#5onFri: Five Resolutions from the DIY MFA Team

by Bess Cozby
published in Community

Happy (Almost) New Year, Word Nerds! We hope you’ve had wonderful holidays, and are ready for a new decade (!!). In celebration of the end of 2019 and the beginning of the roaring twenties, we asked some members of the DIY MFA team what their resolutions are. 

At DIY MFA, we believe goals or resolutions should be S.M.A.R.T.. That is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. For more tips on how to craft resolutions that stick, check out Episode 23 of DIY MFA Radio. And let us know what you resolve to do in the year–or month, week or even decade ahead!

1) Manuela: Make Writing for Fun a Habit

Between graduate school work and regular work, my creative writing has definitely taken a backseat this year. While I’ve been writing a lot (hello, term papers), I haven’t dedicated a lot of time to writing for fun. So, for 2020, I resolve to fit more creative writing time into my schedule. Specifically, I want to focus on cultivating a regular writing habit, not necessarily with the goal of publication in mind, but with the purpose of rediscovering just how much fun it can be to write for myself! 

I’ll start by taking a look at my calendar and pinpointing times when I can enjoy some uninterrupted writing time. From there, I will create a writing schedule and make sure to stick to it. Ultimately, I would love to have a completed poetry manuscript by the end of 2020, but, at the very least, I want to develop some good writing habits to carry me through the rest of my graduate school years. 

2) E.J.: Experiment with new digital campaign approaches

In 2020, my first fantasy series will release its final title. This signifies not only the conclusion of a major creative endeavor for me, but also a turning point in how I approach my online marketing efforts–finally, I can sell a complete box set. I can track follow-through from book one all the way to the end. And, hopefully, a complete series is a series that gains increased sales momentum. 

Sales is never the end game for me–reader relationships is. But sales still matter, and with a full series of titles in hand, it feels like a natural time to challenge myself more in this area. With experimentation in a variety of pushes across social media, Amazon, email, advertising and other promo opportunities, I hope to take significant strides toward building a lean, mean sales machine. 

And in the meantime, it’s on to start creating the next series. 

3) Bronwen: Turn tracking my writing habits into a habit

In the last eighteen months I’ve gotten really into planning—bullet journals, agendas, printable calendars, etc. It’s been really helpful for getting tasks accomplished, but I’ve always resisted planning in one area: writing. I don’t want to put undue pressure on myself, but at the same time I know a lot of time is passing with very little forward momentum.

So this year I’m using planner tools to track my writing productivity. I’ll track when I start and end phases (brainstorming, drafting, revision rounds), quantifiable counts (words written, pages edited), and set flexible quarterly deadlines for myself. Each quarter I’ll check in and see how I did, and try to figure out what worked and what didn’t.

For me, turning tracking and check-in’s into a habit will be the win. Even if I produce less writing than last year, I’ll have a record of how and why that’s the case. Then I can iterate and improve.

4) Helen: Build my mailing list and author network

I’m really fortunate that my life permits me a dedicated time to write, and my writing time never exceeds my supply of ideas (my Evernote idea file has 450 items and counting…). However, being a serious introvert, I shy away from marketing my work–especially the human-interaction part of the task. I get how important it is, but I don’t like it. Putting myself out there feels scary and icky, so I hide as often as I can. 

This year is the year I get over it. Two of my marketing-related SMART goals for this year are:

  1. By December 31, 2020, I will double my current mailing list.
  2. By December 31, 2020, I will establish and maintain friendly relationships with three to five writers in my genre. “Friendly” means when I email them, they’ll know who I am–no reintroductions necessary–and will email back. 

Networking to achieve these resolutions is totally a mental game. Although my anxious mind invents endless disastrous scenarios to talk me out of trying (thanks so much, creative brain…), every time I do interact with real people, I’m rewarded. In a creative career pursued in isolation, real relationships matter and I don’t want to put them off any longer. If I have to tattoo my face with a reminder that people aren’t scary, I will–but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

5) Bess: Study Writing Craft

For years, I’ve devoted almost all of my writing time to working on projects, and comparatively little to my own writing education. While I read craft books and sometimes attend conferences, mostly I’ve just been writing. This year, in addition to working on my WIP, I want to spend more time studying and practicing my craft. 

I’ll kick this off by reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and, at some point during 2020, I will also do a 100 Day Challenge — write 100 pieces of flash fiction in 100 days. Some will be good, most will be terrible, and hopefully at the end, I will have a deeper creative well and will have learned more about my own process and ways I can continue to improve it.

What are your writing resolutions for 2020? Let us know in the comments, or on social media!

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