Saturday, January 2, 2010

Making Writing Resolutions

Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions? Do any of them pertain to writing? If so, they’re probably something like “write more” or “write for an hour every day” or “finish the book I’ve been working on for three years.” As writers, we all tend to make these kinds of resolutions or promises to ourselves.

This year, I’m trying something a bit different. There are plenty of resolutions I could make – and a lot of them I’ve made before. But in 2010 I’m going to try to become … and here I’m not quite sure of the word to use … more organized or less haphazard or more efficient or more structured.

I seem to be the kind of person who works best with structure and a check list. I’ve managed to put out a weekly newsletter for ten years partly because it always comes out on the same day each week. By the time Thursday rolls around, I’d dang well better have that newsletter ready to go. So I do. We don’t have overdue bills because I pay the bills on the same day every week. Each day I make a list of things I have to get done, then mark them off as I complete them. I actually think about efficiency. Instead of doing one thing, can I combine multiple tasks, thus being more efficient?

Man, I sound rigid.

But despite all that, I still spend way too many days doing other things and not doing any creative writing, other than the newsletter or the blog. There’s housework, editing work, websites to maintain, the dog, a husband who thinks he should eat everyday and so on and so on. So this coming year, I’ve decided I’ll resolve to become … drum roll please … more structured.

Not just in my writing, but in everything. So I’m working on a list, not of resolutions, but of ways to organize myself. Just as I pay the bills every Tuesday, I’m setting up a task for each day that should be completed. I’m also listing things to do every day of the week, like write for an hour, exercise for thirty minutes, etc.

I don’t know whether this will work, but, for me, it sounds like it might. It’s not a vague decision to finish a rewrite of a book or to join a critique group, but a plan to get more writing done. If I knew how to take the list and make it the wallpaper on my laptop, I would. Since I don’t, I’ll print it out and put it within sight of the computer. I need to see it every day.

I don’t know whether this would be called a Resolution. I’m thinking of it more as a Plan for the New Decade. If I stop following the Plan, then I’ll have to review the list and get back on the Plan. Maybe I need rewards for following the Plan each week. Hmm … an extra hour of reading?

Before I start considering weekly rewards, I guess I’d better see if I can even stick to the Plan for a week. What about you? Have you made any Writing Resolutions for 2010?
Helen Ginger is a freelance editor, book consultant, blogger, and writer. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. In addition, her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its eleventh year of publication. You can follow Helen on Twitter or catch her at Story Circle Network’s national conference, Stories from the Heart V, on February 6th, where she’ll be moderating the panel on “Getting Published.”

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  1. I've also created a plan, blocked out on a week calendar, for times when I will put aside for writing, or reading, or the many hobbies I've neglected, despite having plenty of time. So far, I'm finding it a little mentally exhausting. My hobbies, including writing, are not exactly relaxing and most take a lot of focus and creative energy. Going four or five hours at it, even when switching from writing to another thing like programming or learning a language is taking some getting used to.

    Even so, it feels good to look at a plan and know that if I don't get things done, it won't be because I don't know what to do! I declare boredom extinct for 2010.

  2. I'm actually pretty structured as well, but I have decided that this year I will allow for flexibility. Instead of letting the roadblock, life jarring event, or whatever it is derail me, I've determined that I will just adjust my cap and move forward in a different way. If I have to write in a box, so be it.

    I'm not planning to attempt any hobbies until after the first quarter ends. I have too many wild cards in the deck and my DH is having hip replacement surgery in Feb. All I can think about it is getting him/me and dd ready for that surgery and try to stay focused on the writing.

  3. Hey Helen, I know how to make wallpaper out of your resolutions! And I found out by accident. When last I upgraded my system software, my screensaver defaulted to a slide show of all the "art" on my computer. Since this includes scanned documents, the result is sometimes humorous--I'll be sitting there and a copy of a check I wrote will come across the screen, for instance. Or a first page of a Poe story I scanned for a workshop I taught.

    So I suggest writing out your resolutions in your own handwriting, scanning, and then using that "photograph" as your wallpaper. Let me know if it works!

