The time of year is upon us when we have a look at our lives and start to lay down resolutions. Some of us may have weight loss goals. Maybe it's to learn an instrument, pick up a new language, or to kick a bad habit. However, this year, it may be time to include a writing resolution.
Below are a list of resolutions aimed at building good writing habits and gaining some skills to help you through this crazy, unpredictable writing life.
1. Set self imposed deadlines – as weird as it sounds sometimes the looming deadline can help us kick into high gear. It structures our writing into loosely timed chunks, makes it seem more like a “real job" (assuming it isn’t your actual job), and can make it a lot easier to deal with the pressure once you are working to deadlines.
How to succeed at this resolution – set realistic goals for all projects. Get a diary/planner and note them down as well as setting reminders on your phone. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you miss one, find out WHY you missed it with the aim of not making the same mistake again.
2. Write daily. While I don’t subscribe to scribbling down random words just to write every day, there is a lot to be said for building time in daily for working on your projects. Even half an hour can make writing seem like part of your routine rather than a special event. Not only can writing everyday make huge word counts easily manageable, it can also help with increasing your Words per minute.
How to succeed at this resolution- one word, NaNoWriMo. This is a tri-yearly competition designed specifically to build a daily writing habit. The November one, the original competition, breaks down a hefty sounding world count of 50,000 words in a month into 30 easily managed chunks. With goal trackers, a “buddy” system, and that warm fuzzy feeling of meeting or surpassing your daily goal this is an excellent way to create your daily habit and, hopefully, have a finished first draft at the end.
3. Keep the editing until the first draft is done. This is probably a stumbling block for many a writer. We write a chapter, we don't feel good about something in it, we go back and edit. More often than not it throws the rest of the story idea out of whack. This may be something you are happy with, but if like me it is a constant battle between editing and finishing a piece this may be the resolution for you.
How to succeed. This one takes willpower I'm afraid. Set yourself the goal to write your first draft in its entirety with no edits. In my experience I found this was easier to achieve while racing word count goals for Nanowrimo. It’s up to you how far in the non editing game you want to be, but keeping away from the major edits will help you get your idea down as you first envisioned it.
4. Submit to an open calls or take part in competitions. Lots of publishing houses do open calls from time to time, including A Murder Of Storytellers. The goal with this resolution is not just to get accepted, but to have your first taste of outside editing and, if you aren’t successful, rejection. Writing competitions offer this on a smaller scale. My personal recommendation would be NYC Midnight, purely because for each round you compete in you receive feedback from three judges, each of whom provides a positive and a constructive. While not very useful when it come to feedback on writing technique it can highlight certain stylistic points in your work.
This resolution is particularly useful in building a thick skin when it comes to rejection and constructive criticisms.
How to succeed – simply bite the bullet and submit. The first time you submit work will seem like the most daunting thing you ever do, but it gets easier, no matter the outcome of your submission. This is also a useful resolution if you wish to get that most hated of activities, writing query letters.
So there you have it, 4 resolutions that may help improve your productivity as a writer. Whatever your writing resolutions, or even if you have none at all, I hope 2019 is an awesome year of writing for you.
K.Lawrence hails from the wilds of north east Scotland and has been writing for longer than she can remember. Her first novel, The Raven And the Nightingale, is currently available through Amazon and Inkubus Publishing. The sequel is in the works. K has also written several short stories which have appeared in Inkubus Publishing Anthologies and one short story that has appeared in the latest A Murder of Storytellers anthology.
When she is not writing, K likes to play guitar, go to concerts, take photographs of everything and anything, and paint. She is also an avid collector of Funko Pops and other geek memerobilia.