In With The New…

A new year often means new choices, new resolutions, and all sorts of wonderful changes. For me, though, not so much.  Generally speaking, I fear change, unless we’re talking about the monetary kind in the form of coins and such.  Then I only fear it if someone is flinging it at me with great force.  Not that that happens to me often, and quite frankly I’m starting to think that the extra money would be worth it if it did.  So feel free to hurl away!  Checks and all major credit cards, too.

But as stuck in my ways as I am, I do realize that a little change now and then is good for a writer’s productivity–especially after the holiday season when all the hustle and bustle have taken their toll on said writer’s daily writing habits.  So I figured January is a good time to play around with some new ideas and see if I can’t put a little ZAP back into my creativity.  Thanks to the internet, I’ve found all sorts of things to try!

Some are easier than others to put into practice, of course.  For example, it’s true that my productivity would probably improve leaps and bounds if I followed one suggestion and tossed our television set out the front window, but my husband doesn’t seem nearly as interested in that prospect as I am whenever I mention it, and even though I’m one of those few people who don’t really care one whit about watching the Superbowl, The Blacklist is supposed to be starting up again after all, and I do care a whit about that.  Quite a few whits, actually.  (Is Red Lizzie’s dad after all, or isn’t he…?  I must know!)

Tweaking my writing schedule seemed more doable and certainly easier on our window panes.  Or at least it did until my alarm went off in the wee hours of the morning to mark the start of it, and I considered throwing it through the window.  Bleh…  Perhaps I’ll keep tweaking.

It’s awfully chilly in our house in those same wee hours, too, and typing with cold hands isn’t fun, so I thought starting a roaring fire in the wood stove before I settled in to write was a brilliant move on my part.  All cozy and conducive to churning out plot points.  Turns out, though, that I’m not very good at starting roaring fires.  But if you want a fire that coughs, wheezes, and feebly sputters out after three minutes, I’m your gal!  So I don’t get many words down on paper that way, but on the plus side, I think all the sitting down and getting right back up again to stir the coals is doing wonderful things for my thighs.

My most recent experiment in habits that might improve my writing focus has been finding something to provide appropriate background noise, which is not as simple as it might sound.  Lots of writers say they like to write with music on in the background, but I find that hasn’t worked too well for me.  If it’s songs I know and like, the temptation to get up and boogie around my living room is sometimes too much for me to resist.  (Ask my neighbor across the street, she’ll tell you.  And she’ll probably tell you to tell me to please close my blinds, too.)

I tried listening to a movie soundtrack that was mostly instrumental to counteract that effect–Lord of the Rings!  Yay!–but that only seemed to lead to hobbits popping up in my contemporary mystery that I’m currently working on, and it really didn’t help the plot at all; neither did the elves.  Go figure.  And then of course there was that time my husband heard me cry, “For Frodo!” and hurried in to find me perched on the arm of the sofa with my pencil wielded above my head like a sword.  It was awkward.  We didn’t make eye contact for a week after that one.

But I’ve hit upon a CD that seems to be just the ticket:  thunderstorm!  Not with music, just with thunder and, well, storm sounds.  It seems to set the mood for the dark and dreary house in my story with the added bonus of being quiet enough that it doesn’t send my beagle cowering under the cushions, which is what she does during real thunderstorms.

It’s been a win-win so far!

Well, except for the effect that the sound of accompanying rainfall has on my bladder, but hey, nothing’s perfect.

Possibilities in 2014

The end of one year and start of another always seems to be the perfect time to reflect on things that have happened in your life, changes you want to make, and dreams you want to pursue.  It’s a good time to take stock and consider what possibilities might be out there and whether or not what’s holding you back is reality or just self-doubt.

2013 was a busy year for me in many ways, both personally and professionally.  It was the year that a long-time dream of mine finally came true:  I became an author with an honest-to-goodness publishing contract!  (Thank you, Crimson Romance!)  For years I had set writing aside in favor of more practical things and told myself that I would get back to it when I had more time, and then it sank in a few years ago that unless I made time for it, it would never happen.  It’s just too easy to let life get in the way, you know?  So I started writing again, a little here and there on weekends or during evenings after work–and sometimes it was really hard to keep at it, but I’m so glad now that I kept plugging away.  And there’s still a long road ahead of me, but at least I’m actually on it now, and that feels wonderful!

I wish that feeling for everybody out there for 2014!  If you’ve got something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time, I hope this year is the year you’re able to take the first steps in making that dream a reality.  Even small steps add up, so why not take them?

Here’s to a wonderful New Year, and because I love all things Celtic, here’s a traditional Irish blessing:

In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship but never in want.

And because I also love a bit of humor…

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.  ~Joey Adams

Happy New Year!  🙂