Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Declutter/Enhance: A Different Approach to my Writing Life

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe it’s 2013.

Last year was a productive one for me --- I think because of something I decided to do early in 2012 --- to change the approach to my writing career.

My intent was to declutter my writing life while enhancing it. The plan was to focus on what I enjoyed doing or what improved my bottom line and eliminate activities that created anxiety rather than fulfillment.

With only 24 hours in each day, I knew something had to give.

First, I scaled back on book reviews and author interviews. While I love to read and discover new authors, doing so took away from my personal writing time, so I took on fewer freelance assignments. Understandably, my income from that revenue stream decreased, but my personal writing time increased.

With my newly “discovered” time, I submitted to more markets. While I had my fair share of rejections, I also enjoyed a measure of success. I also entered more contests and happily won a few --- including one big one in the spring.

Next, I cut back on social media time. My blog posts decreased from 184 in 2011, to 117 in 2012. Strangely, my page views during 2012 more than doubled, and for a few months, they almost tripled. The largest increases in page visits occurred after I won first place in the Global Humor Category of the Erma Bombeck writing competition and when I was interviewed in the St. Louis Review. The drawback is that I haven’t visited blogs of my friends as much as I’d like.

Lastly, one of my goals for 2012 was to be a more engaged member of the writing community. This meant participating in readings, speaking to groups, and tapping into the spiritual side of my writing life. While this wasn’t a money-making venture, it has been gratifying. I’ve renewed friendships with writing friends and met some amazing new writers. One surprising benefit has been activities with my parish writing group. Although we are small, we share some lofty ambitions, including writing scripts for our parish’s 190th anniversary heritage celebration in 2013.

Overall, I believe my declutter/enhance approach has worked, and I plan to continue along the same path in 2013, with a few modifications. I will still blog and visit blogs of friends, although not as often as I’d like. With rare exceptions, I am taking a break from book reviews and author interviews. I plan to get outside more, spend time with friends and family, and see more of the world -- which should give me even more to write about!

Later this week I will post the fruits of my 2012 writing labors, broken down by: Professional Activities, Nominations/Awards, and Publications.

For me, this new approach has been a positive experience. How about you? Have you made any changes that have benefitted your writing life or personal life?


  1. I am eagerly awaiting your list of 2012 accomplishments. It seems like every week you had something exciting to report. What a great payoff for sticking to your plan! I am also a bit curious as to how often you submitted, and your success ratio. If that is not too personal, of course...

    I really need to make a plan, and stop coasting along with no ambition.

    1. Hi Val,
      The hardest part was sticking to my plan, such that it was.
      I use a spreadsheet to track my submissions, so I could figure out my success ratio. But then I'd be taking time away from my writing to do the math.

      No ambition? Aren't you a full-time science teacher and mother of two teens? That takes a lot of time, attention, and ambition. Oh, and I love reading your humorous and thought-provoking posts and hope you continue!

  2. Very inspiring blog post...I have been trying to do some of the same the end of 2012 and looking at 2013. Reading your words is another nudge to do better and stay on the path. I have made one tiny decision that will complicate my life, but am hoping it weighs out in the end. Will see. I too published more this year than any otherl...what fun it is to be "endorsed", to fulfill goals. I still long for people locally that share my writing interests, but there must be a reason I am not findiing them. I am going to put the search on the back burner and enjoy my online inspirations! Happy New Year to you...it starts here very cold!

    1. Hi Claudia,

      It's cold here, too. I just got back from the grocery story and a cricket run at the pet store. Gotta feed everyone who lives here, including the geckos.

      You have an impress list of accomplishments in 2012, and I always enjoy reading your posts, especially the ones about your trips with accompanying photos.

      I hope your decision that will complicate your life works out for the best.

      Hope 2013 is filled with blessings, prosperity, and joy!


  3. I also need to declutter. I have been writing a lot, but not submitting as much as I should. It doesn't do any good if I don't send them out. I think that is one of my goals for this year - to submit and enter more.

    1. Hi Janet,
      Impressive that you've been writing a lot. I agree it's not always easy to submit.
      Good luck with your 2013 goals.

  4. I used to blog almost every day. Now, it's every week or so.

    I've also stopped comparing myself to others and now try to write what I enjoy writing. You known, the ol' "it's not reaching the destination, it's the journey" bit.

    I look forward to your next post. I know the publications will go into the triple digits. ;)

  5. Hi Sioux,
    Your blog posts are among my favorites.

    Write what you enjoy is great advice. I need to do more of that myself.

    As always, thanks for being so supportive to me and other writers.


  6. Donna, you are an inspiration to all of us. Thanks for the reminder to find balance. Sometimes it seems like I'm midpoint on a see-saw. Happy New Year

  7. I love the idea of declutter/enhance! I was happy overall with my writing work in 2012 but I always feel like I could've done more, done better. But that's what 2013 is for, right? :)

  8. Hi Linda,
    You are welcome. Talk about an inspiration--that's you!

    Hi Madeline,
    Glad that you had a good year in 2012, and I hope 2013 is even better!

  9. Sounds like a terrific plan, Donna. I'm trying to focus a bit more on taking the time to write. Last year I was able to increase both submissions and publications. This year my goal is to improve on last year's number.

    Critter Alley


Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V - Interviews with Lonnie Whitaker and Dr. Barri Bumgarner

Here is the second installment of interviews with contributors who have stories in Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V , from Ozark Writers, I...