Checking In On Those New Year’s Resolutions

Last year was spectacularly unproductive for me. I started on a roll but the unexpected death of someone close to me left me shattered and barely functioning for the rest of the year. So on New Year’s Eve, I set myself some goals for 2012. I do this pretty half-heartedly every year. After all, nobody ever sticks to their New Year’s Resolutions, right? Only this time I meant it. Really, really meant it.

I had a big goal in mind when I set my resolutions: to finish the current WIP before World Fantasy in November. That meant some serious edits. As of New Year’s Eve, I had a mostly complete first draft. It had issues – some big ones. A flabby middle (which I’ve christened the FM), lack of relationship building between key characters, some subplots were little more than a suggestion. I had two viewpoint characters but most of the manuscript was written from the perspective of one of them. It had been suggested that I needed a third viewpoint character and although I knew exactly what I wanted to do, it was difficult and very unlike anything I’d ever attempted so I had been putting off starting. In short, I had a lot of work to do.

So with the new year, I had a renewed focus. However what bothered me about focusing on edits for the next ten months was that I wouldn’t actually be writing during this time. Although the edits were necessary, it seemed I was facing a year of lots of writing work but few new pages.

So my New Year’s Resolution was deceptively simple: write a page a day. Something. Anything. Even while editing. Regardless of how it happened, I would produce a page a day of new words, be they new scenes in the WIP, blog posts, short stories, whatever. An additional benefit was that I’d be learning to keep two projects in my head at once, which is something I struggle with.

For a 31-day month, one page a day – assuming a standard 250-word page – comes to 7750 words. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But if I could consistently produce a page a day through 2012, it would give me 365 pages of new writing. I figured it was worth a try.

So four weeks into the new year, here’s how my resolution is panning out…

Week 1: Motivation levels are high. I’ve just had a week off work so I’m feeling somewhat refreshed. I’ve achieved my goal of one page a day every day this week. Word count: 3189 words, almost half of my goal for the month.

Week 2: Motivation is still high although I’m starting to flounder a little. I’ve spend some time this week on a new short story and a couple of blog posts. Not as much time on the WIP as I should have. Word count: 2616.

Week 3: This week has been almost easy. I feel like I’m developing a habit and I’ve worked on the WIP every day instead of letting myself get distracted with writing other things. Word count: 2988.

Week 4: Now it’s getting tough but I’ve not missed a day yet. Work count is 1974 and the week isn’t over yet. I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long and am starting to think that maybe I can actually achieve a page a day for the whole year.

Lessons

The big lesson I’ve learnt is that I can write every day, which I didn’t think I could do. My usual pattern is four days on then one or two days off, and I’ve never really tried to push past that before. I might be tired and a bit brain dead or, like tonight, ill and having trouble concentrating, but I’ve found I really can do it if I want it bad enough. And I think this is the first time I’ve ever had a New Year’s Resolution that lasted four weeks. Bring on February!

Okay, ‘fess up. What’s happening with your New Year’s Resolutions?

 

 

 

 

9 responses on “Checking In On Those New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Colette Vernon

    Very inspiring. My own resolutions, honestly? I’m shaky at best. My WIPs are going fine, but some of the other goals are having some trouble. There are reasons for that which I hope to have addressed soon. Until then, I just keep floundering along. I’m not giving up, so it’s not over until the apple drops in NYC.

  2. KylieQ Post author

    Perhaps the start of February is a good time to set new goals? January’s just about over and done with but a new month means another chance to start again.

  3. Dylan Blacquiere

    That’s good advice, Kylie; whenever we counsel people on bad habits they are trying to break, we always advise people to get back on the horse if they fall off. Think of any setback or false start as nothing more than that, and certainly not anything that will thwart the larger goal.

  4. KylieQ Post author

    Dylan, that’s exactly how I’m going to think about my *other* New Year’s Resolution – to exercise more. I lasted about a week. So, the false start is done. Time to try again…

  5. Frank Morin

    I should look into a daily word count resolution. It’s tough right now because I’m plotting out my next novel, so it’s a lot of thinking time and staring blankly out the window with little bursts of a few paragraphs to jot down what I just figured out. It’s the ‘assembling the jigsaw puzzle’ stage, which is extremely productive in the long run, but leaves me feeling like I’m not accomplishing much because I’m not actually writing much.
    Frank Morin recently posted..Setting Measurable Goals, and Plans to Reach Them

  6. KylieQ Post author

    Yes, Frank, I know what you mean. It’s necessary and you know it will pay off later but it doesn’t feel productive right now. I’m at the other end of process since I’m editing (and, more often than not, cutting words) but the result is the same – lots of hard work but nothing much tangible to show for it in terms of new pages.

  7. David Carrico

    Sorry, didn’t make any. I never keep then, you see. But I do write as much as possible, so I totally understand your goal, and whatever works, works.

  8. clancy

    I need this goal. I think I actually made it and have thus far spectacularly failed. Tine to try again and not worry about the last month. You all keep me motivated and I thank you.

  9. KylieQ Post author

    David, I think that’s awesome if you don’t need to set yourself a formal goal to write. I work better under pressure so, for me, the fact that I’ve publically made a commitment to write every day is working really well.

    Clancy, new month, new goals. Forget January and start over!

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