Thursday, January 02, 2020

Writing Resolutions for 2020

Are you  making resolutions for the coming year?
I'd like to suggest the resolutions be for things YOU control.

For example: have two stories published sounds great!

But you have zero control over what a magazine decides to publish.
What you do have control of is how often you send a story out.

Jeff Somers has written a story every month, in every year since he was 19.
He sends them out on submission on the same kind of schedule.

Some get published, more do not.
BUT he's achieved his goal if he's done the work.
Achieving his goal doesn't depend on someone else.

He'd probably laugh to hear I offer him as  role model
for goal setting. And it's true: it's not a goal if it's already
a habit.

Another example: Land an agent in 2020.

Well, aside from the idea of thinking of me as something you're going to throw in to a smelly boat and hit with a fish bat, I'm all in favor.

BUT you have no control over how fast I read, what I'm looking for, or whether your book is a good fit for me.

What you do have control over is querying. Querying well, and querying widely.

So instead of resolving to land an agent, resolve to make sure your query and querypages are in tiptop shape. Work to make yourself attractive to prospective agents: robust mailing list, polished website, presence in the writing community.

In other words, make your resolution about the work, not the results.

What are my resolutions for 2020?
Read all my requested fulls is one of them.

What's NOT on my resolution list?
Thwart Steve Forti!


Kitty said...

What's NOT on my resolution list? Thwart Steve Forti!

Drat! That was really entertaining and made me think.

The Sleepy One said...

I always create my yearly list as objectives and goals.

For example, if my objective is to sell a novel story in 2020, I'd create a list of goals I can achieve in the year--write a manuscript and edit it enough to be saleable (which has multiple steps), submit it to X number of publishers, etc. I can't control the objective, but (like Janet said), I can control the steps. I think of it as marathon training, since if you want to run a marathon, you start by building up to a 5k and build from there.

CynthiaMc said...

Happy New Year!

Resolution 1 is to finish at least my favorite manuscripts in progress.

I just read an interesting book about The Snowflake Method this past weekend (if I were home I would give the exact title but alas and yay I am at work). It's by Randy Inger(something). I tried it on my Freaky Friday Meets 9 to 5 at Christmas screenplay and so far it appears to be working (for those of us whose brains freeze when told to outline but who want to know if a project has enough substance to warrant the time and ink). I'm going to try it on the Civil War trilogy (A Time for War, A Time for Peace, A Time for Love), Descent Into Hell and Live Free or Die (dystopian).

Resolution 2: Make short stories out of my favorite of my flash fiction contest entries. I think at least a couple would work for a mystery/horror magazine and one would work for a Southern literary magazine.

Resolution 3 - send out the finished ones and pray.

nightsmusic said...

Cynthia it's Randy Ingermanson and his site is I've tried it, but I'm a pantser so it doesn't really work for me. I still get his emails, been getting them for years, and some things are good ideas but overall, not for me.

I don't make resolutions. I've found there are too many outside factors that get in the way. I have a few goals I'll set, but those often fall short as well. Maybe I'm not meant to set things, I don't know.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I've been sitting here for forty-five minutes trying to come up with writing resolutions. Write everyday, query widely, read more, submit more, plant AIC (ass in chair) and write, write, write and absolutely, positively get with the program. Between sips of coffee I'm throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something will stick.
Well, this is what I have come up with.

Here it is, are ya ready? By the end of today I will come up with ONE writing resolution.

I think I can I think I can I think I can....

Kelly said...

I'm letting go of being a traditionally published author this year, for the exact reason Janet mentions: too much of that goal is out of my control. Instead, I'm focusing on the why I write, which is to connect with others. There have been times in my life I've felt isolated, alone, and depressed.and books have been my greatest source of comfort and friendship during those times. I want my stories to do the same for others. However, writing is just ONE way to form those connections. Now that I'm realizing I have more options, it feels liberating. Of course, I'm still going to write, query my best pages, and query widely. I'm just not going to let it define my self-worth or how much joy I experience on any given day.

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E.M. Goldsmith said...

My resolution for last year, the unspoken one, worked out. Stay alive. This year, it's the query thing. Get query into top shape, make sure my submission package is sublime, figure out my list of agents, and query widely. Improve materials as responses dictate. Write new stuff.

