Writing journeys for 2016

When the New Year rolls around most people de­cide how many miles they want to run or how many pounds they want to lose. I de­cide how many words I want to write.

There are two writers in our house and we’re both at dif­fer­ent stages of our books. Rick’s in the fin­ish­ing phase: adding tid­bits to cre­ate a stronger story, fact check­ing and pol­ish­ing the ma­nu­script be­fore send­ing it to a publisher.

I’m in the early middle, messy stage. Over the last year I’ve ac­cu­mu­lated a huge pile of re­search and now need to de­cide what else I need, how I’m go­ing to get it and then how to or­gan­ize the whole damn book.

Rick’s on a writ­ing high and I feel like I’m drown­ing in a sea of facts, fig­ures and fables. To top it off, we’re cur­rently shar­ing writ­ing space. Inevitably, one of us is in talk mode when the oth­er is into ser­i­ous writ­ing. SHUSS! and oc­ca­sion­ally stronger words of­ten bounce off the walls.

When I moan about or­gan­iz­ing my data (the part I hate about writ­ing a book) Rick tells me to just do it. “Just start writ­ing,” he says, “that’s the only way you’ll fig­ure it out.” I know he’s right be­cause I’ve told him the same thing many times before.

But we aren’t just writers. We’re walk­ers and run­ners, daugh­ters and sons, friends and fond of good meals. Exercise, so­cial­iz­ing, even cook­ing, all takes time. Something that al­ways seems to be in short sup­ply when you’re a writer.Goal 1

Rick and I both have im­port­ant (to us any­way) writ­ing goals for 2016. His is a con­tract with a pub­lish­er and launch date for his book. Mine is to be in the spot Rick’s in now – the fi­nal stages of a ma­nu­script. We know the key to achiev­ing our goals is our time and how we man­age it.

We’ve both vowed to de­vote morn­ings (when we’re the sharpest) to writ­ing. That means no lolling around in bed, few or no emails, no phone calls or ap­point­ments (un­less book re­lated) and no cof­fees out with friends un­til after noon. We’ll be strict about this be­cause we know, even if it’s dif­fi­cult at times, the re­wards will be worth it.

Rick’s strategy is to cut down on so­cial en­gage­ments and ar­range them at times that don’t in­ter­fere with writ­ing. He’s also de­cided not to ac­cept non-book re­lated work (not an op­tion for every­one, I know) for sev­er­al months.

Goal 2I’m a list maker so will re­fine my “to con­tact” list and put it into a timeline. Ditto for rough­ing out chapters, which will, of course, gen­er­ate an­oth­er list for “need to find out.” Every month or so, I’ll re­view what I’ve done. To be per­fectly hon­est, I rarely meet my self-im­posed dead­lines. But they keep me on track and motiv­ate me to try harder.

But simply hav­ing a goal isn’t al­ways enough. To be really effect­ive ex­perts say you should write your goal down, make a com­mit­ment by telling it to someone and be­ing account­able to that per­son. For most of our time to­geth­er, Rick and I have dis­cussed our goals – and wheth­er we ac­com­plished last year’s — at the be­gin­ning of each year.

It’s the time of year when most people make res­ol­u­tions. Many will be broken with­in a week, oth­ers will be half met and some will suc­ceed. Have you giv­en any thought to where you want to be in your writ­ing jour­ney by the end of the year?