Creative Resolutions for 2017

Last year, I set myself some New Year resolutions that centered around my writing.

So how did I do?  I’ve colour coded the text – green text represents a resolution I kept, red represents one I didn’t.

1. Join a writing group.

Check.  I did this one.  I’m now vice-chair of the group as well.

2. Write at least one short story/flash fiction story a month.

I was off to a good start, but alas, I did not manage this one.  One short story a month seemed manageable when I put together my resolutions.  Unfortunately, having a toddler greatly limits your time – having a toddler with special needs limits it even more.  Don’t get me wrong – I tried.  I used fiction squares.  I pantsed.  I planned.  I just couldn’t get it together into a viable story. 

3.  Enter more contests. 

Linking in with the above resolution, it seemed that if I was writing more short stories I should do something with them, so I decided I would try and enter on average one contest a month – entering a total of 12 contests in the year.  This was a good idea at the time.  If you enter enough contests/magazines/journals, your chances of winning/getting published go up.  But because I was finding it hard to find the time to write the stories, I had nothing to submit to these contests and in the end, I only entered three: The SWP, The Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition and The Colin Sutton Cup for Humour.  I didn’t win the first two and I won’t find out if I won the third until February.

4. Publish Lexus

I barely looked at Lexus.  It requires a lot of work to get it to where I want it to be, especially now I’m free from the confines of the SWP.  Then it needs a professional copy edit and proofread, especially as it will be self-published.  So no, I didn’t even remotely get Lexus in a position to be published and it looks like it will be a back burner project once again.

5. Keep a writing journal.

This one I kept … sort of.  The original pledge was to write in a journal every day.  Once again, it just wasn’t practical.  Still, every time I did get a few minutes to write, particularly during my cafe Sundays, I wrote in the journal.  There were times I missed entire months – this was when I was working on a project and so was writing in the project notebooks, so I’m going to count this one as ‘passed’.

6. Read more.

Check.  In fact, super check.  I kept tabs on my reading by signing up to the Goodreads reading challenge.  I set myself a goal of 20 books for the year.  I decided on this number because I figured I could read at least one book a month and then rounded it up to 20 to make it challenging.  I read 30.  That’s ten more than I planned even after rounding it up.

7. Get out of my writing comfort zone.

Oh holy hell did I do this! Although I didn’t get round to writing the plethora of short stories/flash fiction I had hoped I would, I did work on a few new projects and boy did they get me out of my writing comfort zone!  First was ‘Karma’, my entry for the SWP 2016.  It was a contemporary supernatural ‘feel good’ story.  I’ve never written one of those.  Then came Finding Annabelle.  Not only was it first person (I haven’t written anything first-person in about 15 years) but it was also a genre I have never, ever written before – mystery.  It’s proving so hard that I am actually starting on a different project to get the hang of it (more on that at a later date).  I went from being drop-kicked out of my comfort zone to being jettisoned-out-of-the-atmosphere away from it.

The problem with resolutions of any kind is that it is all too easy to set goals that seem realistic but require more work than you realise.  You want to quit smoking?  Pick up a new skill?  Make more friends?  These goals and others like them are all common resolutions and are certainly all admirable, but let’s be honest – all the examples I gave are not something you can achieve in a year even if you pick just one of them.  It can take even the most determined person many years to kick an addiction.  Picking up a new skill can take an estimated 6-10 years to master.  New friendships (or certainly meaningful ones) take many years to cement.

Personal growth is usually gradual.  Those goals, both the examples and the ones I set myself at the beginning of 2016, are by no means unattainable but they need to be broken down into smaller steps.

I managed 4 out of my 7 resolutions.  Keeping just over 50% of my goals doesn’t seem good but I’m not worried.  Not by a longshot.  When I made those resolutions, I didn’t know what my limitations would be.  That’s not to say I don’t want to challenge myself, but it’s important to know your limits if you want to surpass them – more importantly, you need to know which limits you cannot do anything about.  In my case, there’s not much I can do to increase how much free time I have BUT I can make resolutions that help me use what time I have to the fullest.

So, in light of this, I have set some goals that I hope will be challenging but realistically achievable if I set my mind to it:

Read 40 books

Last year I set it to 20 and made it to 30.  I think if I push a little more, I can make it to 40.

Enter at least 4 contests

I managed to enter 3 this year.  Adding one more will present a little challenge.  That’s an average of one contest every three months.  Hopefully, given the time I have available, I’ll be able to manage 4.

Get the first draft of my latest WiP finished.

I can’t talk much about my new project as part of it was used in one of the contests I entered this year, but after the results are announced in February, I plan on releasing some details.

Keep working outside my writing comfort zone but work within it from time to time.

It’s important to push my limits, but only when I allow myself to occasionally indulge in writing what I am comfortable with will I see how much I’ve improved.  I am hoping to do this by working on The Gatekeeper and The Brotherhood.  Which brings me to my next resolution …

Fix The Brotherhood

Ah yes, my old friend.  Although it’s not been my primary focus for a while, I think it’s finally time to give this series a huge overhaul.  I was never hugely happy with it but I couldn’t put my finger on what wasn’t working.  With what I’ve learned and the feedback I got from friends and the folks on Jukepop, I think I’m ready to finally resolve the issues.

Set aside at least 1 day a week for solid writing.

This one is going to be tricky.  It’s fine term time when I have childcare 3 days a week.  The holidays are going to be tricky, but it’s important to keep writing.  I have lots of other responsibilities as well, and I’m going to have to learn to balance them.

Be more consistent with the JPRP

The JPRP is currently undergoing some changes.  In order to do this, I am going to create a Facebook group where in the last 7-10 days every month, members agree to dedicate some time to reading each other’s work.  It will also not just be for JP stories.  Instead, it will include work on any other medium such as Inkitt, a few chapters of a WiP, or a few short stories ready for a contest.  I plan on creating the group early in the new year.

Have you made any resolutions?  If so leave a comment and let me know what and why.  Similarly, if you’re not, leave me a comment with why.

Happy New year!