Abstractly, I am aiming to write 8 hours a week when I have full-time work of 40 hours. And 12 hours a week when I have a day off during the week, and 20 hours a week if I take a couple of days off. Last year, I tried 20 hours a week, and found that drained me and made my writing listless and kept me from doing much living. So I was not achieving that. So this year, I am cutting down to something achievable. It is quite distressing when one fails to meet one's own standards.

I choose to measure hours instead of words. The word count thing has never worked for me. I need to glue myself in place and get done what I can and not worry too much about the quantity. I find quality will time if I just get something, anything down on the page. Some nights, I work way more hours than the 2-3 I put aside. Some it is only an hour or so. It adds up. And books and revisions are completed. In time.

Dena Pawling said...

My current boss is big on SMART goals - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. I posted yesterday that my writing goal for 2020 is to finished what I think are the last two revisions [possibly wishful thinking on the number LOL] and get my ms ready to query. This goal appears to meet Janet's requirements too.

And Janet, may I suggest your goal should be to ATTEMPT to thwart Mr. Forti. Not only does that goal meet your requirements, you should be able to refine it sufficiently to make is a SMART goal too [altho the "achievable" part may always be lacking.........]

JulieWeathers said...

Get the final revision on The Rain Crow done and send that puppy out the door.

I'm going to fill my boat to the gunnels with queries for The Rain Crow. All I can do is make the manuscript, query, pages, and synopsis the best I can. Then it's up to the publishing gods. I believe in the story, but I am not whoring it to make it something more palatable. It is what it is.

Get seriously started on a new project. Yes, THAT project.

Writing every day is already on the agenda.

Start axe throwing. I'll need to decompress.

Katja said...

I actually never make resolutions, as in sitting down and thinking about them.

But I still have things I'd like to achieve for this year.

*Finishing my first draft of my 2nd novel, LIVING LIES

*Editing that first draft, and maybe getting it ready for beta-readers by autumn

*Finishing translating my 1st novel, ONE OF US HAS TO GO, into German

Non-writing-related resolutions:

*Marry Fiance in summer (OK, I can't control that he will say "I do", ha ha)

*Keeping up the good fight against my so-called "Emotional Contamination OCD" to make both myself AND Fiance even happier, and gaining more hours per day without horrible OCD-routines so that I can write and read and do other cool stuff even more.

*Keeping in touch and look after my few but FANTASTIC new friends I have properly made last year

*Keeping Fiance busy with cooking until he finds a new (and hopefully permanent) job (I bought him an apron for Christmas so he's got no reason NOT to make dinner ;) !)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Julie I love axe-throwing. A bunch of us at the school district did it as a team-building kind of thing. It was so much fun that I kept it up. Good exercise. And it really helps sort out the frustration and anxiety. It is lots of fun. No really, literal axe-throwing. So much fun. It's like darts but with axes.

Colin Smith said...

Happy New Year, fellow Reiders and Reefers. :) Goal-setting is a good thing, though I haven't made New Year resolutions for years. I would like to read more this year. And while I hope the freelance work keeps coming, I want to find a way to be able to do that without feeling as if I have no energy left to give to other writing (fiction, blog, etc.). Doing better at getting more sleep would probably help.

Overall, I just want to do better this year. Period.

I wish all you lovely people the very best of success with your goals and dreams! :)

Lucie Witt said...

I think this blog is one of the first places I read the advice to make writing goals things you can control. I'm always happier when I do.

2019 was a really hard year. My brother died at age 32 and I felt like my writing career was dying before it ever really started. These two things took most the joy out of the year, in different ways but in very real ways none the less.

My only three writing goals for 2020 are: (1) let go of the book that didn't sell (2) try to fall in love with writing again, even if it means writing something different (3) write about my brother and the opioid epidemic that killed him, even if it's only for me.

nightsmusic said...

Lucie I'm so very sorry about your brother. I think writing it all out, even if only for you, is a perfect thing to do. I often find that doing that, for me, is cathartic if nothing else. It might not help me to let things go, but it takes the edge off my anger and helpless feelings and grief. Hugs and prayers to you and yours.

Karen McCoy said...

Happy New Year, everyone!

Okay, I'll have to admit that "land an agent" is one of my 2020 goals. But I'm happy to readjust to querying well, and querying widely. And yes, doing the work of having the pages in tiptop shape. Plus I have other projects I'll be working on once this one's in the query trenches.

