I have four resolutions for my creative writing in 2022. All of them carried over from last year on the principle of Robert the Bruce and the Spider. (If you don’t know the story, look to the end of this!)
My writing resolutions
My resolutions are to …
- … write daily throughout the year
- … write, on average, 1000+ words each day over all 365 days.
- … publish at least one blog post every mid-week to a total of at least 50 posts in the year.
- … submit at least one item each month somewhere it might be considered for publication.
Because they are essentially the same as last year’s resolutions, it’s possible to look back and see how I did in 2021. What were my successes? Is there anything can I do differently? What can I do better?
When I talk about writing, I mean writing creatively for myself. It doesn’t include writing I do in my job as a translator and copy-writer. It does include this blog, and anything I write that feeds into my novels-in-progress, short stories, flash fiction, poems etc. Also the words I write for my weekly long-form diary entries and a good many personal letters and e-mails.
So those are the foundations. Let’s take the resolutions in order.
1. Writing daily
There are plenty of inspirational quotes about writing regularly. I’m not going to waste your time repeating them. Do an Internet search if you like. Some people find writing regularly helps, and I’m one of those people. But I need at least a modicum of self-discipline to do it. Regular hours, a regular number of pages written longhand, words put into the computer. I count them up and put them into my Bullet Journal and look back with satisfaction. Or dismay. Depending.
I know in advance I’m unlikely to keep this resolution. It’s a goal of aspiration rather than of achievement. I’m not going to beat myself up about missing the occasional day. My ambition is to do as well or better than last year. In 2021, my Bullet Journal tells me, I missed writing on 38 days of 365. If I can get to the end of 2022 with fewer days missed, I’ll be happy.
June and July were the worst months in this regard: I missed writing 6 days in June and 7 days in July. On holiday and out in the sun—I hope those were the reasons! I have notebooks, I have pens and pencils. I will try to make sure I carry them and remind myself to use them when I’m out and about, even if only to note what I’m doing, where I am and what I see around me.
2. Word targets
I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not to have word targets. It seems to work for me at present. I only count words I type or dictate into a computer. Longhand writing (which is what I try to do daily—see above) doesn’t count. I don’t count the words, though I do count the act of writing itself under the previous resolution.
Last year I wrote 270,595 words. That works out at 741 words a day on average (of 365 days). Even if I only consider the days I actually wrote (365 – 38 = 327 days), that still gives me an average of 827 words a day. Either way, there’s room for improvement.
About 34% of my words last year went into my diary. I didn’t realise this until last week when I completed putting all the weekly pieces into a single document and ran the word counter. It’s the length of a novel! Thoughts of Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle drift through my head …
No, I don’t think so. But it’s still an object lesson in where regular writing can lead.
The second largest destination for my writing is this blog. Nearly 19% of all my digital words ended up here.
3. Blog posts
If you saw last week’s post, you’ll know that I was absolutely convinced I’d only published 48 blog posts last year. Discovering I’d actually hit my resolution target was a happy surprise. Preparing for this week’s post I just made another pleasant discovery.
I didn’t keep a running account of the number of words I wrote for each post. I knew I’d written a few posts with around 800 words in them, but I was afraid I’d mostly rambled on for 1500 words or more. But no, my average post only has slightly more than 1000 words in it. Still, it took a lot of time to go through the blog and count them all. So for 2022 I’ve added a word count column to my planning spreadsheet. That will make it easier to keep track.
Finally, the least successful of my resolutions from last year. Niel Gaiman’s Third Rule for Writers states Having finished writing something, you have to send it somewhere it has a chance of being published. (I may be paraphrasing, and the Rule may be one that Gaiman was channelling from earlier writers, but it was from him that I got it.)
Last year I only managed to submit four items. Two of them were accepted and published. One was rejected politely and constructively. One sank below the waves and has not been seen or heard of since. In 2022 I want to come much closer to satisfying this resolution. Which implies that I need to do more to satisfy Gaiman’s Second Rule: You have to finish what you write. I’m even less good at that.
Bruce and the Spider
Robert the Bruce, claimant to the throne of Scotland, lived between the late 1200s and early 1300s. It wasn’t an easy time for anyone. Robert tried time and again to make good his claim to the Scottish crown. Time and again he failed. He was in hiding from the English in a cave and killing time, watching a spider weave its web. As one does.
The spider wasn’t having an easy time either. Time and again it failed to anchor the web across the opening it was trying to close. But it didn’t give up. It kept on trying and eventually it succeeded. This gave Robert the Bruce the inspiration himself to try again, and ultimately to succeed.
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try, try again.
So, Yoda and your “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” You can put that in your pipe and smoke it!