Monday, January 4, 2010


by Joan

Some people might scoff at the idea of reflecting on mistakes right at the beginning of a new year. I’m hoping this embodies a clean break for me and for others who are feeling stuck.

Some of my mistakes occurred prior to 2009, but it wasn’t until 2009 that I realized they were mistakes. Such as giving up a major consulting client in 2007 to de-stress my brain and afford myself more time to write. Yes, it allowed me to finish my then-WIP and two other manuscripts, plus start three others. I ignored all advice to the contrary about giving up my day job because, at the time, I felt financially comfortable in doing so. Now, a stock market crash later, I regret that decision. It’s as unlikely to determine if I’m any closer to being published as it is to know where the stock market will go from here. I can do all the right things, write the best novel I know how, make writing contacts, and continue to learn my craft. But like profiting with the stock market, getting published requires risk, timing, and a lot of luck.

With a child less than two years away from college, I’ve had to re-align my priorities and refocus on my consulting business. I’m still writing, but several hours a day are spent networking and looking for business. I never imagined that I’d be actively looking for work, after years of turning away clients because I was too busy.

On to more mistakes. In 2009, I stopped my regular exercise routine (despite Elizabeth’s enthusiastic invitations to join her for yoga). I didn’t actively decide to stop exercising, it just happened. I got lazy and thought if I was writing instead, I was doing something productive. But actually, my productivity decreased because I was less disciplined in every aspect of my life, not just exercise. Like my body, my writing got out of shape. I allowed my mind to be distracted. Whereas in prior years I would open my WIP first thing at 7 a.m., pound out a few thousand words then break for a granola bar and keep writing, in 2009, I leisurely read blogs and email while sucking down my first coffee of the day, then around 11:30 started wondering what I would eat for lunch. Maybe around 2, when I should have been heading for the gym, I’d start writing. Maybe I wouldn’t.

I didn’t read as much as I should have. I only read 40 books in 2009. In comparison to Stuck in a Book and Bibliophile by the Sea, that’s nothing. In addition, I probably started 20 more and gave up on them. Either I was distracted by the television in the background or not drawn into the story right away. Had I given them a chance, I might have liked them all.

Like Julie, I’m not a fan of resolutions. After years of making and breaking them, I find them discouraging. Instead, I will stop dwelling on my mistakes and find a way to correct them.

I don’t know where to start first. I’ll continue to look for accounting work by increasing my network. I’ve joined the FENG, (Financial Executives Networking Group) and will join REFEA (Real Estate Financial Executives Association), and will attend monthly meetings for both. I’ll prioritize and finish my manuscripts, pick a contest or two to enter, continue to query my two polished manuscripts. I’ll finish my 3-year commitment as Treasurer of the Writers’ Guild of Texas.

I’m sure I’ll continue to make some mistakes in 2010, but at least I’m starting out with an honest assessment of what went wrong last year. Now, I have about 1400 more words to write to reach today’s goal…then, off to the gym.


  1. I love the idea of assessing what worked, what didn't work, and what to do next. "Mistakes" are great learning experiences - and I keep learning every day. lol!

  2. mistakes are the best teaching tool.

    I should be well taught.


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