My “New Year's Resolutions” for the last several years have revolved around the same topics. How much I’m going to write. What writing projects I’m going to finish. How many books I’m going to read. Improvements in diet. To stop biting my goshdarn nails.
Some I’m more successful at than others. I’m least successful at stopping the nail biting.
As you may or may not have heard before, you are more likely to achieve your goals if you come up with specific plans on how the achievement them and to make the goals measurable. So, I will not just be blogging my resolutions, but how I plan to make it so.
I have written done my goals like this for myself the last two years and it has been a successful experience. Now I’m sharing them online so that is an extra level of accountability, ha.
Goal 1: Read 100 books
Why: I topped off at 79 this year. Which is pretty high but that includes a manga series I’m chugging through. I just want to hit that one hundred mark. I just always have such a long To Be Read list, and I want to get through more of it.
Please note I count audio, graphic novels, and children’s chapter books as books toward my goal.
Read during my lunch break instead of playing app games and scrolling social media on my phone.
Listen to more audio books (in car, while doing chores).
Always have an in progress ebook on my phone for when I am at places without a physical book. Sneak in more reading that way.
Dedicate at least a half an hour (ideally an hour) a day to reading either before or after work. In alternate measure, at least fifty pages of reading (ideally one hundred pages) of reading a day.
Dedicate at least an hour to reading on weekends and days off work.
Keep track of progress on Goodreads.
Goal 2: Write 300,000 creative words.
Why: Because I did it in 2017. In 2018 I made it to 250,000 words. Giving myself this goal has produced better almost-daily writing habits in me, pushed me to finish projects, and gotten me over so-called “writers blocks.”
Write a little everyday, with the goal being a little over 800 words a day. This counts original fiction, fanfiction, and blog posts for this website. This does not include school work or work work.
Stop trying to write in front of the television all the time. Actually use your writing desk.
Prioritize writing time before leisure activities.
If I’m too busy or too mentally drained to write on a specific day, I’m allowed to have a no-guilt skip day.
If I’m in the groove even after hitting the word count, keep going.
Keep track on writetrack website.
Goal 3: Submit to at least five writing opportunities a month (literary magazines, anthologies, queries, contests, etc.)
Why: Because you need to submit to be published. Because regular submissions means you have to look for new and diverse opportunities and that you catch submission periods that are only open for short periods.
Keep track on excel spreadsheet.
Submit stories on days/nights when you don’t have writing time or energy.
Make up for accidental shortages in one month with more submissions the next.
(I successfully have done this -- or a variation of this -- the last two years with good results in that I have consistently gotten several short story acceptances the last two years.)
Goal 4: Build my writer social media presence.
Why: Because I’m the odd millennial who is not a natural oversharer online. Because this is the way to network, connect with potential, and be part of the literary community.
Set aside time on weekend/days off to schedule posts.
When casually on social media, be more interactive with shares and comments.
Tweet once a day in the morning as part of morning routine.
Be more active/interactive on tumblr. I’ve been hanging out there for years, but not building a community.
Goal 5: Stop Biting Nails!
Why: Because I want to stop biting them. Because I want them to be long and pretty. Because biting them probably looks unprofessional and gross.
Take time to manicure and paint them when I’m not rushed so they will have proper time to dry and thus I am less likely to pick at messed up paint.
Use bad tasting polish to deter nail biting.
Keep track of nail biting on chart as to measure success and failure.
(Note: After writing, but before posting, I actually already started on this goal. This has involved youtube stop nailing biting hypnosis videos -- I kid you not -- and I am seeing some progress, albeit during a week while I’m wearing acrylic nails. Maybe 2019 will be my stop nail biting success year?)
Do you have any ambitions for the new year? Remember, the first steps are to write them out, make them measureable, and come up with plans to obtain success. Then -- start at it and start keeping track. Good luck on your new year’s resolutions!
Going into 2017, I had several writing and writing-adjacent New Year’s Resolutions. I had some somewhat successes and some outright successes, and along the way many lessons.
The Outright Successes:
1 - Finish draft of (Name Redacted) project.
I had started this particular project many times (It was an idea I’ve had since high school) and written a two-thirds draft the previous year. In 2017, I did finish a complete draft, around 70,000 words. Since then, some attempts were made to redraft, but I think the story needs more time in the drawer, so to speak.
2 - Write 300,000 creative words, counting all original fiction, fanfiction, and creative nonfiction, including this blogging, but nothing school or work related.
I have not reached this yet, but I plan to within the next few days before 2018. (Or get to a close enough negligible amount.) I’m a few thousand words away, but a few thousand that is doable. I used this wonderful word tracker called write track. I knew to achieve this or any word count goal I would need to track it like goodreads tracks reading or the nanowrimo cite tracks the nano word count. Searching around, I found write track which lets you set yearly and project-specific word counts, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a tool like this.
