A little over a year ago I made the very difficult but necessary decision to retire from 24 Carrot Writing after five wonderful years. I have missed the camaraderie with my friends and co-founders, and I’m excited to be invited back this week to talk about what I hold near and dear — reimagining creative visions, establishing long-term plans, and setting tangible, immediate goals.
Each new year I take several hours (or sometimes a luxurious whole day!) to celebrate the concluding year’s accomplishments and reassess my goals for the year ahead. In the summer of 2019, I saw a large gap in my September calendar approaching — my kids would both be departing for college while at the same time my husband was heading out of town on business. Rather than pack the days and evenings with hikes and dinners with friends (oh, so tempting!), I trusted my gut to take that time for some extensive reflection. I spent four solid days at home — all to myself — to reexamine my writing vision. What I realized during that block of time was that I had become a little too comfortable with my routine and wasn’t exactly thrilled with how I was spending my writing time.
I gathered the nerve to make several pronounced changes to my commitments. While it was scary to be unmoored from what was comfortable and familiar, I created an avenue for new opportunities to seep in. And seep they did! I had additional novel-writing time and took on a freelance editing gig in June that led to a full-time writer/editor position in December, but the biggest shift was that I found myself hired by a publisher to write and submit an entire manuscript in seventeen days!
The work-for-hire pursuit would not have come about if I hadn’t cleared ample space for it. I was e-introduced to the editor in May, and after an initial video interview, she asked me to submit several writing samples for a couple of different book ideas. We went back and forth several times, during which time I submitted additional samples, incorporated editorial feedback and provided revisions. The editor pitched the project to the editorial team, they authorized it, and we set off on our own version of Operation Warp Speed. (For more details of that process and my takeaways, see Lessons from a Seventeen-Day Book Sprint.) Because I redirected my efforts and reset my long-term goals, The Word-a-Day Vocabulary Workbook, not even a thought seven months ago, hits bookstores today!
The poet, Wendell Berry, said it best. “The life we want is not merely the one we have chosen and made. It is the one we must be choosing and making.” What life will you be choosing and making in 2021?
Here’s what I wish for all creatives this year (beyond health and well-being): Before you set your goals, may you have plenty of time for self-reflection. May you have the courage to make the necessary changes in your life that will bring joy, surprise, and authenticity to your creative endeavors. And may you trust yourself — always — because, deep down, you know what’s best for you.
Warmest best wishes for a joyful writing year!
Francine Puckly’s debut book, The Word-a-Day Vocabulary Workbook (Adams Media), is an entertaining nonfiction blend of 365 obscure words, amusing word trivia, and thought-provoking daily writing prompts, perfect for writers who need to get their creative juices flowing each day. It hits stores near you Tuesday, January 12, 2021.
You can find Francine online at francinepuckly.com, on Facebook at Francine Puckly, Author, and on Twitter and Instagram @francinepuckly.