Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Years Writing Resolutions

Camy here! I wanted to talk about New Years resolutions today!

Okay, don’t hate me, but I love New Years resolutions, even though I don’t always keep them. I love resolutions because they make me feel positive about a new, fresh start; a whole year of possibilities!

I also talked to a friend today who said that resolutions work better when we don’t overload ourselves with them. For example, if we give ourselves too many resolutions, we’re less likely to keep any of them, whereas if we give ourselves just one, specific resolution, our brains are more likely to keep focus and keep the resolution.

The key, I think, is a resolution that is very specific and practical. Rather than being vague like “I’ll write a book this year” or “I’ll finish this manuscript this year,” we should instead break it down into a resolution that is even more specific and concrete, and which is also practicable for our busy everyday lives.

Let me repeat that—practicable for our busy everyday lives. Let’s try to be realistic and sensible with our goals rather than shooting for the moon.

Instead of “I’ll write a book this year,” how about we break that down even further? A book is, say, 90,000 words. We’ll write five days a week, giving ourselves weekends off for swim meets and soccer games and dance lessons (for the kids or for us. :) We’ll also take off for the week before holiday weekends.

So, say 42 weeks of writing this year (we’ll take a few weeks off for any vacations or family emergencies), 5 days a week. For a 90,000 word book, we have to write 430 words a day.

So that can be a resolution—430 words a day. Now doesn’t that sound pretty doable?

Or say you’re a plotter. How about you commit to spending brainpower and time plotting your book for 45 minutes every weeknight? You have to finish plotting by June and then write 900 words a day for the rest of the year to finish the manuscript. 45 minutes plotting each night is not too hard, right?

So what are your New Years writing resolutions? Remember, only pick ONE thing to do and make it practicable and concrete and doable.

My resolution is an hour writing prose every day. This might be hard when I’m still in the plotting phase of novels, because then I’ll have to write prose on a novel already plotted while I plot a second book, but since I work from home, I have lots of time during the day.

How about you?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novels Single Sashimi and Deadly Intent are out now. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels and ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for giveaways!


  1. I started the coffee--hazelnut mocha!--and set out some homemade sponge cake my sister in law made for us for Xmas. :)

  2. I hope to follow your adice, write an hour every day, and eat healthy meals :) Now if I can only keep those resolutions!

  3. Camy,
    Thanks for the coffee and cake - delicious!

    I'm using the Snowflake Method to plot my next ms. As soon as I'm finished I will decide on a final word count, deadline and then decide how many words I will write each day. That will be my resolution for this year.

    One other resolution is based on Robin Hatcher's blog from a couple of days ago: Mark 6:31a "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while."


  4. Morning Camy, Or should I say good night to you? LOL

    Thanks for reminding us about sensible resolutions. I'm like you. I love them. And most of the time I keep them. They are like goals and help me accomplish my heart's desires.

    The sponge cake is yummy. Love the coffee too.

    One of my resolutions is to write a week's worth of devotions every week for my webpage. That would break down to fifteen minutes per day.

  5. Thanks for doing the math for me, Camy! I'm in the process of thinking through my resolutions (and I LOVE THEM TOO! you're not the only one).

  6. That was a very encouraging post, Camy. If I write 1000 words per day (doable)and take weekends off, I can write 20,000 words per month. I'll finish a 90,000 word story in 4 1/2 months. That doesn't sound bad.

    I also want to lose a few lbs. 30 minutes of walking a day. Not as much fun as writing.

  7. Camy, you make an excellent point about making too many resolutions. I always have a list, but sticking to more than a couple doesn't work. I'll take your advice and simplify this year.

    I'll have to write my wip in three months to give myself time to revise and enjoy Spring Break with my family. Bringing a book up to snuff takes lots of polishing.

    Thanks for the coffee and sponge cake. Are you sure there are no calories in this stuff? I'm still gaining. I feel another resolution coming on. LOL


  8. Camy -- I love the New Year and the opportunity to evaluate what worked the past year with my writing goals and what didn't. I know it's just a day on a calendar, but I love starting fresh. Putting the past behind. Moving forward with a new plan.

    I read recently that only 3% of the U.S. population sets goals and puts them in writing. Putting them in writing and reviewing them on a regular basis is apparently something that vastly increases the likelihood that you'll meet them. So get out a pen and paper everyone, and post your goals by your computer where you'll see them every day!

