A Writer’s Resolution

I have never been one to wade into the deep and murky waters of making New Year’s resolutions. I always felt that was a way of automatically setting myself up to fail. I work best when allow to float free without the confines of harsh restraints. That statement holds true in both my daily life and my writing life. For my personal life I have made three wishes for 2012 instead of making resolutions.

From NaNo this year I learned many things but one of them was that I am not the type of person who can set a goal number of words to reach each day and have the discipline to sit and stick to that count. I found I still was able to tackle a longer term goal such as the 50k word count goal in the same time period as others did through writing in longer time bursts. I used my weekends to do this and picked a time when I could write for hours as opposed to a shorter period of time. This means my goal for the year ahead will not be based on something as constricting as numbers (although I may revisit NaNo this year as I took other valuable lessons from it).

So what are my resolutions? They are the things I want to accomplish based on the traits I think a good writer has.

Firstly, a good writer takes moments, emotions and images, squashes them together and turns them into written words that portray a scene to others in a way that they too can see the moment through the words. This is a skill that I believe takes a lifetime to master but to get better at it each day is very attainable. I plan on paying more attention to people, objects, settings, situations, etc. The world around me is something I take for granted at times as it is easy to withdraw into my shell or become preoccupied with my own thoughts. I half listen to conversations. I don’t notice the birds singing around me. I live too much in my mind. I think taking more time to truly look at things will improve my writing.

Persistence is a trait every writer must develop for an entire myriad of reasons. For me I am not persistent enough with my stories. I abandon them halfway through and move on to the next one far too easily, usually around the time my confidence in them and me wavers. I have only a handful of completed first drafts but dozens of novels abandoned at around the 35-40k mark. That seems to be where I hit a wall. I hit it during NaNo but because of determination to complete NaNo I pushed through and carried on. The result was learning that I need to become more persistent. If I jump ship every single time something isn’t working in a novel then I will never be able to see them get published. So I will try to be more persistent.

Confidence in myself. This was alluded to above but I lack confidence in my ideas. This transfers into my confidence in each novel and it stifles its creation. When I wrote my first two novels which are nearing their last drafts I wrote for pure pleasure. I wrote them because they kept speaking to me and telling me to write them. I did not know the mechanics of novel writing. I knew nothing of word counts. I had no idea there were novel writing formulas or to outline first. I literally put pen to paper and wrote. I filled several notebooks. I later typed them into the computer. I added to them. I took stuff away. I was pleased with myself for what I had accomplished. It was only when I thought of publishing them that I began to think of others. I then started to look at them through a readers eyes. Would they be good enough? Would they be long enough? Doubt crept in. That doubt now plagues me when I write.

Now instead of writing a story with that complete blind naiveness of my first novels I over think them. I plan them. I look at the trends. I think of what is out there in that genre. I over think it. I lack confidence. It hinders the completion of my novels. Thinking like a reader is good during the editing stages but I need to relearn how to think like a writer during the creation stage. I need to regain my confidence.

So my writer resolutions for this year are to pay more attention to life and the things in it, become more persistent and develop my confidence. Not an easy goal set but probably more reachable than a more rigid one.

Have you made writer resolutions this year? I would be interested in hearing what they are if you don’t mind sharing them.





About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
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25 Responses to A Writer’s Resolution

  1. Happy New Year 🙂
    I have also made a list of writing resolutions (and more) for 2012 which include: finish my WIP and polish it so that it is ready to go out in the wide world of querying,,,

  2. Happy New Year, Billie Jo. I made a couple “2012 writer goals.” I refuse to call them resolutions. That word always seems to cement my failure.
    One thing I am doing this year is getting an early start on my bucket list.
    Yesterday I skied for the first time.
    Keep pushing yourself, Billie Jo. 🙂

    • Ooo, I have never down hill skied. I used to do cross country skiing when I lived in NY but never down hill. Sounds like a fun bucket list. Hope you have a most wonderful New Year Darlene!

