Boost Your Writing: 3 Things To Do Now To Start The Year Off Right

During the celebration of the holidays, it can be hard to think about getting organized for a new year of writing, but trust me, this is exactly what we should do. Why? Because when the calendar flips, life resets in our heads. Determined and full of fire, we set out to make this year OUR year.

But this energy peters out pretty quick if we get bogged down in all the little housekeeping things that nibble our time. So, use this lead up to January wisely and knock a few important tasks off the ‘ol list so the year starts with a bang.

Housekeeping Task #1:

Back up your work.

back upI know, it’s obvious. And yet…do you? I mean we all know the danger of not backing up work, but let’s face it, computer crashes happen to OTHER people, right? Um, no. It can and probably WILL happen to you at some point. So, yep, back your work up. Now’s the perfect time to do it!

Housekeeping Task #2:

Do some weeding.

Weeding? Um, Angela…it’s December. The only weeds outside are curled up in their death throes under the snow.

weedsBear with me…I promise it isn’t the eggnog talking. The overgrown gardens we need to turn our attention to are the word files on our computers.

Think about it…just how many versions of the same story do you have on your computer? How many blog posts, revisions of query letters, pitches, story notes, character profiles and worksheets…well, you get the idea.

Over the years, this stuff piles up. It becomes a mountain of data. The truth is, we can’t bear to let any of it go, these words of ours. We’re so sure that at some point, we’ll want that 7th revision of chapter 9, absolutely. And even if we finish the novel and move on to another, dang it, maybe that discarded paragraph 3 in that first draft can be used in a new story!

Group therapy time: we need to let some of these old files go. Once we’ve finished revisions on a book, there’s really no reason to keep all the old bits and bobs. So take a look at the scary patch of files and ask yourself, do I really need this?  If you truly don’t, give yourself a Christmas gift and purge.

Housekeeping Task #3:

Okay, up until now, we’ve taken some baby steps. You’ve done well. In fact, you’re a freaking rock star. But now…we need to talk about the biggie. I know, you don’t want me to go there, but I have to. It’s the Thing That Must Not Be Named.

Your desk. Your workpace.

trashYes, I know your dirty little secret…those drawers are an episode of Hoarders. Maybe several episodes. You think my desk looks any different? It doesn’t.

Here’s the deal: if we really want to give ourselves a clear mind in January, we need to clean our surroundings. Make our fresh start a TRUE fresh start.

If your desk is a mess, your drawers are filled with God-knows-what, and there’s so much of it you haven’t seen the bottom in a good year or two, it’s time to excavate.

Trust me, you will feel so much better knowing those drawers actually shut like they are supposed to. And it probably won’t kill you to dust. Or empty the trash. So sort, organize and recycle!

Logo-OneStop-For-Writers-mediumAnd here’s a bonus tip for making this your year…join hundreds of your fellow writers over at One Stop For Writers. The One Stop library is the result of writing passion. Becca, Lee & I created it to help you elevate your writing, and to assist through tools, resources and descriptive inspiration so that you spend less time searching for the right words and more time actually writing them.

Registration is always free, because we want you to see what we’re all about, no risk. So stop in and check us out. If you like what you see, why not ask Santa for a Gift Certificate? For the price of two coffees a month, you can move into next year knowing you’re doing something huge to give your writing career a boost.

And we both know that your rock star attitude toward organizing and growing your writing craft means a fantastic new year.

Happy writing & organizing!



Image 1: HerbieFot @ Pixabay
Image 2: Elizabethmh @ Pixabay
Image 3: Nathan Copely @ Pixabay
Image 5: PubiKado @ pixabay



Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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[…] By Maria Popova Brain Pickings: Margaret Fuller on the Power of Music The thought of the law that supersedes all thoughts, which pierces us the moment we have gone far in any department of knowledge or creative genius, seizes and lifts us from the ground in music… What the other arts indicate and philosophy infers, this all-enfolding language declares… All truth is comprised in music and mathematics. Margaret Fuller         Alaska’s permafrost, shown here in 2010, is no longer permanent. It is starting to thaw.         By Angela Ackerman: Boost Your Writing: 3 Things To Do Now To Start The Year Off Right […]


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Adrian Tannock
5 years ago

Excellent list! I have so many random, orphaned, redundant, obscure, half-forgotten computer files dotted around in my ‘My Documents’ folder; it’s like a digital jumble sale.

