The Obligatory New Year’s Resolution Post: 2016

I figured a post like this one was only appropriate, as this will be the last one I write in 2015. The thing about making capital-R Resolutions at the start of the year, at least with me, is that I’m one of those clichés that’s absolutely awful at keeping them if I make them at all. As a teenager with a need to be above it all, I’d tell people that I was resolving to not make resolutions, but eventually that stopped being cool. For a time, I didn’t make any formal Resolutions, but made mental notes to improve on something or other without a concrete goal: get better at cooking, exercise more regularly, read more books, things like that. Last year’s tentative goal was “get something published.”

And really, I did that. I wrote for a few different places and branched out creatively on places like the microfiction communities on Twitter. While I didn’t publish the novel, I went to a conference, sent out several queries, and started getting serious about building a following. I didn’t get paid much if at all for writing, but I did get my name in front of more eyes than I had before. Above all else, I built this website and blog, and I have people who read it regularly, which is like being self-published and having real fans (thank you!). It might not have been in quite the way I had envisioned, but I’ve made more progress on that nebulous half-Resolution than I have on just about any other goal I set for myself, regardless of the time of year. Looking back, I realize that I shouldn’t have been as frustrated as I was with myself, because really, I’ve made an incredible amount of progress and should be and am proud of that, even if I didn’t “succeed” in the conventional sense of the word. Turns out that hindsight being 20/20 is a cliché because it’s painfully true.

In any case, I’m officially on this road now, and really, everything’s going pretty well so far. But 2016 is staring at me from around the corner, and I need to be ready for it. Goals are good, and I need to do what I can to get what I’ve been working so hard for. So while I’ll still make micro-Resolutions to cook out of cookbooks more often, read more, and exercise regularly, I’ve decided that something as important to me as my passion needed something a little more concrete this year.

So I’ve decided that I’m tackling Milwordy.

I have no problem with generating ideas and being creative, but actually getting the words down is something of a challenge for me. I think part of this stems from confidence issues: “I don’t know, this idea sounds kind of stupid, I’d better not write it down.” Well, no more of that. In order to be a published writer, I need to have words written that I can work with. Therefore, I’m going to spend 366 (because 2016 is a Leap Year) days working on getting one million words written, no matter how good, bad, or ugly they are. For those of you that are working on the math, that ends up amounting to roughly 83,333 words a month for twelve months. If you prefer, it’s 2,732 words a day. I think it’s lofty, but achievable.

I won’t be writing one million words of the same piece, and because there aren’t many ground rules for Milwordy other than “write one million words in a year,” I came up with a few guidelines to keep myself on track:

  • My timeframe will start on midnight on January 1st and end at 11:59:59 on December 31st.
  • What will count: Blog posts; essays, articles, and short stories; novels and novellas; friendfiction (and I guess fanfiction, but I haven’t written any in years); revisions and new drafts of previous pieces (provided the latest draft is started in 2016 from as close to scratch as possible); scripts, if applicable.
  • What will not count: Posts on forums, chat applications, and social media; emails, letters, and other personal or professional correspondences; personal journal entries.
  • What I’m not sure will count: Prewriting exercises, but I’m leaning “no” on this one; new, lengthy additions to unfinished pieces (i.e., my NaNoWriMo from this year), on which I’m leaning “yes”; Twitter-length microfiction, on which I’m leaning “no.”
  • In order to stay on track and for what are likely to be much-needed boosts partway through the year, I will participate in NaNoWriMo again in November, and I’ll also tackle Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July. My word count target for each of the three events will be 50,000 or better.
  • I will keep track of my word counts on a spreadsheet. I’ll base my numbers on the word count tool in my word processor with the exception of NaNoWrimo and Camp pieces, where I’ll use the official word count tool on the websites. My plan at the time of writing is to keep track of the numbers by piece rather than date, but I might try to keep track of the words per day and/or month as well.
  • I will not annoy my followers by posting my word count on a daily basis unless something truly remarkable happens. One post at the start or end of each month, The blog will proceed as normal in that I’ll mention Milwordy as infrequently as possible, but I’ll post a reflection piece on it at the start of 2017 regardless of whether or not I win.

So that’s how 2016 is going to go down. And now that I look at it, it somehow looks both terrifying but manageable. Terrifying in the sense that I actually have a plan for doing this, and manageable in the sense that I can actually see myself accomplishing each part. All that I need to do now is brainstorm and, well, go. If you know of any writing challenge groups outside of the NaNoWriMo community that are active year-round, I’d be happy to hear about them. I’ll be working toward a huge number of words, but don’t want to shut off human contact completely, after all.

How about you folks? Are any of you working toward a goal in 2016?