Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to finish off the chocolates and tidy up the Christmas wrapping paper. It is also time to get out my notebook and consider what I need to do next year with my writing.
Yes, it’s time to think of some New Year writing resolutions.
Before I begin thinking of the year ahead, it might be a good idea to reflect on what became of last year’s resolutions. I am very good at making ambitious plans but I wonder if I’ve managed to keep any of the resolutions that I made with such confidence at the beginning of 2012.
My 4 writing resolutions last year, 2012
Read and blog a book a month
I resolved to read a novel a month and to write a blog about it on my Ruthless Readings site. The aim was to read as a writer, noting those things I liked about a book and those things I didn’t. I could then incorporate the techniques that I found appealing into my own writing, whilst avoiding those other aspects that I didn’t like so much.
Did I succeed in my ambition to achieve a monthly book blog? At first I thought I had failed dismally. But, looking back through my blogs, I discovered I had blogged about 17 different books during the course of 2012. Not bad! In fact, I read far more than 17 books during the last year but, as soon as I moved onto the next book, I realised I often forgot all about writing and posting a blog entry on the previous book.
Conclusion: I was successful but, with a bit more discipline, I could have achieved even more.
Write and submit a short story every month
The purpose of this resolution was twofold. Firstly, to encourage myself to write a lot of short stories and to finish them. Secondly, to force myself to submit work, either for publication or to competitions. The aim was not necessarily to get my fiction stories accepted – although that would have been a bonus – but to give myself deadlines to work towards and to toughen myself up for the inevitable rejections that will come my way.
The basis for this resolution came from Ray Bradbury, one of my all time favourite authors. I linked to a video about his writing process in a previous post: Ray Bradbury on Writing Persistently. Here he explains how he began his life as a writer by writing and submitting a short story a week. This meant two things.
- Firstly, he was forced to write a great deal.
- Secondly, he got used to rejections.
Ray Bradbury describes how his first year was one of relentless rejection. In his second year he began to receive a few acceptances. By the third year, while still writing and submitting a story a week, his fiction began to appear regularly in publications.
Back in 2011, when I was just starting to write seriously, I resolved to write and submit a story a week – just like my hero, Ray Bradbury. This turned out to be an impossibly ambitious resolution and I failed. In 2012, on my eldest daughter’s advice, I resolved to write and submit a story a month, rather than a story a week.
Did I succeed in my more modest ambition of writing and submitting a story a month? At first, looking back, I thought I had failed. Luckily, I keep a log of the stories I submit and this includes where I have submitted them to and the results of that submission. (The reason I keep a log is to avoid the embarrassment of sending the same story to the same place twice and to avoid simultaneous submissions.) Looking back at my log over 2012, I discovered something surprising. I had submitted 23 different short pieces. True, some of these were poems and some were for performance readings rather than for publication – and I confess that 4 pieces were guaranteed automatic publication or performance – but 23 completed writing projects during 2012 is not a bad record.
So let me boast! Here are my statistics for 2012:
- 2 submissions for print publication, 0 acceptances
- 6 submissions for online publication, 4 acceptances (2 paid)
- 9 submissions to short story competitions, 0 wins, 1 runner up
- 6 submissions for readings, with 3 performances
Conclusion: Although I was less consistent than I planned to be, I was successful in my ambition of writing and submitting a fiction story at least once a month.
Finish my NaNoWriMo Novel
In 2011 I wrote nearly 60,000 words of a novel during NaNoWriMo month. I was determined to finish it. I have added several further chapters but, sadly, my sci-fi book, The Bounty Hunter remains uncompleted.
Conclusion: I have failed in a crucial resolution. How many more unfinished novels do I want to accumulate on my hard drive? Maybe next year!
Walk to Land’s End
OK, this isn’t a writing resolution. Some of you will know that I am walking around the coastline of the UK. This is being accomplished very slowly and I have only managed to complete a thousand miles since I started walking in April 2010. By the end of this year – my third year of walking – I anticipated reaching Land’s End with ease and I believed this was a pessimistic projection. It turns out to have been the wettest summer in the UK in recorded history, during which tracts of Devon and Cornwall have been flooded, rail services have been disrupted and walking has been pretty impossible.
Conclusion: I failed in my walking ambitions for 2012. I am praying for better weather this coming summer. Roll on 2013. It can’t get any wetter, can it?
Give me a moment to recover from that analysis and I will turn my attention to making some ambitious New Year writing resolutions for 2013. One of which may be to avoid procrastination. But, first, I need to go and make a cup of coffee and tidy up the kitchen and I wonder if there are any mince pies left….