Happy New Year! I can’t believe we’re here already, but I say that every year. My writing life didn’t progress as linearly as I expected in 2021. Instead of going to market with my latest, I ended up parting ways with my agent. As I wait for the molasses-level speed of traditional publishing, I’m mulling my options for next year. Like all of us, I’m hoping for a productive and fruitful 2022, but how to get there? Here are my personal new year’s resolutions for a great writing year.
See the Big Picture
I’ve been messing around with trying to get a traditional publishing deal for a long time…too long, maybe. The challenge is that it’s a narrow keyhole to walk through. You have to have the right kind of story at the right time. A certain amount of gate keeping is quality control, but I don’t think the few titles put out by an increasingly smaller number of publishing houses represents the breadth of stories that could and would find an audience. I also don’t see any evidence that it exempts authors from self-promotion or advertising their work. I’m sort of a traditional person, so I’ve been stuck in thinking this is my best course, but I’m now wondering if that’s actually true. There are lots of people writing incredible, professional, engaging books, and publishing them on their own. My new year’s resolution is to see the big picture. Where do I want to be? And are there alternative ways to arrive there?
Make Specific Benchmarks and Due Date
Specificity is where the rubber meets the road. It’s what separates true resolutions with meaningless platitudes. In order to make a change in the new year, I’ve found that establishing benchmarks to track progress makes all the difference. Setting due dates helps too. When I don’t care when I complete a task, it’s hard to get motivated to do it.
However, I’ve also found it’s just as useless to be overly ambitious or strict. When I’ve told myself I’m going to write 2,000 words a day or read 60 books a year, and track everything and be perfect, I’ve always failed. In the face of having to be perfect at anything, I’ve lost. I use this analogy regularly, but it really is like dieting. If you promise to cut out sugar and flour and never have another sip of alcohol, it turns one cookie or glass of wine into a fail. The same happens with writing. What do you do if you can’t write one day? Now the 2,000 word thing is over. The streak is dead. What next? How to move on?
What I’m trying is to set benchmarks and due dates and let myself get to them in my own way. That should give me wiggle room in my day to day schedule to deal with daily life.
Let’s see where these great intentions take me. What about you? Where will 2022 take you? Wherever it is, I hope you have a happy and productive new year!