became a better story-teller. I used those skills to try my hand at web content and though I made a steady income, my thinking about that sort of writing made me realize that the money wasn’t worth the dream-sucking work.
Throughout the many years, taking the time to think about what I was enjoying in my writing (my dreams) and weighing the pros and cons of different projects (the reality) has led me down lots and lots of varied writing paths, some wonderful and some, not so much.
There are those of you who hold steadfast to your original writing dreams through all your ups and downs, both personal and business. And that’s the right way for you. But if you’re facing dissatisfaction, ennui, or even a writer’s block that’s more like a boulder, maybe this is the year to do some serious thinking.
Ponder what you love in your writing, what you want in your writing career. Then think a bit more concretely about what it will take to get there. Are there habits you need to develop, or even bad habits you need to drop? Classes you could take? Webinars to attend? How will you spend your money on your career? How can you make money with writing? Is the money important to you? If not, what is important?
See how a little thinking can lead to who-knows-where? There's the adventure, the excitement, friends, so happy thinking and happy writing in 2022!
(And P.S. Where I am now is back to the beginning, writing a cozy mystery, and finally able to bring together enough words and ideas to complete it! I wonder if anyone sitting in that school cafeteria will see my hopefully-published novel one day and say, “Didn’t Cathy Hall start working on that book fifteen years ago?” And I will say, “Yes. Yes, I did!”)