I am so grateful for the year that was. Two-thousand-eighteen was the point at which I recommitted to my passion for writing and pursued a profession as a writer; it yielded growth and learning beyond my expectations. As a result, I am so excited to tackle new projects and goals in 2019. I write New Year’s Resolutions fully intending to follow them, but usually have mixed success. That’s probably because I include things that I’m not fully committed to, like working out five days/week or packing less when I go on trips. Finishing Lagging Indicators had been on my list since 2014 and I did it–albeit four years later. It can take time to tick off a resolution and I believe that the effort, rather than a 365-day deadline, is much more important. With that said, here are my Writer Resolutions for the coming year!
Set Up a Writing Goal. I would like to finish the first draft of my new novel with a publication date of Summer/Early Fall 2020. I hope to share some aspects of the writing process with you throughout the year.
Establish a Writing Schedule. It’s really about showing up in front of your computer and writing. Self-discipline and a strong work ethic, just like any other job. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the words, the genesis of a story will eventually come. I think best in the morning, so I’ll start early and dedicate four weekdays to fresh writing and one weekday to edits. My output goal for both of my novels has always been a chapter a week, not word count, and this system has worked for me. I want to keep my weekends free to recharge my mind and spend quality time with my family. Of course this is subject to change as the novel nears completion and the publishing process gets underway.
Read Two Books a Month. For the bookworms out there who can read 1-2 books a week, I envy you! I used to be that way prior to having children. My goal for 2018 was one book/month and I achieved it. I bought many more interesting books than I had a chance to read, but they’re now included in the 2019 #toberead pile. Since I’m more alert and productive during daylight hours, I’ll pencil in reading time during the day. The writer Elizabeth Gilbert believes in a weekly breakfast date at a diner or cafe with a book. I will heed this simple but beautiful piece of advice. I may even add a matinee movie in there sometimes!
Do Character/Plot/Scene Outlines. I did this to a lesser extent with Uptown & Down, but with Lagging Indicators, everything flowed from my head. My first novel was told from three perspectives while my second one was told exclusively from Mia Lewis’s point of view. I will be returning to multiple viewpoints in my new work and this will require organization and mapping things out. I look forward to the challenge!
Be Fearless. I will block out the noise, hesitation, and self-consciousness and follow where the story takes me. I will not worry about what other people think or how a story will be perceived. I am writing fiction, not my autobiography. I find that when I too closely associate my characters with myself, I hold back. Writers must dare to ask tough, uncomfortable questions in order to find a compelling, authentic narrative. Otherwise, we are only scratching the surface and doing a disservice to ourselves and our readers.
Edit, Edit, and Re-edit. I will be relentless and strive for a tight, flowing narrative. That old saying “kill your darlings” actually works! If you love a certain sentence or section of your book, ask yourself if it’s essential to the story or if you’re just admiring your skills as a wordsmith? I will also enlist other readers for advice, eschewing the embarrassment of showing family, friends, or a professional editor a first draft.
Conquering Writer’s Block. It’s inevitable. Hopefully this brain freeze won’t occur in the first stages of a new book, but it’s bound to surface after a significant period of writing time when your mind feels absolutely fried. To counter this, I will read new books or re-read old favorites. Digging into other writers’ compositions always invigorates me. Conducting more research, character analysis, or visiting a location described in the work can also spur ceativity. I will also engage in more cultural grazing. This involves experiencing other creative forms such as fine art, theater, film, music… Every cultural connection has the power to inspire and motivate, so don’t feel guilty about putting that manuscript away and getting lost in something else!
Write a Monthly Blog Piece. This trains my writing muscles and I enjoy it!
Attend a Writer’s Retreat. This has been one of my Resolutions for several years, but with two busy kids and family obligations, it has not been easy to get away. However, I have resolved to JUST DO IT and everyone around me will have to adapt. Now, the big question: Which retreat from this amazing list??
Unplug. I partake in a lot of screen time. Time that could be spent reading or writing. However, most of what I consume is related to the writing and publishing world. I’ve learned so much through blogs, Instagram, and articles and am afraid of missing out on useful information. But I will sincerely try to block off a fixed amount of time for these pursuits because the fact of the matter is, my listening and focusing skills have diminished from too much screen consumption. That concerns me and the first step to nipping a problem is admitting you have one!
Be Kind to Myself. I will try not to feel insecure or depressed if I don’t achieve the aforementioned resolutions. As long as I’m trying my best, I can feel satisfied. There’s always the option to reassess and regroup.
Practice Gratitude. Especially during those moments of frustration. I am so grateful for the chance to pursue my writing dreams. I thank my family and friends everyday for believing in me. I am indebted to the readers who have read my books, given positive feedback, sent text messages, or written reviews. This wave of support propels me forward :). Happy New Year!