I understand the resistance many people have when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions. By Valentine’s Day the gym is no longer crowded, daily writing word counts have dropped from 2000 to a scant 200, and that small business launch idea has somehow dried up and died. All those dreams of making a new year different from the last tend to lose momentum when the reality of doing the work sets in.
But I’m a goal setter, and the beginning of the year is one of my favorite time to set goals, make plans, and take action. Call them resolutions, goals, intentions, or whatever you’d like. I resolve to make these things happen. Feel free to check in with me to hold me accountable.
1. Write every day. I’m a better writer when I get something on the page everyday, and I’m more likely to meet my larger writing goals. Taking off an unplanned day or two often leads to taking off an unplanned week or two, making it incredibly difficult to get back into whatever story I’m writing.
ACTION: Write a minimum of 1000 words of new material/day. It’s a small, achievable amount, and I’m always free to write more.
2. Take a break between finished projects. Writing, editing, and revising for hours a day can lead to a bit of burn out, if I’m not careful.
ACTION: Specify the breaks on my calendar, including 1 to 2 days off after finishing a longer work.
3. Write to completion. I have more than enough half finished short stories and novels on my hard drive. In 2012, the rule is, “You start it, you finish it.” A novel may be cut to a novella, a short story may become flash fiction, but each piece will have a beginning, middle and end. The ability to complete a project in a reasonable time-frame is an invaluable skill.
ACTION: Finish first drafts of short stories within one week, novellas within one month, and novels within 6 months.
4. Publish every month. I have several works that are nearly ready to publish, so this won’t be difficult. My objective is to exceed this goal, but this is the minimum I can achieve and claim success.
ACTION: Meet with my publishing partner to create a publication schedule for January and February.
5. Make use of creativity tools. Deadlines can, on occasion, find me hammering away at a story, slogging my way through in a way that’s not so much fun. I’ve gotten out of the habit of using silence, freewriting, poetry readings, and the like to make the creative process flow more smoothly. All of these tools have worked for me in the past, and I need to take advantage of them.
ACTION: Schedule at least one creative exercise per week. Put it on the calendar.
6. Find a local writing/art community. I’m not much for driving to the city, but I’m not likely to find a thriving art community out here in my suburb.
ACTION: Attend AT LEAST one literary or art event per quarter. (Hey. It’s a start.)
7. Take advantage of BOTH traditional and indie publishing opportunities. The book I’m co-writing will be published by Penguin in fall of 2012, and I’ll look to take on more of those kinds of projects. At the same time, I’ll indie publish most of my short stories. The journal submission process is just too lengthy for me at this point in my career.
ACTION: Meet all Penguin deadlines AND indie publishing deadlines.
I can take action on at least four of these resolutions today, and I will. Fortunately, most of these goals support each other. I’m looking forward to my most productive writing year yet. What work will you do?
Go write something!