My 2020 Writing Goals

One of my 2020 goals is to set fewer goals. How am I doing so far?

Setting goals is something we talk about a lot this time of year. Technically, you can set and start working toward new goals regardless of the time of year. Most people treat the new year as a chance for a fresh start. If that’s your way, then you are more than welcome to make it so.

I am unapologetically a “new year new me” kind of person. I believe in hard resets. If a new calendar year is what it takes for you to decide to get serious and make your goals a priority, then that’s good enough for me.

There are different types of goals depending on the objectives your specific goals are trying to contribute to. The best goals will always be the ones that are as specific and action-oriented as possible. “I want to finish writing my novel before the end of the year” is a good example. “I want to meet all the requirements for a promotion at my job in the next six months.”

The writing goals I am sharing with you today might look slightly different than this. I am not setting out to write a certain number of words or books. I am not giving myself any hard deadlines other than December 31, 2020. I am limiting the number of new things I “start.” I have many unfinished projects still in the works. Maybe this is the year I check them off my to-do list for good.

Here are the things I will be working on and toward this year. As always, you are more than welcome to share your own goals, hopes, and dreams in a comment. I promise I will respond!

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The Best of Novelty Revisions (2019)

Another year. Another bunch of posts y’all liked for some reason. (:

When I started blogging, I never imagined I would get to a point where publishing over 350 posts a year would be considered “normal.” And yet here we are.

There are a lot of things I could say about 2019 in general, and furthermore, my 2019 specifically. It has not been an easy 12 months. I have not accomplished even close to the number of things I hoped to do. What I was sure would be a bright, progressive year ended up being a very long and dreary point in time that I am very much looking forward to leaving behind.

But writing-wise, I have done more in the past 365 days than I have in the past five years. I’ve worked on stories that have challenged me. I have jumped on opportunities that excited me. I set a really, really big goal. As I am writing this, I haven’t exactly accomplished that yet. But I’m close. And by the time you are reading this, I will have been able to say I succeeded.

Of all the many things I am grateful for in this season of reflection and planning, I am most grateful for your support. Even on my worst days, even through my worst posts, even though I have not always been at my best or produced my best work, you have stuck around. I don’t know why. I know I don’t deserve it. But I wanted to take the time to thank you. More than anything, I wish I could have done more this year to help you. I wish I could have interacted with you more. I wish I could have offered more extra inspiration to get you through the months that are now behind us.

But don’t worry. I have plans. I can’t promise anything is going to happen anytime soon — I am taking some time off to rest and recharge (posts will still go up, you won’t even know I’m gone). I’m not giving up on you, though. We are all stronger together. As always, my passion for this work is going to take this platform places it has never been before.

In the meantime, let’s all take a few minutes to look back on some of the best things to come out of my work on this blog in 2019. These were the posts you all clicked on and read most. Some of the titles on this list surprised me. But it’s good to see what you found most helpful in your writing lives this year.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Here’s to a bright, joyful, and productive 2020.

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Everyone Looks At the Same Story Differently

We all view stories through the lens of our own experiences.

Stories are hard. They’re hard to write. They’re hard to edit. They’re even sometimes hard to process. Am I getting out of this narrative what I should be? Are my interpretations of what happened even remotely in line with what the author intended?

And, as a writer: Will my audience even be able to understand what I am trying to say? Am I being clear enough? Am I being too obvious? Not obvious enough?

When we write stories, we seek to communicate. When we read, we seek to understand. But that’s not often where the biggest issue lies. What happens with understanding a story is that not everyone has the exact same understanding. And this can become confusing — especially if it turns into an “I’m right and they aren’t” scenario.

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You Are Not Always Going to Love Writing

Writing is not always going to bring you the joy you are hoping for.

As I sat down to start writing this blog post two hours ago, I realized very quickly that writing this post was the absolute last thing I wanted to do in that particular moment. Which is why two hours have passed, and I am just now getting around to writing it.

Many forms of writing advice catered to the masses — including my own — consistently make the point that you can’t just stop writing when it becomes challenging. The truth is, technically, that you can do whatever you want. If you want to stop writing at any point, you can absolutely do so.

But if you are someone truly dedicated to your art, and you want to pursue it, but you are worried about having negative feelings toward your practice, first of all, know this is completely normal. Even I still feel disappointed when I get to a point in writing a book where I momentarily stop loving my story (it’s bound to happen to everyone at some point along the process). Also know that even when you don’t necessarily always love doing something, that doesn’t mean you are “falling out” of love with it for good.

Are you struggling with negative feelings toward your writing? Here are some important things to consider as you decide whether or not to move forward.

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12 Things For Writers to Remember If This Year Didn’t Go the Way You Planned

If you did not meet your writing goals this year, don’t worry. You aren’t the only one. And it’s not the end of the road.

1. It can take a long time to figure out when and how you accomplish your best work. So it’s not completely your fault if you struggled to figure out how to fit writing into your schedule on a regular basis this year. This is majorly about trial and error. You have to do what you think might work, and re-evaluate if it doesn’t. This is the way of the writer.

2. Sometimes life does you dirty and there’s no way to undo that. While you can’t always have your mind hovering over the worst possible outcome of everything, you do have to have realistic expectations when it comes to the way life sometimes just … happens. There will be times you have to shift your priorities and writing won’t get to rest comfortably at the top. Speaking of which …

3. Writing won’t always get to be your number one priority. We would all love if this were the case, but the real world screams otherwise. The fact that you can’t write all day every day means you know that there are more important things in life than both work and play. Sometimes, responsibility trumps desire.

