Show of hands…how many of you achieved your 2020 new year’s resolutions? ***sound of crickets*** Yeah. That’s about what I thought. Remember how this time last year, every business and organization was all about 2020 Vision this and 2020 Vision that? That’s funny right there. Statistically, very few people actually keep their resolutions. But this year, that number is probably close to zero.
Unless, of course, your resolution was to spend a record amount of time on the couch, not get sick, start a mask collection, or watch all of Netflix.
If that’s the case, you probably won 2020. Congratulations…maybe.
But here’s another question to consider. How many of you ended up doing something truly meaningful with your life as a result of the pandemic? Don’t get me wrong. I hate that the sickness, division, and hatred of this year happened. But often, it requires something drastic for us to take serious action and do things that will actually improve our lives. I’ve seen numerous people I care about be pushed toward making major moves as a result of the events of this year. Two people walked away from their jobs to pursue new opportunities. One person has discovered a passion for social activism. One creative friend told me that he didn’t realize how much time he was devoting to projects that didn’t truly reflect his vision and wants to focus his efforts more. It’s happened to me, too. If someone told me back in January that I’d be starting a business, I would have laughed in their face. But I now see that writers have a great need for encouragement, resources, and community right now, and that I am uniquely gifted to meet those needs.
As I’ve said before, I believe that the kinds of stories we tell will fundamentally change as a result of what we’ve been through this year. So, here’s one more question to consider: What do you want to accomplish with your writing in 2021?
Maybe you have already taken the time to think on this, but just in case you haven’t, I’ve got a few ideas for you.
Make Time to Create
Would you write more if you only had the time? Do you find your personal creativity getting pushed off to the side because other stuff piles up in front of it? I’m sure you’ve heard this before…but we all have the same number of hours in the day. I know it doesn’t get any easier to hear it, though. But here’s the deal with time. You may not be able to increase the amount of time you have, but you can control the size of your project. Instead of carving out an hour every day to write, maybe you just need twenty minutes. Instead of writing 2,000 words, maybe you just need to write 500. I know what you’re thinking. “But Kori…how am I supposed to write a novel on just 500 words a day?”
It’s not about quantity. It’s about quality. 500 really good words are better than 2,000 “just okay” words and will ultimately bring you closer to your goal.
When I’m tempted to rush through stuff, my husband tells me that “slow is fast.” It drives me nuts when he says it, but he’s right.
I know we hear a lot about how the great writers had all kinds of idiosyncratic schedules and habits. My favorite, Flannery O’Connor, followed a very regimented schedule where she woke up at five in the morning, went to mass, and then came home and wrote for three hours straight. Sometimes I berate myself for not having that kind of discipline.
Then I remember that her schedule had to be that way. She was dying of lupus.
Not only did she know her time was limited, but she also knew she had to take advantage of the hours when she physically felt well enough to write.
Again…sometimes it takes something drastic to inspire us to act.
The point is this: you have to learn to operate creatively within the framework of your life as it stands right now. It’s about developing a habit, not being Ernest Hemingway (or whoever you want to emulate. Personally, I don’t see why anyone would uphold Ernie as a writing role model. Please don’t hate me).
So, pick your currency—words or time. 30 minutes. 500 words. If you have time for more than that, great. But don’t give in to self-flagellation by enslaving yourself with “should” statements.
Find a Community
I don’t want to sound like a broken record here, but you absolutely cannot do this writing thing all by yourself and expect to be successful.
Don’t even give me the business about Emily Dickinson—she lived in an era when people were much less connected and more accustomed to isolation. If Emily were writing today, you better believe she’d be on Twitter.
At the bare minimum, you need a writing buddy—someone to trade work with, give feedback, and hold each other accountable to your goals. You’d be surprised how much letting just one person into your creative world can impact your work. Also, one of the positive things that has come out of the pandemic is that technology has made finding a community even easier. Go to a webinar, sign up for an online group, or take an online writing class. It’s one of the best possible resolutions for meeting people and getting external motivation.
Read More Books
I know the last thing I probably need to remind writers to do is read books, but there is a difference between just reading for pleasure and reading to understand good writing.
If that sounds boring, no worries—believe it or not, you can do both. One thing that helps me when I find myself caught up in a book is to hit the pause button and ask myself…what has the writer done to make me have this particular experience? Take note of how they’ve developed the characters, what incidents in the story have upped the tension or stakes, and other techniques they’ve used to emotionally connect you with what’s happening.
If you aren’t on Goodreads yet, make that happen this year. It’s a social network for books where you can set goals for how many books you want to read, create libraries of your favorite titles, and review and recommend them to others. Be sure to search for Kori Morgan and follow me.
Just Finish the Thing
If there’s one thing I hope you’ve noticed in this list of resolution ideas, it’s that your goal does not have to be something huge. However, if you’ve got a draft you’ve been working on or picking at for awhile, the best thing you can possibly do is complete it.
Finish the thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. First drafts never are. Plus, once you’ve got something to work with, you can start taking steps to revise by finding someone to read it and give you feedback. Please keep in mind that if your goal is to write an entire book this year, starting small is the best approach, especially if you have no idea what kind of story to write. Go back to those 500-word daily assignments I mentioned above. If you start doing them for fun, with no expectations, something will jump out at you. How to Get Started
As we head into 2021, Inkling Creative Strategies is excited to provide a number of free tools and resources to help you tackle these goals.
If you aren’t sure what to write about or if you need help developing a writing project, check out the Ultimate Writing Project Workbook. It’s full of prompts, worksheets, templates, and more so you can get the momentum you desperately need to get your book into motion this year. I’m also introducing my latest resource, The Story Revision Scorecard. If you have a completed book draft, but aren’t sure how to tackle the revision process, the scorecard will walk you through some of the main structural flaws of first drafts and let you rank where you’re at in each area so you can tackle your weaknesses immediately. If you want to get these blog posts delivered to your inbox regularly along with writing prompts, members-only discounts on services, and book, music, and movie recommendations, go to www.inklingcreative.work and click the button to sign up for our newsletter.
Finally, if you’ve got questions about writing or just aren’t sure how to get started this year, let’s set up some time to talk on Zoom with a complimentary 30-minute Virtual Meetup. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat. It’s a great way to take the step of connecting with other writers. Click here to get on my calendar. Writing Prompt: Imagine that it’s December 31, 2021. Write 300 words, in the past tense, looking back at what you accomplished in the last year.