My Not-New-Year’s Resolution: Write a Novel


Conversations with preschoolers can be hilarious. Perhaps it’s because after you reach a certain age, the simplistic becomes the ridiculous. But whether by naivety or wit, Timmy put a great spin on an otherwise blasé question put to him at the end of last year:

“What’s your New Year’s resolution?” I’d asked.

He pondered a moment, looking ceilingward for an answer that turned out not to be there. “I don’t know.”

“Do you know what a resolution is?”

He didn’t need to check the ceiling for this one. “I don’t know.”

“What are you going to do differently next year?”

“Umm…” He put on an expression of intense processing. “I’m… I’m just… I’m going to be five in my birthday.”

The boy knows how to strategise. He has a good chance of fulfilling his resolution, which is already further ahead than most of us.

I’ve tended not to make them, simply because probability is high I’ll break it—even more probable than if I’d made it at any other time of year, I think. To the solar system, January 1st is just another rotation, but to the western culture and the psychology of those therein, it’s the day that stalls every engine and dooms every plan.

Last year I’d resolved to post a blog entry every week—my archives will show you how well that turned out. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t.) But, safely out of the detrimental effects of that particular January rotation, I made the resolution again in June…and it’s worked out pretty well so far.

Thus, my anecdotal evidence suggests that ‘June 10th Resolutions’ have a much higher chance of success.

This year I’d like to write a novel-length work of fiction. Not publish it. Not market it. Not design its cover. (Although any or all of those things are allowed.)

I’d just like to get it written.

It doesn’t even have to be completely original—a derivative work (colloquially: a ‘fan fiction’) would still fulfil this resolution while accomodating a relative lack of momentum. (Because really, world-building and character-building is hard work. Sometimes it’s nice to let other people sweat that out for you.)

I’m now six days into 2017, and this is where my data stands:

  • Word goal: 40,000
    (There’s no quantifiable word count for a novel—lengths vary by genre and writer—but anything less than 40,000 is a ’novella’ instead.)
  • Words written so far: 2
    (“Chapter One”)

So…not an impressive beginning.

If I started on my anecdotally more productive date of June 10th, I’d have 204 days to finish it; a first draft. That seems a little scary to me. When I got back on a bicycle after several years off it, I didn’t take it on a Tour de France. Resuming this scope of writing project should be broached with similar caution, I think. I wouldn’t want to get brain cramp or anything like that.

I don’t think there’s any magic about June 10th. The success rate of the subconscious will embrace any day that doesn’t come with elevated and unrealistic expectation; any day that’s not January 1st. So I won’t wait until June 10th.

I’ll wait until I’ve finished writing this blog entry. I have Scrivener already open, anyway. Seems as good a time to start as any.

And should this resolution fail, I’ll fall on my backup:

I’m… I’m just… I’m going to be thirty-three in my birthday.


1 Comment

  • Deborah Makarios
    16 Jan 2017

    I hear Isabel Allende starts writing each new novel on the same day of the year. So who knows, June 10th could be a winner! Except for the Pink and White Terraces…

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