Ten Writing Resolutions to Jump-Start 2019

Why do we put ourselves through this whole “New Year’s Resolutions” process each year? Is it because starting a new year somehow frees us up to do things we weren’t able to do before? Unlikely. One working theory is that New Year’s Resolutions came about as a combination of cultural ceremony and human psychology, wherein people find it useful and perhaps easier to lay the groundwork for big tasks or challenging years if they do it all at once, while they’re in a certain amenable frame of mind. Holidays like the one we’ve just had give us some much-needed emotional perspective on our experiences, past and future, that can be fuel for making plans for change.

And with so many people setting the goal of publishing their next book in 2019, there are some specific resolutions which might be of use to you which we thought we might mention here–ways in which you can achieve your dream of book publication.

  1. Keep writing, and keep it structured. At least, you know, to the extent which is useful. But one thing is certain–no matter when you schedule yourself to write, make sure that you do make it a habit. Publishing means very little if you give up on the thing you love most: writing more books!
  2. Lock in a deadline for your first draft. If you write for an hour a day, you can reasonably expect to finish a first draft within two to three months of steady writing. It doesn’t need to be a full draft, but it does need to capture the main essence of what you’re trying to get at. You can go back and diagnose problems of plot and characterization later, but if you agonize over the details during the drafting stage, you’ll never get it done. We speak from personal experience.
  3. Lock in a deadline for your second draft, too. A second draft is where you fill in all the big blank spaces you left while drafting the first manuscript, and maybe address some of the larger issues of pacing and structure. We recommend allowing another couple of months for this process.
  4. Stop writing … and stop editing, too. Once you have a good second draft in hand, it’s time to leave the writing desk for a little while and look for some outside assistance. Layer your personal crew of early readers–family and friends–with the expertise of a professional editor. We can’t emphasize the importance of this professional help enough! Our friends and family are wonderful, but they tend to be bound by affection in some ways, or they might lead busy lives which prevent them from giving your manuscript their full, expert attention. And we recommend seeking professional advice at this stage because you still have the emotional room to make big edits and changes without feeling as though you’re butchering the text. A copyeditor, later on, can catch your spelling mistakes and so forth, but a true professional edit at this stage will help you fix character flaws, plot holes, and large-scale disorganization.
  5. You guessed it! Schedule your last round of edits. Give yourself that deadline, maybe a month or two out. This will bring you to six months from now–June of 2019.
  6. Read more. Yes, yes, it’s a bit trite to say that “good writers are good readers,” but there is some truth to the matter (as there often is, with trite statements). In general, we find that a deficit in input results in a deficit of output, and for us that translates to: “No reading, no imagination.” We don’t know if it’s the same for you, but we resolve that this year we will dedicate a part of our time to introducing our minds to the minds of others through the written word. (Or, more written words.) As with many things, we recommend trying to remember to practice the “quality over quantity” adage. It’s more important to have an enriching rather than a time-intensive experience!
  7. Try a new format. There are so many formats in which we can publish these days that the list can grow overwhelming — hardcover, paperback, Amazon Kindle editions, Nook editions, e-book editions, .pdf files, audiobooks, and et cetera. This year, resolve to try a new format for a book that you haven’t tried before. Let’s jump into 2019 by making it easier than ever for readers to access our work!
  8. Make more inspiration boards. Ever heard of an inspiration board? Essentially, it’s the practice of putting together a visual display of objects, quotes, and other things that create a focused touchstone for your writing. For example, an author who’s writing a book set in the cornfields of Nebraska might put together an inspiration board that has some pictures of corn fields in various lighting, a couple of quotations about the hardships and rewards of farming, and maybe a song or two that really captures the desired mood or atmosphere of the piece. In this day and age, it’s really easy to make inspiration boards. You can actually put one together physically or you can take advantage of tools like Pinterest. This year, resolve to play around more with this idea of the inspiration board.
  9. Build a community. Much of a self-published author’s success lies in his or her relationship with readers, and in establishing a community of people who are just as invested in consuming good writing as the author is in generating it. Over and beyond just creating more social media platforms to reach more social media users, this year, resolve to build and broaden your community of readers by reaching them where they are at and giving them what they need. Tweak your digital presence and refine your physical outreach to meet your readers’ needs.
  10. Celebrate success. Because writing and self-publishing is a job, not just a hobby, we sometimes fail to celebrate the successes we’ve already achieved. Perhaps you’re this way, too, in that it’s hard to justify taking a moment away from the stacks and stacks of to-dos in order to take pride in what has already been done. So, this year, resolve to celebrate each and every success, as we check items off of our list of resolutions, or bring other goals through to execution. You love to celebrate other people’s successes, so taking a few minutes to practice joy over your own shouldn’t seem like such an outlandish notion. Right?

And that’s it! We highly recommend keeping your resolutions simple and straightforward, and of course … don’t punish yourself if you perceive yourself somehow “falling short.” Resolutions are guidelines and motivators, and should not ever be a source of shame. Use what’s useful, and lose what’s a distraction, and may 2019 be a year of firm resolve for all of us!

For more information and help choosing your best self-publishing options, contact an Outskirts Press Publishing Consultant in whatever manner is easiest for you: