By Karen Jurgens
How are you doing so far with your New Year’s resolutions? Now that it’s the end of January, take a moment to review your goals and grade your progress. Even if you’ve gone off-course—and who hasn’t—it’s not against the rules to reset rather than completely abandon them.
I’ll confess. In general, I never make resolutions, but as a writer? Always! Here is a list to consider for the next eleven months. (Yes, our first month is almost over, believe it or not!)
Set goals and organize
Since I wear several hats—author, blogger, editor, and occasional reviewer—I must keep a good calendar. I set deadlines, including a reminder one week before their due dates. I’ve read where some writers use color-coding for ease of category recognition, so this year I’ll try different colors for my WIP and editing deadlines. Colors will help with organizing different blogs I write as well as where I guest. I’ll also keep track of marketing in a special notebook.
What does your daily timetable look like? I envy those who have all day to sit at their desks. Not me. My days are too variable since I am a substitute teacher during the week. I keep my iPad handy and write whenever I have free time. In the evenings, I reenergize with dinner and exercise, then hit the keyboard for the rest of the night. My creative energy starts percolating when the house is quiet, so I usually write for four to five hours. Before heading off to bed, I spend a small amount of time checking social media, email, and marketing.
Research and Editing
As bookends for your writing, research comes first, followed by editing. Research is doing good homework that facilitates the flow of thought and gives substance to a topic. Editing is a never-ending process, but there are several helpful choices to consider.
- On your own? You can buy Grammarly or Auto-Crit to catch common errors and improve sentence structure.
- Do you crave human interaction? Consider joining an online critique group or local group that meets in your area.
Grow in the craft
- Read books that target weaknesses, and work on improving them. As I concentrate on mine, it can become very painful, almost like pulling out a bad tooth. It’s like deleting an imperfect template and installing a correct one in my brain. Awkward at first, but with time and practice, it eventually feels more natural.
- Online class opportunities are a godsend because they can be tailored to fit into your personal schedule.
- If possible, try to go to a live writers’ conference once a year. A mini-vacation away from your routine will enrich and nurture your writing soul. I get my best inspiration from being with other writers, exchanging cards and networking. Discussing fears and failures consoles me that I’m not alone. Hearing encouragement and new ways to improve to reach goals pump me up, instilling new drive and purpose. When it’s over, I’m raring to get back to my keyboard.
- Ready to seek an editor or publisher? Conferences provide the best opportunities to meet professionals who can take you and your manuscript to the next level, whether it’s with a traditional publisher or going the Indie route.
The New Year. A time to step away to reflect, adjust, and reset our lives. A time to set new goals. A time to strive and move forward. May God bless all your 2017 writers’ resolutions with success!
Kennedy reviewed her list of New Year’s Resolutions and huffed out a sigh. Why did she make such an ambitious list in the first place? It was almost the first of February, and she had messed up. She picked up the paper and carried it to the shredder, but before inserting it, her phone rang. Her best friend’s name flashed on the screen.
Five minutes later, she had finished pouring out her heart to Meredith. “I’m so discouraged. But you always seem to have good luck keeping your resolutions.”
“You’re right, I do keep them. But I have a secret that helps me stay on track.” Meredith sounded mysterious.
“What is it? I’ll try anything.”
“Well, this is what I do. I …”