January 1st, 2018

What word will guide your writing life in 2018?

I love the idea of a fresh start.

Woman's silhouette in front of sunrise

There's something so appealing about a new beginning, an uncharted course, a do-over. It's why every year, I make New Year's resolutions and manage to keep many of them.

But for the last few years, I've also followed along with the idea of choosing a single word to steer your course. Our Writers in the Storm team chose single guiding words in 2016 and 2017, and we're ready to go there again. Here are our 2018 words:


My word for 2018: Balance

Last year, in my focus to publish my first book and prepare the next two, my life became directed to one thing: THE BOOK. I spent twelve to twenty hours a day working on revisions. Seven days a week. I didn't take trips with friends like I usually do. I even turned down week-end excursions. I didn't go to movies or out to lunch with "the usual suspects." I ate what was fast and easy. Not only did my body suffer, so did my writing.

For 2018 BALANCE is the word for every day. At least seven hours of sleep, at least two healthy meals, continuing with my exercise regimen—which saved me last year—and writing on a reasonable daily basis, which to me means four to eight hours when I'm not on a trip with friends. This seems like a good plan to publish two (maybe three!) books, get healthier, and enjoy my life. Healthy and happy will be the outcome of balance in my life.


My word for 2018: Focus

My word last year was Becoming and I definitely allowed myself to play on the page, to write to the edges of my abilities, and to learn enough to increase those abilities as much as I was able. But I don't feel like I moved forward on my goals as much as I would have liked. All that learning takes time, and sometimes the work needs to be turned in as "good enough."

"Good enough" is a rough one for us perfectionist writers and the only way to get through it, in my humble opinion, is by setting (and meeting) manageable milestones and goals. I've downloaded Jamie Raintree's Writing and Revision Tracker and vowed to set firm weekly and monthly goals. I'll be depending on my tribe to help keep me focused.


My word for 2018: Forward

For too much of 2017, I felt like my writing career was moving backward or at least standing still. Some of that experience involved circumstances beyond my control, and some was self-inflicted. Regardless, by the fall, I was simply wallowing in my lack of progress.

In 2018, I want to leave those feelings behind, set my goals, and focus on moving forward. While I'd love to leap forward, I've been around the writing life long enough to know that you can't plan the tipping points of success, but you can keep moving in the right direction. This year, no more backwards movement or standing still—and no more wallowing. Instead, it's all about going forward.


My word for 2018: Rebuild

2017 was NOT a banner year for me. Lost my hearing in my left ear to a virus that fried the nerve for balance as well (didn't know that at the time). That led to losing my balance while fly fishing in Oregon in May, stepping in a hole, and snapping both bones in my lower right leg. A boat rescue, a titanium plate, 13 screws, and three months later, I was back on my feet.

Because my best plotting is done on my bicycle, this wreaked havoc with my WIP... and I had a deadline. A tight one. I made it, but about lost my sanity doing it.

In 2018 I'm rebuilding: my health, my bones, my writing process. I'm trying new 'planning' techniques (refuse to call it plotting, for fear my brain will revolt).

July, my first book of a new series comes out — I hope to rebuild sales as well!


Now we want to hear from you! What one word will guide your writing life in 2018?

85 responses to “What word will guide your writing life in 2018?”

  1. Advance is my one word for 2018. Advance my story, my writing skills, my future.

  2. For 2017 my Word was “open”. I resolved to be open to what came my way- so I wrote guests lists, did an I terries, a podcast, made some videos, learned more about marketing. This year, like many of you I am focusing on writing. So I have two words- ‘write” and “right”. I am going to live right- healthy, organized, focused, generous and encouraging and I am going to write. Happy New Year!

    • Julie Glover says:

      I think that makes sense to move from being open to a narrowed focus—sometimes all that experience helps us know how we want to target our future actions. May your year go right indeed!

      (And as a word nerd, the homonym of "write" and "right" really appeals to me!)

