December 17th, 2014

Gifts That Matter: What Writers Need Most This Christmas

Angela AckermanAngela Ackerman

It’s that time of year…bustling crowds in malls, shoppers lining up in endless droves, bulging virtual carts at Amazon and other e-retailers…all in pursuit of the perfect gift. We make a list, check it twice, and the jump into the holiday fray, looking forward to the joy our thoughtful presents will bring.

But in all this rushing and wrapping, inevitably we forget one very important person on our Christmas list: ourselves.

Have you thought about what to give yourself this Christmas?

I’m sure you’ve hinted to loved ones about your wish list. Likely an array of writerly things, such as books (we love our books!), software or hardware to help your write, and maybe a few other fun, bookish things. But there is one gift only you can give yourself, an offering that will paint the future and help set your steps in the New Year: A RENEWAL OF YOUR PURPOSE.

As one year wraps up with a scenic sleigh ride into Christmas, we are presented with a great opportunity to take stock and reflect on the strides we made toward our writing goals. This window between one year and the next is the perfect time to recommit to our writerly purpose, and lay the foundation for a fantastic and productive future. All it takes is 3 easy steps!

1) Reflect

Take a moment to look at this passing year, and what you accomplished. Maybe you wrote a new novel, or even polished and published one. Perhaps you worked on building your platform, or researched the industry in order to feel more confident about submitting to agents. Likely there are also a few things you hoped to do, but ran out of time. That’s how it goes.

2) Commit

With each new year, the slate wipes clean. Now is a great time to make a list of new goals for yourself, goals that are realistic and achievable. Write down what you want to concentrate on during this next year, areas in which to improve. Maybe you wish to further your craft, strengthen your marketing skills, build your platform or get organized. Formalize your commitment by making a simple business plan, one you can print out and keep by your computer. Each day, look at it and ask yourself: is what I am doing right now helping me achieve my goals?

3) Act

Success happens when we follow through, so stick to your plan. Write up a storm and embrace learning, because the more we learn, the more we grow! Each of you will have different areas of focus in the coming year, but here are a few helpful starting points to consider that may help.

Hone Your Craft:

Flex Your Marketing Muscle:

Build Your Platform:

Investigate the Industry:

Get Organized:

  • Make time for words. Create a writing routine and stick to it. To keep your butt in the chair, try the Tomato Timer
  • Make your Business Plan, even if you don’t think you need one quite yet. By following a plan, you will hit more milestones because your writing goals are clearly laid out
  • Give How To Make a Living as a Writer a read. Bestselling Author James Scott Bell has some great tips, especially for writers interested in Self Publishing

YOUR TURN: What do you hope to achieve this coming year? Do you have a plan of action to get there? Let me know in the comments!

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About Angela

Emotion ThesaurusAngela Ackerman is a writing coach and co-author of three bestselling resources, The Emotion Thesaurus: a Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, The Positive Trait Thesaurus: a Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes andThe Negative Trait Thesaurus: a Writer’s Guide to Character FlawsA proud indie author, her books are sourced by US universities and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors and psychologists around the world. Angela can be found at the popular site, Writers Helping Writers, which specializes in building innovative tools for writers that cannot be found elsewhere.

37 comments to Gifts That Matter: What Writers Need Most This Christmas

  • Excellent reminder, Angela! Love the resources too – going to check a couple out in a minute, but I have two more to add!

    Elizabeth Craig – http://elizabethspanncraig.com/ If you sign up for her posts, once a week you’ll get her ‘Twitterific Writer’s Links’ which is a compilation of the great blogs from Twitter that week. A treasure-trove

    The Passive Voice – http://www.thepassivevoice.com/ The best resource I’ve found for keeping up with the changes in publishing (caveat: Self-pub slant)

    Thanks for blogging with us – Happy Holidays!

    • angelaackerman1

      Laura, those are great adds. It really is such an awesome time to be a writer because there are so many terrific blogs out there to help us along the way. 🙂

  • Love the Emotion Thesaurus. Have recommended to many writer friends. Didn’t know about the Negative/Positive Traits books. Just ordered them from Amazon!

  • Thanks for the shout out! 🙂

    Oh yes, I have quite a plan of attack for this upcoming year. It’s all laid out on a very scary spreadsheet. LOL! Wish me luck!

    • angelaackerman1

      Good for you, Jami! I know my productivity and focus has gone through the roof since starting to follow a business plan each year. It helps me take advantage of the right opportunities as they come along while not losing sight of my goals. 🙂

    • A spreadsheet, Jami?? You’re scaring me. I’m more of a legal pad kind of girl, but I have many goals to achieve this year, so perhaps I will upgrade to a spreadsheet. *gulp*

  • Thank you for sharing all these resources! The Emotion Thesaurus has been an amazing asset- thank you!

