Tuesday, July 19, 2011

6 Now and Then: Reevaluating Your Writing Resolutions


That's right – this girl!

But here's the thing. It's summer. Half the country is sweltering in 90+-degree weather and/or still wringing out their tissues from Harry Potter's cinematic THE END. And to be honest, I'm elbow-deep into potty-training a stubborn two-year-old who'd rather sit in soggy underpants than tell me she has to go. SO, I figure since we're more than halfway through the year, it might be a nice time to revisit those good old New Year's resolutions we all made in January. You know the ones:

Finish the manuscript. Get an agent. Get a book deal. Blog every day. Convince the spouse that yes, every writer you know is waited on hand and foot and YES, that includes hand massages, four-course dinners, AND entire blocks of uninterrupted writing time every single night plus maid service and on-call babysitters and

Um, yeah…so how you doing on those?

Maybe a better question is – do you still remember your writing resolutions from the beginning of the year? No shame if you don't. I had to look mine up last night because well, let's face it, I barely remember where I park when I go to work in the morning. But after spending about an hour hunting for my 2011 resolutions (which I finally found tucked away in my "Writing Expenses" folder of all places), I can tell you that I only accomplished one of my resolutions so far. ONE.

Now, I know the year isn't even over yet, but I couldn't help but feel this uncomfortable pang of failure form in the pit of my stomach. Like I made my parents take off work, drive through sleet and snow during rush hour traffic so they could see me in some cheesy high school rendition of The Glass Menagerie, only to find out I was booted back to understudy status ten minutes before curtain call because I couldn't remember my stinking lines.

Okay, so maybe that scenario's a bit of a stretch. It's summer. Did I mention I'm potty-training a two-year-old? Anyway, I think we all know what self-inflicted disappointment feels like, yes? So what do you tell yourself when the guilt from wasting six perfectly good months threatens to cripple you?

For me, I realized last night that, although I've barely crossed anything off my list, there are some things – MAJORLY IMPORTANT IN THEIR OWN WAY things – that I never even thought to write down that I can say I did accomplish this year. Things like teaching my aforementioned stubborn, doesn't-want-to-use-the-potty daughter how to sound out words and count up to twenty in English, Spanish, and French. Things like meeting new writing friends in person and exploring awesome new ideas with them. Things like getting an agent and going on submission and taking my time writing a story because it's the kind of story that's pushing my writing ability to the limit and would suffer greatly if I tried to rush it too much.

If you look at your old goals and really analyze where you are right now, I'm sure you'll also come to realize that so much can happen and change in half a year even when on paper it looks like nothing's happened or changed at all.

As writers, it's important we set goals. It's important to reflect on and revise those goals (and not file them under "Writing Expenses"). But it's even more important to be flexible and accepting when those goals decide they want to marinate longer than what we'd originally planned or banked on.

So my summer proposal for you is to review your 2011 Goals/Resolutions from the beginning of the year. Take note of what you've done so far. Take note of what you haven't done. Then throw that list away. You're a different writer now than you were six months ago. It's time for a new list. A new focus. It's summer. It's hot. It's the perfect time to whip up a 2011 Writing Resolutions Part Deux, dontcha think?

We'd love to hear about your progress from the first half of the year. Is your New Year's list all crossed off, or collecting dust somewhere on your desk? What are you working toward for the rest of the year? (And if anyone wants to leave any good potty-training tips, that'd be cool too. I'm desperate!)

Happy Summer-Goaling!



  1. Great post. Sounds like you accomplished a lot. I made some goals this year for the first time and am accomplishing them--finished revisions, drafted a query that sounds good, and will be starting a new project soon. I'm also a new blogger so you're right a lot has changed this year. It's important we celebrate the small steps.

    Good luck with the potty training. Just remember your kid will get it at some point and then at what age won't matter.

  2. I usually keep track of my goals and work hard to achieve them (or at least pretend to), but this year I'm really falling behind. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. On Jan. 1, I was 30K into my first draft and wondering how I would ever finish it. Now I'm 30K into the first draft of my second book and preparing to begin revisions on the first one on Thursday. Time flies, but I'm making great progress. Thanks for this post!

  4. Great reminder and encouragement--and good luck with the potty training! ;o) I didn't exactly make a list of resolutions, but I said I wanted to get an agent. Check! So now everything is just icing on the top, and I have to make sure I'm still being productive! Time to make new goals, as you said. (To make my revisions the best they can be...)

  5. Great post, Cam! It's funny to think about the goals I made at the beginning of the year--they're so different than what wound up happening. Yes, I got an agent, but not with the manuscript I was expecting to receive representation. And certainly not in the way I was expecting!

    How close to three is your two-year-old? I have three kids. The first, I struggled and struggled to potty train when he first turned two, taking months to achieve only partial success. The second, I waited until he was almost three. Within a week, he was done--both day and night dry. The third, I was going to wait until she was three, but she started changing her own diapers, so I told her that's it! I wasn't buying any more. So, my advice? Wait until three if you can--it's way less stressful.

  6. Natalie -- A GOALS virgin, huh? Um, I mean NEWBIE. *reminds self this is a *children's* publishing blog* Way to go on all the great progress so far!

    Andrea -- You and me both! Maybe we can be Nag Buddies to keep us both on track? :)

    Anna -- Holy smokes you've had a productive year! *eyes Anna's goals list* *drowns self in chocolate*

    Carol -- Icing on the top, indeed! Now that I think about it, I think my NY's goals started to derail once I signed with my agent. My focus changed based on what *needed* to get done instead of what I *wanted* to get done (or at least what I wanted to get done as of Jan. 1). Good luck on your new goals and whipping that MS into shape!

    Ara -- Hi sweetie! Loved your WOW Wednesday post, by the way. Super congrats to you! Don't you just love the unexpected? Yours is truly a great story of perseverance. I think you're onto something with the potty-age thing. My daughter will be three in September and we actually made a huge breakthrough yesterday and today -- no accidents (including overnight)!!! She's stubborn as all hell, so I think I was pushing her too hard. As soon as I let up a little, she turned into a Potty Champ. I think a celebratory glass of wine is in my future. :)


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