Discuss: Writing Resolutions

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For the past couple of years on the blog, I have published a post about resolutions as the new year begins. Some folks always have resolutions related to fitness or diet. But we writers tend to resolve to write more, publish more, and read more. At least, that’s my assumption about the writer community. If I’m wrong, please comment on this post and set me straight. Or simply comment and tell me what your new year’s resolutions are because that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

Personally, I always have at least a few resolutions on my list that are dedicated to the written word. This year I’m hoping to write or edit some of my work every day. This was my goal last year as well, but this year I’m making it seem more doable by setting the bar very low. All I have to do is write 350 words each day. I’m not sure how I’m going to quantify the editing, but if I can somehow get myself to sit down and edit my own work after editing other people’s work at my job all day, then I’ll consider it a victory.

Yesterday I wrote about making the time to write and I think that’s something that you have to keep in mind if you’ve created a writing resolution. Those resolutions are going to seem pretty simple throughout the month of January. But you might find it more and more difficult to keep your resolution until April rolls around and you’re finding that you would rather spend your time on other pursuits. So, start off strong! Section off some time in your day that is only meant for writing. Hold that time sacred and you’ll be more successful than some of your like-minded peers with similar resolutions.

So, now it’s your turn — what is your writing resolution for this year? Do you want to write a certain number of words each day? Do you want to make progress on a writing project that has lain fallow for too long? Do you want to establish a writing routine? Leave your resolutions in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Writing Advice: Make the Time

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Hello, blog readers, and welcome back! I hope you all had a lovely holiday season. Now the new year has begun and I have no doubt that many of you have come up with writing-related resolutions for 2015. Personally, I have a new year’s resolution to write or edit something every day in 2015. Everyone who creates a writing-related resolution has good intentions of completing a project or of simply maintaining a writing routine. But keeping the resolution is where the trouble arises.

It’s likely that I have written about this before on the blog, but it’s an important principle to keep in mind as the new year begins and you set your writing goals. Writing requires time. Each day has only 24 hours. Some of those hours are spent sleeping, and some of them are likely spent at work and/or school. The leftover hours are what you have to work with. When you get home in the evening or wake up in the morning, you probably have something that you like to do. Maybe you read the news on your phone, scroll through your Twitter feed, and eat breakfast in the morning. In the evening, you might plop down on the sofa and watch a few hours of Netflix.

I hate to break it to you, but something in there has to go. If you want to work on your writing this year, you have to sacrifice something else from your schedule.

In a recent article on Writer Unboxed, Lisa Cron conveys this very sentiment. She says, “That’s why you have to be bold. You have to take a good hard look at your life and see what can go, even though it hurts. And maybe, just maybe, the unease we feel letting something go is a good thing. Maybe the lingering fear that we’ve made a mistake isn’t regret. Maybe it’s the point. Maybe it’s saying: You’ve given me up in order to get something done, so you damn well better give it your all. At the end of the day, isn’t that what having skin in the game is all about?”

I love this quote. “Having skin in the game” is a really good way of describing the investment that writing requires. And if you long for and pine for your old Netflix-watching days, then I guess you’ll understand what it’s like to suffer for your art. You have to be in it to win it. You have to want to write to get the writing done. If something else in your schedule trumps writing, then just don’t worry about it. People have plenty of other hobbies and plenty of other things that fill up their schedules, and that’s completely fine.

But if you really want this, you’re going to have to give something up and it’s going to take some work. To stick to those lofty resolutions that you created on January 1st, you’re going to have to stop watching Netflix so much and maybe put off seeing your friends a few nights a week. You’re going to have plant yourself in front of your computer, or on the couch, or at your desk, and get the actual words down on paper or into the word processing software. Just put one word after another and before you know it, it’ll be March and you’ll have been keeping your new year’s resolution for much longer than those folks who said they wanted to get to the gym.

Happy writing in 2015!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Writing Resolutions

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The new year is almost here and that means you may be making some resolutions for 2014. People like to rain on the parades of resolution-makers, saying that those resolutions will be broken within a month of the new year beginning. That may be true, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making a list of resolutions. Sometimes writing down goals and telling people about them gives them a power. Putting those goals out into the world can give them some air to grow.

I have been compiling a list of resolutions/goals for the past few years. Do I stick to every one I’ve ever written? Of course not. But, if anything, they’re an admonishment for me when I fail to follow through and maybe that’ll finally push me to get something done. I don’t know about you, but writing-related resolutions have been on my resolution list ever since I started the yearly ritual. For me, writing is something that I can always be improving upon. I’m never where I want to be in terms of writing, unfortunately. This year I have more writing resolutions on my list, mainly having to do with the novel I began this November and others that I’m planning in my head. The big goal is simple, though: write!

This year I have some tools to (hopefully) help me keep these writing resolutions. The first tool is an offshoot of my NaNoWriMo writing group called “the accountability group.” Basically, we make our writing goals known to the group and then meet each month to update each other on what we’ve been doing. I’m hoping this will create the same kind of dynamic found in National Novel Writing Month, which always pushes me to write more than I do in the other 11 months of the year.

The other tool is a technique called “don’t break the chain.” This technique entails crossing off each day on a calendar when you perform your agreed-upon task. If you say that you want to write for an hour every night, then once you’ve done your writing for the day you can cross off the day on the calendar. The idea is to keep on doing this and to create a nice, neat chain of x’s on your calendar that you won’t want to break. I’ve been afraid of this technique in the past, for whatever reason, but I want to try it out this year.

How about you? Do you have any writing-related resolutions for 2014? Do you have any resolutions at all? If so, what techniques do you use to keep yourself on track? Share in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan