Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Resolution Revised

By Cindy Jones

My Revised New Year’s Resolution: to finish my new novel NEXT WEEK!
Six weeks into 2011 and I’m already revising my goals for the year. When My Jane Austen Summer was sold, eighteen months ago, I set a goal: To Sell My Second Book Before The First Book Was Published. I had a first chapter and enough ideas to forge ahead. And I imagined I would forge ahead as soon as things settled down from the sale of my first novel. But even when I wasn’t responding to agent and editor, revising, copyediting, and meeting deadlines, I was cultivating Facebook, launching a blog, and learning to tweet. There was no settling down. Absolutely everything was a learning curve. And learning curves eat time.

My new novel was scheduled for completion last summer. But summer passed, and the completion date was moved to the fall. And then year-end. But there was no time for a new novel. Months flew by when I did not even open my new novel file at all. At one point, I completely forgot the name of the protagonist and had to search the manuscript to find it.

I once wondered why authors sequester themselves in remote cabins to finish a novel. Now I know. The only time I actually made progress on my new novel was when I was away from home. We have no internet access where I go in the summer, and without the lure of the web, I was able to immerse myself in my new novel and make progress. When I am in the noise and chaos of a ski lodge, I can concentrate just fine. I can work on an airplane. And I discovered that writing the second novel doesn’t take as long since I don’t have to repeat the trial and error of lessons learned the first time around. I could finish another novel if I could just leave home long enough to do it.

So, I’m leaving home.

I will be retreating to a place where six days of utter isolation and lack of demands will allow me to devote all of my energies to my new novel. I don’t know how long I can sit at a computer without getting stale but I intend to find out. And I will report back. I will eat, sleep, walk the beach, and write. No blogs, no status updates, no brainstorming, and absolutely no twittering. I won’t go to the grocery store or carpool line. No girls’ lunch or coffee for a whole week. Yikes! And if I don't make progress I'll give up the retreat and go home early.
But my official goal is to finish my new novel NEXT WEEK.

If you have gone on a solo writing retreat please tell me what worked for you. Warn me of the pitfalls and tell me what to pack.


  1. Good luck, Cindy! It is crazy balancing everything, isn't it? And it only seems to get crazier with every book (oh, wait, that's not what you wanted to hear, right?). ;-) I'm hoping I'll have my revisions turned in by the time you get back. Then I think we both deserve some ice cream with hot fudge sauce (at the very least!).

  2. Oh, this was a crazy good post. My novel was supposed to be done by the end of the year. It was actually a writing resolution and now I'm hoping to finish it by Valentine's Day.

    I consider this progress. My first book was a whole year behind schedule. I find that I pretty much have to get out of the house to write these days. It's sad b/c when I worked in a real office I dreamed of working from home only to discover that I get more work done when I go into the office (aka Starbucks).

    It's a constantly evolving practice, but I dream of going somewhere else to write uninterrupted. Good luck!

  3. You can do it, Cindy!!

    I've gone on a handful of writing retreats -- not alone yet (although I probably should try that soon...), but with a few very good friends. Because we're all writers, we know the value of time away from family demands. Also, we've all experienced the persistent temptation of the Internet, which is why we don't allow it when we're away, LOL. I write slowly, so it was amazing to me to have gotten 10 new pages drafted in just one afternoon on our last retreat. So, just trust the process. I think you're going to make tremendous progress on your book, and I'll bet you'll finish it!

    BTW, this line made me laugh because I could SO relate: "At one point, I completely forgot the name of the protagonist and had to search the manuscript to find it." Hee!!

  4. I'm so right there with you, Cindy! Your timeline and mine almost mirror; I know exactly what you mean! Only last week did I finally get serious and get busy. Good luck with your writing retreat. Just one question: Can I come with you?

  5. Sounds heavenly! I've never been on retreat, although I know I would love it. Hope you get it done.

  6. PS: I have a complete, yet messy, first draft to work with which makes a week seem like enough time to get it in shape for First Reader (husband).

    Susan--I'll virtually meet you on Monday morning for ice cream and hot fudge sauce (successful or not!!)

    Ernessa, I can work in Starbucks, too! Isn't that crazy?

    Marilyn, 10 pages in one afternoon is great progess! Especially if you don't cut them the next morning. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Laura, Maybe we should have a Girlfriends Writing Retreat! Can you imagine?!

  7. Writing retreats don't sound like a bad idea; when I was young I'm amazed by how much I wrote on airplanes; when my parents dragged me on vacation I used to take multiple notebooks. Good luck!

  8. Wow, Cindy!! I've never done a writer's retreat before. Can't wait to hear all about it!

  9. Good luck, Cindy. You can do it! I'm extremely jealous, by the way. I want to run away for a week to write!

  10. Hello Ms Isobel--Good to hear from you! I hope all is going well with your writing! I wrote in stenographer's notebooks as a child on vacation, too.

    Karin, Brenda, Maria, and Connie--I'll report back when its over and we can start planning a GBC retreat. The more I consider the possibilities the better it sounds.

  11. I spent the month of November on the beach (Seagrove Beach, Florida) to write, and it was FABULOUS. Because it was a month, and not just a week, I didn't stay offline and I did mingle with folks in nearby Seaside from time to time. But the best part was, as you say, having no other responsibilities. Walking on the beach, sunsets with a glass of wine... it was lovely. And I got about 12 chapters of my novel done. Back home, it's hard to keep moving forward. I'm craving another get-away. GOOD LUCK!!!

  12. Hope you have a fantastic and productive retreat!

  13. Thanks, Lauren!

    Susan--A whole month! Your retreat sounds fantastic and I'm so glad to hear you were able to accomplish so much! There is hope for me! (I love your blog!)

    Raleigh, Thank you!!

  14. Take me with you! Just kidding. Hope you get lots of wonderful writing done!