On January 1st, how many of you said that this was the year you were going to write a novel?
That’s a lot of hands.
Oh, New Year’s Resolutions… the ever-hopeful, annual tradition of of trying to better ourselves in the year to come, born from some bandwagon decision that this year is going to be different; this year we are going to be better than we were in the year before. Some of us want to get thin, some of us want to get organized, and a whole lot of us want to write a book.
But the problem with even the most admirable of resolutions is that they are difficult to accomplish. According to Forbes, only 25% of people stick with their resolutions after 30 days, and only 8% of people make it through the year. In January, our motivations are running high. But as the weeks stutter on, our strive starts to slow as our motivation waivers. Things get difficult, and those lofty goals you made on January 1st start to look like what they were: extremely restrictive and overly ambitious.
If your goal is to write a book in 2020, then congratulations! You simply setting that goal is a huge first step, and we can’t wait for you to send us your book for publication consideration. But we also want to remind you that writing is hard. Really freaking hard. We aren’t trying to discourage you, but we are trying to keep it real because we understand how life often gets in the way of our best intentions.
Here at Three Houses Press, we want to help make you part of the 8% that cross that resolution finish line. So, while it’s still January, here are some tips and tricks to both keep your resolution attainable and keep yourself on track.
- Change to a word count goal. Here is a story for you… Alex and Kelly both decide they are writing a novel this year. Alex and Kelly put the same time and effort in, and wrote the same number of words, but Alex succeeds and Kelly doesn’t. Why? Alex wrote a romance resembling what they read on Kindle Unlimited, aka a novella of approximately 20,000-50,000 words. Kelly wrote a fantasy story that is going to take anywhere from 90,000-120,000 words to tell. What you are writing matters when it comes to the time it takes to write. Rather than set a goal that is not realistic for your story and abilities, set a goal that is based on word count. You’re less likely to give up if you have a chance to succeed.
- Just keep writing. While this is the most obvious advice, it is also the most necessary. You will never get anywhere if you allow yourself to get stuck on the first chapter. Writer’s Block is real and it sucks, but don’t give in. If you can’t figure out how to move past a certain point, shake things up and work from a different perspective. Focus on a different character or different plotpoint. Brainstorm constantly. Whatever you do, just keep writing.
- Budget your time. Adhering to any kind of budget takes discipline. Work, family, friends, and the hundreds of other distractions in our life tend to take up our time and make it harder to prioritize writing. Don’t let that be the case for you. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, you need to budget time for yourself to write every day. In order to attain your goal, writing needs to become a part of your daily routine. As essential as eating a meal or brushing your teeth. If you can find the time to watch a show on TV, you can find the time to write.
- Phone a friend. Accountability. Accountability. Accountability. Accomplishing this goal is going to get difficult and messy and you are going to find a million excuses to surrender. So, as the year begins, start telling everyone and anyone about your writing goals. Throughout the year, these are the people that are going to keep you motivated and focused on your goal. You’ll find that even the incredibly small act of a coworker asking about it as you pass in the halls provides a huge motivation boost.
Listen up, this is going to be your year! If you have resolved to accomplish a writing goal this year, we wish you the best of luck and hope to help you every step of the way. But, before you get too deep, take a step back and make sure that you have established not only a realistic goal but also positive habits that will help you reach the finish line. The year is long, but you can go the distance if you take the time to prepare now.
That way, when you succeed at the end of the year, you feel the full force of the confidence boost you deserve.