New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions already? But we’ve only just finished the last of the turkey noodle soup, turkey tetrazzini, and flaming turkey wings from Thanksgiving! And we’re in the midst of deciding whether or not we need to make a run out to the Hallmark store to buy more gift wrapping paper and greeting cards. Stop the madness!

Yet we are less than a month from January 1, when many people resolve to:

Lose weight. (But first, I have to finish eating the goodies left over from the holidays. We can’t let good food go to waste. Surely, I’ll finish them by January 31. Oh, here come the Valentine’s Day chocolates.…)

Exercise more. (Oh, I’ve got to get that exercise equipment ordered because it’s too cold outside to run. I hope it doesn’t take too long to get the equipment delivered. Oh, wait. I forgot I wanted to put down new flooring first.…)

An aspiring writer may list:

Write a book.

Many resolutions fail because there’s no set action plan or too many good excuses not to put the plan into action, so the resolution fades as snow melts. We have to do more than resolve to meet a goal. We must implement steps to make the dream happen.

As for writing a book, here are a few tips:

  1. Choose a plot or topic that excites and motivates you to write.
  2. Aim to write a certain number of words a day. Two pages equal 500 words, while four pages mean writing 1,000 words. If you choose 1,000 words, you will have a 90,000-word book in three months.
  3. Set aside a particular time for writing, five days a week. Look at your day. Usually, you can find a free hour or so. Choose that time and guard it by letting your friends and family know that, for instance, 5 PM to 6 PM is your writing time, and you will not be otherwise available. Turn off the phone and other distractions during this specified hour.
  4. Designate a special place for writing. Whether that’s your dining-room table or a corner in the living room, or even if you have the luxury of a home office, go to that specific place at your selected time and write. Your retreat to that location will also emphasize your nonavailability to those around you.
  5. Change your clothes! Special attire can help you make the mental transition that you will spend the next hour writing. For comparison, think of a nurse’s uniform, a school uniform, business attire, or workout clothing. The outfit can set the mood. The change doesn’t have to be drastic. Maybe keep on hand a few shirts with slogans about writing that you can throw on with jeans.

After you write your first draft:

Use your writing time to take a break from writing to research publishers and agents. Decide where you will send your proposal and final manuscript. Then, read over your draft, polish it, and prepare your proposal.

Here’s hoping you will write your book this year!

8 Responses to New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser December 8, 2021 at 3:35 am #

    I’m gonna write a book next year
    (that’s what you ALWAYS say!),
    but to make intention clear, I’ll make like Hemingway,
    smoking all those long cigars
    and drinking like a fish,
    insert myself in passing wars
    to indulge the wish
    that I might live life wild and free
    for authentic point of view
    that will then enable me
    to sell my books to you
    so that one day I will be blessed
    by a beach house in Key West.

  2. Kim Vogel Sawyer December 8, 2021 at 6:24 am #

    Good advice! So true on the clothes, btw. I’m much more productive when I put on “ work clothes” (i.e., something other than pajama pants *wink*).

  3. Ddamon J. Gray December 8, 2021 at 6:41 am #

    Hmmm, the “change your clothes” tip is interesting. I’d not thought of that one, but you’re right. It helps facilitate a mental shift – “I’m doing something different now.”

  4. Sylvia Young December 8, 2021 at 7:26 am #

    I love this! I have a rough time set aside but I never thought about changing my clothing. I’m going to try that.

  5. Kristen Wilks December 8, 2021 at 11:18 am #

    Ha ha! I do have work clothes. A couple of years ago, my husband bought me a bunch of super-soft long-sleeved t-shirts (wow, lots of hypens) which I pair with a charming selection of pajama pants for writing. I write early in the morning (4:00AM or so) and so once I finish writing, I change into something that works better for life tasks. But yeah, over the years I have written new years writing goals and then come back to them at the end of the year. It is so encouraging to see goals getting crossed off the list, even if I don’t accomplish everything. I usually get at least one new manuscript written every year and a couple revised to the point of submission. When I get stuck, I work on the proposal, just like you suggested. Works like a charm!

  6. Loretta Eidson December 8, 2021 at 12:55 pm #

    Great points, Tamela. Although my attire shifts from day to day, my usual writing attire is jeans, a t-shirt or blouse, and colorful tennis shoes. Dressed with make-up on and my hair styled, I can work with no thoughts of “what if I have to dash out of the door.” I’m dressed for whatever the day may bring.

  7. Linda Riggs Mayfield December 9, 2021 at 9:00 am #

    Getting the writing done isn’t my issue, but getting any of my finished books published is the challenge. However, I think your advice might apply equally well to that unpleasant business! Thanks! I have a long Christmas/New Year’s break from my work at the college, and I’m going to apply your points to working on the bane of my existence: building a platform so an agent who loves my writing will finally will think my platform is good enough, too. My first platform development “uniform” might be a Christmas sweater. ;-D

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