Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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January 2, 2017

What word will guide your writing life in 2017?

The start of a new year has most of us reflecting on the previous year and making grand plans for the coming year. I don’t make resolutions. To me, they’re empty wishes. I set goals. And each year, I think of one word that will guide me through the year and keep me on track to meet those goals. I post that word in my office so I can see it every day. It’s a great reminder for those times when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

I once again challenged the WITS gals to think of their guiding word for 2017 –

My word for 2017: Enjoy
Last year was a mixed bag for me – on the writing side, there was a lot to celebrate; on the personal side, less so. Those “less so” life events left a murky film on pretty much everything I achieved. As I started thinking about 2017, one thing came to the surface: My debut releases on May 2. That’s a huge achievement. With that in mind, my word for 2017 is Enjoy. I will shake that murky film and I will enjoy my debut author year.


My word for 2017: Trust
2016 was a challenging one for me in my writing career. Finishing a contract, trying, and failing (so far) to break into New York in a new genre (women's fiction) with three different proposals had me questioning everything:  my ability to tell a story, my self worth, my sanity.

I sat myself down about a month ago and had a talk. I decided that:

  • I am a good writer - I didn't start this gig to be a bestseller. I started it to get the stories out of my head and on paper in an engaging, true way. I'm improving at this, every book.
  • I love writing - I'll do it whether I have a contract or not
  • If I'm this 'fluffy', writing, what would I look like if I quit? (sorry for the visual)

Bottom line, I'm trusting what I know inside, not the outside yardstick of success. If I do, hopefully that yardstick will come into play again. If not? I'm having fun, playing with my characters. And if that's all there is, that was enough to start me on this journey to begin with . . . so it'll be enough, now.


My word for 2017: Focus

focusI made some huge decisions about my writing and my writing career in 2016. Decisions that have my writing time tightly scheduled with deadlines and commitments—to myself and to others. To learn what I need to learn and to produce at all levels, I have to maintain my focus. That doesn't mean that I'm not having fun, but there can be no "bird walking" this year.

Focus will help me target what needs to be improved. Focus will allow me to look to far-away goals, like binoculars focus on distant objects. Years of work are coming together in 2017, and just as a photographer adjusts and tightens the focus of a lens, focus will give me the sharp edges I'll need to attain my goals for this year. 

This is new for me, devoting so much of my day, and days, to writing, but it's exciting. It's amazing what a positive force attitude is. It's sustained me for the past six months. Adding focus, as the marketing pieces kick in, geared to summer releases, will keep me on track. Laser focused Fae. At least, that's the plan. 


My word for 2017: Becoming


After almost a decade of trying, I finally won NaNoWriMo this year. When I pulled this year's experience apart to see what was different, I realized that I am the difference.

I stopped worrying about silly things and got out of my own way. We all have worries, and we cannot escape all of them, but some of what writers worry about is just silly creative-kryptonite type of stuff:

Will I ever get this book done?
Will it be any good?

Will this book ever sell?

I stopped worrying about all that and just wallowed in the fun of putting words on the page. I sped through word sprints with my pals. I joined write-ins with my fellow WriMos. I immersed in my story and just worried about the right now.

I not only allowed myself to become the writer all my pals here at WITS believe me to be, I allowed myself to believe it too. I plan to keep on becoming that in-the-moment writing powerhouse through the coming year. I dig that chick...she makes my soul sing.


Okay WITS readers, what say you … we want to hear your word for 2017 in the comments.

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About Orly

Orly-Ivy.jpgOrly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world, where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a member of the Tall Poppy Writersdistance-homeShe is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.

Orly’s debut, The Distance Home, will be released by Forge on May 2, 2017.

You can find her on Twitter at @OrlyKonig, on Facebook at OrlyKonigAuthor, or on her website, www.orlykonig.com.

124 comments on “What word will guide your writing life in 2017?”

  1. Thank you for this post! I've struggled with confidence most of my life but this year, after a year of querying without results, I was losing it even more. So my personal word for 2017 is happiness but in writing it will be confidence. Both of those words I can have with me despite what is happening around me.

    1. "Confidence" is a great one, Jessica. Believe in yourself, your writing, and in your decisions. Believing in my decisions is what kept me going when I was querying. Here's to a confident and happy 2017!

    2. Happiness with confidence. Sounds like a great plan, Jessica. Keep on querying. You just have to find the right fit.

  2. Great post (as usual). The common theme, it seems to me, comes back to believing in your gifts as a writer and using it to full advantage in order to give the gift back to other people in stories.

