I am one of those people who makes resolutions.
I think most people “become” a resolution person for at least 2 hours around New Years’ Day, and stop being a resolution person, definitely, but January 3.
But I make resolutions and actually try to do them; at least, I have for the past few years. I contemplate the year ahead, write out some goals, and stick them on the door to my closet, where I’ll be forced to look at them every stinkin’ day. For the most part, this keeps me on track and I feel like I’m accomplishing something, so I like it.
Last year, I made a swath of resolutions, but three are particularly pertinent.
- Build a website.
- Send out queries for my most recent book.
- Devote 4 hours a week to personal writing or editing.
The first one, you’ll note, went pretty well. I launched this blog on February 12, 2013, and I have more or less stuck to a schedule of publishing at least two posts a week since then. WordPress tells me I’ve written 138 posts this year. Not too shabby, and I’m still proud of my little self-made blog. Not too bad at all.
(As a corollary, I launched my official Twitter presence at about the same time, and I’m up to 629 followers, utilizing my “don’t follow any particular strategy” strategy. However, this factoid is depressing when I realize that literal spambots have more followers than me, by the thousands. At that point, I start to hate humanity, give up on counting followers and go eat some chocolate or something.)
For the second goal, I … I was doing pretty well until May, then it came to a screeching halt. But I swear that is for a good reason. In May, that book I was sending query letters out for received two full manuscript requests. Courtesy says you are expected to stop trying to solicit other agents when this happens, so I stopped, completely. Which…maybe I shouldn’t have been courteous, because one agent declined the manuscript because she was switching agencies and the other, even now, hasn’t responded to me. Ah well. Perhaps next year.
However, I did learn that all the massive failures of my query to attract attention was, most likely, not because my book sucked, but because my query did. I had gotten a little overeager and tried something “different” in my query, which seemed brilliant at the time, but I found, at DFW Con, that it was getting me insta-rejected. So have heart! It may not be your book that’s the problem; just your query.
Finally, the writing goal. I was inspired by Stephen King and his dedicated blocks of writing time every week. Four hours a week was pretty ambitious for me, but I “allowed” myself to count blog-writing time as that personal writing time. At first, I was doing pretty well. In fact, here’s the chart I used to keep track:
Each little X after the first two columns (used to track a different goal) represents 30 minutes of writing time. Each row is a calendar week. So from my helpful fridge chart, we can see that I did a damned decent job of writing or editing for myself for… half a year.
And then it’s blank.
I got some bad and stressful news in June, and basically lost the willpower to keep up with this fairly difficult goal. But I didn’t entirely quit writing (after all, blog posts continued to flow!). I lost the gumption to keep track of my writing, and to motivate myself to try more personal work, more flash fiction, or working on my novel. If I had to guess what the remaining six months would have looked like, had I bothered to keep track, I’d guess there would be a few blank weeks, but most of the weeks would be at least partially filled in. (Especially November. I wrote like a demon in November in order to win NaNoWriMo).
Even though I did an impressive pratfall on my writing resolution for the year, I found it to be a very helpful goal. It was too hard for me, regardless of what Stephen King manages to do, and I’ll have to recalibrate for next year, but having that little chart to remind me was a good way to get that “butt in chair” part of the equation going. I’m still figuring out what I want to focus on for my already-busy 2014, but I know that should be in there somewhere.
What are your writing/publishing goals for the coming year? How will you keep yourself on task?