New Year’s is a time of resolutions. In an effort to put less pressure on myself, I present you with my un-resolutions.
1. Celebrate Small Achievements
I’m always the first one to celebrate when the first ARC of one of my books arrives at my house, or if I get a great trade review (and by great, I mean not horrible). But I’m not as good at celebrating the smaller achievements–the ones that happen every day, like: hitting my word count, finishing a difficult scene, getting positive feedback from a critique partner, or actually getting myself to the gym or out of my chair for more than ten minutes. In 2014, I want to try to notice the small moments as well as the big ones.
2. Cut Myself Some Slack
I’m a perfectionist. This is a Caster-level curse, especially when you’re a writer. Most writers are hard on themselves. We never think our work is good enough, we’re afraid to disappoint our readers, and, if you’re anything like me, you worried that you’ll never have another good idea. As much as I blog about not pressuring yourself to write a perfect first draft and cutting yourself slack, I rarely cut myself any. This year, I’m going to work hard to forgive my imperfections and remember that it’s all part of the process.
3. Track My Progress
My friend Holly Black, an amazing author whom I often fangirl over, has blogged that she tracks her progress while she writes by keeping a list of the dates she writes, for how long, and her word count. In an effort to make the most of my writing time, I want to track my daily progress, not only in terms of word count, but also productivity. I am not a morning person, but lately I’ve been wondering if I would get more writing done if I worked in the morning (a horrific thought). The only way to test my theory will be to try it and keep track of the time and amount I write each day. I’ll keep you posted.
4. Minimize Writing Distractions (That Means You, Twitter)
As a self-professed Pinterest addict and Twitter lover, I often use both as a way to avoid writing, especially when the work is difficult. I read an amazing book, Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, & Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn K. Glei, which had some great advice for minimizing distractions and getting more work done in less time. At the top of the list is designate times when online access is off-limits. So, while I’m experimenting with my new morning writing time, I’m also going to enforce certain offline times, during which I will turn off the internet.
5. Take Mini-Vacations
I don’t have the time or resources to take some of the extravagant vacations I dream about. But there are lots of places that are not that far away or too expensive to visit (one of the many reasons visiting Charleston during YALLFest is one of my favorite yearly trips). I’m going to make a list of some other places and try to plan some short family trips (and no Twitter, you can’t come, but I will send pics).
6. Sleep More
While reading about productivity, one thing is clear: research dictates that we get more done when we’re well rested. I vaguely remember what it feels like to be well rested, which is an indication that I’m probably not getting enough sleep. This year, I’m going to try to go to bed earlier (I know everyone on Twitter is laughing at me right now). We’ll see what happens.
7. Stay On My Writing Schedule
This is the first year that I struggled to meet my ever-extending deadline. In my defense, I did move across the country and decide to write a Beautiful Creatures spin-off (Dangerous Creatures) with my writing partner, Margaret Stohl, while I was still writing the sequel to Unbreakable. But nonetheless, I want to start off 2014 with a realistic schedule, and I want to stick to it. There’s a big difference between a little extension and a little late & a big extension and super late. I want to avoid the super late part this year.
8. Read More
I’m sure it goes hand in hand with the being super late in #7, but this year I didn’t read as much as I usually do. I missed it a lot. Reading inspires and fuels my writing. I can’t overstate the relationship between the two. So 2014 will be the year of reading.
9. Write Something Outside My Genre
One of the main reasons I contribute to anthologies is because short stories are a great opportunity to experiment and play. In 2012, I wrote a dystopian short story for the anthology Shards & Ashes, which was daunting because I don’t write dystopian. But it was also a lot of fun. Although I didn’t switch and start writing dystopian fiction, I still think writing outside my genre forced me to stretch as a writer, which is always a good thing.
10. Share More Books with My Kids
My children are getting older and reaching the ages at which they can read a lot of the books I loved in elementary school. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to share those books with them firsthand, whether we read them together and talk about them or I read them aloud to my kids. I’m already starting my TBR list.
I am perhaps the laziest person alive. If I could conduct my entire life from my writing chair, while eating gigantic hot fudge sundaes from Baskin Robbins, I would do it in a heartbeat. So now you know my dirty little secret. But this year, I’m going to make an effort to either formally exercise or at least go on walks and increase my heart rate above the level of a corpse. Wish me luck.
12. Find Time to Pursue an Interest Unrelated to Writing
As much as I love to write, I’d love to take a class or pursue one of my non-writing interests like photography or cooking. I’d also love to learn something totally new, like sewing. I have a fantasy that if I learned to sew, I would be able to make my own clothes. While I recognize this is probably not true, I would still love to learn to sew and find out for myself. Worst case scenario, maybe I’ll be able to hem my own skirts.
13. Stop Fearing the Number 13
As the most superstitious person alive, this is definitely an un-resolution because it will never happen. But it’s still fun to put it on the list.
13.5. Catch Up with My DVR
I recognize that this is a slightly shallow un-resolution, but my favorite shows (Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, American Horror Story, SOA, Blacklist) are important to me, and this one is going to happen.