    1. And we don't even share our words before we post them. So, what's your word, lrtrovi?

  3. Flexible. I have a plan but built into it are detours in case my agent sells a series she's shopping. When she does, then I'll have to shift gears based on new deadlines. But until that point, I have a plan for what I'm writing in what order and when. My hubby and I also plan to sell our farm and move closer to town this year, so being able to flex my plan will be imperative this year!

    1. Good one, Betty!
      Happy New Year and I'll be waiting for the good news on the series and the sale. 🙂

      1. Ah, Betty. Flexible is one of my "other" words. (See this Wednesday's post for my seven other words!) Good luck with your writing and the move!

  4. These are fabulous goals: Enjoy! Trust! Focus! Becoming! The word that resonates the most for me for this new year is FOCUS. I've gotten to the Joy part, and do trust myself now through all my writing and through the bravery of self-publishing, and all the great readers who believe in me despite the fact that I'm not with a 'big' publisher. Through my writing classes, I see others BECOME as they discover they're own writing voice, which deepens my own confidence too. So now, I need to Focus on finishing my third book (not even half way there) and celebrate that in four months I'll publish my first illustrated children's book. Am I making a lot of money? Noooooo. Does this take away from my Joy or Trust or Confidence. Not one iota. We are writers, hear us roar. Good luck to all of you, and thanks for sharing your goals.

    1. I love Focus as a guiding word.
      Congratulations on the children's book! That's awesome (I have a huge soft spot for kid lit!!).

      1. Truth be told, I wrote the text when my son was in my womb. He's now, gulp, 34! But I found an illustrator who makes Bessie and Burt (the birds in my story) come alive. So excited!!! And this is an example of ....never give up.

    2. I can tell that 2017 is going to be great for you, roughwighting! Much success with your book release.

  5. Great post. This is something I've done every year for the last several years. My word for this year is REJUVENATE. I had a busy and stressful 2016 and this word works for several areas of my life, including my writing career. 🙂

    1. I'm with Orly. Awesome word. I think throughout the year we all need time to rejuvenate. Thanks for reminding us!

  6. My word this year is presence. I want to be intentionally present wherever I am. I don't want to miss a moment of my daughter's senior year or my new book (best book!) coming out in June or any of the mundane, regular days I'm blessed with. I want to notice the details, appreciate other people, enjoy the dailyness of my days. I foster dogs and get to be part of so many journeys (canine and human)- it's a privilege and I want to pay attention to the stories and characters and get them correct in my writing. I want to stop rushing through now to get to what's next in my writing and in my life. So presence is my word.

    1. The present is all we have. Cara, thanks for reminding us to stay present, pay attention, and live life to the fullest.

  7. Love this idea! The first does word that popped up for me is Sails. The imagery of sails against the sky always trumps whatever may be holding me down. The sight warms me and sets me free to let the scenes in my mind develop and race with the wind!

      1. Charli, I doubt that you know my husband used to crew on a racing sailboat. I know the joy of slicing through the water with sea spray cresting over the bow. What a great word. Thank you.

    1. Though my first response was to relax was kick back and relax, I quickly jumped to relaxing about publishing, selling--all of the craziness of the business side of writing. Thank you for thank, Terry.

  8. Ah, Orly, Laura, Jenny & Fae, once again, you have challenged me to think about my writing in a new way. Thank you! In fact, I almost said "challenge" as my guiding word for 2017, but I think I'll pick "embrace" instead. I'm writing in a new genre, and I will embrace the challenge and whatever comes of it, just as I embrace all of you in my writing community who remind me that I'm not alone on this roller coaster, screaming for joy one minute and feeling my stomach plummet the next.

    1. Ah, but Holly, if your stomach didn't plummet, you couldn't scream for joy! Yep, I've a roller coaster chaser. Love those old school wooden ones.

  9. You're absolutely right about a word for the year being far more effective than resolutions, and have used some of the ones you listed. Last year's word was Earn--both money and readers, and there was a definite improvement on both fronts. This year's word is Acceptance, not only to accept certain kinds of limitations and realities, but to accept the fact that I'm an author, not just a book-writing machine. And another important sense of Acceptance is to be accepted, so I will put things in place to make that possible. Good luck to everyone in 2017.

  10. Thank you, Orly, for lighting up the past couple of New Years with this. I feel like resolutions are cement overshoes, just waiting to pull me down.

    But one word? Oh, hell yeah, I can do that!

    1. Ditto what Laura said, Orly. A list of resolutions makes me kinda twitchy. But an overarching word or theme for the year? I'm totally on board with that.

