Writing Resolutions 2016

A week or two ago one of my favourite authors & writing coaches Susan Dennard sent out her excellent newsletter (which you can subscribe to here – because why the hell not? She’s a delight), in which she talked about some of her writing resolutions for 2016. The three she shared were ones I could really relate to, in fact the resolution at the top of my list is basically the same as Sooz’s, hers could also apply beyond writing but mine in this post will focus on my hopes for my writing and another day (very soon since 2016 is almost here) I’ll put together a post with my resolutions for everything else. I’m not going to talk about what happened to my 2015 resolutions.

Writing Resolutions for 2016

  1. Be kinder to myself and my words. I spend rather a lot of time most days mentally berating myself for one thing or another that I’ve done wrong, or simply not done at all. This also extends to my writing- novel & blog- that get lambasted for being terrible on a frequent basis. It’s not that I have objective evidence to back up this claim against myself (if anyone does think my writing is shit they’re doing a wonderful job of keeping quiet about it), but when I read work by other writers both published and aspiring I lay into my own writing with unbridled viciousness. “Why can’t your descriptions be as beautiful as so-and-so’s? Your story is so dull after reading that awesome book. Why the hell are you even trying to revise this pile of festering turds?” et cetera, et cetera, et al, AD FUCKING NAUSEUM. You get the picture. I am my own worst critic and I often crave the validation of other people saying they like my writing in order to quell the urge to never show any of it again. It’s not healthy but trying to stop myself self-sabotaging is far harder than it sounds. But I need to try. So in 2016 I am going to try and be kinder to myself as a human and as a writer. I’m doing the best I can with what I have.
  2. Don’t worry about the numbers. By this I mean I want to stop feeling anxious over how long it takes me to write or how many words I write in any given time span. It’s unreasonable to keep comparing myself to other writers who can churn out a 60K draft in 8 weeks or whatever, or can edit several chapters in a day whereas I have spent weeks just on one. Worrying over statistics that can vary dramatically from person-to-person, hell day-to-day is only a shortcut to psyching myself out of writing altogether. Just get the words out however they come. One by one, or in a great tidal wave, it doesn’t matter so long as they make it to the page.
  3. Fall in love with the story again. I think part of the reason I have found it so hard to work on my novel this year compared to 2014 when I got almost 60K words written in the first half of the year, is because after being away from the story for several months I’ve fallen somewhat out of love with the story itself. The words don’t come easily because my heart’s not entirely in them, the characters aren’t as real to me as they were when I first imagined them and the plot feels as tired as I do. Any suggestions as to *how* the heck I fall back in love with my novel please leave them below because I need to figure this out before I can achieve the next resolution.
  4. Finish a draft I can be happy with. Pretty self-explanatory. I’m still plodding through a revision/drafting version of my novel that involves me reworking chapters I wrote last year as well as writing entirely new chapters for the scenes I never wrote out when I did the bulk of the drafting. My progress has been extremely slow, I started in July maybe and I’m still only on Chapter Fourteen out of what may end up as 50 chapters, I would rather like to speed up this rate in 2016 so I’m not thirty before this book is finished.
  5. Discover more stories I’d like to tell. It’s fairly safe to say that I’m a One WIP Gal, I am not one of those people who can bounce between six different stories depending on what mood I’m in on any given day. I don’t have the mental capacity to write more than one story at a time but what I would like to be able to do is have more than one novel idea developing alongside my main WIP so if I am having a blocked day I can break out another story and brainstorm some ideas on that instead so my time is not wasted scratching my head bloody in frustration. Hopefully if I have multiple book ideas brewing then by the time I finish the aforementioned draft I will have something that I could begin working on in earnest before I go back to revise the other book again.
  6. Be inspired by other writers, not envious of their achievements. This is something that I already try to do. I follow a lot of writers – published and not-yet-published – on twitter and I see them tweet often about their progress, milestones, successes and disappointments. They’re an astonishingly talented bunch of people and while I try my damnedest to be supportive of everyone there is still an ugly sliver of my mind that turns green every time someone tweets about having finished a draft or round of revisions, or even just a chapter. You will never see me bitch about anyone in particular on twitter but I know that I do occasionally post bitter tweets about my own dissatisfaction at my meagre writing progress. I’d like to be better in 2016 until one day the sight of a tweet about finishing a draft only motivates me to hurry the hell up and finish mine so I can share in that feeling of awesomeness.
  7. Write for myself above all else. In the end I am the one who gets to read my writing first. Some of it does find itself being swiftly emailed to Jess for her thoughts but I should be primarily concerned with making sure that I am happy with what I’m writing. Nothing will stifle my creativity more if I feel I’m forcing myself to produce work that other people will like rather than produce what *I* want to read. If I’m pleased with and proud of my writing then I will be much less anxious about sharing that work with other people in due course.

So there we have it. My list of Writing Resolutions for 2016. I seriously hope I do a better job of sticking to these than I did to 2015’s – they are not quite as restrictive I think, less outcome-orientated and more mindset-based. We shall have to see. I’m going to try to blog a bit more regularly next year both here and on my book blog since it’s all writing isn’t it?

