It’s the time of year when most of the major holidays are over, and you start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, so many people make unrealistic, grandiose resolutions. You might stick to for a few weeks or a month, but by the time February rolls around, you’re sitting on the couch chain smoking while eating donuts, watching a Top Chef marathon instead of reading all those books you were going to finally read, and cancelling your gym membership. We’ve all done some version of this.
As writers, we have a tendency to make writing-related resolutions. “I’m going to write 1000 words a day!” “I’m going to finish that novel!” “I’m going to get that literary agent!” etc. etc. These are great things to do, but don’t let them wind up like the “I’m going to quit smoking” or “I’m going to go to the gym every day” resolutions you never stick to. Here are a few tips to pump up your writing life in 2014.
1. Make writing a daily habit.
Make it a point to write something daily. Whether this is jotting down an idea in your journal, writing a blog post or an e-mail, or writing a movie review, try to write something every day. Pay attention to working on the aspects of writing you need to focus on the most. If you want to be more creative and come up with more ideas, jot down three to five ideas for stories every day. If you want to focus on imagery, maybe try writing a poem every day. If you need to focus on revision, write journal entries or blogs and go back and edit them.
The point is to make it a habit. This means adding it into your daily routine. Creating a special time for writing every day is a great way to achieve this.
2. Make a list of achievable goals.
Saying things like “I want to publish my novel” can be vague. What do you really want? Do you want a literary agent? Do you want to publish traditionally? Do you want to self-publish? Whatever route you take, there are tons of little steps along the way. Instead of having one huge goal like “publish my novel,” come up with little steps you can include along the way. Step One. Finish the novel and get it in the best shape possible. Step Two. Read about how to write the best query letters and create a query letter. Step Three. Research literary agents and find the best ones for your work. Step Four. Send query letters to literary agents. Etc. Etc.
Break your “big picture” goal down into smaller steps. This way, when you accomplish the smaller steps, you will be able to celebrate your progress.
3. Try something different.
Try joining a writing challenge like the 30 Day Poetry Challenge in April or NaNoWriMo in November. If you’ve always wanted to write in a different medium, go ahead and give it a try. Try some new writing books, reading new blogs (like this one!), taking a new writing class, teaming up with other writers, etc. Think about things differently and see how you can stretch and grow as a writer this year.
4. Never stop working on your craft.
You never want to think things like “well, I’m the best writer I can be.” There is always room for growth and improvement. You can be confident in your writing and also be searching for ways to expand and get better. Actively work on your craft by participating in challenges, reading creative writing instructional books, doing daily writing exercises and writing prompts, etc.
Find a few areas you want to concentrate on this year, and make those areas your focus. Maybe you want to really focus in on writing sharp, realistic dialogue. Maybe you want to work on your descriptions and imagery. Maybe you want to work on outlining and brainstorming. Maybe you need to work on point of view. There are a million possibilities.
So what are my writing goals for 2014? I’m hoping to read even more books in my genre (I have a goal to read 50 books this year), I would really like to see another production of one of my plays, and I’m hoping to finish the second book in my Muses series. This is, of course, after my agent secures me that $1 million dollar book deal from Scholastic for The Muses. I mean, clearly.
I hope you all had great holidays, and I hope 2014 is your best year for writing yet!