  3. Learning to push through that wall at 30 – 50K words is a biggie. I know I felt it and stopped writing Sword for two months at that point. It terrified me. I heard (and read) many published writers speak of that wall. And the only way past it is through it.
    I enjoy how honest you have been about writing your first two novels in blissful ignorance of markets and trends and what others would think. We’ve gotta write the book we’d want to read. Write for ourselves. Worry about other’s ideas, or trends is stifling. It’s one of the best reasons to write a first draft in seclusion. Of course, if your inner critique is there with you, then are you really alone? (That creature has got to be banished until the first draft is done.) The happy confidence you felt writing those first two is the ticket, IMO.
    Great resolutions, Billie Jo. Keep writing in 2012.

    • Thanks for the encouragement. I think when we put all the research, outlines and effort into a novel and then start to second guess ourselves it is even worse when we hit that wall. My first two novels were pure fantasy and written with all imagination. I did not even use google once. I am not saying that the way I write now is wrong but it certainly is not as free. I am outlining a novel now that I plan to write after I finish working on the first draft of my NaNo novel. It is one based on a short story I wrote that so many of my blog readers commented on. I have wanted to expand it ever since and so I think I will … but first I have to persist and finish the novel I am working on now. Ugh! 😉

  4. Mike says:

    Hi Billie Jo and a very Happy New Year to you.
    I enjoyed this post and got from it a feeling that 2012 is going to be a good year for you and your writing.
    I tend to keep away from New Year resolutions only because of my track record of not sticking to them. But I do think a new year does give you that impetus to reflect on the past and think about what you have learnt from the previous year and how you will use that new found knowledge in the coming year.
    One thing I have decided to try and do is resurrect my old blog, Random Thoughts and run that alongside my Short Stories blog. I’m also going to make more use of Twitter this year, both to see what other writers are doing and write more twitter fiction. I’ve just found #Artwiculate which is proving to be great fun.
    I wrote a post for Random Thoughts about New Year Resolutions

    • I took your advice and played #artwiculate a couple times and you are right it is fun (and vocabulary expanding). I think of my resolutions as goals based on reflections and try to set them realistically otherwise there is no point. I am hard enough on myself without adding more to feel guilty over. Happy New Year to you Mike. I look forward to reading what you write.

  5. Selena says:

    One resolution. Write every day. Good luck, Billi Jo!

  6. Shadlyn says:

    My writing resolutions are: Finish the two novels currently sitting at 50K +, make an editing and evaluation pass on an older novel, and write two more to at least 50K. (One for NaNoWriMo, one that should be done over the rest of the year.)

  7. Robin Hawke says:

    To practice. (Doctors have practices; writers do too.)

  8. pattisj says:

    My only writing goal (aside from my blog) is to look at my NaNo project again. Not ready to yet, though. I know what you mean, living in your mind. That’s how November was, every waking moment my mind was obsessed about the writing. There were times when it was nice to get out for a walk and just experience breathing.

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  11. This piece just resonates with me, loud and clear! I wish you luck and happiness in your writing journey and all the fruition and reward you wish to gain from it. 🙂

  12. Oh, and I do have a writing resolution…well, a few. This year I hope to lose some of the shackles that prevent me from actually biting the bullet and writing a novel. I have my characters plotted, and the beginning – a prologue – but I have been holding onto it for over a year. I want to stop dipping my toes and wade.

    • They always say there is no time like the present. I hope when you do finally dive in it all flows freely for you. You have such a beautiful way with words and that is certainly part of the battle won.

  13. Kaitee says:

    I think you’re totally right in saying that making resolutions can set you up for failure. I’ve found that particularly true for me.

    My writing ‘aim’ (I’m using the word aim because it’s OK to miss something if you aim towards it, you just try again – but if you miss the goal or break a resolution you just get down on yourself) is to keep working. As long as I make some progress with any of my WIPs I will be content with that. I’ve got such an insane year coming up that trying to set a limit or a timeframe is just going to stress me out.

    I hope you find the confidence in your ideas again and work through that wall this year 🙂

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