Three Words for 2015

I'm a bit late with my words this year.  It's sort of because they have been rolling around in my head and sort of because I was doing other things and not thinking about it.   But here we are at last.  We got here. Or more to the point, I got here.

At least I didn't choose wine as one of my words of the year.

Some backstory: Every year I choose three words to guide me in the new year.  Most people these days choose just one word, but ever greedy and grasping for more, I follow Chris Brogan's lead and choose three.  

Some years the words stick with me and guide me all year long and others I tend to forget them by mid-January mid-February.  But I still think that even if they aren't front and center in my mind, they are invisibly guiding me.  Which reminds me of a story.  (You probably knew there was one coming, right?)

Years ago, when I was a fledgling writer, I was involved with a local writer's group, and it was my job to accompany an at-the-time famous author around at her workshop.  This actually turned out to be complicated and confusing because she was married, and not just married, but married married, as in one of those people who is always spouting off about how great her husband was and how fantastic their marriage was.  Said fantastic husband was due to accompany her to the workshop. But then she called us and explained that no, the husband would not be with her, but another man would--her lover.  But then when she appeared for the workshop, she was with the husband.  Like I said, complex and confusing.  I never did figure out what happened there.  

Believe it or not, that's not the story I meant to tell.  The story I meant to tell is this: the famous author mentioned that when naming a character, it is a good idea to consider the meaning of the name.  Not because your reader is going to necessarily know that, but because that meaning subtlety imbues the character with that meaning and the reader will subliminally pick it up.

And that's how I feel about my three words of the year.  Even if I forget them in my conscious mind, they are there guiding me in my subconscious.  And I can use all the subconscious guiding I can get. And now, since this post is going in directions I didn't anticipate, let's just cut to the chase, shall we?

My three words of the year are practice, possibility, and permission.  Yes, all Ps.  Isn't that great?  I love when that happens.  

Practice.  I mean this in terms of a writing practice, as you likely guessed.  A writing practice that I do every day.  I pretty much do this now, but it is something I want to do more of.  At the moment, I get up early and write--most days.  Every once in awhile a ringer thuds in and I find myself cruising the internet for an hour before I realize what's happened.  I'd like less of that in 2015.  As I write this, I'm realizing that this is the best word for a year ever, because really, practice is everything.

Possibility.  Because, duh.  I want 2015 to be rich with possibilities.   Splendid stuff I've not even yet thought of.  Wonderful surprises.  Glorious opportunities.  Fun and festive events.  Got that, universe?

Permission.  Okay, so this one takes some explanation.  I kept thinking that my third word would be rejection.  I know, but hear me out.  My thinking was that if I was putting work out in the world, asking people for things (like to host a book signing or a reading, for instance), and creating new products a lot, as is my plan for 2015, I would be sure to get some rejection.  And this would be a good thing, because it would mean I was putting stuff out there.  But then I realized that stating I was looking for rejection was not the best message.  So I spent some time looking up likely antonyms that would get the idea across and came up with permission.  As in permission to put tons of stuff out there without worrying about failure and rejection.  Plus, permission starts with P.  So its perfect.  And I will stop now.

There you have them.  My words for the year.

Here are posts from previous years:

My Three Words For the New Year (2011)

Three Powerful Words For an Amazing New Year (2012)

It's One Powerful Word For the New Year (2013)

Three Words for 2014

And a post on why you shouldn't choose a word or words, just for fun.

Are you choosing a word?  Or words?  Care to share it?

Photo by jurvetson.

What's Your New Year's Resolution for Writing in 2015?

Ukulele1_HiResGood morning.

It's 6:35 AM and I should be writing.  My main character, though, is in the middle of a somewhat dicey scene during which she not only sees an unpleasant side of her love interest but she must also confront him about it.  And I don't do confrontation well.  So I thought I'd leave her for awhile and head on over here and write a blog post instead.

Yes, I'm avoiding.  But at least its better than combing the internet for useless stories.  Which I was doing a couple minutes ago, in truth.  And in all that uselessness (Kate and William in New York! Big storms to hit both coasts! Asteroids!) I found something of value--a story on Writer Unboxed about New Year's resolutions for writers.  I've been thinking a lot about how I want to approach 2015 and so I stole the idea to write my own post.  (Happily enough, #3 on Keith Cronin's list is "steal something." Do go read the rest of it, the post is worth some time.)

