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.