Saturday Scribes New Year’s Writing Prompts

As of today, Saturday Scribes is back in action, along with regular weekly writing prompts (posted every Friday).   This week, we’re inviting everyone to post their new year’s writing goals*, along with links to your latest writing endeavours.  (*see below for some helpful tips)

Theme:  Change & Renewal

Words:
undercarriage
punk
token
cognizant

Bonus Challenge:  Set a New Year’s Writing Goal, and Stick To It.

Sounds easy, right? After all, with the ringing in of every new year, countless writers around the world have solemnly held their hands over their hearts and proclaimed their New Year’s writing resolutions (although often exactly what these resolutions are is not always clear, considering how many of them are shouted out in a crowded pub, or muttered into the bottom of an empty glass, or whispered to the sad dark shadows of an unheated garret somewhere in the lower east side).

The problem is, that most people set themselves some lofty, nigh-impossible goal (write the Greatest Novel of Our Time and become rich and famous, preferably by the end of next month, kind of thing).  So here are a few handy tips for setting a goal you can actually reach: (1) Be Specific, (2) Keep it Simple, (3) Find something that inspires and/or challenges you, (4) Be Realistic, and (5) It’s Okay to Start Small.   

Examples:

Specific: Write a short story from the point of view of a ferret, and finish it by next week.
More vague, but doable: Write something from a perspective I haven’t tried before.
Too vague (and likely doomed to failure): Write something, when I have time/after I get to the next level in my new computer game.

Simple: Write a paragraph about oysters / three haiku about my dog / a love story featuring cheese strings.  -or-  Submit one poem to a magazine before my next birthday.
Less Simple: Finish the novel that’s been languishing in my desk drawer for twelve years, work out the complete plot chart for the next three sequels, and figure out what emotional complex is preventing me from sending my stuff out to publishers.

Inspirations and Challenges:
What makes you want to write?  Some people love a challenge – nothing gets them going like someone saying, “I bet you can’t do this”, or, “I bet you haven’t tried this before”.  Other people like writing in their comfort zone, focusing on the things they love best, whether it be cats, Nietzschean philosophy, why people suck, or, heaven forfend, the “f” word (as in, fanfic).  Forcing yourself to do something just because you think you should (or because someone else thinks you should) is a recipe for disaster.

Keeping it Real – How much free time do you really have in a day? What restrictions does real life put on your writing time? How many days can you go without sleep/real food/human interaction?
Realistic: Write one new poem on the first Monday of every month.  Write for twenty minutes without stopping, every day for a week.  Write and finish two short stories over the next two months. 
Less Realistic:  Become a J.K. Rowling clone and churn out seven best-selling kid’s books and retire a happy millionaire before I’m forty. (Although it never hurts to dream.)

Starting Small:  (See “Simple”, above)
If you’re having trouble sticking to your writing goals, you might be over-reaching.  Your New Year’s goal doesn’t have to be world-changing or earth-shattering.  I’ve known writers (myself included) to put sticky notes on their computer monitors that simply say, “write one sentence”, or, “write one true thing”.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  “Fill a page” is far more doable than “write a 70,000-word epic romance”.  Reaching a goal, however tiny, will make you feel good – which will make you more likely to set more goals, and more likely to believe you can succeed in reaching them.  If you’ve been struggling through a dry spot, ease yourself back into things.  Give yourself incentives (if I can just get to the end of this bleepin’ paragraph, I get to have that second cup of coffee/glass of wine/shot of whiskey).

Good luck, and happy writing!

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10 Comments

  1. novice101 said,

    January 1, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Happy New Year! Happy writing.

    2009 may have its moments of surprises, challenges, triumphs, tribulations, highs and lows but through our combined efforts we can leave our marks on it.

    We can all make our small contributions to make this year a better year. Write to bring us together. Let the cumulative effect works its wonder, we just have to come together.

    http://novice101.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/a-brand-new-year-start-of-fresh-new-hopes/

    Have a Great Year! Make a Great Year!

  2. Joe Mahoney said,

    January 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    This year I plan to finish my novel… that’s all. Not the greatest novel of all time but hopefully not the worst. Famous? Who in their right mind would want to become famous? Respected would be nice. And rich? A few extra bucks in my pocket would be good. But all I’m shootin’ for is finishing the thing.

    Next?

  3. desert rat said,

    January 3, 2009 at 1:42 am

    Gee, thanks Joe, now I’m going to sound like a copycat! My first goal of the new year is also to finish the novel I’m currently writing. Today I managed to get through the tricky transition into the final climactic scene, so it shouldn’t be long now. I’m aiming to finish the story itself by the middle of this month (or January 31st at the latest), and then it’s on to editing in February. I’m sure there will be many tempting distractions along the way, but now that I’m this close, I’m determined to keep my eye on the prize.

    Saturday Scribes prompts are an allowable exception, of course, but as it’s after midnight here (at the end of a very long week), playing with this week’s prompt ideas will have to wait until tomorrow.

    Good luck everyone with all your writing endeavours, whatever they might be!

  4. January 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Here’s my goal for 2009:

    HEART OF A READY WRITER – Reading Through the Bible in 2009

    Want to read along with us?

  5. Grondzilla said,

    January 5, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I hope to write something this year. In addition I’d be chuffed to reach 2010.

  6. Zilla's Other Half said,

    January 5, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I’ll be quite happy if I finish writing, start writing and researching 3 articles I plan to have published before the end of the year (depending on publishing schedules). However, these are not fiction by any means and likely will bore those not interested in the subject matter…sigh. I’ll otherwise try to write fictional stuff when the whim arises.

  7. mimosaeffect said,

    January 5, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Grond: That was kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, wasn’t it? By writing that sentence, you’ve already written something this year!

    ZOH: Hey, at least you’re getting published! And who says non-fiction is boring? A well-written article on any subject is often what hooks people into being interested in that subject, even if they were previously unaware of it. You’re welcome to talk about / post snips of non-fiction stuff here if you want, although I’m guessing the weekly prompts won’t be much help to you on that particular front. 😉

  8. Zilla's Other Half said,

    January 5, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Ya if they had money coming with them, that would be a bonus, but they don’t….so I guess it depends on whether your judgement of the value of publication is just having your name out there, or actually getting some money out of your work ;P

  9. Grondzilla said,

    January 6, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Well that’s a load off of my mind. Now I can rest until next year.


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