    By the way, if anyone wants to have some fun today, the cover of SEEKER JULIE LESSMAN'S "A Passion Most Pure" has been nominated in a contest at http://continuousdelights.blogspot.com

  9. Camy, YES ... 430 words a day is VERY doable and VERY encouraging -- THANK YOU for the boost!

    And I am SOOO ready for New Years Resolutions!! Contrary to popular belief, discipline can feel SO good!!


  10. Glynna!!! You are utterly shameless, and I love you for it!! Thanks, sweetie for the plug. :)


  11. I have to think over my resolution this year while sipping some of that coffee.

  12. I love goals and resolutions. Thanks for the boost, Camy!

  13. Good mornin', Camy!!

    Can attending ACFW be a resolution? ;-) Then I only have to make ONE! (included in that is entering the Genesis with my wip - which automatically means finishing it)

    I'm shooting for 10,000 words a month - that's low, I know- but it's something I can reach. I hope to exceed that, but I'm teaching a new class this semester and that preparation will require a lot of my 'writing' time.

  14. I've got more numbers if you're thinking about a conference.

    Figure $1000 to attend. That's the conference fee, hotel room, plane ticket. Ball park figure.

    Eight months until conference. Let's say 30 days per month, 240 days. $1000 divided by 240, that's four dollars a day to save/earn/hide.

    Can you do that?

    What would you have to do to earn that? Babysit one hour a day for one kid. Better yet, sell your children's old clothes at a consignment store. Get a paper route.

    Cut out a Happy Meal. Next time you stop for gas, skip the Diet Coke and Hostess Twinkies.
    Stop wearing mascara. No more lattes. Don't they cost about $4?
    Think about it NOW and it isn't such a huge amount of money.

    And SAVE IT. Get a shoe box. Ask your husband to empty his pocket change into a jar, and you do it too.

    Sell a book....just a thought but you could try that. :)

  15. Ask your mom/husband/sister/children for cash for your birthday

  16. I aim to finish revisions on my WIP and resubmit it.

    But ... I am leaving my part-time restaurant job for a full-time job in a factory. (That's going to be tough this spring and summer when I will want to be outside on the farm.)

    I want to keep writing but have to figure out how tired and busy I will be in the afternoons.

    Can I get up an hour or so earlier? Can I do 430 words before work? I'd sure like to try.

    Hope all of your-all's resolutions work out.

  17. I don't have my resolutions thought out yet, they are wandering in my brain, I just need to catch the important ones and write them down.
    I like the fresh start of a new year, the clean calendar to carefully fill in but not overfill, guess that is one of my resolutions.
    I need to clean my office in the next few days so that I have a fresh start there too.

  18. Hi Glynna:

    Thanks for the heads up on the cover contest. I suggest everyone take a look. Notice how bad the type placement is on most of the covers. Poor Lauraine Snelling’s book, “A Measure of Mercy”, has type right over the heroine’s face. This is criminal! And where are the “Love Inspired” covers. I think almost any LI cover could win this contest. (An author that gets a LI cover, should try to buy the artwork if LI will allow it to be sold.)

    I voted and I think the best cover is “A Passion Most Pure” but I also think “The Apothecary's Daughter” is excellent and if only artists were voting it would be the real competition.

    “A Passion Most Pure” has a very unique pose for the hero and heroine. It also has the best type placement along with “Fools Rush In” which must have had a real graphic designer placing the type. I also think the heroine on “A Passion Most Pure” has the most intriguing facial expression. You just know she’s up to something and the hero doesn’t know what it is.

    I really like the graphics on “The Jewel of His Heart”. The setting almost tells a story by itself. It is very good book cover art.

    I would have liked to see Ruth’s cover in the contest.

    My choice for cover art of the year would be Janet Dean’s “Courting Miss Adelaide” How can you not love that heroine in that hat?

    Get out and vote! : )


  19. Good advice for the New Year; For my writing resolution, I'm resolving to keep a notebook with me to jot down quotes, ideas or just encouragement regarding writing; I have a bad habit of reading a scripture or quote and thinking I could write something from that or just having ideas of what to write about, while out and about or just laying in bed, only to forgot about it later on.

    In a way, I hope that this can also help me get over my self reservations about being able to write and sometimes I find myself, talking myself out of writing anything. LOL

  20. Hi Camy:

    My resolution is to have twelve monthly resolutions. That's a fresh new resolution at the first of each month. This way when they wear off in about three weeks (the average time for Americans – ask anyone who works in a health club) it’s not a great loss. I’ll be ready to jump into the next resolution.

