Resolutions. We all make them. We all break them. And you’re probably wondering why in the bleep I’m talking about them in early December.
Well. Because today is my birthday. And because for the past few years, I’ve made my resolutions for the next year on my birthday, not New Year’s Eve. I do this for two reasons: a.) it seems to mean just a bit more, and b.) let’s face it, New Year’s is less than a month away.
I looked back on last year’s resolutions this morning, and tried to assess where I was this year, and what I did, and was it all worth it? There were things I did that didn’t even make the list — like this blog. There were things I wanted to do — like go to England — that haven’t happened even after five years on the list. A lot of my resolutions had to do with financial issues. But quite a few had to do with my writing. And that was interesting, because at this time last year, I had no idea that in just two short months, I was going to decide to scrap my entire novel and start over. So here were my goals . . . and how I did.
1.) Finish Nicky’s story (tentative title, Rumrunner) — Um. I did research. 🙂 I did write a little more. And one of my goals for this year is to finish the research, finish the novel, and start querying by May.
2.) Fix Ghost Hunt — This is the one I scrapped. I knew something was desperately wrong with it, but it took six months away and a lot of soul-searching before I realized what the problem was. Once I knew that, I was fine. I wrote a draft of the new novel (Book 1) in 8 weeks, spent the next three months revising, and should have a query-able draft by December 31!
3.) Research my nonfiction historical — YES. I found at least two of the major court cases I needed for that. Next Saturday, I’m going to see the main one in person!!! Not only that, but I talked to the woman who is restoring the house where the guy I’m researching lived!
4.) Write 1200 – 1500 words/day — Well. No. I think, when I tallied up what I’d done (95K on one novel, 110K on a second, and about 5-10K on various other novels) that I’d done an average of 700 words per day. Some days I wrote thousands; some days, nothing. But hey. I wrote two novels this year. Give me some credit! 🙂
One thing I’ve learned over the years is this: you can’t keep a resolution unless you break it down into small, manageable goals. So let’s say your goal is to write a novel in 2015. Admirable. Doable. Absolutely. But. What’s your plan for doing that? And I don’t mean sitting down and plotting it all out (though if that’s your gig, by all means, that needs to be done!).
For instance, I’m already working on my goals for next year. One is to finish revisions to a book and query agents. So I’m going to break it down like this:
- Finish edits and revisions to Book 1 by December 31. (I have notes. Every time I revise something, it gets crossed off the list. This is hands down the best way to fix all the things that need fixing in a novel.)
- Research agents to query over Christmas break, and create a spreadsheet of them, their agencies, and their submission requirements.
- Write my query letter. Have beta readers go over it. Tailor it to fit each agent I’m querying.
- And then, the crowning achievement: have an agent by May, 2015. (Yes, I know, this is entirely dependent upon many, many things out of my control. However, now the universe has that deadline. It better deliver.)
So how will you keep your resolutions — writing and otherwise — for 2015? You can! Just break them down into small, manageable goals. A list of items that you can cross off. (There is nothing quite so satisfying as crossing items off a to-do list. I highly recommend it.)
Is one of your goals for next year to write a novel? Fantastic. If you need to do research ahead of time, make a list of things to research, and where you need to do that, and most importantly, a deadline by which to have it done. If you need to plot it out, go for it — but give yourself a deadline. Do you thrive on x numbers of words per day or week? Set a goal, and then decide if you need to get up an hour early, or write over your lunch break, or write every other day. It has to be something that works for YOU, though.
So get cracking! 🙂 And do check in later with your progress, please!