      To all my other WITS gals, and our readers:


    2. Yep, Laura, I've never been a fan of New Year's resolutions. Maybe it's a nanosecond attention span for "those" kind of things. One word, very doable.

  11. My word for the year is COMPLETION. i have so many proects (writing and otherwise) that are somewhere between start and finish. Completing something gives me confidence and satisfaction but so often I fail to finish one thing before starting another or finding excuses for not pushing through to the end. So this year will hopefully include both completing and beginning.

    1. Completing projects is so important on many fronts, Sandy. Besides that rush of knowing you CAN finish a book, then you can complete queries and send them out!

  12. Release: I need to complete my book and submit it to an editor who loves it, and an agent who wants to see it. But so far, I'm reading tons of books and not writing. Time to release it to the world!

    1. Been there, done that, Catherine. I hope you're prepared for the ride you're embarking on, so fasten that seatbelt!

  13. I'm also going with FOCUS. As a photographer, as well as a writer, the word appeals to me in two ways - first, with all the other clutter around, a photographer has to judge what's important and hone in on that, letting the distractions fall away. And
    a good photographer knows that you may need to put in time - to frame the shot, to wait for just the right light, to try different ways of approaching your subject. I feel as though I've picked the right subject, now I need to take the time to make it right. Here's to focusing - and finishing my novel this year.

  14. Great inspiration! My word for 2017 is MORE - more of God, more healthy priorities, and less room for junk - mentally, physically, and emotionally.

  15. My word for the year is clarity. I wrote a book that I loved and have offers from agents to read, but after attending workshops and reading craft books, I realize that the protagonist needs a stronger conflict of her own. In developing that plot, though, I'm losing the original story. So I need to talk to other writers who can help me clarify the different conflicts that are circling over my head. Is this one book or two different ones? Who knows? I need to see a bit more clearly before I can proceed.

    1. Good critique partners and beta readers can definitely help you gain and keep that clarity. You can do it!!

    2. Congratulations on stepping back from your work and seeing how it can be improved. Orly is absolutely right about good critique partners.

  16. This was a great post (and a great idea!). And these comments are providing even more inspiration. I am also leaning towards "Enjoy," to just enjoy the writing process. I first wanted to be a writer so many years ago because of how much I loved writing and creating stories - the worlds, the characters, the plots. My writing flows most when I tap back into that enjoyment.

    1. We get so wrapped up with craft and marketing and becoming perfect that we forget sometimes why we actually got into this. Cheers to enjoying! 🙂

    2. You're absolutely right, Patricia. As with anything, if we enjoy what we do, we do it so much better. Thanks for reminding us!

  17. Someone with great success in this business (70 published successful books) told me this is going to be my breakout year. I so hope he is right. So, my word is success!

  18. Wow...when you challenged us to "a" word, that is hard. I think I need "believe." I am a positive person, outgoing, strong, and confident. I take on the world and run forward through the thick of it. So, this word is unusual for me. But, needed. I really have doubt about my talent because I am stepping outside the box of what is popular or pursued in literature. I am writing against the grain. I saw a gap and truly believe it is what readers are craving. But when you have something not really out there, you can feel isolated. I really believe in my vision, but feel pressure to change and conform to get published. What I write It isn't life altering, just different. As a designer, I have always seen ahead, what was coming in color, shapes, etc. I am putting that gift in writing. I believe that an agent, publisher, and writing world will soon catch up to me! Ha! How's that for Believing?? I want to hold onto this word and stop feeling failed. Thanks for reminding me and setting it in motion. The word goes on my mirror today!

    1. Hang in there, when I started writing science fiction romance, the sub-genre didn't exist. I was told to either write science fiction "with a little sex" or write romance set in the future. Ummm...not my stories. I just kept writing what I wanted to.

  19. "Do." I'm great at the thinking. The planning. The wishing. This year, I want to do — turn my ideas, plans, wishes into real things. In my case, that means books others will enjoy.

    1. Okay, Mary, I'm going to share what Laura Drake tells me when I haven't been focused on my writing: "The book won't write itself. Keep your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard." Worked for me! Have fun as you DO.

  20. Accelerate - Somewhere in the vicinity of Completion and Focus. While I enjoy the planing, outlining, writing, revising, etc I find it takes much longer than it "should" to complete a novel. Worse, I doubt the extra time automatically means higher quality - and certainly not higher quantity. So, in 2017, I want to improve my ability to plan fast, writer faster, revise quickly, and get the book(s) out soonest.

    1. That damned 'should' work, Robert. Be sure you're not judging your process by anyone else's. Down that road there be dragons.

      Best to you in your quest!

