An early blog post? The first of two blog posts this week? Is this a new resolution for 2019? Nope, I’m just jumping on the New Year bandwagon, and this rare occurrence of multiple posts will, like many of the resolutions on this list, be a one-off.
Why? Because resolutions are hard and set so ridiculously high we almost always abandon them. Case in point is the writer resolutions I vow to make every year…
Write Every Day
I work on writing every day now that social media, blogging, and reading are requirements of the modern writer. Do I get to write actual words for new stories? I haven’t done that in two years. Do I get to shuffle around the words when editing the YA series I’ve been working on for the last four? Yes! Do I get to do this every day? No. Because life doesn’t work that way.
- Expectation: Turning out a chapter every day.
- Reality: Two sentences, a paragraph, maybe? Hopefully? Please?
Rejections? Oh, Those Don’t Bother Me…
If the New Year is when you plan to query (like me!) you might promise you’ll take any rejections with grace, reminding yourself everyone gets rejected, it’s a badge of honor, a rite of passage, and something you can deal with. Or you’ll cry because your inner-self/heart doesn’t care for the resolve your brain made. Either option is fine.
- Expectation: Oh, a rejection? Okay, I’ll file it away and move onto the next agent/publisher on the list. When one door closes, a window opens.
- Reality: Crying. Sobbing. Devouring chocolate. Destroying MS (please don’t ever do this!). Writing a nasty return email (another thing you shouldn’t do). Vowing to stop writing. Crying. Venting publicly on social media (again, not a good idea). Venting privately to a friend (yes, get it out!). Sobbing. Moving onto the next agent/publisher on the list. Hating all doors and windows.
Fewer Editing Passes
When you’ve spent months editing an MS or working your way through more than one WIP, you become a stronger editor. You know what darlings to cut, what words to delete, what repeats to look for. You’re convinced that by the time you get around to a new WIP, you’ll know how to write it so none of those bad habits make it in. No longer will you tell instead of show, every piece of dialogue will be perfect, and all of your descriptions will come alive on the page first go. Or…
You’ll revert to the way you always write because that’s what comes naturally. Yeah, you’ll spend half of the year editing out all the things you shouldn’t have written in the first place, but is there any other way you’d like to spend your time?
- Expectation: Only one editing pass at the completion of your MS to check for typos because every sentence is perfect.
- Reality: At least five passes because after the fourth you’re still finding passages of the wrong tense and head hopping.
Set And Crush A Daily Word Count
Aimed for 2,000 words, hit almost 10 whole words instead? Sounds about right.
High word counts for the majority of writers is up there with forsaking junk food and going to the gym; they’re good intentions that don’t pan out past January.
- Expectation: 2,000 words ticked off the to-do list.
- Reality: I used the word “tainted” twice, which brings my total up to 23 words!
It happens to every writer; a great idea popping into your head while you’re driving, cooking dinner, cleaning, taking a shower, or seconds from sleep. You’ll vow to remember it. You won’t.
Write the idea down! Type it on your phone. Leave a voicemail. Scribble a note. Send a carrier pigeon. Fill your nightstand/car/bag with all the notepads and pens in the world (which you’ll never find when you need them) and keep track of your ideas.
- Expectation: That idea is so good I’ll never forget it.
- Reality: *Five minutes later* What was my idea again?
We make resolutions every year. Some become a habit, some we never do again. You might not be doing any of these resolutions come June (or February). You might try them again the next year, or the year after, and finally nail them five years from now.
Resolutions are never a bad thing to make, just lean into the reality of them rather than high expectations and celebrate whatever ones you manage to keep doing well into December. It might be the one thing that finally helps you finish the MS you made the resolution to finish last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. And the year before that.
Happy New Year!
— K.M. Allan