I’m starting off with hoping to a brilliant new year and taking considerations for when you fail. ‘Cause that’s how I roll.
A common saying I can’t attribute to anyone specifically at the moment is: “Those who fail to plan plan to fail” – and I think if you can somehow find a time in your day to devote to your writing, I say all the power to you. Making a commitment and sticking to it shows strength of character, and quite frankly, if you don’t make time for something that will one day become difficult, it’s not hard to stop doing it when something else comes up and suddenly your time becomes compromised.
Then there are those of us who have never been able to devote a specific time to writing. Not for lack of discipline – maybe you do try to bang off something at a certain time, but you’re a student or you’re on call with a pager, and you have to be flexible. Been there, done that, don’t want the T-Shirt.
2013 was the first year since I graduated University where I didn’t begin and finish a full-length novel in the year. I can probably finish the WIP in about a week if I put my mind to it, but I’ve got no delusions on this one: It’s not my best thing ever. What was worse: I’ve been editing a different novel for about two years now: it’s still not in a state where I’m happy enough to send it to an editor.
So while I did make some commitments on my blog, I will throw out there that my resolutions in writing are guidelines, and I’m okay with that. Maybe I’d be a little stricter if I’d noticed a pattern of slipping and that I really hadn’t gotten anything accomplished in terms of my writing last year, and a lot of things I was working towards on a personal level were beyond my control. While I’m not a fan of excuses, I think it’s important to acknowledge that eventually, no matter how committed you are, things do come up and the writing will be put aside – whether it’s something short term or life-changing, or even just burnout. And I can come back and the writing will still be there.
I’m also not going to be overly cheerful and state that it’s all the effort that counts – you know, because it’s not at all condescending when you get a review that says, “Well golly, you can tell she put in some hard work!”
What I am going to say is that it’s awesome to be hopeful and set goals. It’s also great to dream big and work hard towards reaching them. Just don’t beat yourself up over it if you find yourself knee deep in some disaster or, if the story you’re working on just isn’t flowing. A million things could keep you from finishing that manuscript – but remember that when you’re effectively out of the race, no chance to reach the goal you set out for yourself, that you’re still accomplishing something by finishing the race. Not every thing you do will be golden, and that failure isn’t forever – until you put down the pen or abandon the project, it’s only over when you’re done with it, and unless you’ve committed to having something done on time, it’s okay to fall behind on that schedule provided you don’t give up altogether. Believe me: I’m that competitive person who thinks they can somehow rush things, and acknowledging that things happen in their own time is one of those things I had to learn when I became a grown up. Still working on most of the rest of maturity, but I suppose that too will happen in its own time.
So whether you’re great with commitment or you’re stealing time to reach your daily word count, keep yourself grounded and don’t waste time beating yourself up when you fall down. Get back in the saddle and don’t worry about how long it takes to get it right.
Unless you’re committed to the editor. Be on time for that one, folks, just out of respect for other people’s time. That being said, they totally get it if you’re in a genuine emergency. Believe it or not, editors are human too.
Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s rock 2014.