It’s a new year – time to put away those Xmas jumpers, dust off the cobwebs and the crumbs from all the mince pies and get going with that dream of becoming an author. Shout it out loud and proud. Write it on sticky notes and cover your walls with them. I will write a book this year! I will get published this year! I will … Nah! Not me at all. I don’t make New Year resolutions. What’s the point? There might not be tomorrow (believe me, 2016 gave me the toughest lesson of all in this).
I’ve already read a few tweets/blog posts that say such things as: ‘This year I will write 1000 words every day’ or something similar. Great, if that works for you. Well done you, because for me, it does nothing but gives me anxiety induced sweat and I break out in hives. Daily deadlines literally make me brain dead. I smile inanely and say writing? What’s writing? What do you want me to do brain? Creativity? I don’t have any. It’s gone. Vanished. Vamoosed.
The only resolution that I need is quite simply that I write. Some days I write reams, other days a few words. Do I panic about this? Nope. What will I gain from panicking – other than perhaps shedding a few pounds from all the sweating (now that doesn’t seem such a bad idea following the mince pie binge-fest…)
Let me get back on track. Last year, I had my first children’s book published: ‘Grace-Ella: Spells for Beginners’. It went into its second re-print within a few weeks and I was over the moon. It has always been my intention that ‘Grace-Ella’ would develop as a series of books and I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that this will happen. At present, I don’t have a definite deadline for a second book, although I know in the back of my mind the sooner I get it done the better. But, I will not put the pressure on myself by giving
myself daily/weekly word counts. It just doesn’t work for me. Some days, I can think of nothing to write/add to my manuscript. Some writers say write it anyway. It’s better that something’s written even if it’s a pile of rotten old sprouts.
Yes, I do agree that I should write, but if nothing much is happening in my brain with regards my manuscript, then I’ll write something completely different. I’ve always been a perfectionist and I just can’t make myself write any old rwtsh (a fantastic Welsh word for rubbish). I might write a blog piece – ta-dah! Or a piece of poetry (trust me, it doesn’t have to be any good). I’ll jot down ideas for a short story. By doing this, I find that I unblock that part of my brain that’s withholding words for my manuscript (I’m sure it does it out of spite at times), so that the following day – Whoosh! I’m riding the wave of creativity and my fingers can’t keep up with the flowing words.
This is what works for me. It will not work for everyone. Some writers like deadlines and daily word counts. This helps their creativity to explode. Some may find they’re more like me. When I’m working on a manuscript, I re-read what I’ve written before I get going again. I edit as I go along. Noooo! I hear some of you shout. Never re-read! Keep ploughing forwards. Get to the end and then edit. Well unfortunately, that’s not how I work. Writers are different. You become an author by finding your own voice and style. This happens through practise. The more you write, the better the writer you’ll become. But that doesn’t mean you have to add rotten old sprouts to your work in progress (yeah, I’m getting a bit tired of the Xmas food references too, sorry!)
Try different ways. Try rigid daily word counts. Try no rigid word counts. Plough on through your first draft just to get it done. Re-read and refine and edit as you go along. Find the way that works for you, because once you find it, you’ll stick to it, it’ll fall naturally into your everyday life and you’ll become a contented writer. Whichever path you choose, there will be tears and shouting and wailing and flailing, moments of despair and moments of ecstaticness (that’s not actually a word but I couldn’t think of the opposite to despair other than happiness and I’m yet to meet a truly happy author).
So to sum up – stop eating mince pies or your work will stink of rotten sprouts. No, seriously. Make the writing resolutions that really do work for you. Don’t make ones that will make you despair – trust me, you don’t need resolutions for that if you’re serious about becoming an author. It comes in abundance with the package.
Make the resolutions that leave you relaxed, because that’s when the creativity will come. If strict word count daily deadlines don’t work for you, that’s fine. Whichever way you choose, you’ll get to the end.
Whatever you choose, the only truly important writing resolution is … WRITE.