A year of PRACTICE: Working for writers

This year I am working on PRACTICE. My One Little Word. My focus and foundation for the year. I haven’t been doing a ton exactly, but the idea has been percolating in the back of my brain all year. Like when I chose the word BRAVE, I think PRACTICE will remain long-term as an anchor for me.

Part of my year of PRACTICE is building up my daily writing practice. So I have been so lucky this year to surround myself with writers on all sides. Not only do I work for 3 full-time writers, but I have been embraced into the whole community of writers that surround them and their podcasts.

It was all kind of a stroke of luck. Last November (before I had even started thinking about my 2015 OLW) I emailed one of the writer guys I *kind of* knew and basically said, “Look. I’m awesome. You should hire me.”

And he did.

(for the record, the email said more than that, but that is the gist)

So for 10 months now I have been working very very part-time for 3 full-time self-published authors. It really is only 10 or fewer hours per week, but I have learned SO MUCH. I have more or less built my job into being their COO+Team Mom. I get to see behind-the-scenes as they build out their assets, decide how to market and leverage them, spend their resources, and so much more.

I get to see what a business looks like when you write 5000+ words/day. I get to see what consistency can do for you practically.

Every day these guys produce more before I’m done with my coffee than I will all week.

It’s amazing and so inspiring.

I’m still working on making my own fiction writing a daily practice, but the example I see in working for these writers is a huge inspiration. My plan for the rest of the year is to publish 2 novels and write the 1st draft of a third. Not too shabby (especially compared to what I produced the first part of the year).

What is your One Little Word this year, and how can you surround yourself with the people that can help you with it?

P.S. A few books I can recommend on building a writing habit are The 8-Minute Writing Habit by Monica Leonelle, 30-Day Author by Kevin Tumlinson and Writing Habit Mastery by S.J. Scott

P.P.S. I also know all 3 of those authors mentioned in the P.S. I’m telling you… surrounding yourself with the right people pays off SO MUCH.

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Am I Failing with my One Little Word?

So…. It is now the middle of September and I JUST did my first One Little Word project from Ali Edwards’s course. Oooops. Totally ok, though. “Keeping up” is not a requirement to be able to get something out of the practice.

Oh, hey. See what I did there? “Practice” …. My One Little Word is PRACTICE and it seems like everything can come back to it.

[On the off chance that you are reading this and not familiar with the project, One Little Word was created by Ali Edwards. It is the practice of choosing 1 word to meditate and focus on over the course of a year. Go here for more info.]

Back on the very first day of the year — big plans, big intentions — I failed to write 1000 words of fiction, and I failed to hit my 10,000 steps. That’s ok. It was January 1 and I still had 364 days to get it right. And then other things happened and more life problems occurred, and all of a sudden several months had gone by without me even opening my novel file to work on.

I was clearly a big ol’ fat failure. Not even able to walk 10,000 steps in a day. Not coming anywhere near publishing the 4 books in 2015 like I had planned. What a loser.

Or not.

To be honest, when I began this year and chose my word I didn’t even *think* about the fact that PRACTICE can also be associated with the being-ok-it’s-not-perfect part of making. It didn’t even occur to me that the very definition of PRACTICE includes some kind of failure. That’s why you need to practice in the first place, right?

I wish I could remember what I was reading or what podcast I was listening to that reminded me of this part of the definition of PRACTICE — because it completely changed my entire view on how I was doing with my One Little Word this year.

I simply can’t fail at something that is meant to be an ongoing attempt. It’s just not possible. It is literally impossible to fail at practicing. That is the whole point of practicing.

Which, frankly, is a huge relief.

“If it doesn’t work out, it’s just an experiment.” — Elizabeth Gilbert in a recent episode of her new podcast

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Stamp from Kellie Stamps

So right now my One Little Word binder looks like this. Projects from 2013 and 2014 …. and this 1 envelope for all of 2015 so far. The letter written to myself for September’s project.

I might go back and do some of the monthly projects I missed. Or I might not. The projects are not the point. It’s the trying again and not beating myself up and starting up the practice that is the important part.

I’ve still got three and a half months left to PRACTICE.

How is your One Little Word going this year?

P.S. I’m sending out an email tomorrow morning about all the writing practice books I’ve been reading this year, if you want to be sure you’re on that list.

