When I realized I would fail to reach my 2016 resolutions, disappointment kicked me in the gut and I landed on the floor. While gasping for breath, I discovered lots of dust bunnies under the furniture. Sheesh.
The plan had been set. I had stayed on target. Very few sparkly things led me astray. In fact, I worked harder, maybe twice as hard as any other year. I would sit down to write and find myself in a telephone booth where the universe would expand and I’d be transported into the lives of my characters. Many hours later, owls hooting on my chimney would be like, “Whoooo. Doooode, I’ve never known a human whoooo could sit so long.” I’d snap out of my time warped daze and stretch, then gape at the time. Balance between work and play crashed and burned. I needed to chill, big time.
So, what happened?
No matter how hard I worked, I depended on too many outside forces to complete my 2016 goals. The other problem seems counter-intuitive, but I needed more play time. Really!
#2016 Failure One:
To find an agent and contract my book with a publisher. I planned to finish querying my long list of agents by June 2016. If I didn’t find one, I would hit up mid-sized publishers and work my way through that list. Then, I would query independent publishers and pull the trigger. My first book would be scheduled for publication in 2017.
This seemed like a reasonable and logical progression to a goal. I could have reached it, but I forgot one tiny factor. Agents’ response time can be reeeeeally slooooowww.
When a few agents didn’t respond at all, I retired their queries after ten weeks. I could have exhausted all of my lists by June if I had used the shotgun technique – When you write a query letter then copy and paste the names of the agents, blasting 20-100 at a time. No freakin’ way. That’s not my style. I spend hours researching each agent and then personalize each letter. I usually send out five at a time. Why only five? Because I’ve gotten amazing advice in rejection letters. When an agent’s criticism enlightened me and I could see how it would improve my project, I revised my book, rewrote the query letter, or both. I mean, this criticism came from professional in the publishing business. I never ignore it.
By mid-June, I panicked. Unless I got an offer with the few I sent, I wouldn’t reach my goal. I kept a positive outlook for that lucky break.
Well, that hasn’t happen…yet.
But I made some decent progress. A few top agents requested full submissions. It was super exciting.
By the end of July, I wondered if I should blow off my first book and focus on other projects. I put the question out into “the Universe.” Days later, it became a finalist in a contest. The bonus? Receiving amazing feedback from neutral judges.
I shelved querying, but continued working on my first book, rebuilding and remodeling. I’m hoping to shape its structure so the storyline draws you into a place where you find a comfy chair and hang out for a while hopefully, in a Dr. Who phone booth. I’m glad I didn’t set a bundle of dynamite in its basement and plug my ears. It will get published someday. What’s the rush?
Finish two other novels and a screenplay. Yep, I’ve got a lot on my plate.
I’m close, but I ran out of time. I could have worked through the holiday to cross one off the list, but I focused on family instead. It’s weird, but I needed to forget about my projects for a while. It’s a Wild Writing Technique that I’ll explore in 2017 as a part of the Big Chill.
Take the Big Chill with me and CHILLAX!
After working my butt off in 2016, I am scheduling PLAYTIME to chill the hell out. Yes. It warrants all caps as a reminder. I worked too hard and inefficiently in 2016. Didn’t you? This break time will be written into my planner’s schedule like any other appointment, in pen! I’ll spend less time dinking around on the Internet like a monkey on crack tapping on a keyboard. It’s easy and unhealthy to sit for hours on end. Instead, my chilling time will be spent AWAY from my computer. It’s magical. You should try it too.
Get ripped again.
Take yoga and meditation classes.
Clearing a cluttered and over-active brain while meditating makes room for new ideas. The benefits carry over into all aspects of life. I can’t wait for more of that. My friend just told me about HeadSpace. She listens to the app on her phone and meditates every morning. Cool!
Find balance in 2017.
Recently, while face-planted and counting the dust bunnies drifting across the wood floors, I had an AHA moment. I needed the dust bunny perspective of break time to look at my projects and life in general from a more objective distance. I didn’t play hard enough in 2016. I picked myself up and brushed the lint from my yoga pants.
After a few weeks off to prepare for the holidays, my brain exploded with new ideas. These were next level, oh, My God, ideas. I don’t think they would have popped into my pea brain without a break. Here’s the thing. I kept writing. My Dear Holiday Diary posts exercised the crazy technicolor film festival running in my brain so ideas wouldn’t become puny, lazy roadies who hung out smoking cigarettes behind my frontal lobe.
Regardless of whether taking breaks accomplishes anything in 2017, enjoying and experiencing life is imperative to any well-rounded, Wild Rider’s life. Work super hard, play even harder. I’m sure some face-planting will be involved, but at least I’ll be out there trying.
What about those owls? They can jolt someone else from Dr. Who’s telephone booth time machine. I plan to have fun at the end of the day.
Oh, yeah, and once in a while, I promise to dust under the furniture.
What do you think of adding more playtime to your life? What is your top goal for 2017?