Making Time to Write Monday: Just Say No to New Year’s Resolutions (or 31 Just for Fun)

Alayne Kay Christian is in my online picture book critique group. She’s also the founder of the new group Sub Six. Sub Sixers are planning to submit six manuscripts sitting in folders.

On Alayne’s blog, Writer’s Whole Life Perspective, she challenged her readers to not worry about New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, focus on what we accomplished in 2012. She specifically suggested we do “31 Just for Fun.” While thinking of 31 things I accomplished might make me seem like a Braggy Braggerton, it did give me a little bit of a boost. The two things I wanted to REALLY get accomplished this year: get an agent and get a book deal, didn’t happen. Both of these things are sort of out of my control, but I made steps toward my end of the bargain (as you’ll see below).


1. I took 3 classes: Cheryl Klein’s WDU Master Class on Plot and Structure, Michelle Wolfson’s WDU Class on Query Letters, and Anastasia Suen’s Naturally Creative Class. I would recommend all three.

2. I organized 2 local events for children’s writers in my area.

3. I accomplished 10 of my writing goals for this year. Three of them I didn’t accomplish. Looking back on it, I realized, for me, it’s unrealistic to work on 4 novels a year in addition to picture books. I learned to be more realistic when planning for 2013.

4. I attended 12 bookish events (signings that were not connected to a conference).

5. I completed 12×12 in 12 and PiBoIdMo 2012.

6. I attended 5 writing conferences/retreats.

Areas I’ve Worked on Improving

7. Plotting: I have worked diligently on plotting this year, including taking a class, reading several books, and taking apart favorite books to see how they work plot-wise.

8. Writing Schedule: I have maintained a successful schedule for working without disrupting my mothering—get up an hour before everyone else. I’ve been doing this schedule since August, and I have been able to get much accomplished in these few months.

9. Web Presence: I created my writing website, made a professional page on Facebook, and tried to get more involved on Twitter.


10. I read 42 fiction books (this doesn’t include what I read with my kids at home or my students at school). However, I still think I should make a goal for reading MUCH more than this in 2013.

11. I read 24 craft-related books.


12. I revised a middle grade novel (however, I’m still working on this novel in Cheryl Klein’s WDU Master Class on Plot and Structure).

13. I finished a completely new revision (changing the structure totally) on my YA novel and sent it out.

Emerald Isle, December 2012Where I did a little research for my YA novel

Emerald Isle, December 2012
Where I did a little research for my YA novel


14. I’ve worked on 18 picture books in various stages. I wrote 12 new picture books during 12×12 (only 3 of these I’ve really worked on past the draft stage).

15. I wrote 3 articles for writing publications.

16. I wrote 12 short stories.


17. I have submitted 46 total items to my three critique groups (and critiqued work for 12 people each month).

18. I submitted my writing 77 times (a combination of picture books, novels, articles, and freelance inquiries, and queries).

19. I received 10 personal notes with my rejections. Some of them were suggestions for revision, some of them were just an encouraging note that said “this will find a home.” While 10 is not a lot, it was enough to keep me working.


20. My middle grade short story mystery “Beneath the Cover” won 2nd place in Children’s Writer Middle Grade Mystery Contest. 

21. My article “Writing with Tots in Tow,” was published in the March issue of Children’s Writer.

22. My article “Revision in Roanoke,” was published in Spring Highlighter (SCBWI Mid-Atlantic).

23. I had 11 stories purchased for StarrMatica.

Life Accomplishments

24. I walked in graduation ceremonies at Hollins University for my M.F.A. in Children’s Literature (even though I officially graduated in October 2011).

25. I taught fourth grade full-time. How does this feed my writing? I get to read middle grade fiction, I get to teach writing through the use of mentor texts. I learn more than they do, probably.

26. I am the proud mom of two kids and while we haven’t kept track of how many books we’ve read this year, I’d estimate it’s well over 100.

Truths I’ve Learned

27. You can accomplish a LOT in a just an hour or two a day. If you are organized and focused, you can still write even if your life is full of other things.

28. Rejection stinks, but a personal rejection is a step forward. I have received form rejection letters or received no response at all, but a handful of agents and editors have written personal rejections or requests for other projects. These have kept me getting up at 5:00am to work.

29. Being around other writers is essential. I would not have accomplished as much or stayed encouraged if it hadn’t been for my critique groups.

30. Writing is not quick, easy, or for the faint of heart. I am truly passionate about writing and the stories I have to tell. Therefore, I will not quit.

31. I am a better writer today than I was at the end of 2011, so I know if I keep working, I will be a better writer at the end of 2013.




  1. I love this, Marcie. In my opinion, you have earned the right to brag a little. I really don’t see it as bragging. I see it as sharing and inspiring other writers. Fantastic accomplishments, and so many! I am impressed, but not surprised. I think your most impressive accomplishment is finding ways to do all this without disrupting mothering. And while looking out for many more children as a teacher. I love the way you ended your post with what you learned. You are way ahead of me, as that will be part of my follow up blog posts. I wish you great success and lots of peace, love and happiness in 2013.


  1. […] Alayne Kay Christian challenged her followers to celebrate what they accomplished in 2013 in a fun blog post called “31 Just for Fun.” I  participated last year.  […]