It’s that time of year when turning to a new calendar and starting fresh brings new year’s resolutions to mind. I used to get very grandiose this time of year and promise bold changes in my life style—promises I’d never keep. I don’t know if being older has made me wiser or being the mother of four busy teenagers has made me more humble, but I’ve been thinking in terms of smaller resolutions in recent years.
I used to promise myself I’d finish a novel in a year, It is possible to write a book in a year, lots of working novelists do, but I’ve learned that setting such a lofty goal can be defeating when, come June, I’m not even close to half way done.
I find it more realistic to set a work goal in a shorter time frame. For example, I’m in the middle of revising my third novel. It’s about 50,000 words so I’ll give myself 10 weeks. Revising 5,000 words a week is doable but ambitious enough to inspire me to work hard on a day when I’d rather curl up with a cup of cocoa and read all those wonderful novels I got over the holidays.
The most productive member of my critique group has a daily goal of 1 page—that’s about 350 words. He does this every day, including weekends, holidays, vacations, days when his kids are sick, and even days when he has company visiting from overseas. The trick is–it’s just a page. It doesn’t take more than an hour or two.
Here are some work resolutions you might consider.
A page a day
2000 words a week
A chapter every month
Modest goals, but if you stick with the first goal, you’ll have 127,750 words in a year. The second goal will give you 104,000 words in a year. The third goal is less specific but most middle grade novels are 10 to 15 chapters, so even though the goals don’t seem especially lofty, any of them will get you to a novel in a year.
Here are some other writing resolutions I’ve chosen over the years.
Enter 3 writing contests a year
Apply for 3 fellowships a year
Write a character sketch every day for a month
Read a novel in my genre every month
Bring something to my critique group every two weeks even if it’s a partial chapter
Read poetry out loud after Sunday dinner
Write a note to an author whose work I admire
Volunteer in my school library
Learn the names of my local independent booksellers
When people ask me what my job is, say I’m a writer! And then don’t make any excuses for where I am in my process.
How about you? Have you got a resolution to share? Let’s hear it! Sometimes claiming a goal publicly can be the most motivating of all.
Happy New Year!