Since 2017 I’ve chosen a word for each year. These words become lighthouses for me as I venture out onto the vast seas of my literary pursuits, especially when the waves of challenges, doubts and disapprovals threaten to dash me against the rocks.
My word for 2020 is WISDOM. Since my first post sharing this choice, I have had more time to reflect on it and how wisdom can guide Indie Authors.
As an Indie, you never know where an opportunity might present itself. It could be at church, during a community event, through a chance run-in with an old friend or during a trivia night at a bar. Because we don’t have a huge name behind us that makes all the bookstores, celebrity book clubs and library gurus open-handed and eager for all our work, Indies feel an obligation to seize every chance that passes our way.
We want to stand out, to make a dent in the ocean of literature, to be seen and heard and felt by the readers for whom we toil for every perfect word. How can that happen unless we take advantage of every door or window that opens to us?
The problem is, we might receive more of these openings than expected. They begin to add up; and, before we know it, we’ve passed through so many doors, we’re not entirely sure where we are any more (or what our purpose and passion ever were).
Each opportunity requires something of us—time, money, energy, commitment, mental capacity. Each of these are finite resources, so we need wisdom to know when and where and how to invest them.
You may face four open doors and one window left ajar this week. Each of them could lead to fantastic places, but perhaps you should only shimmy through the window and explore behind one door. It could be in the focus on these two openings you get the greatest reward, rather than attempting to spread yourself across all of them.
What if you choose the wrong one and another door would have led to your big break?
Well, my friend, let’s save the what ifs for our stories and characters. Otherwise, we’ll go madder than the Hatter.
As you seek wisdom in the choosing, take a moment. Don’t rush ahead. Pause, reflect and seek advice whenever time allows. Weigh the options; be honest with yourself.
Keep an eye on your primary purpose for why you’re following this crazy passion in the first place. If an opportunity doesn’t support or at least line up with that, give it a pass.
Similar to the variety in origins for opportunities, inspiration strikes any time and anywhere. And, with these frequent and often unexpected presentations of ideas, comes what I like to call Shiny New Idea Syndrome.
You know what I’m talking about. You’re under a deadline. You’re eyeball deep in revisions. We’re talking point of view shifts, scene cuts and plot holes so deep you wonder if they were the downfall of the dinosaurs.
You could write the best-selling series of the century—all about dinosaurs and what really happened to them. You’re picturing covers and writing book descriptions that will draw all the readers (and their wallets) to your front door. This series will put your name in lights and be “the one.”
For the love of pterodactyls, stop it!
Fill in those plot holes; take a machete to those fluffy scenes; get your POV in line; and meet your deadline.
I’ll gloss over the niche-ness of that shiny new idea and remind you that you are in the revision stage of a project you’ve been working on for a while. You’re closing in on that final set of rounds, my friend. Don’t lose faith now to pursue something that may look better at this moment. Next year or the year after, you’ll be in the exact same stage with dinosaurs (perhaps lamenting the fact that your audience is a tad smaller than you had originally expected) and a dragonfly saga will flutter across your mind and pull you away from the task at hand, leaving the long-lost creatures and your readers in a continuing uncertainty of what really happened ages ago.
Seek wisdom in your pursuits. You’ve only got so much time in life. What are the stories you cannot leave unwritten before you die? What are the projects you want to tackle in order to leave behind a wider legacy?
If a pursuit doesn’t feel full of purpose, meaning and longevity, you may need to kick it to the curb. How much better would it be to determine that before you get eyeball-deep in the revisions, though?
Weigh each decision with wisdom, and then pursue the winners with the passion we creatives are known for. Onward to The End, writer friend!
Closely related to my first two points—focus requires wisdom. And, this chosen path of ours, fellow Indies? It demands focus. Whatever you need to do to focus on those opportunities and pursuits you’ve wisely chosen will benefit from another dose of wisdom.
In this case, perhaps our needed wisdom is more practical—learning to utilize to do lists or time-blocking techniques; discovering an outlining method that works for us; reaching out to pull in some more people to our team … critique partners, designers, editors, beta readers, web designers.
I have written this post specifically to Indie Authors, of course; but I would propose this same message applies to anyone, regardless of their chosen life purpose. Without wisdom, we’re aimlessly wandering our ways along the paths of life, unsure where the next step might lead us.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.
What might “getting wisdom” look like for you this year? What do you struggle with in regards to opportunities, pursuits and focus? Why do you think you struggle? I’d love to hear how you choose to Get Wisdom this year!
If you have a process for choosing wisely when it comes to these first two aspects or to focusing on your tasks at hand, I’d love to hear those as well.
Drop me a line any time!