    All resolutions must be doable in thirty days. Each resolution will be printed many times and posted on my computers, near my phones, and on my desk blotter. No excuses about having the resoultion 'skip my mind'. : )

    January’s resolution is to make at least $1,000 to attend a writing conference this year (I don't know which) by writing sent out in January. I write comedy and fiction shorts.



  21. I love making a list of goals for the year. And the more concrete and practical, the better.

    As for writing, my goal is write one new chapter a week. I should wrap up by the end of summer, leaving time to revise, etc.

    One of my other goals is to make one healthy choice every day. Skip the losing weight, more exercise, eat healthier goals because they just don't work for me. But, if I only have to do ONE thing? I figure after 365 things I might gain a few new habits - and lose a little weight, eat healthier, and exercise more along the way.

  22. Book Dilettante--Sounds like a good plan!

    Edwina--I love the Snowflake Method! It really helps me plot very efficiently.

    Sandra--that sounds great! 15 minutes per day is totally doable, too!

    Pattie--LOL I'm so glad I'm not the only one who loves resolutions! Come back and post your resolution here!

    Cara--I'm also going to commit to 30 minutes of exercise every day! I think it's a reasonable goal since I have to walk the dog every day.

    Janet, a book in 3 months is totally achievable! That's only 1250 words a day if you skip weekends!

    Glynna--fantastic point! I will write my goal down right now!

    Julie--you are totally right--discipline can feel really good! That's why I wish my self-discipline were better!

    Kerri--don't forget to come back here and post your resolution!

    Erica--you're welcome! What's your goal for 2010?

    Pepper, 10,000 words a month is a great goal! Very doable and low stress. That's only 500 words a day, skipping weekends. You'll feel so good when you reach it!

    Mary--thanks for the conference cost break down! That's so cool! It'll also help me save for my own conference costs this year.

    Ann--working full time and writing is hard, but doable. When I was working in biology research full time, I wrote a novel in 9 months by writing during my lunch hour. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. You can do it!

    Diane--I like cleaning my office to help me make my resolutions, too! LOL Come back and post your resolution when you're ready!

    I echo Vince and Glynna--go and vote!

  23. Twinkle Mom--a notebook is a great idea! I actually have one in the bathroom because I always seem to have ideas in the shower! LOL

    Vince--that's a fresh idea, a new resolution each month!

    Candee--good goals! A chapter a week is totally possible, and focusing on just one healthy choice each day is really good!


  24. I'm not much into making "resolutions" because I rarely keep them. :) But this year, I do want to finish my polish edits on my current WIP and finish the rough draft on my second WIP. I think that's duable. Then a personal goal- read 100 books in 2010! :D

  25. I'm not into resolutions anymore. Because of all the buildup, followed by the letdown. Then the thoughts of "Next year...". Why not now? I try to think more in terms of where I am and where I want to go and make a plan, something I can do at any point in the year.

    Still, I always see January as a fresh start too. I like Vince's idea. A new set of resolutions (or plans) each month.

  26. Camy,

    I've been thinking about my resolutions, working on a post for my blog on the very subject. I wondered if I'm not better off to resolve not to make a resolution at all.

    But plans aren't bad. And accomplishment is especially nice.

    The resolution I've been considering is one you eluded to.
    It's okay to dream, but dreams have to be broken down to realistic goals.
    Practical and attainable is good.

    Life comes at us in increments of seconds, minutes, hours and days first, how we spend those make a big difference in how the month and subsequent year flows.

    God says sufficient unto the day is the evil there of, and his mercies are new every morning.

    Having said all that, my goal is to take the days that God gives and spend them more wisely, seeking his wisdom to do so.

    And try not to bite off more than I can chew, cause that usually leads to failure and a bit of depression. I suppose I could say I've learned from those past mistakes, but one thing I'v learned is not to over do it.

    Now I've just got to find the balance to not under do it either.

    Now that I've completely circled that and flummoxed everyone, (hope not) I shall sign off.

  27. I'm already on it! I'm using the Snowflake software, too. It really slows you down, at least it seems that way. But it forces you to develop characters and outline before you begin writing. So I've given myself December and January for the outline and development, then 1000 words a day. Then two months for final editing. I intend to have a complete ms for the next ACFW conference. I could use a critique partner if anyone is available. Mine's a mystery.

