In the past week I’ve had a few nights plagued by terrible dreams. No matter how irrational the sequence of events, I always awake legitimately afraid. To ensure that the nightmare does not continue the second I close my eyes, I must be fully awake, without a trace of the bad dream in my mind. Often to succeed in this effort I will distract myself by thinking about something positive.
Many years ago, I would mentally plan my office space, trying out different furniture and color schemes in my mind. I would imagine myself writing in grand and cozy spaces and day dream about the time when I could write as my primary professional purpose. That space is now completed and when I resigned from full time teaching last spring, I made my five year plan my reality. So, this week I was left wondering, what thoughts should occupy my night time day dreams now?
What should my new five-year plan look like?
As I lay awake, I tried to convince myself that my nightmares weren’t real, but my dreams could be. It took me awhile to come up with what those day dreams should look like, but eventually I figured it out.
I envisioned myself doing a reading at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul. My family was there, my youngest nieces and nephews in the front row with my sons, as I read aloud the most recent Theo Geo book release. My publisher, Abby, was also there, in the back, chit chatting with the store owner, and Kate DiCamillo, who just happened to be passing through the neighborhood. They all loved the story. Amid the swarms of fans lined up for signed books, we told them that my new series with KWiL will launch next year. When we run out of books, we tell student aged customers they can find them in the Scholastic book order, or they can order a copy and pick it up at the store next week.
After the signing, Abby, Kate and I go to dinner and talk for hours about books and publishing and the role of words in the world. When ten o’clock rolls around I regrettably end the evening because I have school visits in the Metro area the next few days and will need to be up early.
I know it all sounds a bit over the top and unrealistic. But I don’t do small dreams. It’s nearly impossible to arrive at your desired destination if you don’t know where you want to go.
For the past few years I have chosen a word in January to be my focus for the upcoming twelve months. The word helps me to guide my thoughts and actions. It’s usually heavily focused on my career goals for the year ahead, but also has strong connections to my relationships and personal life. In 2017 I chose the word CONNECTIONS and last year I chose EVOLVE. Both words fit their respective years perfectly, so I wanted to be sure that this year I selected a word that was not only not only applicable, but also definitive of a year I WANTED to live out.
The word I have chosen for 2019 is: ELEVATE.
This year, I want to take things to the next level. I want to elevate my writing business by adding affiliate programs to my income streams and creating paid advertising options on my website for other authors. I plan to elevate my author status by continuing to work with traditional children’s publisher KWiL and seek traditional representation for my YA Fantasy and for an adult writer’s workbook. I will elevate my dreams by making a new five-year plan, including BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOALS like have a manuscript be accepted by Hallmark for a movie and be the writer in residence for a prestigious writing residency.
In my personal life, I will rise to the next level by increasing my repertoire of healthy meal options for my family, scheduling at least one date night a month with my husband and drastically reducing our family use of plastic bags. I also want to read more books and be a better consumer of national and international news.
This all sounds well and good, but without a plan it is unlikely to happen.
This fall my writing club and I tried the thermometer technique. We first saw it used on Brandon Sanderson’s website. Brandon, an incredibly prolific author, has several thermometers on his site showing his progress on his many projects. Inspired, and looking for some accountability, our group created a shared Google Doc with a personalized project thermometer for each member. It is very motivating to see our progress as the squares fill up. It is also fun to both see and offer words of encouragement from and for my literary friends.
This method worked so well for my most recent manuscript that I’ve decided to use the thermometer method to help me live out my 2019 word of ELEVATE. Here are my thermometers.
I realize that social media and newsletters are not everything in an authors world, but for me… as I gear up to launch a new adult fiction title and my debut traditional series, it is super important and therefore worth my focus this year. Obviously I have other writing goals, that can not be measured by thermometers, and I promise to share my progress with you all as I go… at least the newsworthy parts. Feel free to check and ask me how I’m doing.
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I’m looking forward to elevating myself to be ready for all 2019 has to offer. Do you have any writing goals? I’d love to hear about them! Feel free to post them in the comments or send me an email. If there’s anything I can do to help you on your way, just let me know. Let’s make 2019 a year to remember. Happy New Year and happy writing!