As usual, I have tons of ideas about resolutions for my life beyond writing.  Such as lose weight, walk a lot, do yoga, learn to play the ukulele, cook more, finish all the half-done knitting projects I've started, and on and on and on.  But this year, I have two goals for writing.  I think of them as underlying goals, or themes, if you will.  Because I do terribly when I give myself specific goals.  So, here we go:

1.  Write Fast.  I experimented with this last fall, taking a class called Book in a Month, wherein you were supposed to write a book in two weeks and then revise it the last two weeks of the month.  I got on an airplane to Paris in the middle of the class and that pretty much ended my participation.  But I loved the idea.  Its the same idea that propels Nanowrimo.  You quit kvetching, quit moaning and groaning, and just write.  Throw freaking words at the page.  Get the draft done already.  The most productive writers I know do this.  And I want to get better at it.  I still find myself sitting at my computer staring off into space too often.  I want my hands to be worn out by the end of the day.  (I figure it will also be good exercise for my ukulele playing.  I had my first lesson yesterday.  TOO MUCH FUN.)

I'm curently in the middle of rewriting a novel that I'm greatly enamored of (during which I'm also doing my best not to get bogged down, this morning nonwithstanding) and once that is done by the end of January, I'm going to return to the mystery series I started for the Book in a Month class and finish it fast.  It is now going to be more romance-ish, because I'm not good at killing people.  Oops, I just realized I committed to a specific goal, finishing this rewrite by the end of January, and worse, wrote about it. Well, you guys will just have to hold me to it.

2. Quit Hiding.  Now, most of you would not think that I hide.  But sometimes I do.  There are degrees of hiding.  I'm quite visible on the interwebs, for instance, but not as willing to put myself out in real life.  I'm better known in Nashville then my home town of Portland as another for instance. (Though this is not that unusual--sometimes you just aren't appreciated until you go away.) This tendency is so ingrained in me that often I don't even realize I'm doing it.  So I'm making a list of ways I can Not Hide.  Suggestions are welcomed. 

(And, I do have a couple of in-person events scheduled for 2015.  Besides the writing workshop in France, which you really should come to, I'm going to be doing a workshop in Nashville on May 1st and 2nd, at Scarritt-Bennett Center.  Details to follow soon.)

Next week, I'll write my three words of the year post.

But for now, I've written enough about me.  It's time to go practice the ukulele (I've mastered the C chord! Don't laugh.) Or knit.  Or perhaps rescue my protagonist from her predicament.

What are your goals for 2015?

How to Make 2014 Your Best Writing Year Yet

Fireworks_firework_night_226231_lHappy New Year!

We're two days into 2014--how's it treating you so far?  Yeah, I know, it's a bit soon to tell. But I've been cheerful the last few days.  Why? Because I took time to review 2013 and work on goals for 2014.  I've spent a lot of time doing this, actually.   And I can tell by how happy its made me that it is a worthy endeavor.  Thus I will inflict it upon you.

In case you haven't spent time reviewing last year, go do that first.  (Doesn't matter that it's 2014, I figure that just as you have a year after a wedding to send a gift, you have until the end of January to review 2013.)

Now take a deep breath, get up from your chair, and dance around the room for a bit to shake all that old-year energy out.  Okay.  Sit back down, grab your journal and have at it.  Bear in mind a couple of things: you can answer as many or few as you want.  And sometimes I ask similar questions in slightly different wording because often coming at an idea from a different angle opens it up for you.

Questions and Prompts for Your 2014 Writing

What do you most want to create in 2014 in your writing life?  In your creative life? (Because one bears on the other.  They enhance each other, they don't take away from each other.)

What do you want to let go of in 2014?  (i.e., fear, procrastination, etc.)

What is your most important writing project in 2014?  Second most important?  Third most important?

How many words will you write a week?

When will you write?

What other genres might you try, just for fun?

How many things will you submit or self-publish in 2014?

Will you take part in a writing community (online or in the real world)?

How will you relax and rest?

When will you take time to daydream and think? (Vastly under-rated activities for writers.)

My biggest goal for 2014 is.....

At the end of the year, I'll be satisfied if....

The thing that will make me happiest with my writing is....

This year, I vow to....

If I could have one wish for my writing, it would be....

My perfect writing day would be....

My perfect place to write would be....

Okay, that ought to keep you busy for awhile!  And while you're at it, why not share one of your answers in the comments? 

Photo by kiplantt.

Reviewing Your 2013 Writing Life

Infodesign-calendars-design-52489-hSo, we've got two days until the new year, and I don't know about you, but I've been busy thinking about 2014.  I have so many writing goals I want to accomplish--novels and stories to get out in the world, and classes and products to offer here on the blog.  So this year I'm trying to approach it logically (not my strong suit, as I'm about as right-brained as they come), and write out my goals now.  (I'm using this workbook that my daughter got me for Christmas.)

