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Commit, commit!

My normal emails are, as you know, long and baggy. They tell jokes. They digress. Sometimes (goat folding – pah!) they have no practical purpose whatsoever. This email, born as it is, in the clarity and cold of a New Year’s Day, is short and to the point.

Friends, it is time to commit.

What do you want to achieve, as a writer, in the next six months?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I actually want you to answer me. I want you to tell me – tell the world – what your intentions are.

I don’t want answers that may be unachievable. So, yes, lots of you will want to say something like:

“By 1 July 2021, I want to get a six-figure deal from a Big Five house.”, or

“By 1 July 2021, I want three books self-published on Amazon and a monthly income of at least $2,500.”

And sure, lots of you will have aspirations like those. But I want commitments that definitely lie within your capability. If you don’t achieve the goal, I want that to be because you haven’t done what you said you would do.

Put another way, we’re not, today, in the business of lifting a prayer to the universe. We’re in the business of building a To Do list that we will systematically execute.

So the kind of things I want to hear from you might be things like:

“I will completely my current manuscript. I will self-edit it hard. I will get a third-party manuscript assessment (from Jericho Writers, obviously 😊). Then I will submit the work to at least 12 properly selected agents. I will have the book out on submission to those agents no later than 30 June 2021.”

A newer author might make a commitment more like this:

“I will read at least three books on writing. I will watch and absorb all of the Jericho Writers’ video course on How To Write. I will spend at least 7 hours a week on writing, every single week. I will write at least 50,000 words of my current project. I will get beta-readers to look at 2x chunks of the book. I will commit to offering feedback to at least 12 other writers, so I contribute my share to the community. I will do all this by 30 June 2021.”

Someone who’s heading for the sunlit Land of Self-Pub might say something like this:

“I will complete my manuscript. I will get editorial feedback on it, complete my edits, and get the whole thing copy-edited. I will select a cover designer, deliver a brief, and get a quality cover that I’m happy with. I’ll research my metadata and make the choices I need. I will write and produce a lead magnet that will act as the basis for my mailing list. I will do all this by 29 June 2021.” [Why the 29th? Because self-pubbers always work harder and faster than trad authors.]

OK. You get the picture. I’m after specific commitments by you, that lie within your power to execute in the next six months.

Yes, you can simply write those on a sheet of paper and glue it above your computer, but public commitments work better. I want you to enter the public square and make your commitments visible to all.

I’ll do the same. So please make your commitments right here on Townhouse. (If you’re not a member, then become one. It’s fast and free to do so.)

That’s it from me. I promised short. Here’s short:

Make your commitment.

Make it here on Townhouse.

Do it now.

On Friday 2 July, we’re all going to check back on your promises. See how we’ve done.

Onwards!

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  • Having had my MS assessed by a Jericho assessor, a few weeks ago, I am working my way through the work to be done - which is major! The assessment was well worth the money and most of the criticism and comments I agreed with (some of them somewhat grudgingly).

    I felt my assessor was very encouraging and praised where it was due and, although there is a lot of work to be done, not least of which is 'losing 35,000 words, my aim is that by July 1st it will be finished and good enough for publication by a publishing house!

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    • Hi. I've recently joined Jericho Writers and this is my first post on Townhouse.

      Putting an intention into writing makes it more real, so here goes:

      1. I am at the stage of seeking representation for a 96,000 word debut novel for adults (magical realism with a crossover into fantasy), and before Christmas sent a batch of query letters to agents. By 30th June 2021 my objectives are one of the following (or a combination):

      a. Obtain representation from a literary agent.

      b.  If I am having a limited response to (a), I will consider getting a MS assessment and will implement proposed changes.

      c. If I have paid for a MS Assessment and made changes, I will make the decision by 30th June 2021 either to have continued pursuing representation from a literary agent or I will take the first steps towards going down a self publishing route.

      2. My other live project is a fantasy book for children (middle grade). By 30th June 2021 I plan to finish the first draft and a first edit (I expect it to be under 40,000 words).

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      • Currently working my way through draft novel following brilliant and enlightening Jericho writers self-edit course last June. All going well, my intention is to be querying agents by May with polished synopsis, Elevator Pitch and requested number of words. By July I shall either be querying 2nd batch of agents or an excited, super-nervous wreck!

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        • 1. Let my pretentious literary novel with it's mountain of challenges go for now. It'll keep.

          2. The tales pouring out at 3k words a pop for a 'novel of stories'  (where each chapter is a self contained story) are loved by me and readers so far;  accept that it might be good work so be unafraid.

          3. For goodness sake.  Sit down and plot the 2 broader 'novel' themes properly so you can build wider plot developments them into the stories as you go.  The stories look after themselves, the broader themes need focus.

          4. If twenty stories is my goal, then I'd better up my output to two stories a month instead of the current rate of one. Stop being pathetic.  What else are you doing in a lethal pandemic?

          5. Nail 'emotional distance'.  Stick with the lived experience of the first person narrator. 

          6. It's a period piece, not an effing history book. Show your heart and not your research on your sleeve. 

          7. Finish the blinking thing this year and get a manuscript assessment.

          8. Consider writing the query letter and synopsis now for a bit of feedback on the pitch because the format might not be marketable.

          9.Listen to yourself in point number 8. Get some backbone! If beta readers really liked it, there's half a chance others will too. Get on with it.




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          • Hello,

            This is my first post. Thank you very much for this inspiring blog. Just what is needed. I have so many ideas swirling around in my mind, it is helpful to set specific relatively short term goals – as a number of my writing projects are for children’s stories.  

            So here goes:

            1. To finish children’s picture book story, Dottie, by 15th January.

            2. To finish older children’s story, Purple and Gold, by 5th February.

            3. To finish second older children’s story, Rescue, by 26th February.

            4. To send off the Purple and Gold and Rescue stories, together with child’s story book, by 14th March.

            Good luck everyone. Hope the extra time at home helps – though I’m not sure how homeschooling is going to impact these next months.

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