Let me know what Resolutions you’re looking to keep in 2016!

Ray x

2015 – A Few Resolutions

While it seems a bit late to now list the things I want to improve or change in 2015 but we’re still within the first few days of the New Year so I reckon it’s still OK. I did not feel like making this post yesterday as I was quite down and not very positive about myself or 2015 so any list I wrote would have been full of self-loathing admonishments about the personality flaws of mine which make certain resolutions damn near impossible without outside intervention.

I’m still not in the best frame of mind for this but I want get it done so I can focus on the other things that need to occupy my thoughts today *coughwritingassignmentcough*

Resolutions for 2015

1. Be Kinder to myself – I can be very self-critical as the above paragraph will imply and I don’t want to spend time in 2015 calling myself a piece of shit because I’ve left something to the last minute (which is gonna be a whole other resolution in itself) or lambasting myself because I may have not felt like blogging for 3 months. If something happens that brings up feelings of self-loathing I’d like to be able to just shrug it off and focus on how I can get closer to what I want and not focus on all the ways I’m somehow inadequate.

2. Get things done in a timely manner – This is what I mean by not leaving things to the last minute. I spent three weeks procrastinating a French assignment in December because I didn’t like the topic until I was left doing the whole 4 minute speaking task *on* the day it was due and submitting it 6 hours after the supposed cut-off time. (It still got marked though and I somehow got a 78 by a god-damn miracle) In 2015 I need to get things done far enough ahead of my deadlines that I don’t stress myself out to the point that I want to defer my module to avoid doing it at all. This also applies to doing the damn textbook work which I’ve not done properly for 2 months.

3. Prioritisation not Procrastination – This is something I struggle massively with  all the time. If I don’t particularly like a task that I’ve got to do or if I’m finding it marginally difficult I  will invariably procrastinate it until I feel more comfortable with it. This is very flawed logic I know since if I’m not sat working out what I find difficult then how will I ever be more happy with getting it done? I’ve gotten very hardcore about my procrastination methods recently – I literally learnt to crochet in order to put off doing my French which is a large step-up from merely scrolling through tumblr for a few hours. I am not regretting learning this new skill but it needs to take a backseat when I have more important things to do like assignment that are due in a week. In 2015 I need to be better at prioritising the tasks I *have* to get done and use things like knitting, crochet and tumblr as rewards for when I have completed them. It’s going to involve a great deal of self-control which so I hope I’m up to the challenge.

4. Finish the book – It feels a little weird having this down at number 4 but I think those more self-improvement resolutions needed to come first. I am remarkably close to having a first draft of  my novel complete – there are still maybe 6-8 chapters that I have to write and unfortunately they are in the muddy middle which is why I didn’t get round to finishing it before the end of 2014 like I originally envisioned but I want them done by the end of Feb *at the latest* so I can start the epic process of redrafting and research. I have a metric fuck-ton of notes in various notebooks that I need to amalgamate into my Scrivener file so that I can easily refer to them when it comes to the second draft. I’ll do a post about my plans in detail soonish.

5. Share more of my work – I am still very shy about my writing and have posted very little here on this blog for my fellow creative writing students/twitter writer friends to read. Admittedly I don’t have a lot by way of presentable material due to my proclivity for not finishing most of my pieces or not properly editing them if I do finish them. You folk deserve better than my scrappy first drafts so I’d like to post more finished pieces of writing on here over 2015, maybe that’ll prompt me to work on smaller ideas while I’m wrangling with the novel.

6. Keep up with my craft stuff – Now that I’ve learnt to crochet and picked up knitting again I want to keep going with it since it’s really fun to be able to actually make something that I or someone else can wear or use. I’ve already made myself a hat which while looking a little lumpy does an excellent job of keeping my head warm, I’m also in the process of crocheting another hat for my sister and knitting myself a scarf (I’ll start doing some posts on my crafty projects I think) so I want to progress to more complicated projects once I’ve done those.

7. Try to keep up with blogging – This one I don’t want to be too firm with since I know that as soon as it feels like an obligation to post then I’ll just ignore the blog for ages until you all think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth. I think doing those daily posts took up too much time that I then regretted because I lost 2 hours from my morning that I should have put towards my creative writing or my French. If I feel like I have something I want to share or talk about then do the post but I don’t want to force myself to do a post every morning with a detailed list of what I want to achieve since each day invariably ended with me not having done even half of the list and the following morning’s post was just progressively more angry and pissed off at my inability to get shit done.

 

Right so I’m going to leave the list like that. I could probably list dozens of things that I want to do or achieve in 2015 but we’d be here all day and I may not remember to do any of them once we get out of January. I will be doing a separate resolutions post for my Reading goals over on my other blog Ray Reads Books so if you happen to be interested in what I plan on doing in terms of reading books in 2015 look out for that.

For now I hear the crackling of bacon as Le Boyf cooks up brunch (too late to call it breakfast now) so I shall be off.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year

See you soon

Ray 🙂