Thursday, December 31, 2015

5 Writing Resolutions for the New Year

Every writer begins a new year with high expectations: Write more, publish more, reach more readers. As a writer, editor, teacher, and literary agent, I have a front row seat at the circus that is writers struggling to pound out pages, puzzle out plot problems, ponder the depths of character, revise and revise and revise again—all within deadline, be that deadline is contracted or self-imposed. So I know how quickly even the best intentions can be derailed—my own included.

My own (contracted) deadline is fast approaching, and after a holiday season filled with too much fudge and too little writing, I'm feeling sluggish at all levels. Time to get back on track—and I'm counting on these writing resolutions to help me do that:

1)      Set a daily word count goal. I usually set a writing time goal—two hours a day—but when I'm on deadline, I find a word count goal more useful and productive. For 2016, I'm abandoning the writing time goal and switching to this word count goal full-time, deadline or no deadline..
2)      Keep a writer’s log. I've never been good at keeping a journal, but this year I plan on keeping a Bridget Jones’s style daily writer’s log: # hours writing, # words written, # snacks, # cups of coffee, # interruptions (and taking names!), # distractions (including “research”).
3)      Read “for fun” an hour a day. As an agent, I have a lot to read--my clients’ work, prospective clients’ work, students’ work. I also need to keep up with what's selling, so I read blogs, articles, break-out novels, nonfiction best sellers, and more. Sometimes I suffer reader’s fatigue—and the cure is always reading something purely for the thrill of it. So this year I'm reading an hour a day just for fun—anything and everything I want, from HGTV magazine and Yoga Journal to Lee Child and Jane Austen and Alice Hoffman and on and on and on. On my “fun” stack right now: Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger;  The Lost Landscape, by Joyce Carol Oates; The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah; Circling the Sun, by Paula McClain; Marie Kondo’s new book Spark Joy and Elizabeth Strout’s new novel My Name Is Lucy Barton, both out this month.
4)      Move an hour a day. Nothing like an hour of  walking or yoga to clear my head and jumpstart my creativity. Not to mention the only way to keep “writer’s spread” at bay.
5)      Schedule 5,000-word rewards. I’m a sucker for a good reward. So I’ve made a list of good things—new film, lunch date with friends, Starbucks Coffee and Critique with a fellow writer, field trip to Staples, HBO and a bowl of popcorn, etc.—and every time I log another 5000 words, I’m gonna treat myself to one.

That's it for me. May you make—and keep—all your writing resolutions in 2016. Here's to a happy new year of writing for all of us!

Now I gotta go. I have a book to write—and I’m only 5000 words away from my next reward. Onward!

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At December 31, 2015 at 12:52 PM , Blogger Linda Quinn said...

This is a real doable list. I especially like the "Bridget Jones" style.

At January 1, 2016 at 5:57 PM , Blogger Marian Stanley said...

Now, this is a practical, specific and useful set of resolutions - an inspiration. Go, Paula!

At January 6, 2016 at 1:42 PM , Blogger Peg Cochran said...

Love the reward idea! That brings a little more fun to the equation. And moving...I definitely do that. I don't *have* to read as much as you do, but I do cherish that hour at night when I refuse to do anything but lie on the couch and read.


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