I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. We’ve just about finished off all the leftovers, which I do find slightly depressing. Turkey is so much better in the days following Christmas, in my opinion. Ah well. Now’s the time for looking forward. Roll on Christmas 2014!
Oh, wait a sec. There’s twelve months to get through before we reach that point. Twelve months which, quite frankly, are supposed be framed by all sorts of short-lived goals and ambitions. Yep, it’s that time of year again — New Year’s Resolution time, which for writers, usually follows a predictable pattern.
Firstly, the most common New Year’s Resolution for writers without a novel to their name is the obvious one — to write a book. This is a good resolution. After all, writing a book is a handy part of being a writer. 😉
However, the same thing happens every year. I’ve been there, don’t worry. But what usually happens is something like this:
The first few days go great. Writer starts to question why they held off writing for so long. Ideas are flowing. Dialogue is flowing. Story is flowing.
Week two arrives. Writer goes back to their day job. Hours of writing gradually decrease, as does motivation to work on novel. Writer might skip a day and justify doing so by saying they are ‘tired’ or ‘don’t have the time’.
Week three arrives. Most writers have given up at this point. Or rather, they are ‘taking a break’.
I can guarantee that these writers will never finish that novel. Ever.
So yes. There is a downside to New Year’s Resolutions for writers, and that’s the whole idea of New Year as an event. Writing a novel should be something you motivate yourself to do in your own time. New Year can be a motivational springboard for this, however the New Year’s Resolution to simply ‘write a novel’ is slightly off the mark, in my opinion.
Instead, why not commit to writing one-thousand words every day for the year? Or even more?
Yeah. Scary, right? I can hand on heart say I didn’t do that every day last year (although my word count for the year is way higher than that daily average). But by committing to a clearly set goal, you’re forcing yourself to find the time to write. You’re forcing yourself to be motivated.
There will be days where you get in from work exhausted, but you refuse to go to bed until you write.
There will be days where you have no idea where your story is going, but still, you write.
You don’t judge your words. This is an exercise in thickening your skin as much as it is writing a novel.
If you stick to this 1,000 words per day rule for a whole year, you will have a whole load of stories finished this time next year, and you’ll gladly be able to call yourself a professional writer.
Just think about it. By pushing through those times where you have zero motivation, you’re training the muscle in your brain to battle through the tough times. If you can conquer that, then you can conquer anything.
Replace ‘write x amount of words per day’ with whatever your chosen creative or business endeavour is. The fact is, a lot of a little adds up to a lot. Think about that for a second. It makes sense.
So yes. New Year’s Resolution for writers number one has to be to set a daily word count goal and stick to it for a whole year.
This advice is interchangeable for newer and more experienced writers, too. Everybody needs a motivational kick from time to time, so this should be enough to do so.
Remember: it will be tough. It absolutely will not be easy. But if it was easy, everybody would be doing it. Nothing is easy. We have to work hard to reap the rewards. It’s always been this way, and it always will be.
To be honest, that’s my main New Year’s Resolution for writers in 2014. Work hard. Produce new words. Everything else — publishing, marketing, social media, blogging — comes second to new words. Without new words, you cannot progress as a writer. And sure — you can promote that first novel of yours as long as you want. But if a reader has nowhere to go after that first book, then they’re going to be disappointed.
We’re in a golden age of fiction. Sure, there is a case for refraining from publishing everything we write. I believe in this too, and damn, I nowhere near publish everything I write. And yet, I’m still considered ‘very prolific’. But even so, I still find this a little absurd. I just write a couple of thousand words per day and publish the best of them (once they’ve been rewritten, edited, polished, of course). I write a couple of thousand words per day and I feel like I’m being lazy. And yet I’m considered ‘very prolific’. Madness!
My personal New Year’s Resolution for 2014 in writing is to write and publish everything on my publishing calendar. Now, you should see my publishing calendar. It’s quite a thing of terrifying beauty. In a nutshell, I want to publish three new Brian McDone novels.
And a second season of Dead Days.
And a whole load of other stuff in between.
It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun to try out. And if I can look back this time next year at my publishing calendar and see even a quarter of it crossed off, I can be confident I’ve had a prolific year. I won’t get down if I don’t hit my goals — I have fall-back goals, just in case. Win win for me.
So yes. New Year’s Resolutions for Writers in 2014. Work hard. Produce new fiction. Don’t get bogged down in the marketing side of things aside from a mailing list and a blog/social media presence. With the latter, don’t spam, just be yourself. Publish quality words. Repeat.
I wish. 🙂
Have a happy new year. Here’s a list of some New Year’s Resolutions for writers I wrote last year but are still just as applicable today. Pick and choose. Hope one or two of them are useful to you in some way.
– I will finish this first draft
– I will write for an hour every day
– I will find the time to write every day, no matter what
– I will find out how many words I can write in an ideal hour, and write that amount every day
– I will set up my website and blog when I have something interesting to say
– I will connect with fellow authors and readers via Twitter and Facebook
– I will stop neglecting Google+ (okay, that’s just me)
– I will conquer the rewrite
– I will seek the help and advice of critical friends
– I will help others
Happy New Year,
Ok, this is why I read your blog and follow you on twitter. Keeping me motivated and inspired. Thanks Ryan.
No problem! All the best for 2014!
I’m being lazy Ryan so I am just going to go with your resolutions instead of thinking up my own. Oh wait, I’m not being lazy – I’m too busy writing. Thanks for the great blog.
You’re welcome. Keep on going!
Great blog! Very interesting. What is “Pitchfork’s Best New Music section”?