I feel inspired to go and give it a good clean out. Thanks!


[…] Boost Your Writing: 3 Things To Do Now To Start 2016 Off Right The new year is right around the corner, and Angela Ackerman of Bookshelf Muse and Writers Helping Writers has some helpful housekeeping ideas to kickstart the upcoming New Year. […]

Mary Leonardi-Cattolica
Mary Leonardi-Cattolica
5 years ago

Make sure that your backup drive is actually working. I relied on an external hard drive only to discover when my computer crashed that my work hadn’t been backed up since 2013. Lost: one book in it’s final edit, one book half written, all my research…gaaahhhhhh! Now I back up to Dropbox and to Airport Time Capsule and it’s all automatic.

5 years ago

So true! I had two duplicate 64GB flash drives with to be extra sure i didn’t lose my book, but alas…some problem with my computer corrupted both drives and I was left with nothing!

Mart Ramirez
5 years ago

Forgot to add wishing you both an MERRY CHRISTMAS and an amazing NEW YEAR!! XOXO <3 Hugs))))

Mart Ramirez
5 years ago

Love this little list. Great reminders!! And One Stop For Writers is truly an excellent resource to put on the list!!

Traci Kenworth
5 years ago

My only problem with #3 is that every time I do so, I lose ALL my files. They simply aren’t there when I go to open up the Folders I saved them under. This has happened to me more times than I care to admit, so I’ve stopped doing so. I wish I could, though. And thanks to the reminder on the backup. Using several places to do so as sometimes that too, doesn’t work.

Laurie Evans
5 years ago

I need to do all three of these things! I’m going to work on them over Christmas vacation.

Celia Lewis
5 years ago

Wonderful simple tips to get started right, Angela. I back up daily to BackBlaze in the cloud, weekly to an external drive, and a few specific folders to Dropbox each day.
Emails get weeded every 3 months or so… old drafts get turfed once I have a good working draft.
So I’m doing some things right – mainly because with genealogy as well as writing – I gather papers, online docs & photos, research, ideas, drafts… My desk and my computer messes were dragging me down, and Jan. 2015 I finally made it a priority to clean up/out the mess. Best decision I ever made.
Thanks so much for your generosity with sharing tips and sheets. I’m still trying to redo my nonexistent budget to find some $$ to join One Stop.
Cheers for the new year!

Claire Gem
5 years ago

OH, how you speak the truth on those “bits and bobs”! My computer recently gave up the ghost and, thank God, I had Carbonite. But when I tried to restore my files onto my new computer, the amount of JUNK there was astounding! Nearly crashed the new one in shock.

Repeat after me: I will purge old drafts of books that ALREADY PUBLISHED, for goodness sakes! At least that, right?

Sandy Kirby Quandt
Sandy Kirby Quandt
5 years ago

Angela, thanks so much for this much needed advice. I have to get every one of these things done and quit putting them off before the piles grow any larger.

Robyn Campbell
5 years ago

How’d you know? I am cleaning and backing up TODAY. I’ll start 2016 as a winner. Yeah! Merry Christmas.

5 years ago

I do have a pretty clean desk already, so figured I could go ahead and do the bonus tip! I look forward to learning and doing more writing this year.

Carol Baldwin
5 years ago

Ah…can you peak into my computer and see all the drafts? How about purging some of those 6,000 photos from who knows when? Sigh… I guess I need to start somewhere!

Thanks again for One Stop. I LOVE it!