Sunday, January 02, 2011

Writing Resolutions

I tend to not make conventional resolutions each year (other than always attempt to re-focus basic efforts towards eating better, losing weight and reading more), but for the past few years I have set up some basic writing goals.

Before 2010 hit, I set up a few goals.  Here is what I resolved, writing-wise for 2010:
  1. Finish the first draft of my novel A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK
  2. Continue to keep 3 to 5 stories into circulation at various short-fiction markets
  3. Try my hand at writing a non-fiction article on the topic of fatherhood and sending that to a "parenting" market
Here's how I did:
  1. I completed the first draft of A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK, and have since put it aside to age a little before I take a stab at doing a second draft version of it.
  2. A quick check of my writing submission journal reveals that I kept no less than 3 stories in circulation at all times this year. That seems to have worked because I did sell a few stories. (And you can't sell them if you don't submit them)
  3. I did NOT write a non-fiction article on the topic of fatherhood nor did I send that to a parenting market.  (I did, however, write and publish 11 other non-fiction pieces, mostly publishing-related articles) and I did pitch a "customer experience" article to a food services retail magazine (they didn't take it, but the article was a nice stretch for me)
In terms of other things achieved outside of this list, in 2010 I sold 3 short stories and my novel I, DEATH, which is slated to be published in November 2012.

As always, I got sidetracked incredibly from my writing this past year. For the past 6 months especially, I've been bringing a lot of work home with me (shall I call it homework?) that I've been doing in the late evening and early morning, and that has stolen much of my writng time from me.  Also, being heavily involved as a board member of Canadian Booksellers Association takes a fair portion of my free time as well.

However, those need to be recognized for what they are: excuses!

It might be nice to have excuses so as not to be held accountable for commitments. But let's be honest, excuses are only useful if the goals themselves aren't important to you. If you're serious about achieving something, you need to achieve them DESPITE good excuses.

A mantra for writers (or perhaps even a resolution for those who want to complete writing projects) might be:  ACCEPT NO EXCUSES! or I WILL ACCEPT NO EXCUSES FOR NOT WRITING!

We all willingly give up precious minutes every day to a ton of mundane tasks - I'm sure that even in the busiest days, the average person can find a simple 15 minutes to devote to an important task. 15 minutes a day focusing on writing might be all it takes to get a few things done. (That's not to say ONLY 15 minutes, because there are days when I spend hours -- but 15 minutes a day is a good start)

So with that in mind, here are 3 goals I'm setting for myself in 2011:

  1. Sell a non-fiction article outside of books/publishing (I'm not going to lock myself down with a "parenting" article, because along with my "food services/customer service" article, I've been kicking around a "men's health" style article (from a complete novices' POV of course). This year I'll take the shotgun approach, scatter a few and see what sticks.
  2. Complete the re-write for I, DEATH (since that version of the manuscript is due at the publisher by the end of the summer to begin the official publication schedule)
  3. Get my novel MORNING SON back in circulation with publishers
  4. Work on the second draft of my novel A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK
  5. Keep between 3 and 5 stories in circulation at all times.

Yes, I upped the ante this year - from 3 goals to 5.


Because in the background, I'm also working on a non-fiction book idea that Francine suggested I work on. And if I want to get that done, I need to be extremely focused in my approach and not allow myself to slack off.  Writing begets writing.  I've found in the past that the more I write, the easier it is to write even more. There's something about being in the "swing of things" or neck-deep in the flow of writing that simply generates more.

So there - the year is young and I'm filled with a commitment to get these goals done.

Have YOU set any writing/creative goals for yourself for 2011?


WCM said...

Great to put these goals down for all to see. It keeps us accountable!

My writing / communicating goals for this year are:

1. To write/work on my dissertation every day. Yup, every single day, no excuses. This doesn't cut me any slack, but it's time to get this project over the hump.

2. To develop my blog as a place to carry on conversations about education, tourism, business and excellence. This is a writing/audio/video development project, so I'll be interested to see how it morphs over the year. I’m very excited about this!

3. To get one more research paper/case study out into the world. Just one. If I have more ideas, I need to keep in mind goal #1.

4. Focus on brand-building not busy work! (Just finished Gary Vaynerchuk's book and think that crushing it sounds amazing!)

Mark Leslie said...

Brilliant resolutions, Bill. Thanks for sharing.

Yes, Vaynerchuk's CRUSH IT is amazingly inspiring, isn't it?

Debbie H said...

I hear you on the accountability issue.

My resolution (small but large) is to finish the rough draft of part 1 of my memoir.

Of course, I now have two rough drafts to choose from, and I'm not sure if I want to start from now and go backwards, or vice versa, so I'll have to decide that before I take the plunge.

Included in this resolution is the unspoken, but equally important decision to actually write every day, because that's how I will actually finish my rough draft.

Thank you for inspiring me, Mark.

Mark Leslie said...

I tend to agree, Debbie -- writing every day is the best way to actually finish that first draft. Best of luck to you completing either version, whichever one you decide to run with.