Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Will 2013 Be Different?

Okay, so I'm not one for New Year's resolutions. In my experience, they have a tendancy to remain firmly ensconced in the New Year. (They don't, after all, call them "Still Going in March" resolutions....).

But I do believe the new year is a great time to reflect and re-apply yourself.

If your writing life wasn't satisfying in 2012, here's a couple questions to ask yourself, and ways to approach the sticky problems of this writer life that might help you look back on 2013 with a better sense of achievement.


1. Nothing gets done without the doing: Sometimes accepting a sub-par initial product from yourself is the best first step towards a shiningly brilliant final one. Instead of beating yourself up for writing a crappy draft, keep writing it. Apply all that left over internal beat-up time to revising it later.

2. Self-sabotage is the writer's most likely nemesis: Look for ways that you've self-sabotaged in the past. Recognizing destructive habits is the first step toward overcoming them. When you realize how you hurt yourself, it's easier to stop yourself doing it later (or to see yourself doing it and change course).

3. Define success tangibly: It's all well and good to say "I want to be an NYT Bestselling author," but what are the steps that will get you there? Get tangible: "I need a completed draft, skilled critique partners, to revise the draft at least four times, to get an agent..." etc. As each step along the way is achieved, figure out how to find the next one.


1. Specifics can be overwhelming. Look at developing habits: It's tempting to set goals like "I'll write EVERY day!" or "I'll send FIFTY queries before June!"...but sometimes aiming for numbers just gets us hung up on the goal, rather than what it's there to achieve. Consider setting goals that develop habits, rather than tick boxes: "Whenever I'm cutting vegetables I'll review my protagonist's character arc in my head," or "Driving home from school drop off is the time for wrestling with plot problems."

2. Put intentional effort into changing your unhelpful responses: It's simple to say, a bit harder to do. But approach it like this: "Last year, every time I got stuck in my draft I didn't touch it for weeks. This year, every time I get stuck, I'll jump to the next chapter and write a later scene." Or, "Last year, every time a rejection arrived I told myself why that agent was a poo-poo-head and stopped querying for a month. This year, each time I collect five rejections, I'll revise my query and send it out to five new agents until I find someone who loves it."

3. Figure out what perserverance looks like. At some point in this writing journey it stops being all fun. At some point it becomes hard work. Take a look at the things that made you stumble on the way to your goals last year and determine whether what's needed is simple perserverance, or a new approach. More often than not, it's a matter of deciding to keep going, rather than looking for a new route. One of my favorite quotes is "There's a word for a writer who never gives up... "published"."

I hope something here is helpful in bringing you closer to success this year. If you have any questions, ask them in the comments. Otherwise, how about telling us what's your biggest stumbling block in the writing journey? Maybe we can help you overcome it!



  1. Your quote is now one of my favorite quotes! I love it! Makes me want to keep plugging away and persevere all the more.

    1. Thanks, Leslie. I love it too. It helps me focus when I get discouraged. I hope this year is a real success for you!

  2. All great advice Aimee! I'm especially guilty of "unhelpful responses": if I get stuck in my draft I don't touch it for weeks... I'll work on that this year :)

    1. Me too! I used to chug along writing, and who cared if it was rubbish? But more and more now I'm frustrated by my own ineptitude. This year I am focusing on keeping going when it's hard, rather than letting myself demotivate when the first product doesn't shine.... Let's encourage each other through the year!