What Will You Write in 2013? Ten Mini-Resolutions to Get You Started

by Ali on January 3, 2013

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“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”
- Neil Gaiman

Maybe 2012 was a great writing year for you. Perhaps you launched a blog, took part in NaNoWriMo, got placed in a short story competition, sold your first magazine article, or had any number of writing-related successes.

Or maybe 2012 was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps that big goal you had – to finish your novel draft, or to launch your freelancing career, or to get a book deal – didn’t get very far.

Either way, you’re starting again. A new year is like a new chapter, full of promise and potential.

What will you do with it?

Ten Mini-Resolutions

I’m a big fan of goal setting – and I’ve no problem with aiming high. When it comes to resolutions, though, I find that it’s very easy to get too ambitious … and give up entirely.

That’s why I’ve set myself a mini-resolution this year (if you receive the Aliventures newsletter, you’ll have heard about it yesterday):

Write fiction for at least five minutes every day.

However busy I am (and I expect to be busy when the baby arrives in February!), I know that I can find five minutes each day to write. Of course, I hope that, often, I’ll manage to write for much longer than that – but simply managing those five minutes will help me build good habits and stay connected to my fiction-writing.

You’re very welcome to borrow my resolution – or you might want to choose from one of these extra ideas:

#2: Read one writing-related book every other month.

My resolution was inspired by The Five-Minute Writer by Margret Geraghty – a book that my Writers’ Huddle read during December. Reading can be a great way to learn new techniques, to get inspired, or simply to put yourself in a writing frame of mind.

#3: Set up a Twitter account and tweet at least twice a week.

Whatever your writing ambitions are, an online platform will help you reach your goals. Whether you want to self-publish, get a traditional deal, or find freelancing clients, you’ll benefit from a strong network of online connections. Twitter is a great place to meet other writers. (You can find me there at @aliventures.)

#4: Enter one writing competition every three months.

Competitions are great for writing inspiration and discipline: they typically come with a topic, a word length, and a deadline! It might be daunting to enter your first competition – but if you commit to entering at least four this year, you’ll find that it gets easier each time.

#5: Write in a journal twice a week.

Journaling is a powerful tool for getting to grips with your thoughts and feelings – and it’s also a great way to build a regular writing habit. Your journal is a private place where you’re free to experiment, to break all the rules, or simply to have a good rant about whatever’s on your mind.

#6: Write from a prompt once a week.

You can use writing prompts to warm up at the beginning of a writing session, or as a way to spark off a whole new piece. A couple of books of prompts I’ve used and enjoyed are The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspiration for Writing (Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk), by Monica Wood, and The Writer’s Book of Matches by Fresh Boiled Peanuts and Phillip Sexton (Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk).

#7: Write in a cafe (library / park / etc) once a month.

Getting away from your usual writing location can make a huge difference to how productive you are (and how inspired you feel). If you normally write at home, you probably struggle against dozens of distractions. By getting out to a local cafe, library, park, or any other location where you can sit down with your laptop / notebook, you may well find that you concentrate much better.

#8: Open your book-in-progress document (or notebook) every day.

If you’re working on a big project – like a novel or a non-fiction book – it’s very easy to let days go by without any progress. Committing to opening the document that contains your book might feel almost silly – but once you open that document (or your notebook, if you write by hand), you’ll have already taken a big step toward conquering your internal resistance to writing.

#9: Join a local writing group that meets regularly.

Unless you live somewhere very rural, there’s a high chance that you can find a local writing group to attend. It might be anything from a weekly workshopping group to a monthly writers’ circle that invites speakers. Join and attend a group: being around like-minded people is a great way to boost your motivation, and you’ll usually have the chance to gain valuable feedback on your writing.

#10: Identify as a writer.

Do you describe yourself as a writer? Many writers don’t – they think that the type of writing they do doesn’t count (“I’m just a blogger”) or they think that they need to be published in order to claim the title “writer”. The truth is, if you write, you’re a writer – and you have every right to call yourself that, and to take your writing seriously.

 

Which of the above mini-resolutions will you choose to tackle this year? Or do you have a different resolution for your writing? Pop a comment below to tell us!

 

TBG-LoyalReaders-smallComing next week: I’m putting the finishing touches on the newest book in my Blogger’s Guide series, The Blogger’s Guide to Loyal Readers.

If you’re a blogger, keep an eye on Aliventures for more information, as it’ll be on special offer for the first couple of weeks. :-)

{ 3 trackbacks }

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Steff Metal January 3, 2013 at 5:54 pm

I have a LOT of goals this year (always do), but your first mini-resolution is right at the top. I spent a lot of my time last year working on two non-fiction book proposals, and a children’s picture book dummy, but hardly any time writing fiction. I did some editing on some current books, wrote 12000 words on one novel and 4000 on another, but I didn’t finish anything! Well, this year, I am striving to write at least 250 words a day on a novel. It doesn’t sound like much, but it will add up to a completed novel by the end of the year, as long as I stick to it!

