This is the third January that I’ve been writing this blog, and I was certain that I must have written a post on New Year’s resolutions for writers, and I had planned to crib off that one. But no dice. So without further ado, here’s a list of a few things writers should resolve to do this year:
WRITE. I know this sounds obvious – writers write; non-writers don’t write – but it’s surprising how many people call themselves writers and then fail to write anything. Professional writers write every day. Professional writers usually have three projects going on – one in the planning stage, one in the writing stage, and one in the editing stage – and that doesn’t even count the ones that have been published and are in the marketing stage. Write something. If you can’t write every day, write once a week. But for goodness’ sake, write!
READ. Again with the obvious. But let’s face it, there’s a lot of good TV and movies out there. But writers need to read books. A lot of books. Mostly in their genre. They need to keep track of what’s hot and what isn’t. And just for chuckles, they also need to read books outside their genre. I generally read two-three books a week, although most of these are either manuscripts for the agency I read for, or books I’m reviewing for Chick Lit Central. I read on the treadmill, so I knock out exercise and reading at the same time. GO ME.
HELP ANOTHER WRITER. This isn’t just to be noble and helpful, although those are good things too. Reading other people’s raw manuscripts will help you become a better writer. It’s easier to see mistakes in others’ writing than in your own, and once you do, you’ll keep an eye out for them in your own projects.
GO SOMEWHERE. Go to a writer’s conference, join a writer’s group, go on a writer’s retreat, just GO. These events force you to take yourself seriously as a writer. (Unless your writers’ group is filled with people who don’t take themselves seriously, in which case find another group.) They stress deadlines, editing, networking, education. GO YOU.
SET SMALL GOALS. This may seem counterintuitive, especially for a New Year’s resolution post, but the main reason people fail at achieving the goals they set is they set them too big, don’t accomplish them, and then feel like failures and quit the project entirely. Don’t do that! If your goal is to write 10 pages a day, that’s huge. Write one page a day. Or write one page every other day. Just set something small, achieve it, and then set a bigger goal. It’s like weightlifting. You don’t bench press 500 pounds your first day at the gym. You bench press the bar and it’s hard! But eventually, if you go to the gym three times a week, you’ll get to that goal.
I’m going to be scarce for the next two weeks as I’ll be attending Eckert College’s writer’s conference, Writers In Paradise. I’m very excited and will report on what I learn!