I lived in China for seven years and learned quickly about the importance they place upon naming the year with their Chinese zodiac system. For example, 2014 was the Year of the Horse. 2015 is the Year of the Sheep. Some of the "old-school" families are so invested in this zodiac system that they plan their futures around it. While I don't subscribe to the zodiac mentality, I do believe in making a plan and planning for the future.
So my suggestion is to make your own declaration. Make 2015 the Year of the Writer.
What holds you back from fulfilling your dream as a writer? The most common hindrances are:
Time. Busy schedules and busy lives. For many it's hard to find time to add one more thing to our schedules. And yet, if we don't make the time, we will most likely never find the time. Make the commitment now to write at least 30 minutes a day. T-H-I-R-T-Y. If nothing else, set your alarm 30 minutes early and make it happen.
Budget. I have dedicated numerous blog posts on the subject and given tips on how to do things on a budget.However, most people who come to me for help don't have a small budget, they have no budget. And while there are numerous software packages and services (i.e. Create Space) to assist you in your book creation, the bottom line is you get what you pay for.
In addition, the old adage "You don't know what you don't know" holds true. If you have a message that is so important that you invest your time to write a book, doesn't it make sense to take the same time and diligence to complete the book with professionalism to make your message really shine? Self-edits or edits by non-professionals and self-created covers are the most common areas in which authors cut corners. And it always shows. Not to mention that placement of important aspects of the book are often done wrong. Again, "you don't know what you don't know." And while you might do a pretty good job with the tools at hand. It won't compare to a professional touch. Isn't your book worth that effort?
Listen. Writing is about sharing your story. Whether that is just for your family, your colleagues, your congregation or a broader audience, it's about influence and writing with influence. But that includes listening to those that can give constructive input. It is often beneficial to let others read your material before it is set in stone. This is the reason to be part of a good writer's group, to work with a mentor, to pay for a review or consultation and even to run it by a good friend (which hopefully is well-read and won't just tell you what you want to hear.)
Next, be willing to listen to their input. If the same critique is given by 2-3 individuals, certainly it bears considering. I'm often amazed at how many writers pay for a professional edit, consultation or review and then become angry when there is a suggestion for change. Our books are our babies. But there are always areas for improvement.
So make 2015 your "Year of the Writer" by taking the following steps:
- Write at least 30 minutes a day.
Build Your Platform - Whether that is building your Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest audience, or writing articles to be published on e-zines. You are investing in your future. Whether you plan 30 minutes a day or minimally once a week---just get started.
Invest in your book for a professional end-result. While you might be able to do it all yourself, you don't want a book that looks like a "do-it-yourself".
Let others speak into your writing and then consider their words and where they are best applicable.
If you were completely satisfied with your writing achievements in 2014 then congratulations. Carry on. But I dare say that most of us have areas that we want to see improvement and mountains we have yet to scale. Invest in yourself this year. Let it be your "Year of the Writer."