by Julie Eshbaugh
We are quickly approaching the end of the first month of 2011, and I thought today would be a good day to look back at our writing resolutions, assess our progress, and consider any new goals we should be setting.
At the start of the new year, we here at Let the Words Flow made the following resolutions:
My writing resolution is to be a more patient writer. Right now I try to force my writing too much. My goal is to let my writing flow more naturally.
Gah, just one resolution? There’s a million things I want to do better. I just finished Bird by Bird and it’s really inspired me. Mostly though, I want to experience more. Whether that means reading more or just getting out of the house, I want to open myself up to more possibilities for inspiration.
After all the cookies I’ve been eating, I want to make use of the gym that’s included with my ridiculous tuition… but a more writerly resolution is to focus on one writing project at a time instead of jumping between several.
Oh, New Year’s resolutions….:] As far as writing goes (though I suppose this applies to all aspects of my life), I resolve to start practicing what I preach and develop my patience. Things will happen. Things will come. Just need to work at it, not fuss over it
I have so many resolutions this year, but I think I’ll agree with Kat and say that I’d like for 2011 to be the year I learn to be patient. I’ve got a lot of waiting ahead of me this year (with QUEEN OF GLASS coming out in 2012), so learning to be patient will be a pretty useful skill! And I’d also like to stop eating so many double stuff oreos.
My resolution is to find a balance: between keeping up with my client’s needs, answering submissions, completing conference talks, meeting deadlines, and promoting current releases, there is always a lot to do. My Hope for 2011 is to continue the juggling act. And not drop any balls.
My resolutions this year are pretty simple for once! I want to complete the 2011 Debut Author Challenge, and finish up the manuscript I’m working on. Nothing too exciting from me this coming year!
As I read through these, I noticed that they could be broken down into three neat categories:
1.) Patience (Julie, Kat, and Sarah)
2.) Self-Discipline (Jenn and Mandy)
3.) Reading more (Savannah and Sammy)
Since I think it’s probably safe to assume that other writers are struggling with similar goals, I’ve decided to look at each of these three and discuss tricks and tactics to help make these goals more easily attainable for all of us.
I’ve yet to meet a patient writer, so if being more patient is one of your 2011 resolutions, you are in GOOD COMPANY! Here are a few suggestions to make patience more attainable:
~ Keep busy! Nothing makes the time pass more slowly than watching your inbox. Start a new project. Try turning off your internet/email access for a half an hour while you write. You will not only feel more patient, you will stay more focused on your writing.
~Accept the things that are out of your control. Agents need time to consider submissions. So do editors. Even once you have that long-awaited book deal, you cannot control your release date. Instead, focus on the things you can control. Take your time with your current project rather than submitting it prematurely.
~Find a good listener. If you have a writing buddy, turn to that person when you feel like the waiting involved in writing is getting to you. Avoid voicing your frustrations on your blog or through your twitter account!
As a writer, you answer to yourself on everything from what you write to when you write it. Here are some tips for holding yourself accountable and staying on course:
~If you feel like Jenn and want to focus on one project instead of starting three more, try concentrating on the end result – that completed manuscript! There is definitely a long, dry hike between the thrill of starting something new and the satisfaction of seeing it finished. If you are tempted to start a new project because you’ve gotten bored with the routine of your current task, mix it up a bit. Try writing sprints; write as many words as you can in a set amount of time – say ten minutes. You will need to go back and edit, but you will see your word count growing and feel inspired to stick with it. Word sprints are even more fun if you can do them with a writing buddy.
~Budget your time. If you’re like Mandy and wear several hats every day, it’s important to realize that you can’t do everything at once. Decide which responsibility is going to get your full attention for a particular period of time, and commit yourself to that task. Worrying about ten tasks at once only makes you less effective at all of them.
~Set small goals that you can keep, so that you don’t feel like a failure as soon as you start. If your goal is to “write every day,” accept the fact that 15 minutes before you go to bed may be all that you can spare at times. Allow yourself to “succeed” by keeping your goals realistic.
We can’t be good writers if we don’t read, but how often have you heard a writer say that they don’t have time to read because they are too busy writing? Here are some thoughts to help you get your reading done:
~Read what you like. If EVERYONE is talking about a particular book but you just can’t get into it, don’t force it. Granted, I do believe that you should be familiar with what people in your target audience are reading, but there will be books you prefer to others. Read the ones you enjoy.
~Discover new authors. Sammy has encouraged us all here at LTWF to join her in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. Reading newly published authors is a great way to stay inspired (and to keep your eyes off that inbox!)
~Read for research and inspiration. If you have a strong curiosity about Machu Picchu, don’t feel guilty reading an article about it in a travel magazine. Machu Picchu might turn out to be the setting of your next novel. Or maybe you want to read about genealogy, or sailing, or asteroids. Give yourself permission to read about things that seem unrelated to your writing. You never know what might spark the idea for your next WIP.
Are you succeeding with your writing resolutions? Have you already abandoned them? Have you re-imagined them? Please share your experiences in the comments!