starting the year off right (for real)

We humans are certainly suckers for ritual. Even if we don’t want to admit it to ourselves, the plump promise of the new year has the internet (and most internet participants) in a tizzy. Ten Secrets to Setting Resolutions That Stick! Lose Forty Pounds in Thirty Days! This Year YOU Can Be a Best Selling Author!

While I am no stranger to the New Year’s Resolution (and Happy 2013, by the way), I think this practice of lumping all the personal change one can imagine on a singular event at the beginning of the year causes more harm than good. Beyond all of the research about habituation taking time to establish (as in: overnight changes are never going to work) and the well-covered New Year’s phenomenon in gyms and fitness centers across America, what I think it ultimately boils down to is this: resolutions can actually inhibit personal growth.

Why? Several reasons.

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your first book is less important than you realize

Here’s a public service announcement: your first book does not have to be your best book. And, as a corollary: if you’re not a best selling author by 30, you probably should not give up.

I feel like I’m screaming into the void when I tell people that it’s okay that they’re 27 and not yet a best-selling author. They assume that since they haven’t started (or haven’t yet published), they’re already too late. I can’t convince them otherwise–they won’t hear it.

And the people who are in the middle of writing their first book treat it like some sort of proving ground. “This book will tell me if I should continue writing,” they say. Their writing career hinges on its subsequent success or failure.

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victory scotch (or: why you should feel good about your work)

Editorial Note: Check out the end of today’s post for some information about a promotion I’ve put together with the lovely ladies at Duolit! If you’ve been waiting for the Holiday Fairy to deliver you a free comprehensive editing package, now’s your chance!

As writers, we spend a lot of time examining everything that can go wrong. In the annuls of this blog alone, we’ve explored beginner’s angst, a fear of success, and creative tension. There’s insight about building a stronger narrative, and enough writing advice for any indie author. It can be tough to be a committed writer, and I want to be here to support you through the rough spots. But there’s another side to the coin that doesn’t get examined very closely: what exactly are you supposed to do when things go right

It’s inevitable–eventually you will work through the rough days, plot out your book, and finish your first draft. You will also finish your second draft. And your third. You will have a cover designed that you love or you’ll successfully query an agent. Someone will say yes. Maybe several thousand someones will say yes. You might not hit the New York Times Bestseller list on your first release, but, if you work hard enough, there will eventually be cause to celebrate. 

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hating yourself does not make you a better writer

If you’re the kind of person who can crank out 10,000 words a week without blinking an eye, skip down your front steps into a field of daisies, and then sing a soaring song about the happiness in your heart, this post is not for you. Today, I want to talk to the self-defeatists out there. I want to talk to the people who have started 500 books and deleted the first three lines over and over and over again. The people who dream of being authors and cannot bring themselves to write.

You are not alone. 

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dealing with year-end burnout

After a lovely and productive visit with Kate, I’m back in Chicago. We’ll resume the series on effective narration next week, so don’t despair. Here’s the post that I intended to run on Monday.

As the year draws to a close, I find myself being more and more overwhelmed by all of the things I’ve told myself I was going to finish by the end of the year. I’ve also gotten increasingly more frantic emails hoping that I’ll still have time to work on their project even though it’s later than promised–everyone is buckling down and trying to get things done before the calendar year flips.

But, if you’re anything like me, instead of becoming super-productive as the year wraps, I become more and more paralyzed by my mounting to do list. It’s more than just managing my time (and resources and energy, of course). I also throw on pressure to finish those projects I had intended to complete this year and beat myself up about New Year’s resolutions left unresolved, a lack of thoughtful holiday planning…the works.

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