J. A. Keener

2016 Writing Resolutions

2015 was a busy, busy year. Lots of things happened that I am grateful for. In pseudo-chronological order, we have: finding out Katie is pregnant; Katie finishing her first year of residency; me finally landing that dream job in Cedar Rapids that lets me work the 8 to 5 shift and not travel overnight; learning that a loved one’s cancer is in recession after a very bleak prognosis; being invited to participate in not one, but three (!) panels at ICON, the local Sci-Fi / Fantasy convention; a relatively quick childbirth with no complications resulting in a healthy (but narcoleptic) baby boy; and getting to spend the holidays with family. FYI, he’s not actually narcoleptic. I’m told that I’m not as funny as I think I am, but I should point out that “Narco-baby” has stuck as a nickname.

If you’re reading this in 10-15 years? Sorry, Ben. But if the shoe fits?

In my writing career, I got Stormgate out for consideration a few times, which is a step further than I’d ever made it before. I also managed to draft a short story prologue to the Stormgate series, entitled Timegate, outline the third book in the series (book two was drafted in NaNoWriMo 2015, but I was waiting to get some professional feedback on Stormgate before starting edits/rewrites), and outline and start my near-future Sci-Fi novel Dreamscape. There have been a few book reviews thrown in there, a bunch of travel to the east coast for the old job, and a lot of sitting in front of the dry erase board and thinking.

All said and done, it’s been a pretty amazing year. I’m trying to take some steps to ensure that 2016 is as productive a year for my writing as 2015 was. So, without further ado, here are my 2016 writing resolutions:

1. Family comes first
This seems counterproductive, right? I mean, the starving artist / writer is supposed to sacrifice everything for their craft! But, right now, my wife is in residency and I have a full time job, which means that poor Ben is going to be spending a lot of time with me in the evenings while mom’s at work. I am thinking I’ll be trying out some of my outlines or stories on him. He won’t give me real feedback for a number of years, but at least I will be able to hear them out loud and see if they sound dumb before I get too far into the writing process.

2. Take lunch breaks at work
Another strange resolution, unless you know me. I don’t take lunch breaks. I usually eat at my desk while I work. By forcing myself to take breaks (and bringing my laptop to work), I hope to get some writing done at the office so I am not feeling pressure to stay up late and work at home when I should be resting.

3. Stay in shape
I’m a fan of Fullmetal Alchemist. Yes, it’s because of the awesome characters and engaging story, but also because of one adage that crops up throughout the story: “train the body to train the mind.” I do my best thinking on the trail with the Glitch Mob’s gentle harmonic hums in my brain. I don’t know why. But, not only do I feel good at the end of a run, I also usually have a really good handle on what comes next.

4. Engage in Twitter
I have a Twitter account. You can find me @jay_keener, but to be honest, you won’t find anything there yet. I follow a few dozen people online, but other than that, I haven’t tried to do anything with this account. Partly it’s because I don’t have much to say. Partly it’s because the idea of Twitter seems a bit silly to me. But the largest part is because I’m a pretty private person. I don’t share much online. In fact, this entire website has been a challenge to put together. This is a necessary step for me, especially if I end up going the self-publishing route. It’s time to get out of the shallow end of the pool and sink or swim.

I think I might need a bigger boat…

5. Create an author Facebook page
In line with my need to engage on Twitter, now that Ben has joined us, I realize that I can’t keep my Facebook page dedicated to my writing anymore. I have seen Facebook pages that try to be too many things (personal, professional, platform, etc.) and I don’t like how cluttered they get. Your message is lost if your fans can’t find the post their looking for. As a result, I’m going to set up a separate page for my blog posts, book reviews, game reviews, and writing updates. We’ll see if this works. If it doesn’t? Well, I’ll try something different.

6. Read more
This is probably wishful thinking. I mean, I read a lot of books already. But at the same time, I never seem to get caught up on the books I want to read. You can just look at my Amazon wish list to see that there are dozens of hardcover and paperbacks that I want to dig into. I’m hoping that with my 30 minute commute each morning and again each evening, I can get some good audiobooks and start getting caught up. Audible.com may be a good choice for me this year.

Those are the big ones. Oh, I have personal resolutions also, but I don’t see any reason to clog up your limited time in an effort of self-aggrandizement.

Have any writing resolutions I might have missed? Please leave a comment or send me a tweet (I have to learn sometime, right?).

Have a great 2016 everyone!

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