The difference for me this time around is that I'm actually taking the time to review 2013.   Yeah, I know, brilliant idea, right?  Anyway, as I was working on this project earlier this morning, the thought occurred that maybe you would like some guidance on looking over 2013 as well.  So herewith, I offer questions to ponder and answer in three areas: writing, motivation and putting it into the world (also known as marketing).

(And by the way, I'll be back on Thursday, newsletter day, with guidance for planning your 2014 writing life.)

1.  Writing.  

We start with this because it is the basis of everything.  Duh.

--What was the best thing about your writing in 2013?

--What was the worst thing?

--What are you most proud of?

--What is your biggest writing accomplishment?

--What felt good around your writing?

--What felt off?

--What lessons did you learn around your writing?

--What do you want more of?

--What do you want less of?

--What was your biggest writing problem?

2.  Motivation

Yes, one could argue that this could come first, but I maintain, as mentioned above, that when you're a writer, writing is the starting point of everything.  

--What inspired you?

--What motivated you to plant your butt in the chair and write?

--What de-motivated you?

--What got in the way of your writing?

--What is your biggest issue in finding time to write?

--What time of day were you most inspired?

--What books inspired you?

--What blogs inspired you?

--What magazines inspired you?

--What other creative pursuits inspired you?

3.  Marketing

I know, ick, but if you want your work to go out in the world, you've got to consider it.

--How did you market your work in 2013?

--What were your most successful channels?

--How many times did you submit your work in 2013? Or, how many pieces did you publish yourself?

--Which social media outlet did you rock?

--Did you blog or maintain your website consistently?

--What did you learn about yourself and your writing through marketing?

--Do you have a mailing list?  Did you grow it this year?

--How did your off-line marketing efforts go?

--Did you get media publicity this year? In what venues?

--What areas of marketing did you most enjoy?

Okay, there you have it--30 questions to answer about 2013.  I'll be back on Thursday with thoughts to ponder for 2014.  In the meantime, would you care to comment?  What was your biggest writing accomplishment in 2013? 

Image by eliazar.

Three Powerful Words for an Amazing New Year

It's a little bit of a thing to come up with words for the year.  Christine Kane chooses one word to live by.  Chris Brogan chooses three.  And since I'm a bit of a lush, and always seem to want more, I go along with Chris and opt to choose three.

Last year I chose the words radical, fierce, and profound for my words.  (And in that post I also discussed our society's penchant for using words in groups of three, check it out, this little trick is something writers need to remember.) Note_desk_paper_237717_l

This year, in an email to his list, Chris added a new twist. (Actually, he's probably always done it this way and I just never got it before. Sometimes it takes me awhile.) Make your three words actionable, then every day make a list with a single task that will move you forward a bit with each word.  I love this idea.  It takes a theoretical concept that is easy to forget and cements it into the daily world.

Because I'm going to be putting these words into action, I thought a lot about which words I would choose.  Here's what I came up with:

  • Creativity
  • Faith
  • Inquiry

Let me dig a bit deeper into each word and how I perceive its meaning.


Yeah, I know.  Duh.  We're writers.  Writers write.  And writing is creative.  So of course its going to be one of my words.  But I mean it in both a broader and a more specific way.  Let me explain.  Next year, I want to spend more time relaxing through intentionally creating and less time relaxing through unintentional activities.  Like when I need a mental break and spend an hour mindlessly surfing the internet.  Next year, I want to remember to step away from the computer and doodle.  Or paint. Or knit.  All activities which soothe my soul and actually encourage my writing.  (And I have some ideas for posts that will explain how I use such projects to spark writing ideas.) That's what I mean by the broader way. 

Here's what I mean by being creative in a specific way: I want to write more.  I know, I already write a lot.  I do.  But I want to write more.  And by that I mean that I want writing to be the thing I spend the most time at, whether that manifests as writing blog posts, writing fiction, book proposals, or ghostwriting, I want it to take up the bulk of my days.  This year I've gone a bit astray, spending more time focusing on my business and marketing than I would like.  Yes, its necessary to a certain extent.  I've just let it dominate and I need to pull things back around.

How will I make creativity a part of each day? Most importantly, by putting writing first.  That means getting up and going to the page, be that page my journal or my work in progress.  And it also means getting my hands engaged in some kind of art or craft project daily (even something as simple as doodling for five minutes), or nearly daily, and seeing what happens. 


Yes, this implies faith in God, which is important to me, but it is also bigger than that.  I want to go forth into the new year with full and complete faith in myself, in my abilities, in my career and my ideas.  I want to have faith in the ongoing evolution that is taking place in the world, faith that 2012 will be an amazing and adventurous year.  I want to remember to have faith in my family, my friends, my church, my community, my country and the world.  I want to have faith in my ability to go deep within and bring the riches I find there to the world.

