growth mindset · olw

Stacey’s One Little Word for 2015

The Power of the Word YETI’ve been working with my daughter to adopt a growth mindset for over a year now.  Rather than banning the words “I can’t,” I encouraged her to add the word YET whenever I noticed something was challenging for her.  (Examples: This word is hard; I can’t say it YET. I can’t button my sweater YET.)  Adding the word yet is an act of courage.  It shows something is a work in progress.  It says, I’m haven’t arrived, but I’m going to keep trying. Why have a defeatist attitude when you can have a positive one?

Whenever I think of the word yet, Michael Bublé’s “Haven’t Met You Yet” plays in my head.  While Bublé’s song is about someone who is looking for love, it reminds me that everything you want will eventually happen.

I think of myself as a glass half-full kind of person.  However, by the end of last year, I found myself frustrated with part of my writing life.  I came clean about it in November when I admitted being stuck.  I got back to my fiction writing, but I was less than pleased with my efforts for two reasons:

  • I haven’t been able to devote the kind of time I’d like to devote to picture book writing.
    • I have to prioritize when and how often I work on my picture book writing.  When I was doing my best work, I was writing or revising my manuscripts daily.  However, I wasn’t devoting enough time to writing Craft Moves, my forthcoming professional book. I want to meet my July 15th deadline to my Stenhouse editor so I scaled back my work on my picture book writing in September.  Further, there haven’t been enough hours in the day, since I’ve been prepping for several staff development workshops I’m leading this winter. Finally, I have four other jobs that need my time and attention: mother, wife, daughter, and friend.
  • I haven’t received any interest from the agents I queried during the summer and fall of 2014.
    • I thought I was over the rejections I received from the manuscript I sent out last year.  In December, during a Google Hangout with my writing critique group*, I realized I wasn’t.  Perhaps it’s because I think that particular picture book’s manuscript is really good.  (My kind critique group members, who worked tirelessly to help me hone it, agree.)

Recently, I watched a Headspace video about effort that I related to my struggle as a writer.

After I watched this video, I started thinking more about writing than meditation.  I began to ask myself: How can I try to enjoy my life as a writer? I realized that enjoying the writing I was doing might be more important than getting published. Early last week, I read an article about writing goals on Throwing Up Words, which made me realize I need to do the following things — stat:

  1. I need to work on my picture book writing daily.  Writing picture books can’t be a reward after I finish my professional writing, consulting work, blog posts, etc.  Instead, I need to work on my manuscripts daily, not just a few days a week, if I’m going to hone my craft and feel fulfilled as a writer.
  2. I must allow myself to write more cruddy first drafts.  Often I wait until I get things just-right in my head before I put them on paper.  No more!  If Anne Lammott says it’s okay to write sh*tty first drafts, then it’s okay.
  3. I need to change my perspective.  Instead of saying, “I will sell at least one manuscript to an agent this year,” I need to say, “I will write three good picture book manuscripts this year.”  While I’d like both to be true, setting an attainable goal seems like a healthier way to think help me enjoy my writing life.

I also realized if I make a better effort to enjoy the journey towards publication, then the timeline isn’t as important.  (In 2013, I promised myself I’d have a picture book published by the time I turn 40. Seeing as 40 is getting closer, I nixed my arbitrary deadline last month since I realized it was ridiculous!) Eventually, it will happen.  If I stick with writing picture books, which I love to do, then someday I will publish one (or two or three).  I just haven’t published one yet.

The Power of Yet

I’ll close with some words from Professor Ruth Chang, who wrote “Resolving to Create a New You” in this past Sunday’s New York Times.  I think her words are relevant for me and for anyone who is looking to live by one little word this year.

So in this new year, let’s not do the same old, same old; let’s not resolve to work harder at being the selves that we already are. Instead, let’s resolve to make ourselves into the selves that we can commit to being.

I’d love to know:

  • How do you use the word YET to help you work toward long-term goals?
  • What’s your One Little Word will you live by this year?
*Speaking of my writing critique group, I want to take a moment to thank them publicly.  Catherine Flynn, Julie Burchstead, and Melanie Meehan have supported me as a writer for the past seven months.  Their candid comments and e-mails with writing nudges have helped me so much.  (Margaret Simon recently joined our group and I’m sure she’ll help me grow as a writer too!)  These women hold me accountable as a writer since they expect me to not only show up for them, but to have something to present every other Sunday.  Thank you for keeping me going and for reminding me I haven’t gotten there yet.


22 thoughts on “Stacey’s One Little Word for 2015

  1. It’s great that you’ve been spending time really thinking about your goals, the way your life is arranged, so you can find some comfort in them. Using the word, yet, takes such pressure from one’s shoulders. I hope this helps your writing in the ways you want it to be, Stacey.


  2. I’ve been thinking of YET ever since you and I emailed about it when discussing Maddie and Isabelle’s speech. I’ve been trying to say it whenever I find myself feeling defeated. It’s a great word. I think it may be life changing for you this year.


  3. Stacey, I have been waiting for the reveal of your One Little Word, and you did not disapoint! We have been working with students on adopting a growth mindset, and you are living it! Thank you for such an inspiring post! I am rooting for you as a writer, and I have no doubt that you will meet your new goals, even though you are not there… YET.


  4. I love the word yet as OLW.
    I have my students write about their word each year, and I always write about one too.
    This year my word is savor.
    Savor is an important word for me, it will remind me to slow down and appreciate my world. There are so many tasks to complete, so many jobs to accomplish, it’s easy to “not see the forest for the trees.” I want to remind myself to take the time to enjoy special moments, whether it’s a new snowfall, a walk with my dogs, time with my family, a talk with a friend, or a special moment in the classroom. Savoring moments allows me to smile and appreciate everything in my world.


  5. I’d never considered the word YET as an of courage…but of course it is!! I love it. I feel like this post inspired one of those light bulb moments for me. What a wonderful word…YET! Thank you for sharing! And I love all of the resources, links and videos you included. Awesome!


  6. Yes yes yes! I almost picked “Joy” as my word. You captured so much of what I was thinking. We must do what we love, with love, and have fulfillment be the reason. The external rewards will come. Thank you for a lovely, inspiring post.


  7. I think “yet” is my favorite PD word. We aren’t quite there “yet” as I have minimal accountability as an outsider. It’s not used as an excuse but as a reminder that we are on the journey and all journeys take time, effort and a good solid road map!
    Thanks, Stacey


    1. I love love love the word yet as an OLW! My teaching partner and I use yet as a way to promote growth mindset with our students. They often reply, “I don’t know…YET” when discussing new concepts in math, social studies, and language arts. This one little word empowers our students in so many ways. My OLW this year is reach. I think this word is going to work for me in reaching within, reaching out, and reaching beyond.

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  8. I love this! This is a word I use with teachers all the time at school- The kids can’t do _______ YET. The kids haven’t learned how to ________YET. Such a gift, to see people/situations as works in progress! It changes EVERYTHING!


  9. This resonates so well with me and my writing journey. Yet is a great word to help us realize that we should still have goals to work toward, even if we feel rejected or defeated. My word is Reach because part of my writing goal this year is to reach the point that I am ready to send it out to agents. I think joining your critique group is a step that I needed to take toward this goal. I look forward to a year of possibilities.


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