The word I chose is COMPLETE.
I’ll be meditating on my word as it applies to all facets of my life, but COMPLETE has many important connotations that relate directly to the writing life.
For example, writers need to COMPLETE their manuscripts.
But that’s too simplistic. Let’s dig deeper by considering several synonyms:
AUTONOMOUS. Acting independently, or having the freedom to be independent. As writers, we work in solitude. Whether our deadlines are contractual or self-imposed, we’d better have the necessary self-discipline to get the writing done without someone constantly cracking the whip.
SOLID. Stable, dependable, reliable. Okay, those terms definitely do NOT apply to a writer’s income! So instead, we need a solid belief in ourselves and our stories. To succeed as writers, we must keep doing the work even when the tangible rewards seem few and far between.
UNDIVIDED. Concentrating on or completely devoted to one object. If you’re alive, your attention is divided. Students, moms and dads, adult children of aging parents, anyone who works outside the home, anyone who works AT home--you know how it goes. Something or someone is always pulling you away from the writing. That’s why we need to carve out some undivided space in our lives where we can write without distraction. An hour at the coffee shop, twenty minutes while waiting in the carpool line at school, a couple of weekend hours when your spouse or an older child can cover the home front.
UNLIMITED. Not restricted in terms of quantity or extent. That’s a hard one for writers. Besides how much writing time we can sneak into our busy lives, we’re also limited by genre standards, publishers’ word counts, market trends, and a host of other conditions beyond our control.
But let’s not be limited by our imaginations or our aspirations. Best-selling author Debbie Macomber was the keynote speaker at ACFW a few years ago, and during one of her talks she handed out note cards to each participant and asked us to write down five big (I’m talking REALLY BIG!) dreams we had for our writing futures. I still have my card pinned to my bulletin board, and it serves as inspiration to keep writing and keep dreaming, because that’s the only way dreams can ever come true.
PERFECT. Having all the required elements or characteristics; free from any flaw. Face it--you will never write the perfect manuscript. No matter how many times you rewrite and revise, you’ll always find something to fix. And if you don’t, your critique group or your agent or your editor will!
But do you have everything you need right now to be the best writer you can be right now? Are you studying craft books? Attending workshops and conferences? Trading critiques with writers whose opinions you respect? Are you keeping abreast of publishers’ guidelines? Reading industry blogs? Most important, are you actually writing and not merely talking about writing? If so, you may not be doing everything perfectly, but you’re definitely doing everything right!
EXTRAORDINARY. Very unusual or remarkably great. So you’re not the next Debbie Macomber, Karen Kingsbury, or (dare I say) Mary Connealy or Julie Lessman. That’s okay. Your job is to write your stories, not theirs. Some say there are only seven basic plots*, and if that’s true, you have only to look at the thousands of novels published over the last couple of centuries to realize how different writers can take entirely different approaches to the same general premise. That’s because each of us is unique. Our culture, faith, family, and life experiences continue to shape our outlook, and thus our stories. So yes, each of us is extraordinary in our own way. Embrace that truth and write the stories you were given to write.
Used as an adjective it means having all the necessary or appropriate parts; entire; full; finished; to the greatest extent or degree.
As a verb it means to finish making or doing; to make something whole or perfect.
I chose COMPLETE as My One Word because far too often I give in to feelings of inferiority, incompleteness, and worst of all . . . envy. I expend too much emotional energy comparing myself to other writers. Gals like Ruthy, who apparently doesn’t even need to sleep and never runs out of story ideas. Or Mary, who consistently writes 1000+ words a day and could produce enough books in a year for two or three writers. Or Julie, whose bubbly personality and flair for romance have garnered her lifelong fans. Or Tina and Pam, who have launched award-winning writing careers even while working full-time-plus!
To counteract these erroneous self-judgments, I’m leaning on several pertinent scripture verses:
“. . . and in Him you have been made complete . . .”--Colossians 2:10 (NASB)
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”--James 1:4 (NIV)
And perhaps my favorite:
“. . . he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”--Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
Are there areas of your writing life where you feel lacking, inadequate, incomplete? What’s one thing you can do today to bring about some meaningful change?
Join the conversation and I’ll choose not one but two commenters to receive a copy of my January release, A Horseman’s Hope.
Grace Lorimer is too busy for a relationship. And love is definitely out of the question while she works her way through college to earn her occupational therapist certification. Besides, her mother’s string of failed relationships and broken promises prove romance is not worth risking her heart—even when she begins to care deeply for single dad Ryan O’Keefe.
Four years after his girlfriend, Shana, became pregnant, Ryan still can’t believe he’s a father . . . and can’t imagine being anything else. His daughter is the light of his life. Now if only Shana could embrace motherhood and the three become a real family. . . .
Then Ryan receives shocking news about Shana, and his world is torn apart as he faces losing his daughter. Suddenly old feelings for Grace resurface, but is a whirlwind marriage of convenience the answer?
*There are two schools of thought on the Seven Basic Plots:
- Overcoming the monster
- Rags to riches
- The quest
- Voyage and return
- [wo]man vs. nature
- [wo]man vs. [wo]man
- [wo]man vs. the environment
- [wo]man vs. machines/technology
- [wo]man vs. the supernatural
- [wo]man vs. self
- [wo]man vs. god/religion