Last year, my inspirational word was Everest. Earth’s highest mountain (above sea level) seemed an appropriate metaphor as I strove to conquer a new type of writing. Jumping from genre fiction to book club fiction certainly felt like a climb. What made Everest so perfect is the idea that the first official person to scale it, Sir Edmund Hilary, didn’t reach the summit on his first try. 

I came close. Close enough that success in 2024 feels very achievable, provided I don’t get sidetracked. That is why this year’s inspirational phrase is “Eyes on the Summit”. 

I like this phrase because not only does it keep my Everest metaphor alive, but it reminds me to stay focused and not get overly distracted by side noise What do I mean by side noise? Social media, marketing, side projects, research, workshops – anything that has the potential to overtake your writing time. 

My ultimate goal in 2024 is to become a contracted historical fiction author that people look forward to reading. To do this, I must write my next book, and the only way I know how to accomplish that is by putting words on paper: the more distractions, the fewer words. 

By keeping my eyes on the summit, I protect myself from something else, and that’s the other writers on the same journey. Earlier this year, I wrote about Chad Le Clos, the Olympic swimmer whose split-second slip in focus cost him a medal. The lesson was that you make progress as long as you concentrate on your journey. When you worry about the competition, you stop climbing and start reacting. 

I’ve done a lot of reacting. I’ve wasted a lot of time comparing and seeking approval when the truth is, I know what I’m doing. My strategy for achieving my goals is sound. It might not be how other writers would approach their careers, but it feels right for me. This year, for the first time in a long time, I’m not going to seek approval or consensus. I’m going to trust my instincts. I’m going to climb my mountain, my way.

Everest, my friends, will be conquered before the year is out. I believe. 

What is your word or phrase for the year? I’d love to know.