New Year’s Resolutions: Make A Fun One!

‘Tis the season to talk about New Year’s resolutions, and SMART goal setting (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). But that’s not all it has to be.

I was thinking about this because of the Pasta Quest / Fruit Adventures meme that is going around. The gist of it is that resolutions can be fun, like eating as many different pasta shapes in a year as possible, or eating and learning about a new fruit every time you see one.

Of course we want our readers to have fun when they’re reading our stories. If they don’t have some kind of enjoyment from reading it, they’re not likely to come back for more! But often writers focus on hard numbers when they’re coming up with their goals for the new year: this many words written; this many stories submitted; this many hours of butt-in-chair, fingers-on-keyboard; or this many words written every day, no matter if you’re sick or busy or not feeling it.

These goals have a purpose and a place. But they don’t sound all that fun, do they?

So this year, think about adding a fun one to your New Year’s writing resolutions. What is especially fun for you about writing? What is silly? What is play? What writing-related thing will you have fun doing even if the result never sees the light of day?

A few ideas:
* When you introduce a new character, as a writing exercise, write a scene of them eating a meal. Just for fun, not as part of the story.
* Take a class about something that interests you. Make that part of your next main character.
* Make a sketch of every new character. Stick figures are A-OK.
* Build new fantasy/science fiction worlds based on the history, culture, or geography of every continent on Earth.
* Create a new language, and use it in a story.
* Rewrite the ending of someone else’s story that you didn’t like.
* Every time you read a book or story that you really, really love, write down 3 things the author did that you really liked–tropes, a twist ending, a type of character, a detailed description of a particular type of thing–and pick one of them to try and do, in your own way, in your next story.
* Make a list of new places that you will write next year. Art museums, coffee shops, parks, cafes, libraries. Check them off the list when you’ve tried them.
* Mimic a different style of writing each month of the year.
* Freewrite for 5 minutes every day, based on Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day:

Let me know if you come up with another fun one! I’d love to make a list.

My fun one for this New Year’s writing resolutions is flash fiction. Every month, the first time (at least!) I see a submission call for flash fiction, I will write something for it. I won’t over-polish it. I’ll spend half an hour planning and brainstorming a story immediately after I see the submission guidelines. And after I’ve had a chance to sleep on it and let my subconscious do its thing, I’ll spend a solid hour writing on it.

2024 will be my year of flashing!

(But not the nekkid kind. LOL, I live in Minnesota–I would die.)

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

The never-ending ending of my WiP continues with the not ending!

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links:

What I Wish I’d Known Before Launching My Newsletter:

The Writer’s Guide to the Holidays:

Genre Grapevine on Machine Learning’s Problem with Bad Stories and Bad Intentions:

Working Out, Working In: Applying the Six Principles of Athletic Training to Writing and Creative Work:

Tenses, Distance, and Persons:

Featured Market

Psychopomp wants death-themed novellas, is open for submissions 1/1/24 – 4/30/24.

  • stories where grief or loss play a leading role
  • stories that feature the afterlife or the underworld
  • stories that involve the journey through death/the journey of the dead
  • stories that involve death personified (Death!)
  • stories that take place in, or utilize a multiverse
  • stories that involve time travel (esp. those that involve time travel + a previously mentioned theme)
  • origin stories (especially as they relate to previously mentioned themes)
  • stories where the characters slowly lose their sense of reality
  • goth
  • space, but make it goth
  • a story within a story within a (within a story that’s [within a story] within a story) story….
  • stories where things that are not usually personified ARE personified (planets? galaxies? time? …bones?)
  • creepy meta-horror
  • amazingly original ghost stories

Basics: themed speculative fiction novellas, 20,000 – 40,000 words, no reprints, pays $750 + royalties. Submissions due: 1/1/24 – 4/30/24.


Market List Updates

To see all the details about these new listings and what they're looking for, go to  For all the hundreds of listings, go to Aswiebe's Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet, or view it online at Best read on a bigger screen!
Snapshot of latest updates

Click to see details of the latest updates!

Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Keeper of Lists


How Long Since You Wrote?

Thoughts in Passing

How long has it been since you last wrote fiction? When you stop and think about it, does the answer to that question surprise you? Do you even know how long it’s been?

More than once, I’ve found myself startled to realize how long it has been since I had a real writing session. It’s usually not an intentional choice. It’s life. Things happen. Recently, it was covid + a nasty chest cold, followed by my family getting stomach flu, and then Thanksgiving travel was upon us. This could definitely have been worse–we could have been sick during Thanksgiving. But it definitely dented my ability to sit down and write in a focused way.

I don’t think I would have noticed exactly how much it affected me if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo.

Obviously, the question, “Do you know how long it’s been since you wrote?” is not for those of you who have been doing NaNoWriMo! If you did NaNoWriMo, congratulations. Congratulations if you wrote the full number of words to “win.” Congratulations if you don’t make it, but you still wrote more words than you thought you could in one month! Congratulations if you wrote any number of words, at all. You brought new sentences into the world, and that’s a pretty awesome thing.

I didn’t try to do NaNoWriMo this year, but I still benefited from the special NaNoWriMo event hosted by 4theWords (a website that gamifies writing, complete with quests and monsters to defeat by wordcount). Here’s how.

Tracking.  Writing. Streaks. 

As simple as that! How many days in a row had I written a certain number of words? The days stack up. Keeping the chain going can add motivation. More importantly, for me, it builds a daily habit of thinking about how many words I’ve written that day.

Building that habit doesn’t require a special month or a special app*. You can track it with a spreadsheet. You can track it with a paper calendar that you put stickers on. You can track it by gouging hash marks into the wall of your writing dungeon, if you have a writing dungeon and you don’t mind causing a little property damage.

If your answer was that you don’t know how long it has been since you last wrote regularly–and if that answer bothered you–you might benefit from making a habit of tracking your writing every day, even on those days when the number of words you wrote was zero.

* If you would like to use an app, there are many habit-tracking apps available. If you like making a game of writing, 4theWords is fun. If you want a tracker that also helps you meet a deadline (and is free), I recommend Pacemaker at

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

I’ve been working on the never-ending ending of my WiP! I swear, it keeps getting longer… Funny how that works.

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links:

5 Rules for Writing Humorous Urban Fantasy:

Featured Market

The Mike Resnick Memorial Award for Short Fiction (annual) wants SF by new writers, is open for submissions 11/15 – 4/1.

Short Story (definition): A story up to 7,499 words, as defined by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

New Author (definition): An author who has not had any fiction work published (including short stories, novelettes, novellas, and novels in paper, digital or audio form) that has been paid a per-word rate of 6 cents a word or more or received a payment for any single work of fiction totaling more than $50.

If the author has self-published the piece then their total earnings from any single piece of fiction may not exceed $50 from all published venues.

Eligibility: Entries should be a new science fiction short story written a new author who affirms their story was not in any way plagiarized off of any other work, nor written (in part or whole) with the assistance of AI apps or programs.Arc Manor Books

Basics: science fiction, limited author demographic: new authors, up to 7,499 words, no reprints, 1st – $250, 2nd – $100, 3rd – $50. Submissions due: 4/1/2.


Market List Updates

To see all the details about these new listings and what they’re looking for, go to For all the hundreds of listings, go to Aswiebe’s Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet, or view it online at Best read on a bigger screen!

Screenshot of November updates

Click to see details of the latest updates!

Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Keeper of Lists Feel free to share this blog post/newsletter with others by whatever means you like, as long as you include all of it. The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 12/15/2023. If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter: