On Writing

How I Made My Writing Goals for 2013

When December starts I get this yarn of anxiety that weaves in my guts. Okay, it’s not only anxiety…it’s pieces of yarn braided – anxiety, excitement and hope – that weaves and pulls reflections and solutions out of me.

When it comes to my writing process, I believe that I’ve come a very long way to be able to get the point in my life that I can write whenever and wherever I am so long as there’s time to do it.

I am very goal-oriented. I am very deadline-oriented. I have been able to time-manage my life since I was a tween (younger even!).

This is precisely how I’ve reached the age of 34 lovely years and realized that, although these are all positive abilities, they can actually be quite detrimental.

Let me get to it. Here’s how I made my goals…(notice that I haven’t given up on goal-making, I’m just shifting the manner in which I make them and manifest them in my life).

1) BRUTAL HONESTY – I made a list of all the things I did/do in my writing life – from my on-line presence to how much ‘actual’ writing on my novels/stories/etc. that I do…to attending literary events/creating workshops/classes, etc.. Then I filled in how much time I spent doing each thing. I also thought about how doing each thing affected my writing identity as well as my writing output. This is where the ‘brutal honesty’ needed to be used.

2) LIKE VS. LOVE VS. REALITY – I included how I felt about each writing thing I did. Did I like doing this? Why or why not? How did what I do affect my writing output and overall goals? I followed by reflecting on how, whether I liked or loved doing that certain thing, liking or loving it affected my writing output.

3) MONEY – I included if I garnered any income from each thing I did, and included whether or not making money made a difference in my ‘enjoyment’ output as well as my writing output.

4) PROS and CONS – I made pros and cons list for continuing each writing thing I did.

5) IDENTITY – I assessed what my ‘writing’ identity was based on all the things I did. I asked myself ‘what is my writing identity?’, ‘what type of writer am I?’ ‘Am I doing everything I can to be the writer I want to be?’

6) WHY? – I asked myself why I did all the writing things I did. Again, I kicked in my ‘be honest with yourself Vanessa’ mojo here.

7) CHANGES – I was honest about what needs to be changed.

8) SOLUTIONS – I wrote out solutions to any issues that came up in my reflection/assessment as well as drafted new goals, time-management support and clear definitions about my writing identity and writing life.

It took me about three days to get through all of this. I created a 9-page manifesto (if you will) about my writing life in 2012.

Guess what happened?

I learned that my actions vs. my writing output vs. my happiness vs. my identity were NOT in synch.

I realized that the solutions I needed to come up with were going to have to be different than the solutions I’ve created in the past.

I realized that I changed in 2012. As a writer, as a mother, as a human being – and therefore, the landscape of my writing life would not/could not be the same.

I cried.

I left my manifesto alone. To breathe.

I read ‘The Book Thief‘ by Markus Zusak, and was face-to-face with the type of book, the courageous and life-changing style of writing that I want write. I realized that I am NOT writing in this brave zone as often as I want to be. As I should be.

Then I said ‘fuck you’ to self-pressure. Yeah, I wrote a cuss word. Because it’s okay to use the word ‘fuck’ if that’s what my heart wants to write. Bravery, Vanessa.

I said ‘suck it’ to comparing my self to everyone else. ‘Cause I do this ALL. THE. TIME. And guess what, Miss V – you are not everyone else. You are you. And who the hell is that, anyway?

Back to the manifesto. Back to the basics. Back to the fundamentals of why I must write. Back to the words.

And something foreign to me: LESS.

And something my body is craving: QUIET.

Yes, it’s a new year. We get excited. We clean our slates, we purge our junk, we make new commitments. Will we stick to them?

Hell to the yes.

What’s ironic is that my manifesto is nine pages long. How is that less? Well, it took me nine pages to get to the one page that lists what I will achieve in 2013 and beyond.

I got it down to one page. To two projects. To no pressure. To getting back to the passion, the trust and bravery that got lost in all the clutter that is life.

Here’s to the words.



2 thoughts on “How I Made My Writing Goals for 2013

  1. Honesty and courage. Both qualities you have in immense quantities. You have nothing to worry about. You’re on the right track and picking up speed. This will be a glorious year for Vanessa Shields!


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