by Francine Puckly
My fellow 24 Carrot Writing bloggers and I just returned once again from the SCBWI New England spring conference. At Kelly’s suggestion a few years ago, we sit down together to list our top takeaways once we return from workshops and conferences. It’s a powerful practice!
I attended many informative workshops this year, but the key takeaway for me was from Ekua Holmes’ keynote address—and specifically the wise words of her mother. Her mother encouraged her not to become overwhelmed by the future and all of the tasks in front of her, but rather just “do the next thing.” This advice has centered me more than I could have imagined, and it fits with Kelly’s idea of the “do-it-today takeaways”—using the conference energy to take quick actions that will give you a boost toward your goals.
I have three big and messy projects in front of me this year, and I’ve been slow to make progress on them. But instead of racing too far ahead on my to-do lists or getting overwhelmed by the magnitude of my projects, this idea of doing the next small action item is simple yet profound.
My three “do the next thing” conference takeaways:
- I had set a 2019 goal to secure a private office in my home for my creative work. This requires a complete upheaval of my workspace, and I had been putting it off because I didn’t want to deal with the in-between chaos. But procrastination ended last Sunday when we moved out the old furniture and took down the pictures and wall hangings. It’s messy. It’s chaotic. But it’s underway!
- Another annual goal is rewrite my YA novel. Progress is slow, and part of the issue was that I was measuring my progress with the wrong metrics. Since the conference, I’ve delineated specific research goals and established better measures for the accomplishment of writing tasks to help move my novel rewrite forward.
- I’ve struggled with how to use social media most effectively. I attended workshops on branding and social media and have set three small, specific social media goals for May and June.
Have you recently attended a conference, a long workshop, or a webinar geared toward your writing and illustrating life? If so, reread your notes. Think about how you can incorporate your newly acquired knowledge by doing the next thing in each of your goal areas.
- Are you feeling that you need to read more in your genre? Check out recently released books to develop a summer reading list. Join Goodreads and set up a reading challenge to give yourself an extra nudge toward your reading goals. Don’t want to join Goodreads? Write down the specific book titles you’re going to read this quarter and find yourself an accountability partner!
- Trying to be more active on social media? Pick two writing topics you’re passionate about and set a goal to tweet, retweet, and/or post two links or articles this week that will be helpful to your colleagues.
- Want to support your local library or indie bookstore? Block off time to browse these venues. Check out their events calendar. Attend one event this month.
- Do you need to organize your projects, files or papers? Lay out this work in bite-sized and measureable chunks. Instead of conquering the entire filing cabinet, you can start with one or two or five files.
- Sit down with a friend/writing colleague to discuss changes suggested for your manuscript or query letter. Set up a plan to begin a revision.
Don’t wait to take small actions that will propel you toward your goals. As we approach the midpoint of the calendar year, what’s your next thing?