Tomorrow begins a new decade. What kind of writer do you want to be?
What do you want to focus on? What do you want to excel in? What kinds of stories do you want to tell? What kinds of dreams do you want to go after?
The greatest thing about the beginning of a new year, and in this case, a new decade as well, is allowing yourself the time to reflect on everything you’ve accomplished in your writing up to now and decide what you want the next year to be like, your next exciting chapter. What kind of writer do you ultimately want to be?
This moment is kind of a milestone for me because ten years ago to the day I made the decision to write my first novel. It was December 31, 2009, and I’d spent the last few years completely immersed in filmmaking and screenwriting. I lived in Los Angeles at the time and I was deep into my second year as a feature film casting associate.
But no matter how many scripts I wrote, I wasn’t feeling creatively fulfilled. And for years I’d wanted to write a novel. I decided that day I was going to write a novel in 2010 no matter what. And in May 2010 I wrote THE END on my first ever book! I loved the process so much that later in the year I wrote a second novel, my first ever for the young adult market.
And to date? I’ve written twenty novels, holy cow. Twenty. Novels. In less than ten years! Do I plan to write another twenty novels this next decade? Oh, hell no. Sure, I still have more novels to write in the years to come. Still more stories to tell.
But what’s the kind of writer I want to be in 2020 and beyond? One who does a whole lot more than just write novels. Up until 2018 that’s pretty much all I did. I was always writing the first draft of one book and revising the draft of another and querying something else. It was this workshop of endless fiction writing year after year, and there was something kind of blissful about that, there certainly was.
Keep this in mind as a writer, however: it’s always a welcome time to change things up a bit.
If what you did as a writer the last year or the last five years haven’t led you to the place you want to be, then it’s perfectly fine to change course. Jump from one mode of writing to another. Try a different genre. Take a break. See the world.
Anything, really, you think might enrich your creativity and bring you closer to your dreams.
I have big plans for 2020. Lots of things I want to do in my writing life. In 2019 my goals were to write my twentieth novel (which I did — a young adult thriller called Fear of Water) and write a lot more stories for Medium (which I most definitely did — hundreds of stories on all sorts of topics since March).
For 2020? Here are just a few things I have planned…
- For the first time ever, I’m going to take a year off from writing a new novel and instead spend some time revising the many unpublished novels I’ve already written, including the one I wrote last summer.
- When it comes to new fiction, I’m going to write at minimum four short stories in the new year and submit them to literary journals.
- I’m going to be looking for new literary representation, and I will soon be querying my MFA thesis novel, currently in its twelfth draft!
- I’m going to slow down on Medium slightly and not feel obligated to write a new story every single day. I’m also going to take a break about writing about Medium and instead focus on fiction writing, life lessons, and other topics.
- Read. Watch. Write. Repeat. is becoming a Facebook group tomorrow! A fun and collaborative space to discuss everything books, film, television, and writing. More on this in the hours to come.
- After five years I’m returning to Self Publishing. I’m already putting together a book about writing for Medium, and I’m excited to finally share in the months to come a few of my young adult novel manuscripts with the world!
These are just a few of the ideas I have moving forward. It’s a lot for sure, and five years ago all of this might have seemed too overwhelming to take on.
But something you need to learn is how much you can accomplish when you devote even just a little bit of time to multiple projects every single day.
30 minutes to this, 30 minutes to that, 30 minutes to the other thing. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.
This is what I tell writers all the time who want to write their first novel. That you don’t have to sit down for seven hours a day to do your work. You really can write a novel with just 30 minutes a day as long as you treat your writing time like exercise, and do it at least five days a week.
If you want to accomplish a lot in the new year, don’t feel like you have to accomplish a lot in one particular day, or even one particular week. Just keep your goals at the forefront of your mind and work toward each one a little bit every day.
And you’ll be surprised to discover how much you can accomplish as the months pass, I’m telling you!
So take the time now and the rest of the week to decide just what kind of writer you want to be in 2020. What projects do you want to focus on? What are you most passionate about? Do you want to write more for Medium, or write a novel? Maybe both?
You can start small or think big. You can go after five projects or just one. It’s. Entirely. Up. To. You.
Whatever you end up doing, remember that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, and that the world is waiting for your voice to enter the conversation! I wish you the best in the coming year with all your endeavors, and I sincerely hope the next part of your journey is everything you hope it to be and more.