I'm also going to see if I can do more with my existing platform this year, and making my website more mobile-friendly. Perhaps I'll finally figure out a way to sustain-ably post to Instagram on a more regular basis.

Also signed up for emails from Thanks nightsmusic for the link. :)

Karen McCoy said...

And so sorry to hear of your brother, Lucie. Sending all the light I can.

Lennon Faris said...

My 2020 goals? Read more. Support more writer friends, maybe nothing to do with writing! Write every day. Finish editing this mss. Become a better communicator in everyday life. Pet more dogs.

Sleepy One, I also like the idea of objectives. Mine range from finding a good fit of an agent, to ending world cruelty. We'll see, eh?

Lennon Faris said...

Lucie, I am so sorry to hear that. I hope things take a different turn in 2020. Sending virtual hugs.

Claire Bobrow said...

Lucie: I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. That is so hard. My thoughts are with you and your family.

2020 Goals: try to identify which of my manuscripts have the most promise. Revise, revise, revise. Query. Draw a little bit every day. Attempt to write something longer than a picture book - most likely a chapter book.

Kate Higgins said...

Or not Do
There is no try”

Works for me... less angst.

Luralee said...

Happy New Year!

I plan to finish this rewrite by spring and send it out to betas. At that time so I can start painting again. I know that last bit isn’t a writing goal but they are sort of related. Focusing on my art will hopefully prevent me from fiddling with the Manuscript while I wait for feedback (always tempting) and I haven’t done any painting since starting this WIP back in 2012. Lately I’ve been missing it. Our oldest joined the navy and has encouraged me to set up a studio in his room so I don’t have excuses anymore.

Then There will be more revisions after I hear back from betas. I’d love this to be the year I finish this manuscript but I think I say that every year. So long as I’m being realistic with my goals, as far as my website and establishing my online presence, I plan to procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

LUCIE so sorry. Be kind to yourself.

KariV said...

My New Years Writers Resolution is to complete (draft, write, and edit) the sequel to my debut.

I'm still unagented and would love to land an agent, but would rather resolve to do something more tangible like build a list of agents to query.

Attending a Writers Conference is also on the resolution table.

Beth Carpenter said...

Lucie, I'm terribly sorry, and I think writing about it is a wonderful choice. If nothing else, it helps clarify your feelings.

My writing goals are still fuzzy, but I have two deadlines, so that part is already set. I need more focus so my writing time is spent writing with fewer interruptions and distractions. I also need to step up my promotion efforts. I'll get more specific in the next few days.

Lucie Witt said...

Thanks to the reef for your kind words. I'm trying to embrace that as writers, yes, we pursue readers and publication but also need to write for ourselves sometimes.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Lucie... Hugs from here.

BJ Muntain said...

I don't really do resolutions. However, since Christmas is always a busy time, I do put a lot of things off until the new year.

One of my goals in the new year is to return to participating in this wonderful community again.

Lucie: (((hugs)))

R's Rue said...

Thank you.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

15 years ago I had a brilliant idea, rushed to my computer, and registered the dot com. I ran it as a blog for some years and then stopped (I shouldn't have done this).

It is now a world wide instantly recognizable meme and I still own the domain and am listed in places as being the first one to use the word though I don't doubt that other people came up with it around that time.

The domain is now worth a good bit.

I'm thinking I should get the web site active again. The world wide use of the name is out of my control but still, I have the domain.

I just need some new software and some thoughts on what to do with it. So that's my goal for 2020.

And if I told you the name you would all laugh and say "that was you?"

Craig F said...

Lucie:I am sorry to hear that. write one just for yourself and see if that will help. I'll listen if you want to talk.

For myself: Query some more.

I am also starting a novel that is primarily about colonizing a fresh planet. One of the major parts of it will be the discovery of a nascent magic there and the attempt to figure it out. So far it is up and down, as I have stopped and gone back to the drawing outline a few times.

KateO said...

My resolution is to stop lurking and start engaging in writing communities. So, Hi! I'm Kate and I've been a silent blog reader here for years.

I also plan to keep querying until I get an agent or hit 100 rejections on my current MS, whichever comes first.

nightsmusic said...

KateO! *waves* Welcome to the Reef. :)

Sandra J. said...

I don't have resolutions so much as goals. And, like Dena Pawling's boss, I like SMART goals as they keep everything in perspective and keep my squirrel brain from getting distracted by the next "this-is-an-awesome-story!" idea.