  21. I have given this a lot of thought and my word for 2017 is Commitment. I have a ton of projects that are mostly written during NaNoWriMo. I have re-read most of them, seeing where I am with them. Some of them are closer to being finished than others, some went off the rails in terms of vision, but none of them are completed. I have been told that I am a good writer, but how will I ever know unless I finish a book? I have no problem making commitments to anything else in my life: a job, a friendship or a fitness routine.

    That is my goal for 2017. To finish at least one project the way I envisioned it in the beginning, get it out there and be the writer I know I can be.

    1. Brilliant! Do you have critique partners or writing buddies that can help you stay on target with that? It helps. 🙂

  22. Yes, Orly, I have a fabulous critique partner who is a great sounding board when we get together. She knows me better than I know myself, sometimes. We push each other to bring out the best in our writing.

  23. Happy New Year to BRILLIANT (and Lovey) Laura, Jenny, Orly, and Fae!

    My word for 2017 is MOMENTUM. I'm thinking of more than mass in motion.

    Momentum pursing my goals -- moving in the right direction.

    Velocity will be variable, working around 20 Immersion classes, presenting at several conferences, and making three across-the-world teaching trips.

    I will not stall. I will keep my goals active and keep my momentum fueled.

    Thanks for a great blog!

    1. Holy poop, Margie, you already make the little engine that could look like a solvenly, soap opera addicted housewife! Maybe shift the tracks a little (God, the mixed metaphors!) and work smart? You know what I'm talking about!

      Yes, I'm a harpie.

      When I have more coffee, I'll count all the metaphors there. Hey, give me a break, it's 3:52 here.

  24. FINISH. I need to finish my WIP. My second word ('cause I really needed two this year) is NO. I'm learning to say no to everything that pulls me away from writing. Because if I don't say NO, I'll never FINISH.

  25. Wow, what a great, thoughtful, post! At first I thought of "more" -- I liked the work I did in 2016, but felt like I had not done enough. Then i decided on "contact." I have people I need to pay more attention to, a life away from the keyboard that needs some sprucing up. And "contact" includes responding to more quickly to readers. Thanks to all of you for sharing.

  26. Wow, y'all have officially blown me away with your toughtful, powerful words. I recommend we do what Orly does - put our word on the wall, so we can remind ourselves of our driving force this year.

    May this year be your best EVAH!

  27. My best to all of you as you seek to live out the promises inherent in your own personal word of the year. Mine? After some thought, perhaps it is Delve. Weird one, I know. I want to delve deep under the surface, in storytelling, character, self-reflection, faith, relationships, love, and grace. Deeper, more all-in, getting to the root of it all.

  28. Joy...as in "enjoy" and "rejoice."

    I'm not chasing this dream because I want more guilt, anxiety or sleeplessness in my life. It's for the joy of it. And (and that's a BIG "and"), I want to celebrate more. Not just at "the end." At each milestone. At each juicy line my fingers punch out. At each compliment or criticism I get.

    My wish is for all of us to have more JOY in 2017!

    1. You and me both, Deb. In the same boat with a 'Bama fan...who will survive?

      Sounds like a movie tag line! Happy New Year, my dear, misguided friend!

  29. I didn't mean to copy Jenny (whom I won NaNoWriMo with — woo-hoo!), but the word I'd chosen was Focused. (Guess it could just be Focus...) I'm going to go with this being those great minds thinking alike!

    But 2016 felt rather unfocused for me, and toward the end of the year I started taking stock and realizing I needed to choose a few important goals and home in on those. So I'm taking a more targeted approach in 2017, and hopefully a focused perspective will pay off.

    Thanks for the encouragement! Loved hearing your words.

  30. Well I've written more in 2016 than I have in any other year. I joined a critique group and they kept me on track (bless their souls and their texting fingers and their sprinting challenges). I finished my first novel (109711 word count) that I've been working on for three years AND started the sequel during nanowrimo getting 50k as well. As far as personal achievements I turned in my PhD dissertation chapters on schedule, the full first draft in DEC. So I am starting off 2017 with doing revisions, both for my book AND my dissertation. So my word this year will be 'GLORY'. An old fashioned word but one I will be shouting to all that will listen if I am able to stay on schedule and finish these two projects. That word always reminds me of the movie Glory based on the book One Gallant Rush. I am charging into battle to complete my PhD studies by May 2017 and after my beta copy goes out in mid Jan to my 3 readers I will have some idea of when I can start looking at publishing. Meanwhile, I continue to write on book 2 and plan to write 50k in nanowrimo for book 3. Life is moving forward. .

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