In about October this year I started thinking about my writing resolutions for 2016. I had plans, I wanted to set concrete, achievable goals and really make 2016 my year.
They looked something like this:
- Finish fourth draft and get novel to betas
- Submit one new piece of short fiction per week.
The first one is an old standard. It doesn’t really have measurable targets or anything, I’ve accepted that I’m just going to work on the novel until it’s “done”.
The second one was based on a few different sources of input. I met up with some fellow writers late last year, some of whom had been to Clarion and all of whom had published things. I saw in them the next stage of where I wanted to be as a writer: still starting out, but somehow on the other side of that publishing and writing-craft “fence” to me. I looked into application process and realised that 2016 was not a great year for me to apply for – financially or time wise. I also didn’t have a good selection of recent work that I felt displayed my writing. With that in mind, I flagged that using 2016 to work up a decent working backlog of recent short fiction to use as folio fodder might be a good goal for the year.
I coupled that with thinking I’ve been doing about which markets I submit to and how I approach receiving rejections and resubmitting. I read this article by Sunil Patel which talked about his approach to submitting work. My key takeaways were: “don’t self-select out of pro markets” and “submit again as soon as you receive a rejection”. The idea being that you start at the top, because you never know they just might like it, and keep the short story out there, active and looking each time it comes back. Typically when I get a rejection I work on the story a bit more, I look for other possible markets, I dither, and then sometimes send it out again. Sunil’s approach is much more proactive. A much more devil-may-care, just keep swimming, rejections-as-badges-of-honour deal. I was inspired by it.
These all seem like great motivators for working on my short fiction, except that by the time January 1 rolled around I didn’t have a new story to submit. My resolution had fallen flat before it had even started. It wasn’t that I wasn’t working on new stories or my novel, just that there was nothing submittable yet.
I realised then that there was a problem with how I was looking at my short story goal. I’d given myself a rod to beat myself up with, rather than something to guide positive change in my writing habits. I’m terrible for beating myself up at the best of times and I don’t need to set up more opportunities to do so. I also don’t struggle with identifying work priorities or setting goals and targets to hit – I’ve got those things going all the time, resolutions won’t provide much help here.
What I needed was a broader guiding principle resolution. I came up with this:
Realised that my writing resolution for 2016 is pretty simple: just keep showing up.
— Kiera Lesley (@KieraLesley) January 1, 2016
Roughly translated it means that I’m going to try very hard to write every day and prioritise the time better in my life. Maintaining things like the Twitter Monthly Writing Challenge and my #WriteChain are my goals for this year. Getting fierce about keeping my writing time and habits going.
I recently bought a dining table to fulfil my growing desire to have a set place at home to write at. I don’t like studies or being stuck away from the main flow of traffic or people, I get lonely and bored. However, I was also getting a bit sick of clearing off the coffee table and crouching at that to write at. It wasn’t an inspiring space. I’m almost finished with my current journal and I’m excited to buy a new one. I’ve started outlining and trying new things with my short fiction. I’m optimistic about finishing the current draft of my novel and have started thinking about the next one – new project or sequel to the current one?
In short: my writing goal for this year is to try really hard to write every day. Submitting the short stories and getting my draft done will all happen if I meet this goal. I know what my projects and plans and bigger writing goals are, the trick is making sure I have enough momentum to achieve them.
I also have two non-writing resolutions for this year.
Reading: read 60 books and wrestle my TBR shelf into some semblance of order. I’m aiming to get the total down to under 20 (Ideally I’d like it to be at around 3, but I’m trying to be realistic!). You can follow my progress on this front at my Goodreads.
Blogging: My blogging routine got sketchy in the second half of last year due to changes in work circumstances, but I still enjoy writing this blog and want to try to keep it consistent. This year I’m aiming to write one new blog post a week.
 I don’t even remember what 2015’s were. I suspect they had something to do with getting my novel to betas, and submitting more short fiction.
 Spoiler: I’m leaning towards the new project