#5OnFri: 5 Resolutions from the DIY MFA Team

by Bess Cozby
published in Community

Happy New Year Word Nerds! We’re saying farewell to 2015 and ringing in 2016 in a big way here at DIY MFA. 2015 brought all kinds of awesome, including our first conference and Gabriela turning in the DIY MFA book! 2016 promises to be even more amazing as we gear up for the publication and a year chock full of writing, writing and more writing. Here’s how we’re getting started!

Writing Resolutions from the DIY MFA Team

EmilyWenstromEmily: I Resolve to Complete the First Drafts for Two Novels

To make sure this happens, I’m writing 1000 words every weekday and at least touching my work-in-progress every day, even if it’s only for five minutes. 2016 will be big for me–my first novel is being released in March by City Owl Press, and I want to make the most of this momentum.

Sara 2015Sara: I Resolve to Start Pitching My WIP

I try not to make New Year’s Resolutions – because I’m terrified I’ll fail at them! However, one of my goals for 2016 is realistic enough that I feel comfortable (though super-scared) with sharing it: I want to start pitching my YA fantasy novel to agents in 2016.

I haven’t pitched the WIP yet mostly because “it’s not ready.” (In other words, I didn’t want to pitch it too soon, when I’d just started the revising process.) However, I already have a “practice pitch” that I brought to the 2015 Writer’s Digest Conference, and I shared it with other attendees to get their feedback. I also asked about the conference’s Pitch Slam to learn how it ran and how to prepare myself when I “take the plunge.”

So, in 2016, I’m taking the pitching plunge. I’m already planning to attend Writer’s Digest Conference in August; and this time, I’ll sign up for the Pitch Slam. As the conference dates come closer, I’ll review my pitch, hone it as necessary, and memorize it as best as I can. I’ll also look into other pitching opportunities such as #PitMad on Twitter. All the necessary steps are there – now my challenge is ensuring I craft that a pitch that convinces agents to read my story.

Bess-sm1-Cropped-275x275Bess: I resolve to read 25 Published Books

One of the wonderful things about working as an editor is that reading is my job. It’s also one of the hardest things. I’ve got a constant pile of submissions, and do a lot of beta-reading as well. It’s wonderful, and I’m so happy that I get to spend a lot of my office hours curled around a good story. But the unwelcome side effect? When I get home from work, I’m much more likely to turn on Netflix than crack open a new book, especially if I’m pretty sure that book is going to keep me up past 11:00. In 2015 I ended up reading only a handful of finalized works.

Of course, this is a problem. I don’t think writers can write well or editors can edit well if they’re not reading well. At the same time, I don’t want reading to be a chore. That’s why I’ve resolved to read 25 published books in 2016. My younger self would scoff at the number, calling it far too low, but for me right now, it’s an ambitious, but reachable one that I think will help my career, my writing and my sanity!

GabrielaPereira2-SmallGabriela: I Resolve to Not Make Any Resolutions

This might seem counterintuitive, but it reflects an overall mindset shift I’ve experienced over the past couple of years.  Resolutions often imply a big vision, a lofty goal you set out to reach in the coming year. The trouble is that big vision is meaningless if you don’t have the stick-to-itiveness to work toward it every single day. I used to be obsessed with setting goals, mapping out milestones, and planning every last inch of my creative projects. The problem was that by the time I finished all that planning, I often ran out of steam and didn’t have the stamina to put those ideas into action.

So, I’ve stopped believing in resolutions and now focus my efforts almost entirely on the day-to-day work. I plan just enough so I know what to do next and don’t waste time trying to figure that out. The rest of my energy is dedicated to the continual process of small, incremental steps interspersed with tiny shifts and course-corrections when things don’t work out the way I thought. If I were to sum up my “resolution” this year it would be this: Wake. Work. Sleep. Repeat.

If you want to learn more about my new-and-improved approach to goal-setting, check out this past Wednesday’s podcast episode. Also, I’ll be doing a “Stop Dreaming, Start Doing” FREE Workshop on Tuesday, January 12th at 8pm, geared toward helping writers not just map out their goals but actually do the work. To sign up this workshop, go here: DIYMFA.com/OpenHouse and get ready to give your resolutions a major kick in the pants this 2016!

Wendy-BioPicWendy: I Resolve to Read As Much As I Write 

Earlier in 2015, when I still worked full-time, one of my favorite rituals was reading during my lunch break. I’d take whatever book I was working on at the time and bring it with me to a nearby wooden pavilion right behind my work building. Sadly, I fell out of this daily reading habit after about five months, when I moved to New York City and started journalism graduate school. My program is only a year long, so it’s incredibly fast-paced. If I’m not in class, I’m either out covering an event or typing up a story. I wrote so much in the last half of 2015 that I didn’t have any time for reading books that actually inspire me to keep writing.
In 2016, I want to find a balance between reading and writing. I miss having “me time” and being transported to a different world and having characters for good friends. But, perhaps even more importantly, I want to read fiction and nonfiction books by authors that I admire, that help me improve my writing. My plan is to find a pocket of time every day to read for a solid 15 minutes – either on the subway, during lunch or right before I go to bed. That may not seem like much, but those minutes add up. In fact, I’ve already started my resolution with “The Lover” by Marguerite Duras.

And Now it’s Your Turn!

What are your writing resolutions this year? Or are you taking a leaf out of Gabriela’s book and focusing on daily plans and shorter-term goals? Let us know in the comments, or on social media, using the hashtag #5OnFri!

Happy New Year Word Nerds! And here’s to a fabulous and writing-filled 2016!

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