Guest Post,  The Writing Life

A New Year, A New Beginning

Today, I’m excited because I get to welcome another of my wonderful critique partners. Edwina Cowgill is giving encouragement and tips on setting goals.

Hi, Sandy. It’s a pleasure to be here. And I’m excited about today’s topic.  

A new year? Did I skip the last three months of 2011? They (whoever they are) say the mind is the first to go. Has mine finally left the building, never to be seen or heard from again? No, actually it is a new year, just not on our calendar.

A number of years ago, for purposes totally unrelated to writing, I did a study of the meaning of September and
October in the Jewish calendar. Obviously the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar are not the same. Part of our month of September and all of October make up the month of Tishrei in the Jewish calendar. And the meaning of Tishrei…you got it…means “to begin, a new beginning.” Tishrei is the first month of the ecclesiastical year. Thus, it is a new year, a new beginning.

I can hear your brain cells whirring. “So what does this have to do with my writing?” you ask.  Every year, in January, we pump ourselves up.

“It’s a new year. This year I will write ___books” (you fill in the number). “I will increase my blog postings from ___to____ a week.” (Again, you fill in the blank.) We make resolutions about our writing, our weight, our health, our finances…you get my point. But why wait until January? Why not start new, fresh right now? If you’re like me, the goals set for this year are probably not going to be met.  For me, life – the good, bad and ugly – hit the fan this year. And all those well-laid plans went out the window.

If you’re not in a “new year, new beginning” frame of mind, let me make a few suggestions to help you get started:

  • PRAY! 


  • Evaluate what you have accomplished so far this year. List all the good things you’ve done in one column. Pat yourself on the back and give yourself a round of applause.


  • PRAY!


  • List the goals you haven’t met this year and don’t think you will be able to meet by the end of the year. Pat yourself on the back and give yourself a round of applause.


  • PRAY!


  • Which of those goals / projects from above are most important? Number them in order of importance. Pat yourself on the back and give yourself a round of applause.


  • PRAY!


  • If you are the type of person who doesn’t need a Palm Pilot, a Blackberry, a calendar by your desk, and 6 to-do lists for each day – more power to you! Pat yourself on the back and give yourself a round of applause.  For the rest of us, it’s now time to work out a daily schedule. This is flexible and no one’s schedule will look like anyone else’s.  Only you know what your usual daily schedule looks like. Only you can determine when you have time to write. Whether it is 15 minutes here and there, or whether you have 1-2 hour blocks of time – schedule it on your calendar! Pat yourself on the back and give yourself a round of applause.


  • When I first joined ACFW, someone wrote on an email or blog or something “Where is the best place to start your book?  On your knees.” You will have noticed I’ve listed prayer as every other point.  But it is the most important. Schedule your quiet time and prayer time. Whenever it fits into your schedule.I know the Bible does not say we must pray first thing in the morning. So – pray when you can. Pray without ceasing. Cover your work, your family, your concerns in prayer.  And watch the mighty hand of God work. It is, after all, a new year, a new beginning.


Sandy, I’ve enjoyed being here today. I hope my thoughts have been helpful to your readers!

Be assured of it, Edwina!

Edwina has written a number of articles, many of which have been published on various websites, including the Houston Examiner, F.A.I.T.H.: Following Always Intently Trusting Him; The, the Midsouth Diocese of the Charismatic Episcopal Church and several church newsletters. Her first published work in book form was “Kate’s Story: A Story of Redemption and Love,” presented in “Count It All Joy” an anthology of short stories from the members of Christian Writers United, Newnan, Georgia, in 2009. A second short story, “The Front Porch” was published in 2010 in Skinned Knees and Skate Keys,” an anthology of short stories based on the writers’ childhood memories. Edwina publishes a blog three times a week; she is currently working on her first nonfiction book.

After performing editing work for over thirty years, including copy editor for Jawbone Publishing, Edwina opened Monarch Writing Services in 2011, offering simple and comprehensive edits to ghostwriting and everything in between.

As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

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