Writing Resolution 2011:One Step a Day

So you're starting a new year with a shiny list of new resolutions. When it comes to your writing, they may take the form of a business plan, a nebulous list, even one big pipe dream that you're secretly willing to drop the moment that you hit the first patch of turbulence.

First off, chuck that last notion, the part where giving up, for any reason, remains a mental option. Tell yourself that real writers write, in the good times, the bad, and the seriously inconvenient. Remind yourself that everyone faces some adversity, whether its a failing marriage, a dying parent, a troubled child, a serious illness, or what have you, but only the truly committed, the exceptional continue their trajectory with laser-like focus.

As of today, you can stake your claim in that club. You can do it by asking yourself every single day this coming year, what one thing can I do (NOW) will move me a step closer to my goal?

Can I squeak out another 100 words when I'm exhausted?

Can I put the lessons of that craft book into practice or experiment with the technique I picked up at a workshop?

Can I revisit with fresh eyes the manuscript I set aside, reading it in the mental guise of an editor rather than a writer?

Can I be honest with myself, then find the courage to revise in a major and meaningful way?

Can I open myself to feedback with a contest entry or submission to an agent or an editor, once my work is the best that I can make it on my own?

Can I take a chance and risk my ego?

Can I stand again once I've been knocked down, rather than tallying my "failures" -- seeing them as necessary steps along the journey, like one of Thomas Edison's 10,000 ways NOT to invent the light bulb?

Can I do one thing, one active thing, each day? And I'm not talking here about attending someone else's workshop, reading someone else's book for research or to keep up with your market. Though the first is a good idea and the latter two are critical, they're not the same as putting yourself out there via your own efforts. They're more like an athlete who relies on watching film or studying old game plans without putting in the sweat equity to developing his/her own skill and sense and muscle.

So share with me if you will. What is your writing resolution, and what one step are you going to take today in that direction?


Terri Richison said…
My New Year's writing resolution is to treat writing like a job - not a hobby, not something I do when I'm in the mood or the muse is being kind - a JOB where I clock in every day and keep my butt in the chair, and to enter contest and submit. Thank you once again Colleen - you are an inspiration!
Jeanna Thornton said…
Colleen, you are a pro and it shows in this article. I don't think you left out one thing that I am not dealing with...and yes, I do understand the commitment. My break is over and I am back to work with a better perspective. Thanks for your encouragement...lunch sometime soon? My nickel! j.
Thanks so much, Terri and Jeanna. I know that both of you are committed to your goals. Hang in!

And Jeanna, lunch sounds great. I should be finished with my cover art form and revisions in about a week. Then I'll be free to go. At last!
Brandie Nickerson said…
I was very vague last year and so I spent my time taking classes, judging contests, and volunteering (which I enjoyed).

But this year, I'm committing myself to a writing schedule and submitting a chapter a week to my critique group.

Good for you, Brandie. It's good to have the time to explore, too, but getting serious about the writing itself is the way to achieve your dreams. Great goals.
Suzan Harden said…
I can't call this a resolution. More like a rededication to two hours of NEW writing in the morning. That got lost over the last two months between edits for a requested ms, homeschooling and workng nearly full-time at the Day Job.
Wow, Suzan. That's a lot going on, yet still you're putting in the time. Good for you!
Jo Anne said…
Mornin', Colleen ~ As always, you've pegged it. Honesty, self-awareness, sweat equity, and a strong, renewable ego. Thanks for the reminders. I must 'grok' my goals (feel them innately), so they're not totally specific:

1) Write and submit.
2) Begin and finish a new story.
3) Continue to participate in, and cheer for my excellent 100X100 group.
4) Have new pages for my critique group every week.
5) Do my morning words BEFORE any email, blogs or internet socializing.
6) Write one "meet cute" short story aimed at Women's World.
7) Eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and focus on personal health, so I have the stamina to meet my goals and the strength and attitude to enjoy the journey.
Julie said…
I'll confess, I hate making resolutions. I am less than 10,000 words from finishing my 1st draft, so that is number 1 on my list. Writing the synopsis, entering more contests, submitting to a couple of agents, editing, editing, more editing and starting a new project all fall in after that. And I'd like to write and submit some more short stories. Should be a busy year.
Barbara said…
Colleen, I so enjoyed your post--and brought a lot away from it. I've finally faced the biggest tenacle I boxed last year--self-doubt. I just need to overcome that (!) and get back on track. So my resolution is: while I'm trying to do the first,I'll do the second--keep going as if I have that confidence back! So back to revising (aak) and resubmitting.
I'll be cheering you on, Jo Anne, Julie, and Barbara! May each of you claim victories from 2011 with your efforts!
My New Year's resolution is to finish my manuscript, query, and start submitting. I'm not one for the "write every day" mantra, but more write 4-5 days a week, for an extended period of time. That's what works for me, particularly with what could be an equally all-consuming other job. But for the past five years, I have treated writing as a job, and I hope it shows.

I also resolve to begin another manuscript or to write some flash fictions after I finish this one. Something different, something new.

AND--I resolve to take a break at some point! I haven't had an entire week off since summer 2004!
I like your #7, by the way, Jo Anne. I think we underestimate how much our health impacts our work. It's hard to see eating right and exercising as helping with writing, but I really believe it does. When we feel better and are clearer mentally, we're bound to produce better work.

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