It’s past the middle of January now – how are those writing resolutions going? If the answer is ‘Not at all well’ then here are some quotations, and ideas to get you back on track.
1.Five minutes of writing a day is better than no minutes. Too many new writers think that unless they have plenty of time, it’s not worth booting up the computer or sharpening that pencil. But think of it, instead, like practising scales on the piano before tackling that Beethoven Concerto or like warming-up in the gym – the more you prepare for writing, the better shape you’ll be in once you have time to really concentrate. ―Kate Mosse.
This is good advice from Kate Mosse, the author of books such as Labyrinth. She is not to be confused with the model Kate Moss, whose advice includes “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
If it takes five minutes to actually boot up your computer, then this doesn’t count. Make a cup of tea in this time, then start your five minutes. Typing with one finger whilst drinking tea isn’t the most efficient use of your time, so maybe leave the tea to cool, and drink it as a well deserved reward after those five minutes of hard graft.
N.B. Kate Mosse may say five minutes a day is better than none, but an hour a day is probably better. And one minute a day really isn’t worth it. And Kate Moss, I’ve never actually known what skinny feels like. Hungry, I’d imagine.
2. It is a new day, new month, new year, but it isn’t a new you. You are the same person dealing with the same problems that you cannot dispatch by tearing off the calendar page.
― Thomm Quackenbush, A Creature Was Stirring
What are the specific problems that are stopping you achieving your writing goal? Make a resolution to identify and resolve these issues in order to move forward in 2017.
Does your spouse insist on discussing household issues with you?
Record some standard responses or non-committal grunts on a dictaphone and play them back.
Does your boss demand that you turn up to work?
Turn up, but actually write your novel in the time when you’re usually surfing the internet/writing a report that no one will actually read.
Do your children want you to play with them, or cook them dinner?
Switch on the television and give them a family pack of tortilla chips.
3. Resolutions: So many will fail; NOT because they didn’t set goals, but because they didn’t set behaviours.
― Steve Maraboli
So, you’ve set your resolution – to publish a book by June 2017, and get to Number One in the Amazon charts by Christmas. Only problem is, you haven’t actually written anything yet. To achieve your goal you need to set your ‘behaviours’.
Behaviours to set include:
a) Getting up early to write.
b) Staying up late to write.
c) Making chapter plans.
d) Writing a certain amount of words every week or every day.
Behaviours not to set include:
a) Staying up until 10am drinking absinthe in a misplaced effort to become summon up the writing muse and getting a three week hangover.
b) Not actually writing anything at all except ‘Chapter One’.
4. I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticising, sanctioning and moulding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ― Anaïs Nin
Get into the habit of analysing your writing aims, giving yourself new weekly or daily goals rather than monthly or yearly. You can then be more flexible, and plan your writing life to suit the situation.
Do you have a particularly busy week at work?
Write at the weekend.
Do you have plans with the family at the weekend?
Write in the evening.
Hot dates lined up every evening?
Write in your lunch hour.
Busy with work, family, a hectic social life, and other projects every day until December 31st?
Give up and write something in 2018.
5. But to tell the truth (to tell the truth!) I have never been particularly resolute, I mean given to resolutions, but rather inclined to plunge headlong into the shit, without knowing who was shitting against whom or on which side I had the better chance of skulking with success.
― Samuel Beckett
In other words – ‘just do it’. Perhaps too much planning is not your style. Jump in! You can work things out along the way. The danger is that you’ll plunge headlong into the ‘merde’, thrash around a bit, and drown. But Samuel Beckett, winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature, seems to have done OK, considering.
Good luck, and we hope you have a productive, successful and enjoyable 2017!