A Writer Resolves

Here are my four resolutions for 2013:

1K Every Day

I will write one thousand words each day. New words. Fiction. Every day.

1 Blog Post Every Week

Okay, I skipped last week, but I had the flu. Over the next few weeks I will be reporting on results of self-publishing last year.

1 Story Submission Every Month

Should be easy to accomplish, and might even lead to some new publication credits.

1 New Novel By the End of the Year

Which means finishing, editing, editing, editing, the current work in progress.

Why make these resolutions?

Some years ago I set goals, committed time to them, and reported the results. While tracking those efforts in detail on a spreadsheet was not worth the time, committing to the goals made me, no surprise, a very productive writer. It is time once again to get back on track.

Best wishes to your own new year, whatever your goals may be.

Do It Again In 2010

When I started blogging almost 4 years ago, I was very organized. I set benchmarks by fiscal quarter and tallied results. Staying organized is still critical for me lest I start slacking off (it happens). But spreadsheets and SMART goals do not guarantee success as a writer.

Another year my goals and resolutions were all about conventions. Meeting other writers is important. Talking with editors and agents and keeping up with trends in the business is necessary. It does not guarantee success as a writer.

Last year I focused on one task. I finished a book I was sure was great. However, no agent I've contacted has been interested in representing the project. Hard work and a desire to succeed is not enough.

I've written every day for a month. I've written in 15-minute sprints and 5-hour slogs. I've written alone and with others, given feedback and been critiqued, had some acceptances and plenty of rejections, had lucky breaks and near misses, been happy as a clam and bitter as day-old coffee, written flash and short and long formats, made great friends and been to wonderful places, all of which has made me a better writer.

It has not brought what I or (let's be honest) most writers would consider professional success.

Writing fiction is a tough, hard profession and it's in a time of unprecedented uncertainty in most every aspect of the business. One can be organized and committed, networking and connected, and writing and writing and writing. And still fail.

So why do it? I could fulfill my creative side in other ways. I certainly earn a lot more money at other professions. I did once quit writing.

In the late 1990's I was convinced I didn't have the motivation, patience, or talent to be a writer. I had a career and a family and a life path to middle class that was straight as a railroad track. That could be enough. I quit writing for years.

Until one day I scribbled down an idea. The idea became a scene. A plot developed and I thought "Oh crap, who the hell am I kidding. I'm a writer." It was a welcome derailment.

I write because I can't not and yes, I confess, I want others to read what I've imagined and be entertained by it. Even so, it is difficult to keep at it when the obstacles to success seem so great.

For Christmas I received Born Standing Up, an autobiography by Steve Martin. It covers his path to and career in stand-up comedy, a two decades long journey from selling programs in Disneyland to that jumped-the-shark King Tut song. There's a line in the book that seems appropriate to me right now:

Through the years, I have learned there is no harm in charging oneself up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration.


2010 is the year of the tiger in the Chinese calendar. This also seems relevant.

Year of the Tiger
Photo by Kevin Law


In 2010 I will be organized and disciplined, I will meet up with writers and editors and agents, I will write and submit and query, and in the event that a rare stroke of luck appears in order to present an opportunity, I will be ready. I am a writer and I will not quit.

New And Improved

I am motivated. Not unusual for me in January. In prior years I started gearing up in December, recapping accomplishments, setting my goals, updating a spreadsheet. Not this year.


I need to simplify. I'm juggling too many other projects to track each moment and word I've written. Or maybe I just want something different this year. My motivation kicked in this week after getting annoyed with Cory Doctorow.


Doctorow has an article up on the Locus Magazine website. He suggests all one needs is 20 minutes a day to write. Everyone should be able to find that 20 minutes: "You can put up with noise/silence/kids/discomfort/hunger for 20 minutes."


Bullshit. Not everyone is wired that way. It's one thing to say 'This works for me'. To suggest the advice is the one, best, true, right way is unhelpful. In my opinion, each writer should find what works for them.


What motivates me is the broader point of the article, that one doesn't need to spend all day writing. Get one thing done, writing for a short time for example, and then free oneself to the other priorities in life without guilt.


That I can get down with. I might not write every single day, but each day I'll do something: write, edit, critique, blog, query, etc. If it takes two minutes or two hours, I'll get it done and be good for the day. That's my goal for 2009.


What's motiving you this year?


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