2014: The Year of the Writer

So looking back at my New Year’s Resolution post from a year ago, I want to do things a little differently. Last year, I was really analytical with my resolutions and I don’t think that is the way to go with writing goals. Maybe it works for some people but it didn’t really work at all for me. I accomplished a few of the items but some I didn’t even touch.

This year is going to be different. I’ve already accomplished something that has been one of the biggest achievements for me YET. I completed a first draft of a novel. It is a REAL story. It might suck big time in it’s massive, unmanageable first draft format, but it is a story from start to finish. When I first started writing, I thought that would be easy, finishing a book. I thought what would be hard would be finding time to write the hundreds of ideas I have for books. No, sticking to a story and pouring your heart and soul into it is exhausting and emotionally draining and lots of hard work. LOTS. A TON. Way more than I expected. But guess what?

I love it.

I love weaving the threads of the story together and discovering new things about the character that make SO many other things make sense. I love finding different ways to describe ordinary things and I love setting up the attractions of characters and the dislike for others, and then turning everything around so it’s the opposite. I love ending chapters on cliff hangers and having snappy dialogue and creating bittersweet endings.

I love everything about writing even when I’m hating it. Because writing is my soul, no matter how painful some parts of it are, it’s who I am.

So this year, I’m keeping my goals simple.

1. Query my MS, KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME – but when I know it is ready, and ONLY WHEN I know it is ready (aka after many rounds of edits)

2. Acquire an agent. Notice I didn’t say with the MS above. Maybe my first novel doesn’t meet the needs or interest of any agent I query. It happens all the time and I can’t let that get me down. But hopefully I can muster up the courage to start a new novel and finish it in time to query before 2015 is upon us. And maybe THAT ONE will find a home with an agent who loves it.

3. The above being said, I need to write another book. Now that I’ve struggled through my first experience on completing a manuscript, I need to do it again. And again. And then again. This is a career I want and that doesn’t come by sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for the first book to be picked up without working towards another new story.

4. Go to another writing conference. I’m cheating a bit because I already know I’m going to BEA in May, but that is besides the fact. I’m investing in myself and what I want to do for a living, so it deserves to be on here as a goal even though I’ve already made the arrangements to achieve it!

5. Plan writing weekends with writer friends. The couple writing weekends I went to last year REALLY helped me out. It is so inspiring and motivational to be in a room with other passionate writers for a whole weekend. It really got me out of a rut a few times there and I know I will need it again in the future to push on through the inevitable writer’s block.

6. Read, read, read, whenever I can. I don’t want to put a number on how many books I need to read. This just includes everything. Published books, manuscripts to critique of other writers, intriguing blog posts. Whenever I have an opportunity to read, I want to take it. The more I read the more I learn about what kind of books and writing inspires me. Hopefully that will lead to my writing inspiring others!

7. Improve from the year before in my writing techniques and pace. When I say this, I don’t mean to say that every year I should become more speedier until I’m writing novels in 2 weeks flat. Although, that would be amazing I’m not sure I will ever make it to that level. However, I do need to get more strict on not letting my writing sessions span out too long or getting stuck on a plot point and wallowing in it. Last year I completed just ONE first draft of a novel. It was quite the accomplishment but it was also a long and tedious process. This year, if I can edit that said novel while writing a whole new one, I will be ahead of my record and on the road to improvement.

8. Continue to be giving and helpful in the writing community. I currently blog at The Writer Diaries and YA Stands. If you follow either of those blogs, don’t hesitate to drop over and say hello! I think it is important to stay connected with your fellow writers and I love sharing my experiences and thoughts on anything related to writing. I also try to critique manuscripts or help brainstorm whenever possible. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out or I’m super busy when a fellow writer asks, but I always try to do as much as I can without it impeding on my own writing time.

9. Enter a writing contest. This is kind of one of those, “Just to say I did it at least once.” I always see them going on and they are always for completed and polished manuscripts so, obviously, I haven’t ever been able to enter one. They seem both fun and nauseating, in that it’s exciting to get your book in a contest and in front of agents and have a bunch of people to cheer you on while also knowing yours might not be selected and people might rip into your ideas and, ohmygod where can I throw up? So like I said, fun and nauseating. But as I will have a shiny manuscript in my hands at some point in 2014, I think I will try to throw my hat in the ring at least once. Why not?

10. Face a writing fear. There are some things that I’m not sure I’m capable of writing about. Either the idea hits too close to home and I don’t know if I could handle the emotional baggage …or I honestly don’t know that I have it in me to write it. When talking about the latter, one of these things is fantasy writing. I absolutely love those who can build up a world in a story like GAME OF THRONES and make everything seem so real and alive and vivid. Knowing that setting is one of my biggest weaknesses, I don’t know if I could do it justice. And honestly, maybe I can’t. Or maybe I wouldn’t be able to until having years and years of failed attempts. But then, there is my goal. At least face the fear and attempt it. If I fail, maybe it’s one step closer to NOT failing in the future. I’d like to at least push myself to try.

So there you have it …my 10 writing goals for the year of 2014. Although some are a bit more vague than others and none of them have a numerical value to keep track of and rate my success, I think these fit me better than last years goals.

What are some of your writing goals this year? Are you making plans to make writing a priority? I did that last year so ask away on any questions or share what you plan to achieve in 2014!

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