Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Year Ahead: Resolutions for Progress

Scott D. Parker

When compared to all the previous years of writing, the year 2013 was an outstanding year. I wrote about my progress much of last year so I won't rehash it here in 2014. But I will throw out one number: 269,792. That's the total number of words I wrote last year. And, when you consider that I didn't start until 1 May, that total encompasses only eight months worth of work. While I am proud of that number, I'm more proud of the habit.

The word for last year was Progress. The word for 2014 is also Progress, but different progress. Last year, I needed to pass over the hurdle of Not Writing. In 2014, I need to cross the next hurdle: edit what I've written, craft new tales, and get it out in front of y'all's eyes. But there's another milestone I need to achieve: improving my writing. It's one thing to churn out words, but if they're crap, what's the point?

When one thinks of Progress, the first impulse is to exceed what came before. That would mean writing three novels, three novellas, and three or four short stories. I know there are professional writers out there for whom this is what can be done in, say, the first quarter of 2014, but I don't necessarily want to write three books just to top myself. I want the quality to improve. And I know that the mere act of writing will help my writing improve, but if I'm making a common mistake, I'd want to know and correct it.

So what are my Resolutions for Progress in 2014? The first is to examine my writing with my editing pencil and find out what works and what I can improve upon. I wrote 'The End' on my first 2013 novel five months ago and I'm curious to see how it reads now that I've not given it a full read-through. Ditto for my second, even though it's only been three months for it. I knew when I was writing those books that certain traits were showing up in my writing. I'm eager to identify them and see if they need to be changed.

The second Resolution for Progress is my imagination. I want to improve it as well. I will be practicing on creating stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The latter half of last year I got bogged down in the sloppy middles of my stories. I want to be able to see the through line of a tale I write and make sure all the parts adhere to it.

My third Resolution for Progress is one I probably shouldn't have--since the first two need to take priority--but is one nonetheless: learn more about the industry. I've been happily ensconced in my office, writing away with little awareness of the greater world around me. Well, that's not entirely true. I know a whole lot more than I did in 2012, but knowing what to keep and what to ignore is a challenge. It's one I want to hone.

My last Resolution for Progress is to keep writing. I've grown to where I look forward to the writing times in my day and my family has even adjusted to it as well. That's a good thing. Gone are the days where I measured my streak with red Xs on a calendar. The habit is ingrained. Now, just keep it flourishing and make progress.

I have many different ways I'll be going on fulfilling my resolutions in 2014 and I'll let y'all know about my progress. But let's start a conversation, a dialogue. What are your writing resolutions/goals for 2014?

Extra of the Week:

I'm looking forward to seeing our own Joelle Charbonneau this Tuesday when she visits Houston's Murder by the Book. She's on tour for Independent Study, the second of her Testing trilogy. Head over to her website to see if she'll be at a bookstore near you.

1 comment:

David Cranmer said...

When I read your much admired organized approach, Scott, well, I realize I'm just winging it.