As noted in my last post, I track a lot of stuff. That means I have To Do lists and task-based schedules of projects I want to get done. When something new comes up, I’m known to create a stand-alone sheet of milestones to help me focus. All that is good and well, but the downside can be that I spend more time worrying about keeping the lists up to date than is good for me.
That’s a long way of saying that I’ve long ago stopped making resolutionlike long-term goals based on specific books. I don’t need that kind of thing.
My issue is always internal.
And over the years I’ve come to the viewpoint that so much of this writing thing is about keeping myself in the right frame of mind to do my best work. With that in mind, I have a seven-point manifesto for what I’m thinking about as 2023 begins to unfold. Of course, I immediately wrote them down and put them in my tracker spreadsheet. Give me credit, though, none of these have any metric associated with them beyond whatever I self-report. They are guiding principles more than anything else, put in my sheet as a reminder.
Here are my seven points of emphasis for 2023.
This one’s simple, right? Except it’s not so simple. My plan is chock-full of great projects. That means sometimes I’m going to get stifled by trying to bite off too much. But this is supposed to be fun. If it’s not working out that way, I need to step back and focus on life. No one else cares if I hit 100% of my goals, right?
Write/create what I want
Last year I did some new things. This year I’ll do more. That’s’ the kind of world writers are living in today—the environment is exploding. So, with great vigor, some months ago I started writing a big list of things I wanted to get into. I had some things on my idea list that seemed to be all the rage. Exploring TikTok, for one example. Given how the world is operating right now, that seems to be a good thing to go try out. To be honest, though, TikTok is something that doesn’t appeal to me today. Given that, I doubt I’ll do it well. I also figure that if I don’t do it well, it will suck life out of the things I am capable of succeeding at.
I don’t like working on things I don’t like.
Among the charms of being independent is that I get to set the agenda.
Add those two things, and you get TikTok, among others, being stricken from the agenda. For now, anyway.
Dare to be mediocre
Along time ago, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch taught me about the concept “Dare to be Bad.” Later, Mike Resnick said he thought that was great, but at some point you have to dare to be mediocre. He was saying as support for letting work go. Work on something, make it as good as you can make it at the time, and then let it go. Maybe it’s actually the greatest thing you’ve ever written. Maybe it’s not. (Seriously, simple logic says they can’t all be your best work ever, right?)
Believe in my work
My work is my work. It’s made people happy in the past, and it will make people happy in the future.
Defend my work
Without getting into specifics, I’m going to have a substantial change in my production process this year. I expect that the good part of it means that I’ll have to be even stronger in how I conceive my writing. To be honest, I have no real idea what this will mean. But sitting here in January, I felt this point had power. So I left it here.
I am the only me on this planet. If I write, and if I write from my own place, Iu will eventually become the writer that only I can become. The best way to learn who that is will be by opening the lid to those things inside me and exposing how I really think and feel, then write from within that.
Assuming life doesn’t come calling too hard again, this should be a really good year. I’ve got plans. Things to do. New ideas to put forward. I’m doing two collaborative projects, and several of my own things. I’m planning to branch out in a few ways.
Sometimes, when I’m talking to hyper-creative people, I get the sense that they are like kind-hearted sharks in that they don’t stop swimming. There’s a fearlessness about them, you know? It’s a trait that comes wrapped as if it’s confidence but is really something more like internalized fearlessness. They don’t seem to care if they fail.
I’ve felt a bit of that momentum myself in the last few months. I’d like to keep it going.
Try new things.
While I’m Daring to be Mediocre, I also want to Dare to be Bad.
It’s okay. Really, it is.