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I’ve been told that it is best to be very specific when making New Year’s resolutions. And typically, I DON’T make them. However, I want 2012 to be spectacular regarding my writing! So I’ve come up with 5 specific goals to help me grow this year.

1: Time Management For the Harried Author

As of today, I will for sure be juggling 5 different writing projects: my novel, two blogs, an investigative article, and a collaborative writing/art project with two artist-friends. In order to keep myself from going mad, I have had to spend some time really thinking about how to stay organized and how to manage the wee bit of time I have. My novel is my number one priority, but that leaves me with four other babies to tend. I have decided to allocate a week out of the month for each project. To keep focused, I bought a small whimsical desk calendar, which I’ll be hanging on the wall, and color-coded my projects. My novel will get a minimum of 15 minutes a day, every day. The other projects will be tended to on a rotating basis throughout the month, starting this week with my other blog (one tiny violet), followed by my collaboration project, this blog, and ending up with my article.

In order to make sure I keep my commitment to working on my novel daily, I am going to try to write in the morning, early, after my meditation. I have heard this works for other writers and figured I should give it a try. It is the only guaranteed time I have any given day. I might as well make use of it. As a test, I have done this the last three mornings and it’s been good. As far as the other four projects, I will do as much as I can with the time I have. But I am guessing time on task will vary depending on how chaotic the week is.

Finally, to keep myself semi-sane, I have a small Moleskin notebook for each project. When ideas come to me for blog posts, the article, or the collaboration, I have a place ready and waiting to receive them. It is absolutely exhausting to carry inspirations around with you, with no place to put them. I’m hoping the notebooks will free up a bit more space in my brain to attend to tasks at hand.

2: Pray First

The Gospel at Mass this morning was a lovingly beautiful reminder of where my focus needs to be on a daily basis:

“In the beginning was the Word,/ and the Word was with God,/ and the Word was God./ He was in the beginning with God./ All things came to be through him,/ and without him nothing came to be.” — John 1:1-3   I need to reflect on the great gift and power of the written word and the meaning of my vocation as a writer. I need to be more deeply mindful of the source of my gift and practice the presence of God before, during, and after my writing time. Whatever I write will be allowed to come in to being through Christ. Without Him, I am nothing and will make nothing, and especially nothing of beauty and grace. Writing in the morning after I have first made my meditation will help in this I think. And I have a new library candle on my desk to be lit only during my writing time to keep me mindful.

3. Keep regularly scheduled meetings with my writing partner

Monday, January 2, 2012 will officially begin the second year of my wonderfully symbiotic writing relationship with my beloved sister-in-ink, Veronica (the writer formerly known as “M. Bailey”). Last year at exactly this time, we had our first “writing group meeting.” It matters not a bit that we are only two. What matters is how our writing has grown by leaps and bounds since we have been working together.

We met bi-weekly for all of 2011 and, on critical examination, we both agree that this was our most productive year ever as writers. We supported one another through paralyzing dark times, rejection, new ideas, tough character dilemmas and plot difficulties. We started or revived our blogs and just worked together to start to explore and craft lives as writers. In the past, both of us have variously buried our gifts and talents. In 2011, we made a promise to uncover them and let the sun shine on those buried parts of our selves and see what would happen. The result has been glorious! I can honestly say that were it not for Veronica’s support, encouragement, and insight I never would have had the courage to finally start my novel, nor would I have experimented AT ALL with blogging. She is truly heaven-sent and is such an inspiration to me.

Beginning this coming Monday, we will commit again to another year of sistering one another along on our inky adventures. Who knows where we will end up?

4: Send charming notes

Photo courtesy of imagesource.com

One of the books I read this year was Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life. She had the marvelous idea of sending those artists and writers, editors and publishers — anyone really who has been an inspiration to you or whose life/work you are grateful for. I thought this was a beautiful idea. It seems that so often, we do not recognize those whose work has really had an impact on us. And, as an artist myself, I know it means the world to know that my work touched someone in some way. As artists, we cannot work in a vacuum; though so much of our work happens in isolation, it is meant to be shared, as a gift, with others. And when we are given a beautiful gift, the polite thing to do is to say “thank you.” So I made it a point to visit my favorite paper store to pick up some characteristically purple-accented envelopes and flat cream cards. Ms. See suggests writing one charming note every day. I don’t think I can do that. But I can write a few a month to writers and other artists whose work I admire to tell them “thank you” for the gift of their art.

5: Make a reading list and stick to it

As a teacher, I have always taken it as a serious professional responsibility to keep current on what is going on in my profession. In other words, I make it a point to do my professional reading with some regularity. Other professionals do the same. As a writer, I also need to maintain a professional outlook on developing my skills so that I can become the best writer I can be. This means reading great literature, apprenticed to the masters in my field. But it also means reading books and magazines about the art and craft of writing and then practicing and refining my own technique in light of what I have read. And it isn’t just for me — I have to develop myself professionally because I am a teacher of writing and literature. Deepening my skill set and literary awareness will benefit me and my students.

In order to maximize my time, for the first time this year I made a detailed reading list of both literary and professional titles which you can find here. And I’ve taken subscriptions to both The Writer and Poets and Writers.

Do you have any goals or resolutions for your writing in 2012? I’d love to hear them. Please share!

Cheers! And Happy New Year!