New Year Survival Tips for Writers by Jami Gray

Writer survivalLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Jami Gray as she shares with us  “New Year Survival Tips for Writers” Enjoy!


You survived November’s month of word carnage (aka NANO), you’re sliding across a sheet of ice straight for the Christmas Tree, and when you get up to dust off the pine needles, the New Year will meet you with a hard glare for your foolishness and demand a plan for the upcoming months. Welcome to the holiday season for writers.

Contrary to my earlier vow not to indulge in NANO, I was lured in by the sweet voices of friends regaling me with images of coming through the word wars triumph, resplendent in unscarred armor. They lied. I did emerge from the carnage with the required bounty of 50K words, and a nice white jacket with buckles. However, I did end my beleaguered tour with book number eight ending with “THE END”, so in the end, I guess it was worth waving goodbye to that small piece of sanity. Maybe I won’t miss it.

With a moment to breathe, I take the time to look dazedly around and count my blessings. My Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor, my Prankster Duo, and the lovable Fur Minxes are still here, and they still love me, despite my rampant inattention for the last thirty days as I wandered through the Lost Lands of Story Arc. There is a roof over my head, the bill collectors are held at bay by the day job, and my friends and family are here with me. These are all huge wins. The holiday season is bright.

Yet, looming around the corner is the Disciplinarian, The New Year, and he is waiting, arms crossed, toe tapping to hear what exactly shall be my Life Plan for 2016.  I’m trying to ignore him, but like a pouty kindergartener, he’s hard to ignore.

Part and parcel of a writer’s life is The Writing Plan. This is the schedule a writer will set for themselves, a way to ensure they don’t get lost on their way to The End of each story. Compared to many in this modern age of fast writing, I’m a slow writer. I manage two full-length novels (300+ pages each) a year, comfortably. If we break it down, that’s roughly 200,000 words a year. Now, if I wrote every day of the year (365) it would be roughly 548 words per day. I don’t, I write five days out of the week, and generally I’m looking at three to five months to take one book from page 1 to the final draft that gets lovingly shuffled off to my editors. If I want to stretch myself thin and drive my family to seriously consider the benefits of checking me into a full service facility, I could do three books a year, but I refrain, for everyone’s sanity.

Why, you ask, am I sharing this? Because.

Because I have lots of writer friends. They create these beautiful masterpieces of art that are their Writing Plans, and by the time the flowers are poking their heads up to check things out, their creations have crashed and burned, leaving them floundering in the mire of self-inflicted guilt. This means that on top of trying to capture their dream of word domination, they are constantly trying to dig themselves out of the pit of despair.

Because I have friends and family who do the same thing with New Year resolutions in general. You know these, they are everywhere: I’m going to lose weight…eat healthier…budget…cut back…stay on top of (fill in the blank)…I AM GOING TO BE PERFECT THIS YEAR.

(Tentatively raising hand) Um, hello? Perfect is damn near impossible to achieve. Why do we set ourselves up for failure before we even start? We must stop the madness. We can do it, I have faith in us. We all live unique circumstances, which means that what one of us faces differs from the other, so spending our time gnashing our teeth because those around us seem to be hitting the finish line before us, is not the stick we want to measure by. Measure your achievements against where you started. Sounds simple enough, but don’t be fooled, it’s not that easy. The temptation to look around will come, and it will suck you in to comparing yourself against everyone else. Hold strong, remember the true measure of success is moving forward from your starting point. Not John’s or Julie’s or Ezra’s. Your’s. Own it.

This year, when standing before The New Year in all his grim glory, give him only the achievable. Lay it out straight:  I will make one healthy choice per day…I will write one page per day…I will love myself despite the outcomes, because I gave it my best…I will not dive into the pit of despair without my floaties…I will accept the shoulders my friends and family offer…I will end 2016 better than I started.



Jami Gray Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

If you want to hunt her down, she can be found lurking around the following cyber locations:






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  • Beth Barany says:

    Wonderful, Jami! I know what you mean about measuring yourself against imagined perfection versus improvement from yesterday. I love your measured plan. Here’s to a Happy and Prosperous New Year! And thanks for being an awesome Writers Fun Zone contributor!

  • Jami Gray says:

    Merry holidays, Beth and all! Thank you for letting me keep coming back. Wishing everyone a fantastic holiday and an exciting new year!

  • MonaKarel says:

    My writing guru (Elizabeth Lowell) once said: The perfect is the deadly enemy of the possible. Which has helped so many times when I have fretted over making a scene ‘perfect’ Just make it happen, I can polish later
    I did a 50% NaNo, which was perfect for me. And I’m writing every day. Maybe just a few sentences, but every day.

  • Jami Gray says:

    I love that statement, and Elizabeth Lowell is one of the best for intriguing plots! Congrats on conquering the hardest part of the writing beast, Mona! I bow to your word carnage. Merriest of Holidays to you and yours!

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