  3. Explore. I have been writing memoir stories for years. This is the year to explore another genre.

  4. Martha Willey says:

    I love the idea of a word to focus on. My word this year is Undertow. This is the title of my WIP. I am picking that because my goal is to sell this book. That means I will need to focus, persist,be patient and put myself out there in ways that may be scary.

  5. Terry Odell says:

    I think mine should be Patience. Can't do everything all at once. Either that or Breathe.

    • Julie Glover says:

      Aren't those related? Every time I'm struggling with patience, I have to remind myself to breathe. 🙂

      But yeah, we can't do it all at once, and we do need patience to get through all that's on our plates. Hope you can find peace this year!

    • Laura Drake says:

      I think I've chosen that word in past years, Terry. I still suck at it. You'll be better, I know!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Patience is SO HARD. I think Laura and I both struggle with that. Although she gets antsy-er about it. (I have no idea if antsy is actually a word, but it totally applies here.)

  6. tracybrody says:

    Oh my goodness, Laura. Prayers for recovery for you. I'll have to think of what my *one word would be - I tend to use a lot of them.

  7. For 2018 my word is RETIRE! I’m retiring from a school librarian job to write full-time. My first book, Murder At The Mystery Bay Hotel, has done well, and I’m taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity!

  8. Joy. If I'm not enjoying the writing, then why am I doing it? That's the question I kept asking myself. So last year I changed my approach about mid year and I'm joyfully approaching each writing day to see what I can learn and how I can make my stories better.

    • Julie Glover says:

      Amen, sister! Sometimes we do get so caught up in the word counts, the deadlines, the pressure, the business that we forget to enjoy the writing. May you find great joy in your writing this year!

    • Fae Rowen says:

      So true, Barbara Rae. I, true, am in the process of recovering the joy/can't wait to sit down and write part of this crazy business.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That joy will make your writing shine, and resonate with your readers. Good for you!

  9. M.J.S. says:

    I really like this idea. I am a mess right now but that's being worked on. LOL. So, let's choose "Consistent."

  10. Tari Jewett says:

    "Energy" I'm starting this year determined, excited and with lots of energy that I want to carry through to the end. My first novella is being published in February, and finally letting go and taking that step has given me so much energy and determination that I don't want to let go of.

  11. Eldred Bird says:

    My word would be "Expand" (my readership, not my waistline). I'm going to be moving my self-published series to IngramSpark to increase distribution. I also hope be spinning off a new series and querying agents for the first time.

  12. Special Ed says:

    Consistency. I am going to write consistently; especially on the days when I don't feel like it. I used to write at the end of the work day. That has not happened for a couple of months now. Being consistent is my promise to myself.

    • Fae Rowen says:

      Those times when we don't feel like writing are the exact times we should be writing. I'm right there in that trench with you.

    • Julie Glover says:

      Consistency is so important. If I step away from my story for too long, I lose some of the mojo. Here's to consistent writing in 2018!

    • Laura Drake says:

      Maybe it's that you haven't found your best time to write...try different times of the day. The right one will just feel right to you. Best to your writing in the coming year!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I agree with Laura - for some people it is their lunch hour, others like the morning, and I love the dead of night when the house is quiet.

  13. Meg Wolfe says:

    Love having a word for each new year. Last year's was Acceptance, but it turned out to be a two-edged sword. This year, for reasons unknown to me, the word Arise popped into my head. Perhaps it's because I'll be moving into a new house in a few weeks, one that feels lighter, and my office will be in the treetops? It would be cool if it also meant that I was going to Arise from obscurity! Happy New Year to you all 🙂

    • Julie Glover says:

      Arise! I like it. It feels like that fresh beginning, but extending it throughout the year—arising again and again, to greater and greater heights. May your year hold many wonderful surprises!

    • Fae Rowen says:

      Yes, Meg, you have a lot of ways to use your word. I'm thinking of champagne bubbles "arising" is a beautiful crystal flute--just like your writing career.

