Monday, 5 January 2015

New Years Writing Resolutions

By Narelle Atkins

It’s that time of year when we reflect on 2014 and consider what we’d like to achieve in 2015. A writing career isn’t built by accident. Successful authors have taken steps to achieve their writing aspirations. Each writer will have their own ideas on how they define success, which is a reflection of their goals, hopes and dreams.

Work Life Balance

How much time do you have available for writing and writing-related activities? Can you write part-time or full-time? Is your writing a business or a hobby?

These are important questions to answer. Most writers have a life outside of the writing world. They’re balancing their writing time with day jobs, family responsibilities, church and other volunteer work.

It’s helpful to ask the question: Realistically, how much time do I have available for writing? This is different to asking how much time I’d like to spend writing. Take a look at your calendar and see where you have blocks or snippets of free time. What is the best way to spend that time? Can you write and still meet the other obligations in your life?

Establishing Priorities

Where does writing fit among the items on your priority list? I have school-aged children and my responsibilities as a wife and mother are higher up on my priority list than writing.

My priorities were put to the test over the last few years. In March 2013 I signed a six book contract and agreed to deliver six books, 275-300k words in total, in fifteen months. I had a 45-50k book due every three months from June 2013 to September 2014. I met all my contractual obligations and delivered all six books on time.

Now, as I reflect on the last two years, I’m challenged to consider if I'd sign up for another contract with really tight deadlines. My writing schedule impacted my family life and the amount of time I had available to spend in other areas of my life.

Creating time vs. Admin/book promo time

Next week I’m going to talk in more detail about specific goal setting for our creating time. I define creating time as the actual time you spend working on your ms. This includes brainstorming, outlining, writing, revising, editing and proofreading. It doesn’t include checking email or cruising social media.

We need to factor in time for writing admin and book promo. Writers are encouraged to build a platform for book promotion before they are published. This takes time and, more often than not, it’s time away from creating. Last year I wrote a post on the ICFW blog on Balancing book marketing and writing time.

Writing networking – groups and social media

The experts tell us that social media is all about building relationships. The goal is to build relationships with our target audience. But, we need to ask the question: What is our ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI) from Facebook, Twitter, blogging, Pinterest, Goodreads, tsu, Google+ etc.?

ROI includes money, time and any other resources we invest in a particular activity. Are we achieving our goals and receiving a good ROI as a result?

Are we connecting with our target audience by providing content they value? What strategies can we employ to improve our ROI (including exit strategies if the activity is not working for us)?

Your contribution to the writing world

How can we volunteer in our writing organisations? How can we help and support other writers?

Are we involved in groups and activities, both in-person and online, that are aligned with our goals? For example, if my goal is to network with contemporary romance authors, I’m not likely to achieve this goal by joining my local poetry group.

Your faith journey

I’ll finish today with a few questions to ponder. There’s no right or wrong answer and we can prayerfully consider all of our options.

How does your writing influence your faith?

Is your writing drawing you closer to God? Is it encouraging and inspiring you in your faith journey?

How does your faith influence your writing?

Are you writing for the Christian market, general market, or both? Who is your audience and how can your writing add value to their life?

NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance set in Australia and lives in Canberra. Her debut book, Falling for the Farmer, was a February 2014 release, followed by The Nurse's Perfect Match in May 2014, The Doctor's Return in August 2014, Her Tycoon Hero in November 2014, Winning Over the Heiress in February 2015, and Seaside Proposal in May 2015. 

Narelle blogs regularly with International Christian Fiction Writers and Inspy Romance. 

She is also a co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA). 

Twitter: @NarelleAtkins


  1. Thanks for this post, Narelle. I'm sure most of us have been trying to juggle writing time with life's obligations. And no doubt it's a huge struggle for us.

    You've been there and done that, so your advice is invaluable!

    1. Hi Rita, Yes, it's a balancing act for all of us. I'm glad my thoughts were helpful :)

  2. I gave up on the New Year resolution making years ago but time to get out the pen and write down my needs, wants and Priority lists again. However it is often so hard to know God's priorities. He alone knows what this new year with Him will bring across my road. I am planning to concentrate more this year on my own writing. First for me is to complete the two manuscripts that I haven't been able to touch now for far too many months. I am so thankful that I can look back over the last twenty plus years and testify that letting Him control my writing career has been essential for any good results. This knowledge of His faithfulness gives me great comfort and peace but I also do need His strength to exercise self-control, patience and obedience to Him.

    1. Hi Mary, I'm glad to hear you're planning to complete the mss this year and moving into a season where you'll have more time for writing. Thanks for sharing your inspiring testimony :)

  3. Great post, Narelle. I spent some time over Christmas trying to plan out how I'm going to write one full-length manuscript in the next nine months as well as continue to try and build my platform etc. One thing that really struck me is that with a young family I'm going to have to be more focussed an intentional about how I spend the time I do have. Getting disciplined on the time I spend on social media is definitely a big one!

    1. Hi Kara, I agree, time management is so important for all of us. The young family season of life is busy and exhausting, and you're doing really well to continue writing while juggling family responsibilities. Social media can be a massive time drain if we're not careful to set limits and stick to them :)

  4. Great post, Narelle. So many good questions to ponder. I'm still in awe how you managed 6 books in such a short period of time - simply amazing with work, family and other commitments. You mustn't sleep.

    I'm going to include this post over the next few days as I reflect on the year ahead.

    Wishing you a wonderful 2015.


  5. Thanks, Ian :) I did have a head start with 3 of the mss either completed or a first draft, which was a big help. I look forward to hearing about your future writing plans.


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