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!
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.
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?
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:
- Read widely, both in your chosen genre and beyond. Study each novel to understand what makes them compelling
- Do your homework by taking webinars in areas you want to improve, attending workshops either in your area or online, and by studying reference books on the craft
- Get involved in a critique group–peer learning is one of the best ways to grow your craft quickly
- Visit blogs known for their strong craft articles, ones like Writers In the Storm, Helping Writers Become Authors and my own Writers Helping Writers
Flex Your Marketing Muscle:
- Once you become an author, you must learn to market and promote. Learn what works (and what doesn’t) by observing other authors in social media. Follow strong marketers like David Gaughran, Joanna Penn and Molly Greene
- Reach out to other authors for Collaborative Marketing opportunities
- Discover how to find your book’s ideal audience
Build Your Platform:
- Follow Kristen Lamb to understand how to best navigate Social Media, learning how to connect genuinely with readers
- Think about who might be influential with your audience and try to connect with them
- Seek out website, blogging and social media help from Jami Gold, and create a strong “home base” to act as your sticking point for author information and book news
- Read Rise of The Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World
Investigate the Industry:
- Subscribe to thought leader Porter Anderson’s Writing on the Ether as well as follow Jane Friedman’s blog.
- Investigate self publishing as an option by reading blogs like A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, and The Book Designer or picking up a copy of The Indie Author Survival Guide
- Join Agent Query and Query Tracker for up to date information on Agents
- 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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Angela 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 Flaws. A 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.