Keeping Resolutions by Kay Keppler
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist, editor, and novelist, Kay Keppler, as she shares with us “Keeping Resolutions.” Enjoy!
The new year is a time for resolutions, including resolutions about writing. And just like resolutions about eating better, losing weight, or going to the gym more, writing resolutions tend to get broken, too. Life intervenes, and we just can’t hit that 500 words every day or finish that book on time. When that happens, the feeling of failure makes it easy to stall on your project or even give it up altogether.
Think positively. You can find other ways to promote and improve your writing and writing life without the threat of failure hanging over your head. Try these strategies out to keep your writing life going, even when your fingers don’t turn out as many words as you’d like.
Read 24 new books this year.
The more you read—and the more widely—the more you learn and the richer you become. Try reading one book in the genre you’re writing and one book outside your genre every month. You’ll learn more about your area and get a new perspective on writing at the same time.
Set manageable goals.
If you hit a slump, don’t set yourself up for failure. Rather than commiting to a full novel by year’s end, decide to finish a short story by June. Maybe you could connect it to your novel in such a way that eventually it could be a marketing tool or bonus feature.
Find a mentor.
Mentors can be motivational and inspiring. If you know someone, great. If not, many industry gurus such as Joanna Penn , Jane Friedman , Mark Dawson and Nick Stephenson (not to mention Beth Barany on this site!) offer free podcasts, blogs, and other resources. Take advantage of their know-how.
Completing a 50,000-word novel in a month that also includes Thanksgiving is not an easy task, yet thousands have done it. The good thing: it doesn’t have to be polished. Plan ahead for it. Join a challenge. Write an outline first. Then let the house go. Eat out for the holiday. And let her rip!
Go on a writing retreat.
If you’re distracted or overwhelmed by obligations—or you need the juice of a brainstorming session with your critique partners—a weekend away could help you power through a chapter or jump-start your creativity. Go to a hotel or ask friends if you can house sit when they travel.
Attend an event for writers.
Maybe you’ve had enough “alone time” for a while and need some fresh perspectives. Check out local classes, workshops, or even a national conference. Joining a crowd of writers who are all interested in the same goals can recharge your batteries.
Form a writing habit that fits your life.
In a perfect world, we’d all write every day. But if that doesn’t work for you, experiment until you find something that does. Go to bed earlier or stay up later to write. Watch less TV. Say no more often. If you have a spouse, negotiate a few nights a week at the library to work. See if writing sprints or dictation help you get words on the page.
Writing is for the long haul
A new year brings fresh hope, and with it, promises to improve. That’s great if you can stick to those resolutions, but a writing life is filled with ups and downs. Don’t let deviations from your goals derail your overall efforts. Finding ways to minimize the downturns ultimately means more words on the page. And that’s a resolution we all can keep.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
She lives in northern California. Contact her here at Writer’s Fun Zone in the comments below, or at email@example.com to ask questions, suggest topics, or if you prefer, complain.