Over the last year and a half or so, my life has felt like the execution of one gigantic resolution, so I haven’t felt much of a need to make smaller ones along the way. In September of 2011 I quit my job to pursue freelance writing full time, and 2012 has been my first full year of being entirely self-employed. It’s been a strange, challenging and wonderful year of learning how to get paid for what I do and building a real infrastructure around it, from scheduling to developing the beginnings of a client base. It’s been crazy and challenging, and ultimately wonderful. It’s meant a lean existence but an incredible good one, with the balance of freedom, flexibility and good pressure that I need to work at maxim capacity. I have learned more about my endurance, creative capacity, ambition and drive in the last year than did while working on a graduate degree or during full-time employment. It has been life-changing.
These are the resolutions that have grown out of this life change. I’ve made the big one; now here are some of the smaller ones that have grown out of the larger structure.
1) Build a Home Office.
This is the big one, and also the most embarrassing. I work from home most of the time, barring a little bit of office squatting and coffee shop invading, and yet I do not have a proper workspace set up. Usually, my “home office” just involves me sitting on my couch, writing with the laptop in my lap in the least ergonomic position imaginable.
Sub-goals for this resolution include:
— Partition off part of the apartment, however small, that is used exclusively for a workspace.
— Keep said workspace clean, usable, inviting and always ready to go.
— Experiment with a standing desk.
2) Strengthen My Brand.
The idea of “branding” still has a queasy connotation for me, which I need to get the hell over. I actually have two incredibly strong brands to work with — Natalie Zed and Golden Spruce Entertainment — and it’s important to actually think of them as things I have build and intelligently manage rather than pretending they are happy accidents. In the coming year I want to:
— Work at both integrating these brands in some ways and defining them as separate in others.
— Work actively on my online identity, and pay more attention to developing Golden Spruce in particular on social media.
— Re-do my primary website’s look to better reflect the relationship between the Zed and Spruce brands (this is already in progress).
3) Write Creatively More Often.
Since I started writing full time, one area that I have really struggled with is carving out the time to pursue my own, creative work. While a lot of the writing I do is work I feel passionately about and care deeply for, I still need to make the effort and find the time to do writing that is solely for me. Writing is my job, but it is also the art form that I work in, and making that a priority is something I need to do this year.
4) Start The Next Book.
I’ve been casting around for ideas for a while, playing around with a few possibilities, but not settling no one large project. Making this decision and the commitment to a manuscript is something I want to make a priority.
5) Work Out/ Do Something Physical Every Day.
So this seems like the odd resolution out, but I have come to realize that my physical health is incredibly important to my writing life as well (I know, it only took me until I was almost 30 to work this one out). Along with eating right, not caffeinating myself into oblivion and accepting that working with a hangover is just no longer possible, getting some exercise is absolutely necessary to my health and well-being (and the quality of my writing). I am a high-energy person and when I do not move around enough or simply get out enough, I start to get a bit squirrelly and my work suffers. Even going for a short walk works wonders, and is also how I do some of my best thinking.
There are all the standards, too: read more, listen more, travel more. Eat delicious food. Spend time with my excellent friends and beautiful family. Be mortal, and be happy.
You very much impress me, Ms. Zed.
Thank you kindly. <3