  14. Julie FitzGerald says:

    Hello All. I've just joined your site from here in London. My word for 2018 is BEGIN! I've only just started writing and about to set off on my journey. I've waited so long for it (I'm 53 and had other careers) so I hope I find that there is a 'writer me' inside. Here's hoping! A Happy New Year to you all.

    • Fae Rowen says:

      Everyone has to start somewhere, Julie. Beginnings are so exciting, with all their potential. Best wishes for an amazing 2018!

    • Julie Glover says:

      It's like the old Chinese proverb: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Just getting started is a big deal. May your journey be an exciting one!

    • Laura Drake says:

      Oh Julie, don't worry about your age - there's no longer a stigma out there about that. Think about your lifetime of experience and emotion you can pour into that novel!

  15. Holly Robinson says:

    Great post! Love all of these words--might have to add them to my list. My own is "patience," because I'm working on a manuscript I really love, and it's proving to be much harder than the previous novels I've published. So I'm trying to be patient with the process and allow it to take the time necessary to make this novel what I truly want it to be.

    • Julie Glover says:

      It can be hard to slow down when you had a different schedule in mind originally, but I love that you're willing to take that necessary time to turn out the best novel you can. Many of us writers need that kind of patience. May you find all that you need!

    • Fae Rowen says:

      Sometimes our time schedule just isn't what's necessary. What I thought would take six months took eighteen. But I'm so glad I was willing to slow down and take the extra time. I hope you'll have the same feeling.

  16. Last year, mine was REINVENT as I switched genres and this year is RECEIVE, as I'm waiting to see the results of my efforts. Happy New Year everyone!

  17. Last night in the middle of the night between new year's eve and new year's day, one word came to me out of the blue as "my word for 2018": opportunity.

    • Fae Rowen says:

      And I bet you will have more than one opportunity in 2018, Pat!

    • Julie Glover says:

      Love that! Opportunity is often around us, but without being intentional, we don't see it. But you'll be looking for it this year, and I'm sure you'll find both opportunity and its close cousin, success!

  18. Fae Rowen says:

    I love all these words! Thank you for your comments, and I hope you don't mind if I "steal" you words to "hang out" with mine in 2018!

  19. I've never been good at this. The closest I could come was "Persistance" but, in itself, the word implies some kind of impediment. No one has told me I can't. Although I work full time and have family that relies on me, I take what I need timewise. Focus is up to me. Some attention to Balance would be wise - I have extended my commitment to Nanowrimo until this revision is finished, but it's cold out and a scene is waiting. You see? I'll take the one I need in the moment, use it, and come back for more the next day!

  20. Glynis Jolly says:

    My word for 2018 is 'accept'.

  21. My 2018 word is priorities. I find it too easy to get pulled in different directions. To finish my second draft I need to make sure that task is high enough on my list!

    • Julie Glover says:

      It's so hard to line up those priorities, because distractions, demands, and daily life interfere. But we really can do a lot toward getting our stuff done, so here's to a year of good priorities, Liz!

  22. Hmm...is it too complicated to choose a word like 'redesign'? 2017 was full of endings and less-than-successes in my personal and professional life. It's like everything burnt to the ground, and needs to be built again, but better, different, and with a lot of re-evaluation, learning, and improvements. I've been advised to switch genres (quickly), try new things, even attempt self-publishing (yikes!). Is there a point at which making too many changes becomes overwhelming and drags you down instead of helping you kick for the surface?

    • Julie Glover says:

      I don't think that's too complicated: It's your word, so you can choose whatever. As for too many changes, it depends. But I used to love watching Extreme Home Makeover, where sometimes a house had done okay before but it really needed a rework. Those teams never hesitated to change a whole bunch of stuff to make the home what it now needed to be. So here's to your fabulous redesign, Lecia!

  23. dholcomb1 says:

    I'm using two words: Refresh, because I'm doing things to refresh my personal and professional life; and Worthy, to go along with the personal refresh


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