This word count achievement is all the more meaningful for the writing endurance it built up in me, writing (almost) daily and often writing when was I’m not initially inspired. It also helped me finish many, various projects.
The Somewhat Successes:
1 - Submitting two pieces a week to literary magazines/writing contests/publishers.
I started out strong, but withered away as the year went on. However, I continued to submit throughout the year, at least a two or three a month. I found some new tools, as such as the Submission Grinder, (which I promise you is indeed a writing website and not an erotic website) to use to find places to submit. I also have several acceptances! (3 short story acceptances and 1 contest 2nd place win).
I will continue submitting regularly into 2018. Because its become a habit, I think I won’t put specific numbers and keep doing what I am doing. Two a week wasn’t necessarily realistic with the limited number of short stories i had to submit and dealing with the deadlines, submission periods, and turn around times of the literary magazines themselves.
2 - Writing two blog posts per week (for this very blog).
Again, strong start, and then it withered away. I will continue to blog, but I think it is better to write when I have something to say than to force content. I will follow the advice of the one of the writing blogs I follow and ‘slow blog’ as I have been for the last few months.
(It’s not a failed resolution if you learned something about yourself!)
Writing Resolutions for 2018
I want to start journaling! For writing so much in my life, I have never been much of a journal or diary writer. In particular I want to keep a ‘mindfulness journal’ that I write in the morning as a way to start off my day. I have not particularly know what that means yet, but I’m going to do this. (I want this to be part to a bigger ‘morning routine’ resolution, which journaling is a part.)
2 - Write smarter not harder.
There was some consideration into increasing my yearly word count, which you read above was 300,000 for 2017. However, I think that is a good amount to shoot for, being a heft, y’know 300,000. It’s also manageable with my life with a full time job, being a part time grad student, and having a social life and other hobbies. So I do not want to write harder… I want to write smarter. So what the fuck do I mean by that? Several things… (Because when one sets goals they should be measurable and have a plan to accomplish them)...
a) Stop writing in front of the TV like I think I can write into the TV.
b) Use more structure/prep before writing novel-length original fiction.
I find I can ‘wing it’ when it comes to original short stories and to fanfiction of any length. (I believe this type of writer, in certain circle, is called a ‘pantser’ as in a seat of your pants writer, and as opposed to a ‘planner.’) Perhaps I can be a pantser with these because I’ve had more practice with both of those genres and perhaps because they are bit more low stake. However, I struggle with novel-length original fiction, often starting strong and then the story drifting away somewhere 30,000-40,000 words in. I want to finish things goddamn it! I need to prep better. My first plan it to use the advice I’ve gleaned from a wonderful writing book I just read called The Anatomy of Story by John Truby.
I also have personal resolutions such as above mentioned morning routine and maybe, finally, getting myself to stop biting my fucking nails, but writing dominates a big part of it. Remember when you formulate your New Year’s Resolutions or any big goals throughout the year to plan them properly. Set yourself up for success! And good luck.
Like many a book enthusiast, I love using goodreads to track and rate what I read. I especially love the yearly reading challenges that keep me on pace with reading throughout the busy year. When I was a child and teenager, I didn’t any external tracker to keep up my reading pace. However, once I got into college and then a post-college job and 20-something ‘what am I doing with my life’ stress, I found the challenge a great way to keep reading as a priority in my life.
My usual goal was 50 books. In 2015, I raised that to 60. (I read 68.) In 2016, I raised my challenge to 75.
In 2017, I will be lowering my challenge.
Why am I and Why Should You?
When I focus on number of books read as my goal, I find myself shirking away from reading longer or more difficult texts due to how it will affect my pace. For example, I’ve been interested in giving Les Mis, the thousand page book, a shot for many years now, but I have not.
This may be either a conscious or unconscious choice of your own, when reading to hit a target number of books. You resort to quantity with shorter or easier books. Now, there is certainly a lot of great shorter works like novellas or faster reads like graphic novels that should be mixed in your year of reading. As a children’s librarian, I read a good deal of children’s middle grade novels for my own professional development (and interest, there is some great work in that genre). So, let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with a short read, and they can indeed be of great entertainment and artistic quality.
On the flip side, I believe we should use the goodread challenge, other internet challenges, and new year’s resolutions to do exactly what is in the name. Challenge ourselves. Stretch ourselves. Resolve to do better. I am at the point that I know I can get a large number of books read in a year on top of my other obligations and interests, so my real challenge this year is to try tackling the larger, challenging books that have been on my mental to-read list.
Insights from the life of an aspiring, struggling writer; a passionate reader, and a working librarian.
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