How will faith manifest in my life on a daily basis?  Through prayer and meditation, for starters.  It's such a cliche, but there's no other way to access those inner treasures through getting still and listening.  And then spending some time asking for what you want.  (In my world, meditation=listening, prayer=asking, probably the order should be reversed.) I also like using affirmations, though my viewpoint has changed a bit on that recently.  I don't like using the specific ones (I am now financially free) as I like what I call helper affirmations (I can do all things through Christ, this pattern in me that strengthens me) or questions (how does it get any better than this? see next section).


Lately, I find myself questioning everything.  We have so much information thrown at us and it's easy to nod your head and agree with the party line.  For instance, the recommendation to meditate is something that we hear all the time.  But does it really work for you?  I've pondered that and realized that it does work for me, in the scrappy-ass way I do it, which is why I discussed it above.  But maybe it truly doesn't ring your bell.  So don't do it. The important thing is to inquire about everything.  Recently Chris Guillebeau wrote a post (and a manifesto) about how he didn't agree with the common advice to seek balance.  He says if you're truly intent on a goal, you ought to go for it full out.  I was thrilled to see him poke holes in the sacred cow of balance.   He had the guts to question it, which caused me to, also. And I concluded that, at least for me, he was wrong.  Or more to the point, I didn't agree with him.

I've also had a great deal of success using questions as affirmations, which is a form of questioning the universe.  I learned this after reading a book written by the guys who do Access Consciousness.  I'm by no means an expert in this modality, but I've found that their simple tools are really quite magical.  Ask yourself: how does it get any better than this?  Or: what would it take for X to happen? Or: what's right about this situation? Or: what am I not seeing here? Then the universe (or God if your prefer) responds, most often in interesting and unexpected ways. 

The way I will put this into action in my daily life is twofold.  First, simply by remembering to respond to life events with the above questions.  And second, to remember to dig deeper and ask questions.  If someone recommends something, I'll stop and think about it instead of readily agreeing just because its the party line.  The thought occurs that another question that will work well this year, is the simple one from Byron Katie: Is is true?

Well, Gee-zus, I didn't mean to run on quite so long. So, tell me: what are your three words for 2012?  How will you put them into action?

*And remember, no matter what your three chosen words are for 2012, if writing is among your goals you might want to look into my Make Money Writing class which begins in January.


Photo by lupoianfla.

'Fess Up and Rise Up

Do you want to write a best-selling novel?  C'mon now, tell the truth.  Or perhaps it is a memoir you have your heart set on penning.  How about a collection of short-stories, articles for national magazines, a blog entry for the Huffington Post?

Or maybe its a different kind of creativity you have your heart set on.  Maybe you want to paint.  Or knit.  Or tat.  Or climb mountains, or go spelunking (nobody will ever, as long as I draw breath on this planet, convince me to contort myself into a cave, but you can go without me).


Whatever it is you want to do, confess it now. I'll wait for a minute.

Did you have a hard time admitting your desires?

I thought so.  Many of us do.  I've pondered this a lot and come up with the following reasons why this is so:

  • Our desires and goals feel precious and fragile, as if they will dissolve with one harsh word or raised eyebrow.
  • Life and work are supposed to be hard, dammit.  What's all this balderdash about desires?
  • If you have a desire/goal, and you tell someone about it, and then you fail (or even just take awhile to accomplish it) people will give you those I knew you couldn't do it looks.
  • If you have a desire/goal, and you succeed at it, then that will mean, oh God, change.  Life will be different.  Yikes!
  • It's sort of embarrassing to want more.  Because, shouldn't we just be satisfied with the status quo?

I'm sure you can come up with your very own reason not to admit what you want.  But right here, right now, I'll give you one excellent reason why you should:

Because if you don't honor your desires, you'll shrivel up and die, at least on the inside.

Since I do not want this to happen to you, I'm declaring 2011 the Year of 'Fessing Up and Rising Up.  Yes, when I'm not busy being fierce, radical, and profound (you yourself may choose your own words) I plan to keep active by working hard on achieving my own goals.  And you should, too. But in order to do that, first we have to confess what they are.

You know that words have power.  Spoken words have even greater power.  And written words, to my mind, have the most power of all. Once you speak or write your desire, a natural sort of rising up begins to occur.  So join with me now in welcoming the Year of 'Fessing Up and Rising Up by confessing your desires.

You can start in the comments, if you would like.  But if that is a bit too public for you, grab your journal and start writing.

Oh, and by the way, if you need help gaining clarity around your desires and how to achieve them consider booking a Get Your Writing in Gear session.  (And remember, even if you really want to sculpt or create a beautiful garden, the sessions will work for you, too.)  They are on special through January 15th.