Whew. Just like being back from any vacation, I’ve been getting my bearings back from an entire Year of Cruise.
I learned a ton of things. I did a ton of things — most of them unexpectedly. I essentially “pantsed” an entire year, and now live to tell the tale.
The biggest takeaways:
1. Assume distractions have valuable information.
In 2012, I discovered Permaculture because I took a little detour into researching organic farming. I discovered a whole new way to look at promotion and tribe building by researching presidential campaigns (and I’m not even political.) I also learned the connections between exercise (specifically flexibility, strength training and stamina training) and their corresponding elements in writing, discovered the creative benefits of a hot cup of tea. Oh, and I discovered how holograms can be both a metaphor and just plain cool.
Any other year, I’d probably have berated myself for “wasting time” in pursuing these weird little pointless eddies of information. Now I know: keep an eye out for the clue. Because sure enough, every single time, there was one… and it usually wound up being an unexpected harbinger for greater things, a way to see smaller patterns contributing to larger ones.
2. Qualities are the seeds of motivation.
I started the Year of Cruise with the premise that I’d focus on qualities, rather than goals. I knew I wanted to be less stressed; that I wanted ease and comfort and curiosity. (That mostly worked, incidentally.) The real gift to that, though, was asking myself: well, if I want to feel this, what exactly does that mean? What elements in my life contribute to that? And what’s standing in the way?
(Note: External GMC, anyone? Yes, I felt like an idiot.)
Ease and comfort took a number of forms. It meant pushing back some deadlines. Looking at exactly what my finances could bear, and pruning away things that I didn’t need, both in terms of expenses and assignments/work.
It’s funny — when I was younger, I used to think that ease and lack of stress meant shying away from the brutal realities of finances, or perhaps avoiding the unpleasant confrontations of saying “no” to demanding clients/employers. Now, I discovered: that initial pain is the key to the gateway to ease.
I’m sure to many of you this seems obvious, but to me, it was a crucial shift.
3. Everything is everything.
In using the year for exploration and self-examination, I was able to reconfirm and clarify my life’s mission: I want to show other people that it’s possible to live a sustainable, creative life, despite the obstacles and the fear and the nay-saying of the outside world.
This is usually the theme of my fiction; it’s the foundation of Rock Your Writing.
I teach people that despite the crazy-ass nature of our business, it is possible to actually complete a novel, publish same, and figure out how to make a living, albeit not necessarily an opulent one. No matter how long the odds or how much you may have felt you’ve “screwed up” in the past, you can do this. I’m living proof.
Once I reconnected with that, I saw where everything else I was pursuing fed into that. Looking at everything through the lens of the mission suddenly focused everything — just like reconnecting each scene in a novel with the primary story question and primary character GMC.
Even things like taking care of my son and cleaning my house suddenly clicked into the pattern: following dreams and being able to sustain a living without working every second of the day was something I want my Boy to learn, so I am showing him that. I want to write more efficiently — it’s easier to do with a clear desk and, strangely, a tidy kitchen.
Making the choice to connect everything to the central question suddenly added fuel and value stacking to everything I did.
I declare 2013 “The Year of Confluence.”
According to Miriam Webster, “Confluence” is defined as:
“a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point.”
It seems like I’ve spent the past few decades chasing seemingly tangentially related elements and trying to juggle a million things. Taking the past year “off” — as it were — gave me the space and the ease to get a big picture snap.
A “confluence” of what?
Managing time to write.
Value stacking everything else you do to make writing easier.
Promoting in a way that is efficient, effective, and sane.
Publishing in a way that supports what you’re trying to achieve.
Writing in a way that supports your life, how you want to publish, and what you’re trying to promote.
What would help you most?
To help me help you, to quote Jerry Maguire — what is it you feel you need the most when it comes to your writing? What is the next level? What do you feel is getting in the way of you achieving it?
Leave a comment, and please feel free to share this. I’ve got big plans for this year, peeps — and some really great, simple tools I’m dying to share.
Onward! To confluence!