Janet - the exchanges between you and Mr. Forti are gold. Please don't ever stop trying to thwart him.

Lucie - writing about your brother may prove to be cathartic. I'm very sorry for your loss.

KDJames said...

Lucie, I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope writing about him will ease the grief and bring peace.

KateO, welcome! Would love to hear about what you're writing. And anything else you'd like to share.

As I said on the last post, I don't do resolutions at the New Year. But I did resolve a month or so ago to cut back even more on distractions and temptations to procrastinate. That sort of went to hell the past couple weeks, what with the ongoing RWA implosion.

I did a lot of culling last year, but I'm once again in the process of deciding which blogs to cut from my feed (NOT this one) and which newsletters and email lists to unsub from. I've found it to be far less time consuming/irritating to simply follow writers on Amazon rather than via author newsletters, as they only tell me about new releases and don't subject me to chatty nonsense. Sorry, Janet (and others who push this strategy), but I find most author newsletters to be one small step above torture. I've learned a LOT about what not to do on that topic.

Two notable newsletter exceptions are Lawrence Block and Talia Hibbert, both of whom are just absolutely delightful, in different ways. Oh, and Mel Jolly's weekly newsletter is a joy as well. She's a PA/VA to writers, not a writer herself, but has great productivity tips for writers and a wonderfully positive attitude.

And look at me, commenting and it's not even 9PM yet.

Aphra Pell said...

My main resolution this year is to get control of my disability before it gets control of me (that noise you can hear is my body laughing derisively). That means more pacing and establishing routines, so I'm taking advantage of it for writing too, with a "write 100 words every evening" routine.

They don't have to be good words or in any particular story, they just have to be new words in a work of fiction.

Everything else we'll play by ear as this year is looking pretty hectic in the day job.

Brenda said...

I can’t think more than one day ahead at a time. I’m going to finish the revision of a short story for a SinC anthology and mail it out early. I’m so frazzled that I can’t even celebrate that it was accepted. Tomorrow will be better.

LynnRodz said...

After getting great feedback from my beta readers and doing some final edits, this is the year I hope to query. Now if I could only get that ever elusive query letter written, I'll be set to go. *sigh*

Lucie, so sorry for your loss.

Sharyn, you piqued my curiosity.

KateO, welcome!

JulieWeathers said...


I am so sorry to hear this. Please do write about it. I started taking an English course in college before things went south and one of the assignments was to write about something that had an emotional impact on us. I chose to write about Mirinda and the aftermath.

I didn't think I could. I cried all the way through it, but it was good to finally put it down and get it out.

Then I never got a grade on the assignment. I thought, "Well, screwed that up."

I met with the teacher later and asked him why he hadn't given me a grade. He said it was an oversight, but looked surprised that I thought I'd failed.

"Do you not realize how powerful that was? I've read it several times and cried. No, Julie, you got an A. You should do something with your story. Keep writing."

Do something with your story. Make it count for something. Don't give up on you.

Katja said...

Hi Lucie,

I'm also very sorry about your loss! Like a few here have suggested, I too feel it could be helpful to write about your brother and your grief. Maybe about his struggles, yours and your family's struggles as well. It's a terrible thing being an addict - I'm kind of an addict, too, but very different. My mental illness is driven by an 'addiction' to feeling secure and safe and good. It's called OCD and it makes me do things that aren't good for me but I can't easily stop doing them.

I have written a book about this and all my struggles as well. It does include grieving to some extent, because my OCD has prevented me from fulfilling my grandmother's last wish of seeing her one more time before she died. Plus, I was unable to attend her funeral because my OCD didn't allow me to go to my own country.

Since then, 2007, I am living with guilt and a sort of grief. I have always (and still do to a great extent) pushed this out of my mind. When I wrote about this in my book (as well as other struggles with my parents and the illness itself), I cried quite a bit. But I feel I can live with it better by having put it down.

At the beginning of my novel, I wrote "Written for healing", and maybe you can do something similar. I know, it's hard to get over this completely, but maybe the wound can heal as much so that it can be bearable for you.

I wish you SO SO much strength!!

Lucie Witt said...

Julie, Katja, everyone ... thank you for the support and kind words. I am determined to write about it. Thank you for sharing your experience writing through the hard stuff and seeing what lies on the other side.