Two thousand ten was a great year. Including the completion of my first novel and winning National Novel Writing Month on a second book (oh yeah, and having a baby), I achieved many things in the realm of developing myself and my craft as a writer. But I’m hoping to make 2011 much bigger and better. The long list of goals for the year? Oh, I’ve got it. And multiple novels have made the list.
A Bad Case of the “Januarys”
On the whole, Januarys are hard for me. Sure, I like the idea of a blank slate, a pristine canvas on which to start fresh. Right now I can feel like the world around me buzzing in resolutions – diets, exercise programs, renewed work ethics, high levels of dedication and resolve. But my Januarys always end up feeling like a bad case of the “Mondays”…on steroids. I always say that January is the “Monday” of the year. And it never seems to bring motivation. Instead, all I feel is the pressure of three-hundred-and-sixty-five days to not screw up. (If you think that sounds a bit pessimistic, then you’re right. I’ll admit it.) Fifty-two weeks to create something amazing. Twelve months to make a difference in my life and in the world. (I have big aspirations, can you tell?)
But rather than searching high and low for inspiration like my normal posts would suggest, I’m taking another tactic. I’m not looking for the drive that will get me into gear so that I can crank out my goals. Instead, I’m taking the month to work on honing my focus.
A Biblical Example
My church is participating in a fast like Daniel did in the Old Testament (Daniel 10). Individuals are defining their own foods to give up and lengths of time, but collectively we are united by our decision of self-deprivation. I’ve chosen a fast of all meat, desserts, sodas and alcohol for twenty-one days. In addition, I’m making a point to start each morning connecting with my Creator through daily Bible readings at www.youversion.com and prayer/meditation time (it goes great with coffee, by the way, which I’m not fasting). Over the next three weeks, when cravings remind me what I’m missing out on, the goal is that my mind becomes tuned in to what’s more important.
My personal focus of the fast is to seek God’s will for my writing, both overall and on each of my novels. I’m also trying to train myself to listen — for ideas, guidance and encouragement. This comes with emptying my mind of the daily clutter enough to think. (I know, what a novel idea, right? Unfortunately, I wasn’t smart enough to figure out this one on my own – thanks to Kevin Kaiser for reminding me to schedule thinking time.)
I can’t rely on myself. My focus has to come from Someone higher than myself and my own fleeting desires. I can only look up from the side of the mountain, but He can see over the top of it. And if I ever stop to wonder how I got here, I can’t help but remember where that first nugget of inspiration came from. The day I got the idea for the Flawed series I was in a church service. When it came, I frantically started scribbling down ideas for characters on one of the church handouts.
So if I make time, if I show that direction is my priority and if I listen closely enough, I’m hoping that I’ll find the answers I’m looking for. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get some inspiration as well. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.