    • angelaackerman1

      Alanna, happy to help! If you have some other good ones, leave them in the comments. I wished I could have added more, but I know people are tight on time right now, and a long post is just something no one has time to slog through. 🙂 And thanks for the kind words about the ET – very glad you have found it to be such a help!

  • Bookmarked! Thank you. And thanks Laura for the other two resources.

  • Fae Rowen

    Thanks for the reminder to give ourselves this gift, Angela, You make it easy with all the links! The idea of a business plan-early on-makes a lot of sense. Thanks again for a gem of a post!

    • angelaackerman1

      You bet, Fae! Making a plan really invigorates our purpose and helps us feel like we are accomplishing our goals. Happy planning!

  • I’m a little overwhelmed by marketing and approahing my writing as a business. This is a great post, Angela. Thank you!

  • carrienichols

    Thank you, Angela! A wonderful post. Everyone keeps telling me I’m “close” and my hope for 2015 is to get even closer or actually over the line. 🙂

    I’m also looking forward to your setting book so I’m hoping it will be out in 2015.

    • angelaackerman1

      That’s great feedback to get, and it means you are close! That’s exciting, so hurray! I’m glad you’re looking forward to the Setting Thesaurus…Becca and I are having a lot of fun researching settings for it. So much so that it has spilled into two books, lol. We’re aiming for late Spring for both. Happy writing!

  • Thanks for sharing this – it’s bookmarked! I really appreciate the resources and the thoughts here. I finally made myself monthly goals last year and it made a huge difference on my progress.

    • angelaackerman1

      That is great to hear! Goals really do help us stay on track, and looking back at what we accomplished can stave off doubt or frustration when we feel like something isn’t happening for us “quick enough”. It is good to have a concrete reminder we are making strides forward, and every small thing helps get us to the finish line!

  • Orly Konig-Lopez

    What timing, Angela!
    Yesterday I wrote out my 2015 goals. Got to your number 2 above and spit coffee all over my computer (and 2015 goals). I may have missed the “realistic” mark by a few bullet points. Time to reflect and refocus. Thanks for another great post!

    • angelaackerman1

      Hurray–so glad you are already making a plan for next year! I think it’s always good to have “wide-angle” goals, but it’s very important to make sure whatever our goals are, they are achievable because they are within our control. So for example, I could have a wide angle goal of finding an agent, but it isn’t a true achievable goal because while I can research my brains out, tighten my query to the point that most submissions end in a request for more…I can’t make an agent choose my book and myself to represent. Or, I could get offers but after discussion, none feel like the right fit. Getting an agent is something I can hope to achieve, but I can’t feel like I have failed if it doesn’t happen, make sense? Better to have an achievable goal like “submit x queries by December if needed,” or “Create a query list and send out queries to everyone on it by X date.” These are totally achievable and within my control. 🙂

  • p.s. Angela, that Tomato Timer is awesome dipped in glitter. I’m experiencing mad love for it already. Bless you!

    • angelaackerman1

      I love the timer, also known as the Pomodoro Timer! That tic-tic-tic keeps me on task (and off twitter, haha!)

  • Angela, thank you so much for the mention – I am honored to be included. Happy holidays!

  • I already wrote out my 2015 professional goals on a little computer-screen sticky note, but choosing a conference or workshop to attend next year is the item I need to sort out. I’ve gained so much from such events, so I want to continue my writing education this way. But which one to go to? Which one???!!!

    Thanks, Angela! Great resources here.

  • Great post, Angela. I’ve already made my business plan for 2015, so I’ll be ready to dig in when next year comes around. And I’ve read some of the books you’ve recommended and a few others are on my wishlist.

    Happy holidays!

  • Terrific post with great tips! My focus will be the edits to my MG W-I-P and preparing for the book launch of my children’s picture book. I don’t have release date, but it’s never too early to plan. Merry Christmas!

    • angelaackerman1

      Congrats on your Children’s PB release! That’s wonderful–you must be so excited! You are right, it’s always good to start planning early. If you like, I have handouts on how to launch a book or run an online book event as well as ones for building platform and using social media effectively here: http://writershelpingwriters.net/writing-tools/

      Congrats again!

  • Rita Bailey

    Thanks for this blog. What a wonderful gift for all writers. Whenever I read the words BUSINESS PLAN I feel my brain shrivel and shriek “I can’t do that!” But the many links you provide will help me flex my (tiny) muscles and give it a try. Thank you!

    • angelaackerman1

      The first time I wrote one, I felt the same. I tend to live in a state of disorganized chaos, and I thought there was no way I could make one and stick to it. Amazingly I did, and then made the next year’s plan. I’m coming into year 3 and looking forward to planning more goals to hit throughout the year! Good luck–you’ll do great 🙂

  • Tina Death

    Have this book, it is my bible. It’s the only book I take when writing away. Brilliant blog.

  • […] about making a plan yourselves this year! First, take some time for reflection. Then, if you like, here’s a link to the template Becca and I use, and some steps showing how […]