    And I'm with you, organization will be key to achieving my goals for 2010, which include my editing, my own writing and publication, getting back to regular exercise now that I've moved and have access to a gym, and a new real estate investment endeavor with my husband. Not to mention all my writing related volunteer work! But it's all gotta get done, and at a time of life when multi-tasking seems more challenging than ever. Maybe we can hold one another accountable.

  4. Helen, you're not rigid, just organized! I'm the same way with lists and set things I need to accomplish.

  5. Pym, I like your idea of setting aside time to not be organized or set to a schedule. I really like that idea.

    Christine, you also have a great idea - be more flexible. That's not as easy as it sounds, to me anyway, but I like it and will try to remember it.

    Okay, Katherine, I don't know how to do wallpaper, but I will see if I can figure it out. I love the idea of a slideshow of scanned documents, although so far I don't have any scanned documents. But...I can learn how to do this.

    Diane, I like that. I'm not rigid; I'm organized.

  6. I read a very good post at another writer's blog where she says we must make very defined and obtainable writing goals- like I'll write 1000 word per day.

    I'm also quite organised but I do lose a lot of time to the internet- my obsessions with email, FB and blogging. So I'm limiting a that. I'm blogging only on Sunday, three posts a week scheduled in advance. Only check other people's blogs after knock off time.

    Good luck with your new Decade Plan Helen!

  7. Sounds like a "plan" to me, Helen. LOL Good luck with that, although it appears you are already structured in your approach to work. I have tried valiantly every year to organize my totally unorganized approach to work and life, to no avail. Just stumbled across a file I created last year "Things to do- check every day" Not only did I not check it, I forgot I even had it.

    And it is funny how those husbands do expect to be fed everyday.

  8. I write down my goals, I keep a running To Do List, and I maintain an online calendar with a reminder option. Even so, my writing life is clearly "go with the flow." The only thing that keeps me on track is a deadline, even if it's self-inflicted.

  9. I'm working on my dog book about Rascal in 2010, and hopefully can finish my thriller as well. One at a time, unless I get stuck and cheat.

    Morgan Mandel

  10. I see I'm not the only semi-organized person around. Although some of you seem fully-organized!

  11. Ah, Kathryn beat me to it ;-)

    Alternatively you could take a screen shot of your list (Prt Sc key) and save it as a jpg image. Then select that image as your wallpaper (right click on your desktop | select Properties | Desktop)

  12. Thank you, Elsa! I hadn't thought of that.

  13. You also have to be careful about over-organizing.

    If your life is too schedule, you may unconsciously rebel against the lack of freedom in your daily life.

    I tend to do that randomly. a to-do list that is just one thing too long and I end up saying 'screw it'. :)

  14. Okay, how would you use a list that's a screensaver? I'm having a brainlock moment here. I DO need Helen's list though - a daily one with everything ever I need to do listed, and I would highlight the things to do for each daily sheet. Who has a master list for life, anyone? Help! LOL.

  15. Like most writers, I've been resolving to "write more", but I also adopted a resolution that I borrowed from an editor I know - I intend to read at least one novel a month! Reading is always good for kickstarting the motivation to write...

  16. Helen: I have a similar personality. That's why I was a manufacturing engineer, probably. ;-)

    For this year I created a Daily Plan that includes both daily goals and daily restrictions (like no facebook until I meet my daily goal of 1000 words).

    I also created a year of deadlines. Then I posted them on my blog, and sent them to my CP.

    I still waste time when I'm avoiding a writing block or feeling sluggish, but my plan helps hold me accountable.

    Good luck!

  17. When ever I make a to-do list the first item is always "write to-do list" that way I have something to cross off as soon as the list is written. It motivates me to keep going.

    My goal is to write in the mornings and edit something different in the evenings. I guess I'm creative in the morning and critical by night.

    Something that I started last year was to grocery shop on Friday and make up a week of dinners Saturday morning. It takes about three hours, but then I just have to take a pan out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge overnight or stick the stuff from the freezer bag in the crockpot. Each evening all I have to do is make a salad or cook a veggie. It has really simplified my life.
    Good luck to everyone on their goals!


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