Happy New Year!!! How is it possible that we entered a new century fourteen years ago?! I swear 1999 still feels like yesterday.

But on to the topic at hand… For the last few years, I’ve been picking a ‘word of the year’ instead of declaring a traditional resolution. In 2013 I aimed to be more present, and the year before that I strived for balance.

This year, I’m going with…

 

Focus.

 

Or more specifically, in 2014, I want to focus on things I can control.

Jessica Spotswood wrote a beautiful and honest post the other day about managing expectations when it comes to our writing and publishing endeavors. She concludes her thoughts with this:

The craft – the writing itself – is the only part that is still all mine. The finished product belongs to my readers. The business worries belong to my publisher. But when you’re happy with the writing, no one can take that away from you. When I was eight or ten or twelve, writing stories about horses at the barn where I took riding lessons, or later writing stories about girls who rode horses and bantered and kissed boys, I didn’t think about being a published author. I didn’t know any real live published authors. I wrote because I couldn’t not write, because my brain gets restless and dissatisfied when I don’t. I am saner and happier and more me when I write. In my heart of hearts, it might be as selfish as that.

In the second half of 2013, I started to fall back in love with writing. Debuting is such a traumatic experience—wonderful, but traumatic—that it left me feeling a bit scarred. The very act of writing no longer felt fun, but terrifying. I knew the long road ahead for any story I typed out that might then see publication. I knew the highs and lows that story would go through if it was bound and sent into the world for readers. This knowledge became paralyzing.

It took me a loooong time to learn how to write again, to tune out the things that made it stressful and just lose myself in the joy of creating worlds and going on journeys with my characters. (I blogged a bit about this two days ago, when I discussed lessons I learned while debuting.)

I don’t want to fall into the trap I did with Taken again. I don’t want to lose the three months prior to and following my sequel’s release to stress and stalled writing.

In 2014 I want to stay focused. On my craft, on my writing, on the things I can control. The Taken trilogy is mostly wrapped up—I’ll have copy edits on book three soon, but the actual writing and revising is done—and I want to focus on the next book. And the one after that. I want to return to the time when I couldn’t wait to curl up with my laptop and type feverishly for hours on end. When characters haunted me and dialog played in the back of my mind all hours of the day.

I want to love writing for all of 2014, and if I focus less on sales and ranks and reviews and all the other things I can’t control, I actually don’t think it will be that difficult.

What are your goals this year? If you had to pick one word for all of 2014, what would it be?

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