Posted by: francesthomas | December 31, 2010

Writers Realistic Resolutions!

Dahlian Kirby

By the time you read this those hastily scribbled Christmas cards will be a distant memory, the last of the turkey or nut roast will be long gone. You will perhaps be thinking of interesting things to do with the seventeen slabs of stilton you received as presents. It’s the time of the year that we realise that we are less wealthy than a few months ago, possibly less healthy and its still not spring. The New Year though, is a time for new hope, new ideas. New Year’s Resolutions. Some people quickly go on a diet and join a gym.

What do writers do? Well, if you like exercising indoors with a bunch of strangers and will keep it up at a level that justifies the fees, join a gym. If you think eating less food will really make you fit and happy, do it. But I’d rather go for a walk, come back and sit down somewhere warm and quiet with my favourite drink and some hot buttered toast and start making a writing plan.

A writing plan should not be daunting, it can merely be a list of priorities, a way of organising my intentions. The good thing about writing it down is that I can see it and –yes- do the things and tick them off. I usually make a plan for the year and then break it down so that I know what to do in January and February. Towards the middle of February I’ll have a look and see how far I’ve got then make a list for March/April, adding the things from the first list that I won’t be able to do before the end of the month.

I try to make sure that writing plan is not be too vague, WRITE BEST SELLER! is an idea but just putting those words down is not really going to get the book written. This is a good time for me to look through any manuscripts that haven’t found homes over the last year- see if they need re-writing , remind myself what I had hoped to achieve with them. It’s a good idea at this stage to realistically work out if that story really does work or if those few pages can be expanded on.

I try to be realistic but bold- read, re-read and make notes. Then I do what I say I am going to do. No excuses. It’s a method worth following and this is the time of the year to do it. So if you are interested a plan might look something like this:

re-write story 1
look for markets for story 2 and send
look for an agent ( if you haven’t already got one)
do research for story three ( not yet written but thought about over Christmas)
write story 3
look for markets for story 1 and send
re-write story 3
look for markets for story 3 and send
network with other writers

Not daunting. Very simple. January and February could then be something like:
Re-write story 1
Look for markets for story 2
Join a writer’s website

The list isn’t the New Year’s resolution, the resolution is to plan your writing tasks and stick to them. Instead of joining a gym, joining an online writer’s group is a wonderful winter activity. I strongly recommend WriteWords .

WriteWords has lists of markets, competitions etc as well as groups for various writing forms, including children’s novels. It has a directory of agents and publishers and a diary of writing news. Members can upload examples of their work for other people to read and comment on. I tend to spend more time in the winter ‘visiting’ WriteWords.

January is a really good time to decide if you are going in the right direction with your writing. I am currently reading Journal to the Self by Kathleen Adams. It’s a book about using journal writing as an aid to personal development. It may be particularly useful to all those people who say I would love to write but…..The book contains excercises in journal writing, some that only involve writing a few words.

If you want to write- write. I wish I had a fiver for every person who has said to me I’d love to have time to write…then recounted the entire plot of the last month’s soaps and who they wish had won some talent competition and who ate what in some jungle ‘reality’ show. Resolve to prioritise what matters to you. JK Rowling has exactly the same amount of hours in the day as everyone else.

Now is a really good time to write something Chrismassy, with the memories of sights, sounds and smells still fresh. Christmas ghost stories, winter poems, stories of sad or happy Christmas days.

Making resolutions is a good way to get started or back on track. Go to the library and borrow books in other genres as well as the ones you feel comfortable writing in. In other words, sit down and read and remember what made you want to be a writer in the first place. Then get on with writing something amazing before the end of 2011!
And by the way this blog is not a nag to you, it’s me having serious words with myself!

posted by Frances Thomas for Dahlian Kirby



  1. I did actually manage to keep my last new year’s resolution – a first for me. I have two more writing related ones for this year. Perhaps you should update this blog in the spring, Dahlian, and we can all compare how we got on.

  2. I’m not very good at sticking to my plans. For the Christmas period, I planned to write some chapters of my latest effort. Did I, though? Did i ‘eck as like? However, I did do some third/fourth draft on two previous novels. For me, redrafting doesn’t require even half as much energy as that initial creative outpouring ( I use the term “pouring” loosely). I find it quite relaxing.

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