Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Suggestions, Not Resolutions


 Terry here. This week we are talking about the new year and whether we have made any New Year's resolutions as a writer, and what our plans are for 2023? 

 I’m not sure you’d call them resolutions, because that would require me to be “resolute.” Definition of resolute: “admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.” I can do the purposeful and determined part, but the unwavering, not so much. I’ve been known to waver. 

 So instead of resolutions, I make what I think of as “suggestions” to myself. By the end of this year (and most years) I’ve become lax in my habits. Before I get down to work I do the NY Times crossword. Okay, okay, I’m a liar. I also do the hard sudoku. All right (geez, you’re so strict) I also do the Wordle. I start skipping over articles about writing, promising myself that I’ll come back to it. And of course I never come back. I start glancing at MWA and SinC newsletters and think, “later.” Later never comes. I look at interesting up-coming on-line or in-person writing talks and think, “Oh, that could be interesting. Let me think about it.” And it promptly flies out of my head. 

 So at the beginning of the year, I SUGGEST to myself that it would be really more professional if I got back to my best habits, which include: 

  1) Time Management. Only look at things once, and make decisions NOW. That was the gist of a talk I went to hundreds of years ago (okay, fewer than that, but a long time ago) with Alan Lakein about using your time to best advantage. He said to look at each piece of paper only once (this was back when everything was on paper, but I take it to mean emails as well). 
     a. If it’s Urgent, do it now. 
     b. Important, but not urgent, put it in B stack. 
     c. Mildly interesting: C stack. Toward the end of the day look at the B stack. If anything has become urgent, take care of it. If not, put it in the C stack At the end of the day, throw out the C stack. This is so efficient. If you throw something out that turns out to be important, an amazing thing happens: someone will remind you! 

 2) Per Gigi Pandian: As soon as you get up and brush your teeth, do nothing but grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit down at your computer and start working. For me, it’s like a miracle. I get SO much done that way. But then one day I say, well, just a peek at the puzzle. And before you know it, the good habit has been replaced with the one that is not as productive. 

 3) Every day think of one thing to further my professional life. a. Dig out an old manuscript and spend an hour deciding if it’s worth working on “some day.” And then make a plan to do it. b. Organize tips on promotion. c. Read a couple of chapters in a book about writing. d. Read a blog post about writing/about a new book or author/about publishing. e. This list could be endless! I also try to re-gear doing things to stimulate my imagination: Reading, going to art galleries, taking walks in interesting new places, getting together with other authors, reading things outside my usual lists.
As for my plans for this year, I’ll have a new Samuel Craddock coming out. The immediate challenge is to go through it one more time (I’m sick of it) and coming up with a title! 

 Also, Murder at the Jubilee Rally will be coming out in paperback, so I plan some bookstore events to promote it. 

 Then there’s the standalone novel I’ve been beavering away at for a few years and which is creeping toward completion. I’d like to get it done and find a publishing home for it! 

 And I plan to read more! So many books, so little time. Last, it’s too early to reveal, but I’ve had some good news in the last couple of days, and it means getting to work on other projects! Stay tuned. 

 Happy New Year everyone!

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