New Year’s Resolutions are slippery little bastards, aren’t they? We make these grand promises at the beginning of the year, full of good intentions, and by the end of January we’re sobbing into our tea, wracked with guilt, feeling like total failures. Why? Because, more often than not, we set ourselves unattainable goals and get sidelined at the mere hint of failure or self doubt. And, when it comes to writing, there’s a whole lot of that going on.
Here are just a few of the common writerly complaints we see all the time at Writers’ HQ:
- The writer who thinks they can bosh out a first draft in a few months and is devastated when they find themselves still plodding through it several years later. (HINT: novels take as long as they take, and sometimes that can be a loooooong time.)
- The writer who wants to get published but is too afraid of rejection to send their work out there. (HINT: sure, you can guarantee you’ll never get rejected if you never submit anything, but you can also guarantee you’ll never get published, either.)
- The writer who is soooo impatient they send their work out half-cocked, poorly-developed, un-edited, and littered with typos. And is then shocked when they get an insta-rejection. (HINT: you’ll end up waiting more in the long-run by not taking the time to edit and send out your best work.)
- The writer who wants to write ALL THE THINGS, all at once, and flits from one shiny thing to the next without ever finishing anything. (HINT: it’s great to be prolific but not when it’s used as a form of procrastination…)
- The writer who doesn’t value their writing enough to dedicate regular time and space to it, spending a lifetime dreaming of doing what they love but never actually committing to doing it. (HINT: your writing IS worth it, YOU are worth it, so stop fucking about and just DO IT.)
- The writer who sets a target to write 1000 words a day and is gutted when they realise that it’s not sustainable for most people with jobs and families and responsibilities and brains that don’t just switch on and off like a robotic word generator thing. (HINT: writing isn’t always about producing actual words – a lot of the hard work goes into thinking and plotting and planning and editing, so don’t pin all your progress on word count.)
You see a pattern here? Writers put a whole lotta pressure on themselves. We’re constantly looking for validation – or are too afraid to even seek it because of the possibility of getting rejected or criticised – or get distracted by dreams of a hypothetical future in which our writing is finished and perfect and award-winning rather than focusing on the actual thing we’re meant to be doing – WRITING.
And so. This year, we say ‘pffft’ and ‘meh’ to grand gesture resolutions and unreachable targets. We say ‘calm down’ to impatience. We say ‘bullshit’ to self doubt and ‘fuck off’ to imposter syndrome and ‘FOCUS’ to procrastination.
This year we’re going to take a different approach and actually get shit done.
Now, you may remember that around this time last year we set you a frankly ridonkulous challenge of #100Submissionsin2018, based on Kim Liao’s brilliant quest for 100 rejections in a single year.
You may have noticed that such a huge target totally goes against all our espousing of moderation above. You’re right. And that’s okay. We’re learning. You’re learning. Adapt, adopt, improve.
It was a worthy challenge and several WHQers went storming ahead and achieved it (zomg look at these stats!). Some found inspiration to submit for the very first time. Others submitted waaaay more than they usually did, even if that number was far less than 100, and were very very happy. IT’S ALL GOOD. Each to their own – and that’s the point. To give it a go. To try. To fail. To try again. And so with that in mind we have a new thing for 2019…
We’re giving you everything you need to make and meet achievable writing goals this year. All you have to do is figure out what you’re capable of. (HINT: more than you expect.)
Here’s how it works:
#1: You’re gonna set yourself a challenge to beat your own personal best for submissions in 2019*. If you submitted nothing last year then hooray, your target is ONE THING. You could do that today. You could do that right now. Oh look, you’ve done it already. And now you can set yourself a NEW personal best goal…
If you submitted a handful of stories, or sent out your novel to a couple of agents, aim to exceed that number (and make sure to send out your very very very best writing when you do so). If you manage to beat your target before the year is out, bump it up and try to double it, or whatever seems doable. The aim here is to make it achievable. That way you’ll actually get it done – and, most likely, end up doing more than your target…
#2: Not sure where to submit or what the heck you’re doing? Panic not. We have a tonne of freebie shit to help you get started, including:
- A monthly run-down of upcoming writing competitions, opportunities, and deadlines
- Our FREE guide to submitting to writing comps and lit mags
- Our FREE Short Fiction Mini Masterclass
- One of our other FREE monthly courses to kickstart your challenge
- Our very own quarterly flash competition
#3: Get to it. Write, submit, repeat. Get into a submissions habit and beat your personal best. And keep us updated on your progress in our Forum or on Twitter or by shouting #SUBMIT2019 into the wind (or, y’know, using it as a hashtag). You may be the one setting your targets and holding yourself accountable but we’re always here for cheerleading and pep-talking and gif-posting as and when required. You might even end up on our Wall of Fame…[*This whole approach also works perfectly for daily/weekly/monthly word count targets, too. The trick is not to set it too high. Start low and incrementally increase your goal as you start to get into a habit. And don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a day (or an entire week) or ‘fall behind’. Remember your goal is entirely arbitrary. The purpose of all this is simply to GET WRITING and KEEP WRITING.]
Good luck, brave literary souls. We’ve got your back. Now go forth and #SUBMIT2019!