by Carrie Bailey
My first instinct today was to bore you with a long explanation of my New Year's resolutions as a writer. But, then, I realized you had done nothing to deserve that and so I've decided you're going to be spared...sort of. Instead, I'm going to explain why some New Year's resolutions are better than others in much the same way mint flavored ice cream with chunks of chocolate fudge is better than mint with tiny bits of shaved carob.
RESOLUTION OPTION #1
Finish My Manuscript vs. Write Regularly
We can argue this one indefinitely if you disagree with me, but I will always choose to make writing a habit over the more goal-oriented desire to finish a specific manuscript. The fact is that sometimes you've got to abandon a work and develop your skills so that you can come back, pick up that manuscript and realize that it was crap.
It doesn't matter how much you love a project or how much time you've devoted to building its character or location sheets. The amount of effort you put into a story is not directly proportional to how it will be received once it is finished. Okay, that hard truth aside, those masterpieces that we wrench free from the darkest corners of our soul also often demand shelving until a particular element has been completely researched. Take the time to read the books or the movies that relate to your story, if you aren't opposed to the influence, find the facts or information you need and never hesitate to delay finishing your book about Argentina if you've got a flight booked to Buenos Aires nine months out.
Writing regularly, on the other hand, has one great advantage. If you make it a habit, you may eventually overcome those obstacles that prevent you finishing one story or another while finishing other pieces. Don't get tied to one manuscript. Get tied to the life and pursuits of the writer's life.
RESOLUTION OPTION #2
Write More vs. Join a Writing Group
Okay, I only brought this one up, because I loathe the resolution to write more. It makes no sense. I have the calluses to prove that wrote all the time last year and although I did benefit from pounding keys day in and day out, I can't say how that was measurably different from what I achieved the year before. But, no, I didn't keep a tally of my total yearly word count...as it were.
Joining a writing group did make a MASSIVE difference. It helped me to better assess my strengths as a writer and incorporate other people's experience into my immense and growing inner database of what beliefs and qualities define self-limiting writers. Is that all? Yes, because, I found the wrong group...for me. They enjoyed writing, but they weren't hoping to quit their day jobs or even publish, which I do find important. This year, I'm going to keep looking for new friends and mentors. Being stateside again, I'm going to attend a few conferences, workshops and go to book signings. Because, if writing has taught me anything, it's that career-minded authors benefit immensely from powering down the laptop and learning about the industry...offline.
RESOLUTION OPTION #3
Make an Author's Vision Board vs. Submit Work to X Number of Publications and Contests
|My top resolution for 2013? Write outside.|
Whatever your personal motivation for writing may be, it forms the basis of a vision. That vision of your life as an author ought to be articulated clearly, as clearly as any scene from one of your better stories. And it doesn't hurt to collect a few images that represent this vision best whether they're magazine cutouts or a powerpoint project or a movie or a drawing or whatever. I confess. I do it every year and usually, despite my doubt, most elements I define as my vision then manifest in my life.
Why is this better than having a tangible goal like submitting to X number of publications? Because, when you know what you truly want. You tend to stop following other people's paths to achieving that goal and forge your own, but remember: be careful what you wish for, because while it may in fact happen, vague visions never manifest the way you expect.
Of course, that said, once you have a cohesive vision for your writing career, tangible goals are important. It's a matter of which comes first. Don't adopt the goals you think you should have. Adopt only the ones that will lead you to what you truly want to achieve with your writing.