P.P.S. I’ve already chosen my OLW for 2016 and it’s going to be perfect and epic and I can’t wait.

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One Little Word 2015: PRACTICE

One Little Word | Ali EdwardsChoosing BRAVE as my One Little Word in 2013 changed my life.

Choosing NURTURE in 2014 ended up being exactly what I needed for a rough year.

I had chosen One Little Words before 2013, but it wasn’t until that year — the first time I signed up for Ali Edwards’s class — that I actually got anything out of it. I don’t even remember the words I chose in 2011 and 12. I am not even an affiliate, but I just love it so much. Sign up for 2015 here.

(I know if you have done the class once or twice, you might feel like you don’t need it. You *get* what kind of projects to fill your year with. But I need the accountability, so I am happy to give Ali money every January)

My word for 2015 actually came to me about … two or three years ago or so, and I knew I wasn’t ready for it. But I wrote it down (in this very same draft post) and thought about it. Around November of 2014, I revisited this word and description and knew it had claimed me.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 1.09.36 PM

An online entrepreneur I follow — Chris Brogan — chooses 3 words every year. For 2012, he chose Practice as one of his words and described the meaning far better than I can:

Practice is the building block of all habits. But I just realized something. You might think I mean “practice” as if that’s separate from doing.

Practice is the path. Practice is what you do every time, not just before the “real” thing. Practice is the choice to adopt the lifestyle, the way, the path of what you intend to be.

Because the secret is that there are those who “do” and those who “are.” If you “train for a marathon,” you might complete a marathon. If you “become a runner,” you will run as many marathons as you’d like.

When you go beyond “do” and into “be,” that’s because you’ve chosen a practice and not a destination.

The practice is the reward. The practice is the reward. Practice means that I will remember to do DAILY what needs doing. I will look at all of my larger efforts in life as the results of the work I accomplish through practice. I can’t be a sharp sword if I stay in the scabbard all the time. My days will be geared around practice. I refuse to just “wing it” in any aspects of my life any longer. And when I say that, I don’t mean that I’ll not allow for serendipity or leisure, but instead, that I will be much more mindful of how I can accomplish what needs doing, and that I will work towards those goals and interests in a way that affords me more success.

 I love it. That is exactly what I need right now. That’s what I mean when I say I wasn’t ready January 1, 2012 when I first heard it (I was still at the day-job then), but I *totally* am now.

Now — 2015 — I feel like I have finally shaken off all the baggage and crud from having a full-time day job that made me miserable. I feel like I am ready to start again with a new foundation and build my work and income (and practice) from the bottom up. Taking 2014 ‘off’ from launching new L&R products is a big part of that and now I have a clean slate.

I’m ready to actually identify myself as a writer and publish finished novels. Move beyond ‘do’ into ‘be’ … I love how much this word means DO. Look at the synonyms in the image up there: execution, use, implementation. All focus on doing. Actually doing it, and not just planning to do it.

The word PRACTICE ties in with my 2 biggest goals for the year — write fiction every day (and publish it regularly) and get into shape.

I have everything I need to write (just gotta get my head in the right space), and I bought myself a Fitbit a couple weeks ago to track my steps and be the constant reminder that I have been sitting for too long.

Lucky me — Elise’s Make29 product for December was perfect for these goals! I logged on too late to get a letterpress one, but I bought the digital download and promptly printed myself off one (and then my printer ran out of ink).

 December  001 (1)

That’s where I’m going to start. 1000 words written (and I’ll print up another for 10,000 steps taken). Considering I don’t yet do either of these every day it’s enough to start with, but I’m hoping by the end of the year I will have a higher word count and other daily/weekly practices.

I also want to work on improving my chosen PRACTICE (read: career) and read at least one writing-craft book each month.

Results are the external proof of practice. If I can write at least 1000 words every day, that’s probably 2 books a year. If I can walk 10,000 steps each day, that will burn about 4x more calories than I am doing now. I want to get into the practice of taking care of my backyard (I forget to water vegetables) so we have a lovely place to hang out. I want to get into the practice of a better-structured promotional calendar for L&R, so new readers can easily find my old offerings.

There are lots of ways to take this, and I love the long stretch of 365 to feel my way through this word.

I’m ready to PRACTICE.

 What is your word for 2015?

P.S. One Little Word word choice and discussions from my friends Megan, Elise, and Ali. I hope you find your word!

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