It’s now 2017, and of course it’s come to that time following the New Year that we’re all familiar with. The announcing of the dreaded New Year’s Resolutions.
I’ve never really been fond of resolutions. Not because I don’t think it’s a good idea (on the contrary, I think setting goals for yourself is a very important part of becoming accomplished in whatever creative endeavour you’re chasing) but more so because I was never raised to partake in resolutions. Any I made for myself during my school years were done so on a whim because my friends were doing it. More often than not, my resolutions were fanciful, quickly forgotten and never achieved.
Unfortunately, I think that’s a trend (or a trap, perhaps), that many people fall into. When you set goals that are too high for yourself, you may succeed, but you’re more likely to fail. Thus you’re more likely to become discouraged and give up.
I’ve noticed of late, that this is how many people feel about resolutions and I believe that this is because people forget to take things in little steps.
An aspiring novelist may say: “I want to write, edit and publish a novel by the end of the year!”
This goal is admirable, but not attainable. Not in the beginning anyway. This is how young (or starting out) creators breath fire to their self-doubt. This is how they set themselves up to fail. You need baby steps. Baby goals.
“This year, I want to write 20,000 more words than I did last year.”
This is the attainable goal. This “attainability” is what I want to do with my “resolutions” (shall we call them, Writerly Aspirations?).
I’m at a point in my life where I finally have room to make time for writing. Not just stealing snatches of time from my day-to-day life, but really scheduling it in and actually sticking to it.
Having learnt to write during those snatches of time in 2016, I’ve perfected my ability to delve into a story at short notice, in a short space of time, and produce something that’s half worth reading. Rather than improving my talent, the past year seemed to be about improving my control.
I used to be so picky about my writing space. I couldn’t write in anything but the perfect conditions. Alone in a dark space, with the door shut and the music blaring and the tv off. I had to have snacks and lollies to chew on while I thought, and heaven forbid I was interrupted (see you later, writing time!).
Someone recently asked me how I manage to write at work during my one hour lunch break. She said, “I couldn’t do that, I just couldn’t concentrate with all the other people at work. Not in such a short space of time. How do you do it?”
At the time, I didn’t have an explanation for her, but now that I’ve thought over it, I think the answer is that I got stubborn. It’s taken a long time for me to realise that wanting to write, really wanting to write, means shutting up, sitting down and actually doing it.
It’s not anyone else’s responsibility but my own. It’s not anyone else’s problem but my own. Saying I want to write, and meaning it enough to stop the excuses and carve out the time (no matter the place, the noise, or the distractions) is the difference between writing 10,000 words in the space of 12 months, and writing a 100,000 words.
I no longer expect the universe to make this easy for me. I’ve realised that if I truly want this dream, I have to work, and to work hard for it.
That is what I learnt in 2016.
Now it is 2017 and I have new things to learn. Matching my growth as a writer, with my control as a writer. As I said, I now have room in my life to make a decent writing schedule. Two hours every weekday after work (I no longer get a lunch break, and that suits me pretty well).
With this newfound writing space, I want to set myself some new goals. Goals that go in line with what I want to learn and achieve as a writer this year.
So, without any further explanation, here are my Writerly Aspirations for 2017:
- Read at least one book a fortnight (you know the saying, if you want to write a lot, you must read a lot).
- Publish at least one blog post (of an indeterminable length) each month.
- Write at least one micro fiction a week (up to 500 words).
- Write one short story every fortnight (Up to 3,000 words).
- Finish at least ten chapters a week (two chapters for every weekday writing session).
- Send out one polished story (micro or short fiction) every month to somewhere.
Contrary to what I just said above, these goals are perhaps a little out of my reach – at least all of them at once. However, I do believe that I can achieve at least some of the above, if not all. For myself, aiming high might mean failing, but I might get a lot further just for trying than if I’d aimed low.
While this is exactly what I was saying not to do with your resolutions, I am at a point as a writer where I think this will work and, if it doesn’t, I won’t get discouraged. I have aimed high knowingly, prepared ahead of time that I may not accomplish all that I have set out for myself. This is the key, I believe, to not becoming discouraged.
After all, I managed 50,000 words on top of full-time, 40 hour work weeks during last year’s November Novel Writing Month. This was something I didn’t think possible two years ago. Thus, I think my goals aren’t too far out of reach of my abilities. I am now prepared as a writer for these kinds of aspirations. For these kinds of challenges. It’s time to really push the boundary, to see what I am capable of as a part time writer.
My true hope, the one I dare not write down in my list (because this one really would discourage me if I fail), is to complete both novels I am currently working on. This is the real aim that drives my Writerly Aspirations. But, I won’t commit myself to that goal. Not yet, anyway.
So, with that all said and done, I hope you stick with me throughout the next 12 months, to see where my Aspirations lead me. I am excited for what’s coming, and I hope you have goals that excite you too.
The Jade Writer Girl