Many of us see New Year as a time to discard old habits and renew our resolutions. For writers, New Year may mean starting a new project, finishing an old one, or maybe even sending a completed manuscript to an editor or agent. This is the time to set intentions and refocus on what is most important. Whether you’re just starting your writing journey or looking to take your work to the next level, this blog shares six resolutions for you to try in 2024.
1. Set realistic goals
If the challenge is too great, disappointment is inevitable. All too often, writers set themselves unrealistic targets and end up being unable to meet them. Failure to do so can often make writers feel like giving up. Setting aside time to work out realistic goals can prevent disappointment.
Writers will often make the mistake of looking up the average number of words they should be writing per day, or how long it took certain bestselling authors to complete their first book. Forget what other people are doing and focus on your own journey. If someone else writes 2,000 words per day and you only write 50, that's fine. If your goal is realistic, you are more likely to achieve it and feel a sense of satisfaction after.
It doesn't matter how large or small that goal is – reaching a small milestone is far more satisfying than struggling to reach an unachievable one.
2. Create a schedule
A schedule can help you to achieve your daily, monthly or even yearly targets. Your schedule should reflect the time you have to write and your desired outcome. A great way to ensure success is to work backwards. Work out when you would like a certain draft – or even the whole manuscript – to be done by and plan your time with this in mind.
A schedule can help you to avoid the dreaded writer’s block. If you’ve set aside an hour to write two pages, sit down and do it, even if you're not in the mood. Writing when you don’t feel like it keeps the ball rolling. Writing is a muscle that must be exercised. Sometimes, you may not want to do it but if you push on through you will feel a greater sense of achievement after.
3. Finish what you start
Many writers say that their greatest challenge is finishing what they started. Setting unrealistic goals, continually starting new projects and over-analysing first drafts are all contributing factors.
If you find yourself brimming with new ideas, write them down in a notebook and set them aside. Focus on one project at a time as spreading your attention too thinly will only make progress harder. to achieve. If you find yourself constantly criticising your first draft, challenge yourself to write without looking back. Editing is for second and third drafts. First drafts don't have to be perfect.
4. Edit your work
Once you have finished drafting your book, you can (and should) edit it. While your manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect to submit it to professional editors and/or publishers, it should be of a high standard. Check your manuscript for plot holes, make sure your character arcs are sound, rearrange sentences and check for grammar and spelling errors. When you’re happy that the book is the best it can be, you can consider your next steps.
There is a fine line between making sure your book is well-polished and spending too much time on it. Most authors would say that they never feel like their books are perfect. There simply comes a point where you have to stop editing and let go.
5. Manage expectations
One of the main reasons writers quit is due to unrealistic expectations. Whether it’s believing that writing is easy or that success happens overnight, unrealistic expectations always leave a negative impact. While it’s important to nurture hopes and dreams, the reality of publishing should not be underestimated. Yes, some authors do find writing easy and find immediate success but this is not the norm.
Social media is partly to blame for setting unrealistic expectations. Authors have been known to present untrue sales figures as a marketing tactic to accrue more interest and therefore more sales. While this technique is perhaps a savvy one, it’s important to be aware that things aren’t always as they seem.
Writing certainly has its challenges. It takes time and effort and more often than not a manuscript will be rejected before it’s accepted. If you are aware of all this, you will be better equipped to deal with any challenges that come your way.
6. Don’t give up
To some, the message to not give up may sound ridiculous. However, the reality is that countless manuscripts get cast aside every year due to their writers giving up. Unrealistic expectations, and writer’s block and rejection from publishers are often contributing factors.
As with any career, being an author has its challenges. Overcoming self-doubt, powering through writer's block, lowering expectations and learning to deal with rejection are all skills that must be learnt.
It is important to equip yourself with the tools and mindset to deal with the hurdles thrown in your path. Remember, having the courage to even sit down and start writing a book in the first place is something to be admired. Don’t quit just because things are tough. Keep going and you may be surprised by what you can achieve.
Anyone who has written and published a book will tell you that doing so took hours of blood, sweat and tears. They may also tell you that every single hour was worth it just to hold their book in their hands.
Ambition, motivation, resilience. These are the desires and behaviours required by writers to get over the finishing line. So, if you are an aspiring writer in 2024, now is the time to set your goals and intentions and bring your dream to life.
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