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?


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One Response to Writing journeys for 2016

  1. This essay is a great way to begin a new year of writ­ing, Paula. Thank you for writ­ing it. It does remind me how very dif­fer­ent the writ­ing pro­cess is for non-fic­tion than fic­tion. Or to throw bana­nas in with apples and oranges, pic­ture book stor­ies minus the illus­tra­tions. Arghh. My task is to choose a form/​genre and to buckle down, muddle my way along in 2016! I look for­ward to read­ing Wolves very much too and wish you all the best at all stages of its com­ple­tion.

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