Bring it, 2011. For about the last three years now, I have promised myself in New Year’s Resolutions that this was the year I was going to become a Successful Writer. I’ve come at it from all kinds of angles: write a novel, edit a bunch of short stories, produce a completed new piece every week, Get Published. So far? Goose egg.
I think part of the problem is that the aspirations I’ve been choosing are either too rigid (produce a new piece every week? that’s an invitation not to attempt a novel if ever I heard one), or externally based (whether I get published is at least as much up to the editors as it is to me. heck, if it were up to me I’d be a bestselling author by now). One of the pep talks in NaNo last November pointed out that the writing is what’s on the page. Anything else, glorious as it may be in the head of the writer, is just thought.
This year, I’m tackling the leap between the brain and the page. I’m trying to create resolutions that will encourage me to stretch myself as a writer, but also allow enough flexibility that having an off day once in a while won’t make me feel like I’ve failed. Here they are:
1. Write every day. The rules are that it must be creative, blog posts don’t count, and I have to give a good effort to finishing a piece I start, rather than ending up with a thousand opening lines by the end of 2011. Beyond that, if I write a sentence one day because I’m exhausted and the story’s not coming, so be it. I’m taking even that token time to dedicate to writing. So far this year, my low is 88 and my high is 524 in one day. Not NaNo numbers by any means, but I’m hitting a pretty steady 200-300, and hoping to increase as the year continues.
2. Blog once a week, minimum. This site does wonders to make me feel like I’m taking writing seriously, so even though I might have been using the time it took to write this post to work on my actual story, I think it’s worth it to make this blog and site an active part of my life. Besides, when I make it big and people search for me, don’t you think they should see something that has relatively recent content? Yeah, me too.
3. Read at least one book a week. Normally I’d scoff at such a basic “requirement,” but I’ve been finding that my new schedule gives me less time and energy to read than I’m really happy with. This is more of a safeguard to help me remember that reading is something that recharges me and gives me pleasure, and I don’t want to let it slide in favor of my other responsibilities. Plus, if I read a book per week, I can at least update what I’m reading here, so making time to read lots of awesome books will help me fulfill resolution #2. Double points!
Incidentally, I wish I could crank out 500 words of story as easily as 500 words of blog. My new system to make sure words happen has been to pull up a blank Word document when I get to work. Anytime I think of the next sentence of my story, I stop what I’m doing for fifteen seconds to write it down. Since I’m in front of a computer for eight hours a day, I thought, why not be thinking about stories for part of that time? So far it’s working out well. One particularly slow, particularly creative day, I had over 1000 words by closing time. On busier days, I’ll squeeze in just about 100. Anything helps push the story along, though, right? know I have all of one reader right now, but if anyone comes across this and has other tips for how to fit writing into a cramped schedule, let me know!