  28. Gratitude will be my personal focus this year - and I'm thankful for that! (How am I doing so far?)As far as writing goes, I will work on honing my craft by submitting to magazines and by starting my first novel. Each tidbit I pick up along the way will be shared in my blog.

    Thanks for the boost, Camy!

  29. just loved your advice.
    have a wonderful 2010.

  30. Hey Camy, Great post! I love resolutions--the thought of putting the past behind you, of new beginnings just puts a kick in my step. So I've already written mine down.

    But before I tell you my new resolutions, I want to share one of mine from last year. I promised myself that with my girls graduating from high school and college, I would turn more of my attention to writing. I started out spending a couple of hours at the library, taking writing classes and working on plotting(a difficult task seeing how I'm a pantsers.) I was doing good until a cross country move got thrown into the mix but finished up the year with a plotted novel that is two scenes shy of being completely finished. I now write three to four hours a day, five days a week, getting down about 1500 to 2000 words a day. Yipee!

    My writing goals for this year are simply to keep at it. Plot out a new book and after a month of research, finish it by Dec. 31 of next year. I also want to make it to at least one conference this year.

    I've also made some regarding making healthy choice, learning a Bible verse every other week, and just sitting still( a hard task for me.)

    Praying over all of your goals for the new year.

  31. After I posted my comments, I thought it sounded kind of prideful. Just so you guys know, I spent years trying to live up to that resolution and failed. Only by God's grace did I finally get on track.

    Just wanted you guys to know.

  32. Casey--that's totally doable! And what a great reading goal for the year! That's only 2 books a week!

    Patricia--Vince's idea sounds like a good one for you!

    Tina--accomplishment is always a great feeling for me, which is why I enjoy making New Years resolutions. I think that if you keep your resolution simple, concrete, and doable, you'll be able to accomplish it! If you break it down in terms of a small goal each day, you can get that feeling of accomplishment every day that you achieve that small goal, like 100 words a day or something like that.

    Ron, that's awesome! You've got good, doable, concrete chunks and goals.

    Joanne--good luck on that novel! It's always best to just START writing. It's easy to revise what you've written, but sometimes the big hump to get over is just to start on it!

    Thanks so much Catarina! You too!

    Patty--congratulations!!! That's so awesome! You rock!

  33. If someone had asked me about my writing goals for 2010 before I read Camy's post, I would've said, "Finish my WIP and start the next one." But since that's not concrete enough for our fearless leader of the day (LOL!), I'll tweak it a bit (and add a couple of others).

    Revised goal that will keep me more accountable: write a minimum of 2000 words/week on my novel. I've written almost 40k to date, so that would have me reaching 90k right as the kids go back to school in August. That's not much compared to some folks, but challenges me when sandwiched in with work and life without being overwhelming. And if I'm able to pass 2k some weeks -- woo hoo!

    Goal 2 -- Schedule a weekend for a personal writing retreat. I did this a few years ago and loved it! Hubby and I have already talked about it and I know where I want to go. Now I just need to remind him and get a date on the family calendar.

    Goal 3 -- Blog 2 or 3 times a week. This is very doable if I just take an hour or so (or even less) each week and set it aside for writing and scheduling the posts.

    Thanks for pushing me to be more concrete with things, Camy -- it does make a difference.


  34. Thanks for the great post Camy. I like to set goals each new year and tie them to scriptures, for me that's helpful and encouraging. I like what you said about breaking it down. Haven't set my goals yet for this year, I still have a couple of days!
    Blessings to you!

  35. Vince, cyber hug for your sweet words about my debut Courting Miss Adelaide's cover! I love it too. I voted for Julie's for the same reasons you list. I love your idea of having a monthly resolution. I'm going to look at that.

    Thanks for doing the math, Camy! Now to do it.


  36. Hi, Camy! Well, I really do plan to lose weight this year. I might even join Weight Watchers or something serious like that. Otherwise, it might not happen. The weight loss thing, I mean.

    I guess my other resolution could be summed up as, I just want to be a calmer, more patient and wise mother, and a more positive, upbeat, and giving person. Should be easy enough, right?

  37. Oh, was I supposed to leave WRITING resolutions? Sorry. Writing is usually easier than the other stuff for me!

    How about writing at least 5,000 words a week? Whew, that will be hard some weeks, easy others. I tend to write in spurts.