2016 was complicated: I had a 1-year old running around, I lost my writing mojo, I got frustrated with the industry. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and quit. And I suppose you could say I did that. From July until November 1, I did exactly that. I stopped writing, I stopped marketing, I stopped everything. But then my husband said something to me: "What's your definition of success?" I took it a step further and asked myself if my definition had to be the same as everyone else's?
So on November 1st, I began my sixth year of NaNoWriMo, and added 35,000 words to my current work-in-progress, True Love's Revenge. It was the first time in three years that I hadn't won, but I sure had more words at the end of the month than I did at the beginning. For me, NaNoWriMo this year wasn't so much about winning as it was about getting myself back into the habit of writing, finding my muse, and trying to work around a busy and precocious toddler.
With a brand new year at my feet, I feel like I have a renewed energy and purpose. What is my definition of success? Writing, Entertaining, Publishing MY books on MY terms. Writing is my creative outlet - it's something I need to do because the stories and characters that live in my head won't leave me alone otherwise. So I craft these stories and they entertain the masses. I'm grateful that people enjoy my stories and I hope with time, more people will get to enjoy them. So I've lowered my expectations - no, not lowered - I've adjusted my expectations. I'm not in this to get rich (though that would be nice!) or to be famous - I'm in this to create stories that resonate with my fans and to entertain them - to hopefully give them an escape for a time. I think that's a pretty good goal.
So with all that in mind, I've been thinking over the past month about what I would like to accomplish in 2017. So, here in no particular order, are some goals I have for the year:
1. Publish. I have two projects that are on the front burner. True Love's Revenge and the romantic suspense trilogy Harper's Fear, Josh's Will and Hannah's Truth. I have a tentative plan to get the first out by the beginning of the summer and the trilogy out toward the end of the year...but I'm not going to push it. They both need some serious work and I want to put out the best story I can, so I'm not going to rush.
2. Read and Review. 2016 brought a new challenge as I signed up to be a reviewer for Every Free Chance Reader. I still review Indie books on my site and I do blog tour reviews, as well. But I like to read all books and reviewing is important there too. For the authors and the readers. So I want to read, read, read this year.
3. Write More in Free Time. Now that Scrivener is available for iPhones and iPads, I can take my writing everywhere! I used to use EverNote and Scrivener, and toward the end of a novel it got bulky. I had to make sure I had everything in both places. Now I just have to make sure I have it in ONE place, which is a relief. I have access to my entire novel at the tip of my fingers. So now while I'm waiting on the littles during ballet, tae-kwon-do and whatever else they're up to, I can be writing.
4. Work on Mary's Stories. I've gotten away from Mary in the past year and if I'm ever going to write her story, I need to get back to writing her life.
5. Publish Littles' Work. My littles write great stories and they've been begging me to publish their work. It's not ready for Amazon or Apple or Barnes & Noble, but those free-reader sites would be perfect.
6. Marketing. It's pretty far down on my list because I don't have the skills. It takes up valuable writing time and since I don't really know what I'm doing, it takes far longer than it probably should. So I'll sign up for book signings, I'll call the local paper and see if I can get a story in there, maybe even call the local morning show and see if I can get on there too. And I'll keep up with my favorite social media stuff...as long as it doesn't interfere with my writing.
7. Participate in Writing Groups. I'm a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and through them I've found a couple of groups that I've joined but stayed on the outer circle. It's a confidence issue, plus a time issue - but I know these groups will be useful - for networking, knowledge and friendship - so I plan to make more of an effort to participate.
8. Newsletter. I have one and I plan to send one out every month this year. I'd also like to grow the newsletter, so that'll require some research. I want to be able to reward my newsletter readers and give them special treats like bonus chapters, deleted scenes, gifts, and more.
9. Contests. I've gotten away from entering the free writing contests and I really want to get back into those this year. The First Line is my favorite and I plan to do that one this year. The first story is due Feb 1st - 3000 words or less. And all the stories submitted have the same first line. I also like Writer's Digest Your Story Competition. Sometimes they utilize a first line and sometimes its a picture.
I think that about covers it. I'm feeling positive about my goals and I think with a new frame of mind, adjusted expectations and the goals written down in black and white, it's going to be a great and productive year.
What are your plans for the new year?
Happy New Year!