What if your “word for the year” isn’t one you like?

[This blog post appeared on NovelRocket.com in January 2018]

Everyone seems to be doing a “word for the year.”

Last year I decided to do it too. Being the thinking overachiever that I am, I decided that my word for 2017 would be Published.

It felt right. This was my goal, and it made sense that I would have a word that would lead me there.

Then God stepped in. As I was praying about it, I felt strongly that He had something else in mind, and wanted me to focus on something else. In fact, He wanted me to focus on two something elses.

And God has a sense of humor. The fun thing was that both of those words started with P as well, but they were Patience and Production.

I wasn’t really that thrilled with it.

I’d already spent a year approaching agents and publishers with my first manuscript. I’d built my platform and connected with other writers. I’d already been productive. And I certainly didn’t want to know that I just needed to be more patient.

So I settled into 2017 somewhat reluctantly, with those two words clunking around the back of my head. But I kept bringing them back to God, and those words came to fit. I settled into Production, developing my second manuscript and working with a mentor – Jim Rubart – on ideas to build my profile and platform. Patience was a harder fit, but I kept working as I waited – on God, on publishers and on agents.

June rolled around. My Patience was tested with no answers. But I kept leaning into Production.

No surprise, but a few months later in the year God was proven right. My second manuscript – developed because I was being Productive while being Patient – was the one that interested Steve Laube, who is now my agent.

And Steve said two things to me when he submitted my novel to publishers on my behalf: now we wait, so get busy on manuscript number three.

Those two words again.

So my third novel is now well underway, and I finished 2017 with my chosen word – Published – nowhere in sight. But if I’d ignored those other two words, I wouldn’t have written the novel that landed an agent and that publishers are now interested in.

I’ve since been thinking about a word for 2018, and decided that I should probably learn my lesson and pray about it first.

My word for 2018 also starts with the letter P. God must love alliteration as much as I do.

That word is Present.

There are two ways it applies to 2018: God needs to be present in my writing. For me to do justice to the story He’s entrusted me with, He needs to be a part of it, as I write it.

I also need to be living in the present when it comes to my writing.   This will be the bigger challenge: because I’m pushing ahead trying to float my work past industry (well, my agent is … thanks Steve!) I need to stop thinking about that moment when the manuscript will hit the right publisher at the right time.

That’s not the present.

I will also be pushing back on encroaching thoughts about finalist nominations from last year. I need to stop replaying those conversations where someone validated my writing and, in turn, me.

That’s not the present.

What is the present? Writing the next paragraph. Answering the next character question. Crafting and culling my word count as the story ebbs and flows.

It’s writing this blog post.

That’s the present.

And that will be my challenge. To let that word both guide and inspire my writing from the first days of 2018, not when I eventually get comfortable with it.

So, if I could be so bold, is there a word you need to accept to guide your writing in 2018? And if so, what is it?

4 Replies to “What if your “word for the year” isn’t one you like?”

  1. David, I really appreciated your thoughts. Great to hear you are making progress with your writing. Now I want to find my word – a bit of reflection needed first.
    Thanks for sharing!


  2. David, thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts with us on your journey to publication. Your stark reality and perfect honesty is a comfort and actually quite encouraging. It’s been great to follow along the journey with you, and prayers for a blessed and Prosperous new year.


  3. What an encouraging post, David. I like how your combination of words for 2017 maintained a forward momentum. Sometimes even though we are trying to be patient, we stop everything and wait…patiently? (Not so much, most of the time). I love that you set aside your plan (publication) and held on to God’s (production and patience) and now your obedience is leading you to your original destination. As you continue to work on manuscript #3 (yay you!), I’m waiting with you for the nod from a publisher. I’m so intrigued by the excerpts you’ve been posting from your book. — My word for 2018 is discipline, not an easy one but much needed in my writing life right now. Blessings!


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