New Year, New Manuscript: Kicking Ass in 2015

Does anyone know what happened last night?

*Emerges from a cocoon of chocolate boxes and gift wrap*

*Flails around for coffee*

*Finds coffee*

*Drinks all the coffee there is now and ever will be*

Right. That’s sorted.

So, back after the holiday break. Whether or not you celebrated anything at all, I hope you had a nice one. If you did not, then I hope it was because you were bereft without my presence and not anything serious. I got a mohawk while we were apart. Small children love it, and one of my favourite things this holiday season was when little boys and girls would tell me how much they liked it while their parents looked on in horror. I hope at least one of those children locked themselves in the bathroom with a set of clippers this Christmas and had a go at making their own mohawk. If not, maybe next year, Santa.

Now that the gifts, food, and bullshit family drama is being packed away for another year, its time to get back to business. You might be taking the year off, and that’s fine, but after a couple of weeks I’m ready to get back in the saddle. Those of you who are joining me, mount up. The rest of you, catch up to us later.

The thing about this time of year is that everyone and their dog and their dog’s dog is making resolutions. Which are so often broken that otherwise sensible people who want to change something are leery about the idea because, if they fail, it puts them in the same category as everyone whose gym membership is gathering dust by January 20th.

Which is bullshit. Not doing something because everyone is doing it is just as stupid as doing something because everyone is doing it. Either way, you’re letting someone else make your decisions.

Personally, I like resolutions. They might be a cliche, but I’m not above a cliche. It also feels like a good time of year to do things like this. The days have turned, ever so slightly, back toward light. And whatever darkness we carried into the ground-down stump of the year has been burned away on bonfires and fireworks, leaving just us, clean and ready to start again.

So. Resolution. I am going to finish this book before the end of the year.

Now that I’ve said it, I have to make it true, or else I’ll be a liar.

Coming back after a break, though, can be a rough road to ride. Easy to fall off. Easy to get discouraged. My best trick for coming back after a significant break—whether it was precipitated by holidays, illness, or just life getting in the goddamn way again—is to set the bar low. Make hitting that goal easier, but, and this is important, make damn sure you hit that goal every day. Then, when it gets too easy—like, you don’t even have to try—increase the goal.

What an easy goal looks like will be up to you. For me, it’s 500 words: the bare minimum I feel I can get done every day. For you, it might be 100. Or 67. Or 3,000. If you go past that number, great. Reward yourself somehow. Not with something that detracts from the original goal, though. For example, no extra days off if you go over. That’s like rewarding yourself for eating healthy by mainlining pixie sticks and caramel sauce: it is damaging to your overall goal. Instead, if you go over your writing goal, have a cookie. Watch a movie. Smash old cathode ray tubes. I have some posts about rewards that I’m working on for future days, so more on that later.

So, your turn: who’s making word-herding a part of their 2015 plan?

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12 thoughts on “New Year, New Manuscript: Kicking Ass in 2015

  1. This sounds like a great plan. I want to finish and polish my nano novel. Right now I sit and pick at it for about a half an hour but I’ll increase that at some point, like you’re doing with your word count.

  2. Great post. I’m glad the holidays are over. I still have some chocolate left. Good luck with your writing goal. I’m happy as long as I write each day, but I think 500 words is very realistic.

  3. My main goal for the year is a little more abstract–try to arrive at a better time balance between work and non-work. I’ll probably spend the first couple of months figuring out how to actually *do* that… 🙂

  4. I have to admit that ever since I finished Nanowrimo back in November I’ve been a lazy sow where writing’s concerned. (The book I was working on prior to Nanowrimo hasn’t been touched, and the last thing on earth I want to look at right now is the Nanowrimo draft.) Been reading a lot and doing a bit on the blog, but it’s past time for me to get back in gear. I’ll start today with my favorite back-to-basics ploy: I’ll set the microwave timer for ten minutes, telling myself that I only “have” to write until it goes off. I’m so damned contrary I’ll probably end up writing until bedtime!

  5. 2015 is here already? Shit. That was fast.

    Goals? For this year? Oh, I don’t have any GOALS, as such. I didn’t have any goals qua goals last year.

    But last year I published my first novel and started my second. I “won” NaNoWriMo. In December I finished the first draft.

    I wrote twelve short stories. I submitted to, and was rejected by, Narrative magazine. I accidented my WordPress database and destroyed about a hundred poems. I checked other places and managed to get fifty of them back (kinda like I hired Travis McGee to make a recovery…he always keeps half).

    I got a decent-paying job that leaves me alone to write (aside from the requisite forty hours a week). I began to again pay attention to blogs (like this one).

    I encouraged my girlfriend to keep writing. I helped her start to self-publish her novel. I encouraged her more.

    I sent copies of my first novel to a bunch of people for Christmas, which is a little better… a VERY little better…than sending them a framed headshot of myself. A framed, autographed headshot.

    Lots of accomplishments, but no success as such. No recognition, no stellar events. Quiet accomplishment.

    Goals? This year I want to have some reviews of my book, to polish and publish my Number two, to maybe get a short story into a lit mag or two. Write a ton, Get better.

    Oh, and the super secret goal I will only admit to making if it comes to pass. Otherwise it never happened.

  6. I’ve been reading tons and well my dream is to be a writer, i’m currently working on my first manuscript i’m almost half way done. I am sixteen currently…you seem like a excentric and not to mention a experienced writer can you please take a look at some poetry i have in my blog and follow it. For my it would be a inmense honor. 😉

  7. 2015 is here already? Shit. That was fast.

    Goals? For this year? Oh, I don’t have any GOALS, as such. I didn’t have any goals qua goals last year.

    But last year I published my first novel and started my second. I “won” NaNoWriMo. In December I finished the first draft.

    I wrote twelve short stories. I submitted to, and was rejected by, Narrative magazine. I accidented my WordPress database and destroyed about a hundred poems. I checked other places and managed to get fifty of them back (kinda like I hired Travis McGee to make a recovery…he always keeps half).

    I got a decent-paying job that leaves me alone to write (aside from the requisite forty hours a week). I began to again pay attention to blogs (like this one).

    I encouraged my girlfriend to keep writing. I helped her start to self-publish her novel. I encouraged her more.

    I sent copies of my first novel to a bunch of people for Christmas, which is a little better… a VERY little better…than sending them a framed headshot of myself. A framed, autographed headshot.

    Lots of accomplishments, but no success as such. No recognition, no stellar events. Quiet accomplishment.

    Goals? This year I want to have some reviews of my book, to polish and publish my Number two, to maybe get a short story into a lit mag or two. Write a ton, Get better.

    Oh, and the super secret goal I will only admit to making if it comes to pass. Otherwise it never happened.

  8. I’ve taken a break from my novel by writing a poetic ballad. It’s still writing, so doesn’t feel like procrastination, but probably is a bit. However, it’s good to flex some different writing muscles. That’s how I spent Christmas, which felt pretty productive and reminded me that I do enjoy writing.

    I’ve nearly finished polishing the poem, so this post has reminded me, that I really need to finish ‘the book’. But it’s hard. At this point, I need a Greek chorus with sad faces on…*sigh*

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