I’m switching up my routine to write my 250 words first thing in the morning. I used to add “write novel” to the end of my to-do list, but it would come the end of the day and I’d be busy and tired and the tea needed making and my husband wanted to watch a video and it didn’t get done. So now I’m trying to do it in the morning, so it will always get done. And 250 words is such a manageable amount I won’t be sitting in front of the screen for hours trying to think what to say when I should be working … at least, I hope not!

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Ali January 4, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Hey, Steff, 16,000 words of fiction last year is great (especially given all the other writing you do!) — so hurrah and congrats on that. :-)

And I think 250 words a day for this year is a great target — best of luck with it. When I was studying for my MA, I did 500 words first thing in the morning for a while (eventually I decided I preferred longer, less frequent sessions — but it definitely got me well into the novel).

Good luck — and keep me posted on how it goes! (Especially if you need a little motivational kick. ;-))

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Marta J. de Villefort January 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Hi there! I’ve been following you for a while (also on twitter) and I guess now, with, the New Year, it’s a good time for popping up to say hello :)
Your mini-resolution sounds perfect to me — gonna start right now!
Thanks a lot :D
Marta J. de Villefort’s last blog post ..Iniziativa di letteraria utilità

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Ali January 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Thanks for popping up, Marta! It’s always wonderful to hear from readers who’ve been around a while (I know there are plenty lurking out there!) Very best of luck to you with your writing this year. :-)

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Jacki January 3, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Thanks for an inspiring post.

First resolution: write 2-3 hours on Mondays and Fridays, as much as possible other days.

Second: take concrete steps toward getting freelance business writing jobs and get some work by April.

Third: build up Twitter relationships (@ThinkIntuition).

Ali, I’m reading the e-book I purchased from you on freelancing and enjoying it.
Jacki’s last blog post ..I’m Not Sure What Kind of Work I Want to Do….

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Ali January 4, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Great resolutions, Jacki — best of luck with them. Thanks so much for buying The Blogger’s Guide to Freelancing — hope it helps you with #2! :-)

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Alicia January 4, 2013 at 2:59 am

These mini-resolutions are wonderful! I could definitely try all of these in some form.
Alicia’s last blog post ..Grace Under Pressure

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Ali January 4, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Thanks Alicia — and good luck, whichever resolution(s) you choose!

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TiffanyS January 4, 2013 at 7:48 pm

I also have made it my goal to write everyday for as much as I am able to, and having two kids, that will be enough of a challenge! Good luck in February. Babies are a lot of work.

Your other mini challenge, reading a writing book every other month, is something that I find much easier to do. I keep my current writing book in the bathroom. I don’t care what anyone says, but as a mother to a 3 yr old and a 7 month old, I have precious little time alone. Bathroom time is my time to read, paint my nails, plan my day…whatever.

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Ali January 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Thanks, Tiffany! I’m not too sure how well the “write 5 minutes a day” will stand up against the demands of a tiny baby … though I’m hoping to manage it at least most days during Feb / March. :-)

Keeping a writing book in the bathroom sounds like a great tip — will have to keep that one in mind!

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Zakgirl January 4, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Those are great resolutions. Impressive. I like how you haven’t beaten around the bush but defined the goal and how it can be achieved in detail. Thanks for sharing.
Zakgirl’s last blog post ..Writer Beware ® Blogs!: Guest Post: Dear Agent — Write the Letter That Sells Your Book

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Ali January 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Thanks! I’m a big fan of practical tips / advice, so I’m glad that came across well. :-)

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Joel D Canfield January 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Wonderful list, Ali. Dropped out of busy mode just to come comment on it, it’s so good.

Last year was my best writing year ever. I say that despite the fact that I released 6 books simultaneously on 11/11/11. Last year was better because I stopped spewing and started crafting. I released one book in 2012, blogged less, and learned more about my craft than in the 51 years before that.

I’m writing down #s 1, 3, 5, 7, and 8 because they’ll nudge me toward craft and away from hurried kruft. Don’t need #10 — I’ve identified as a writer for years, and it’s powerful indeed. Can’t do #9 because we live in the middle of nowhere, and we’re moving farther out into the woods ’cause it’s too crowded here. No prompts needed; my brain spews out 40 times the ideas I can capture. (I should Tweet them.) Can’t do #2; I’d have to slow down to only read one every other month ;)

Writing from prompts: can you give more specifics on how that might help someone who’s writing huge volume on varied topics already? Or is that a good one for a chap like me to skip?
Joel D Canfield’s last blog post ..Practical Advice from ‘Losing My Virginity’ by Richard Branson (An Actionable Books summary)

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Ali January 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Joel, congratulations on your brilliant writing year! Like you, I’ve identified as a writer for a long time (since the arrogance of my early teens!) — but I know that it’s something a lot of people struggle with.

