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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tis the Season...

by M. L. Buchman TOTALLY freak out!

OMG! I didn't hit this year's goals. OMG! How about next year's goals? Ahhhhhhhhh!

Am I right or am I right? Okay, couple of tips on how I do it.

Let's start with Last Year. I highly (I mean highly) recommend printing out the following and placing it on your refrigerator.

Violet is Level Six

Seriously! It's actually a misquote from my second (and best off forgotten--I've gotten sooo much better since then) novel. My wife mis-remembered it, and those four words have become our guiding beacon.

Anyway, the point about "Violet is Level Six" is that it is utterly meaningless. Like the past, there isn't squat you can do to change it. So all the OMG and I woulda-shoulda--coulda stuff is utterly meaningless.

Now I'll give you the full quote on our fridge.

Violet is Level Six...start where you stand!

You're standing in the present, so start there. (Though if you figure out how to travel backward in time to fix some of the... Never mind!) You can't change the past. Worst year of your life, thank goodness it's over. Best year of your life and your scared it will never happen again (it won't if you dwell on that). The only thing you can really do is start where you stand, so focus on that.

Sure, I peek back, but mostly for one reason: How accurate was my prior year goal setting? Did I tag them all by March? Have I barely scraped the edges? You want a good solid stretch that doesn't tip you into panic.

Now forget the past.

Okay, now I'm looking forward at that looming blank canvas called 2018. YOIKS! I could do anything.

So here's the best advice I've ever been given.

Focus on 3 things...max!

In the past, I've set out massive quests, shining business plans, six-flanked teams of ideas armored in shining light that could...

Three things. I find that if I choose the right ones, and hold my focus on them throughout the year, and don't go all "Oh, look! Shiny!", that I'll actually get most of it done each year.

Set those goals. Be a little unrealistic, because that's what goals are for.

And that's my third piece to this triumvirate. What's the real dream? Is it to complete a novel? Is it to complete a dozen? Two dozen? How much is enough? How much more can I pile on?

Nope, my dreams aren't shaped like that. My dreams are about having fun, being happy, and loving the work that I do and the stories that I tell. I've discovered that the more my goals are focused on that side of my dream,  the more often they come true.

And that's the best tip I've got. Focus on the fun and the rest will fall into line along the way.

Happy Holidays and Merry Next Year!

  • M. L. “Matt” Buchman: 50+ novels, 3x Booklist "Top 10 Romance of the Year", NPR and B&N "Top 5 Romance of the Year", RITA finalist.
  • Matt: 30 years as a project manager specializing in crisis projects. Has taught hundreds of classes on dozens of topics including: Lean Manufacturing, IT, Writing, Business Management, and many others.
  • M. L. writes: military romantic suspense, contemporary romance, F&SF, thrillers, even more short stories than novels.
  • Matt. has: bicycled solo around the world, designed and built houses, worked too many years as a corporate project manager, rebuilt and solo-sailed a fifty-foot sailboat, flown and jumped out of airplanes.
  • M. L. also: quilts!?!
  • Find out more at


Judith Ashley said...

Matt, I totally agree with the "Focus on the fun and the rest will fall into line along the way." As I restructure how I live my life, I am all to aware of the importance of that mantra. Especially since I lost track of it in 2017 when I did a lot of stuff I'm very good at but that does not feed my soul in the same way writing does.

The books that didn't get written this year (2017) have an excellent chance of being written in 2018 because they are books I'll have fun writing!

There is also the notion that if you do what you love, money will flow to you. Whether that's true or not, your time is not wasted because you were spending your time doing what you love and that's a 'win-win' life.

M. L. Buchman said...

Judith, I firmly believe in that last point. If we pursue something with passion, it absolutely pays off. I've designed and built houses, developed ground-breaking computer systems, and rebuilt corporate departments all from that place of passion and loved the work. ...I also might have written a book or two that way. (grin!)

Barbara Rae Robinson said...

Ah, yes. "Focus on the fun and the rest will fall into line along the way." You are so right, Matt. I started doing that this past year. When the editing got tedious, I wrote a new book for the fun of it. I know why my three books didn't get published. They weren't ready and didn't have covers, etc. I'll have more money next year and I can pay for covers and formatting and the other nuisance stuff that isn't fun. I'm not going to pretend that I'm going to make enough money off my books over the remaining years I have left to write that I can make up for what I've spent trying to get to this place. Not going to happen. So I guess the IRS could say I'm a hobby writer. Okay, I'll take that. I get the most fun out of writing the stories, so I'll do that and give the admin stuff what attention I can without freaking out. And what money I do make will be huge joyful bonus. Life is good.

Maggie Lynch said...

Great advice and right on target. I'm not a freak out person, but I am a stretch goals to the breaking point person. I keep thinking that one day, I only stretch to maximum band capacity but I haven't accomplished that yet. :)

You have a wonderful of way of stating things succinctly and making excellent points. Thanks!