4. Many goals are not technically set in stone; they can change. Maybe you aimed a little high this year with a particular writing ambition — who hasn’t? You can still work toward a similar goal in the coming year while setting the bar a little lower. It’s not cheating. It’s just looking at what you want to accomplish and being a little more realistic about what you are physically and psychologically capable of right now.

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Hear More Stories to Make More Stories

You can never read, listen to, or watch too many stories.

As I am writing this (in preparation for taking a short writing hiatus at the beginning of 2020), I am fresh off of seeing the new Star Wars movie for the first time. I’m not going to spend time talking about Star Wars on this blog because, well … why?

But watching this movie and discussing it extensively with positive fan communities like Youtini has stirred something up in me that I did not expect. Something I was not prepared for. Something I do not think I can ignore.

I suddenly have a very strong, almost uncontrollable urge to tell stories. Like, a lot of stories. More than I have felt motivated to write in quite some time.

How did we get here? It’s simple, really. I experienced a story. And sometimes, that’s all you actually need.

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The Simple Writing Exercise That Changed My Craft Forever

Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to go wherever your story might take you.

I have a confession to make: I don’t “practice” writing as much as I should.

And by that I mean I spend most of my practice time doing actual work. Which means I don’t very often write things that aren’t meant for polishing, processing, and publishing. But I should. Everyone should.

There are many different ways to practice writing. Some use the time to work on the first drafts of their novels. Others make it a point to consistently publish blog posts to keep themselves motivated and in a rhythm.

Others are more of the “writing exercise” type. They collect prompts. They do timed writing sessions. They are much more deliberate about separating their work from their preparation.

Despite my avoidance of this (it works for some people, it doesn’t for others), there is one writing exercise that I still use every once in a while when I desperately need to clear my head and get into a writing flow state.

Here’s how it has changed my writing for the better, and how it could change yours.

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Writers: Find the Light In Your Darkness

Everyone has darkness inside them. Even you.

If I am going to be as honest as I always promise to be in this space — I’m not one to break a promise, especially not to strangers — I’m going to have to admit some things here that I am really going to struggle to put into words.

But that’s what we are all about here, right? Sometimes in order to pass along the points we want or need to convey, we have to figure out how to say what we feel must be said in the best, most straightforward way possible.

2019 is quickly coming to a close, and as usual, we have come upon a time of year I often use as a period of reflection. In that reflection almost always comes a lot of hard questions, a lot of truth, and a lot of tough decisions that will impact the distant, sometimes the very near, future of my life and my work.

I have spent a lot of time on my work this year. Maybe more than I should have. I don’t regret this by any means. But the more I look back on how I handled it all, the more I realize how negatively I let it affect me. And not just me internally. Me in terms of how I interacted with and reacted to the people and situations around me.

I have made a lot of mistakes, even when choosing what to post on this blog and the messages that I wanted my words to send. I have not been the best I could have been. And there are many ways this really needs to change.

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My (Almost) Foolproof Method for Lifting Yourself Out of a Writing Slump

Are you in a writing slump? Maybe you don’t even realize you are. If writing has felt particularly difficult lately, I think I can help.

It has been three days since you have written a single word. And you are beginning to panic.

Oh, you WANT to write. You have ideas! There are stories in your head begging to be told, but for some reason, you just can’t seem to sit down and figure out how exactly to put any of it into words.

If this sounds familiar to you, you might be in the midst of a writing slump. This is definitely the case if you:

  • Are no longer looking forward to writing
  • Feel like you either don’t have any good ideas or can’t focus on any of them
  • Worrying that everything you write is worthless
  • Starting to question whether or not writing is even worth it.

And these are just some of many possible signs you have fallen into a writing slump. Some might go as far as to call this “burnout” but I don’t think we always need to take it to this extreme. Sometimes burnout is the underlying cause, and this is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed for you personally if that’s the case.

But a lot of the time, a writing slump is just a period of time — sometimes short, sometimes longer — when you feel consistently frustrated and unfulfilled with your work. Or you’re unmotivated to do the work even when you “want to” want to. Or you just feel lost, capable of writing, but not really sure where it’s going.

Writing slumps are completely normal. But that doesn’t mean you have to remain stuck in one. Here’s how you can navigate your way through it.

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How to Write When You’re Feeling Unmotivated: A Quick Guide

Not feeling motivated to write is a common struggle, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

I’ve been there. You’ve been there. We have all been there.

“There” being the “I’m sitting on the couch with my laptop on ready to write but I really don’t want to” moments that so often stand between you and your writing goals.

In all the years I have been writing about writing on the internet, it has come as no surprise to me that “motivation” — or lack thereof — is one of the most common reasons people give when trying to explain why they have wanted to write something for a long time, but haven’t yet.

“Unmotivation” is complicated — let’s be clear on that. There are many reasons why writers don’t write, everything from distractions to self-doubt and other mental blocks. If you are feeling unmotivated to do something, there could actually be a dozen reasons why. And even if you were to identify them all, that alone can’t help you come up with a way to work through them.

Welcome, dear writers, to the Novelty Revisions Unmotivation Guide. It’s not actually called that, but it sure hints at what we’re going to talk about today.

Get ready. This one isn’t going to be easy. But we’re all in this together.

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