This year, rather than creating a 2016 must-do list, I have whittled my New Year's writing resolutions down to one, guiding principle:
CEO and creative writing. These may seem like oddly paired concepts, and, if you saw my grungy getup as I write this, you'd say that, at least in the fashion department, I'm an unsuitable choice to CEO anything.
However, when I look back on 2015, I see that, in terms of managing and driving my own career, I was way too passive. There were entire weeks when I took my eye off the horizon.
I was good at the creative end of things. Many mornings, I set my alarm clock to cram in an hour's writing before commuting to work. Most Sundays and Mondays, I sat in my little back garden writing studio writing in my journal or penning drafts or editing or polishing.
I'm proud to say that I published a number of essays and stories. As we speak, my current and fifth book proposal is well underway.
Could I have written more or better in 2015? Absolutely. Which of us couldn't?
Here are some ways to be writing CEO in 2016:
Get and stay in the corner office: Good CEOs know that the buck stops with them. Sure, the day-to-day processes must proceed, but it's the director's job to create and drive the strategic plan. Like it or not, ready or not, the CEO is the one piloting that airplane. Ditto for you and your writing career.
You're the most invested: Particularly in this hyper-connected, digital environment, it's easy to lull ourselves into a false sense of sisters-in-arms stuff. If you're a little naive (as I was last year), it's easy to believe that the entire sub-industry (I'm talking literary agents, book doctors, publicists, writing coaches et al) that supports or makes its living via the writing process are your co-pilots. Some may be, but nobody on this planet is more invested in the work and the outcome than you.
Listen to your 'gut voice': Ok., bear with me as I stick with the aeronautical metaphor here. The control tower suddenly turns silent? Or you suspect that the tower folks weren't really watching or caring about your flight in the first place? Or the tower was watching, but now, you suspect that the big jumbos have distracted it from your little antique Cessna. When your gut voice tells you one of these is happening, it's time to do some damage control. Guess who's responsible for steering that beast back onto a safer and more productive course? You.
Lose the grunge and don that planning suit: To be CEO, we have to schedule a weekly time when we step back from the creative process to direct. Take a walk. Meditate. Wool gather. Develop a reliable and easy system for tracking your own progress, submissions, updates and next steps. A spreadsheet, a white board or an online submission system--all of these are options.
Outsource with caution: You can and should connect and collaborate with those writer friends or colleagues who provide mutual support or with whom you trade editing services. But if you're engaging or contracting with one of those professional services, do your research--lots of research. Ask for a current author list. For book doctors or editors, ask for references from past clients. Bottom line: Be picky and careful about who gets to fly this journey with you.
What are your 2016 writer's resolutions? Share them in the comments.