Maybe writing from prompts is simply one you don’t need! I find that they’re useful as either a warm-up exercise (a bit like playing musical scales / tuning up an instrument), or as a way to spark off new ideas for a work-in-progress. I guess you could give them a brief try and see whether or not you find them useful…!

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Icy Sedgwick January 4, 2013 at 11:09 pm

I love these resolutions! They all feel so manageable, which makes them more realistic and workable. I think I may borrow them!
Icy Sedgwick’s last blog post ..#FridayFlash – The Supplicant

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Ali January 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Thanks, Icy — borrow away! :-)

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Karen January 5, 2013 at 8:54 am

I just met with a couple of writer friends and we all brainstormed 10 goals for 2013. Interesting thing was we ended up with 30 different goals – not one crossover! I just wrote a blog post outlining all our goals. I guess the lesson is we all have our own definition of what success will mean for us as writers in 2013! Let’s all go out and make it happen.
Karen’s last blog post ..Writing goals for 2013

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Ali January 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Absolutely! We’re all in different places as writers, and have different paths to travel … and I really enjoyed looking at the goals in your post. Looks like you and your friends are set for a wonderful year — best of luck to all three of you. :-)

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farouk January 6, 2013 at 9:34 am

great list
i personally want to read one book each week (not necessary about writing), good luck with your new yea’s resolutions
farouk’s last blog post ..Understanding jealousy in men and women

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Ali January 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Thanks Farouk — best of luck with yours too! I think one book a week is a great goal. :-)

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Daphnée Kwong Waye January 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm

This little list is going to be very helpful. I have set some writing goals as well and I also aim at writing even a little every day or at least 5 days per week, especially when school work will seek in. I’ve not yet published anything, and I’m still in the writing drafts process but I’ve indeed realised that I’m a writer anyway. It’s a title I’m glad to accept and I’m proud of!
Good luck in your writing and congrats for the baby :)
Daphnée Kwong Waye’s last blog post ..I Hope You Are Not Narrow-Minded

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Ali January 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Thanks, Daphnée! Best of luck with your writing … I’m sure publication won’t be too far away.

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Anis Ahmed January 10, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Hi Ali,
Actually, I have come here from Guideandnews by reading your awesome interview. Finally, I have found yourself as super writer.
These guideline can be really appreciated as advice. Thanks for this.

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Ali January 11, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Thanks for coming on over, Anis! Really glad you found Aliventures … and that you’re enjoying my writing. :-)

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Allison January 10, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Proud to say I’m already doing 10, and working on doing 9 (thank goodness for Writing Club…)

I do need to work on writing more fiction, especially if I hope to finish my novel. I’d like to enter some contests, but it seems a bit of a big field, especially after googling it. Do you have any tips on what organizations to look for competitions?

Write on 750words.com for my journaling from now on (on a 3 day streak) and it’s actually a lot easier than writing. However, I’m still doing some longhand, but I find that I flow a lot easier when on a computer (and concentrated!)
Will need to work on opening up my document every day for those five minutes of fiction.

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Ali January 11, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Yays on #9 and #10 — great stuff!

There are indeed a LOT of writing competitions out there — I’ve mainly entered ones from magazines (here in the UK we have Writing Magazine, which runs two monthly short story / poetry competitions — more than enough for me to be going on with). I think that in the US, Writer’s Digest might be a good equivalent, and they list competitions here: http://www.writersdigest.com/competitions/writing-competitions

Good luck with the journalling, and the fiction. :-)

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Archan Mehta January 23, 2013 at 9:11 am

Ali,

Thanks for this fab post. I always knew I was a writer. As a child, my love for the written word knew no bounds. And I started to write poems and articles and letters to the editor and so on. The bug has stayed with me over the years, but I could not keep pace with my goal of writing at least one thousand words per day. Stephen King suggested this goal, but I am afraid I have fallen short of this target. That discipline of writing has eluded me, but I strive to write whenever I feel inspired. Hence, this comment. Cheers.

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Ali January 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Thanks Archan! I came across Stephen King’s advice of one thousand words per day a few years ago, and it didn’t suit me either … I think it’s too prescriptive for many writers. Writing when you feel inspired sounds like it’s working just fine for you. :-)

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deepakwri April 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Thanks for all these great resolutions. It’s really an inspiring post.
deepakwri’s last blog post ..Comment on Where Is This Relationship Headed? by Ladies: How to hold your standards and not settle for less | YNaija

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