Happy New Year! With the new year comes your very own inciting incident. Whether plotting a short story, editing a novel, or organizing a collection of poems, it’s time to complete those writing goals once and for all!
“To write or not to write, that is the question.” Or at least, it’s the one I often ask myself. As a novelist, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to do the one thing we claim to love doing: writing. Writer’s block and sometimes ourselves can be obstacles to finishing our many, many WIPs. So, to start this year off write — pun intended — let’s make some resolutions that will keep us on track!
“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”― Philip Roth
1. Explore a New Genre
Challenge yourself to write or read a genre you need to become more familiar with. It may feel awkward at first, but don’t overthink it. Allow that creativity to flow organically!
- Experiment with blending genres to create unique and innovative stories (horror x comedy, romance x thriller, satire x Western fiction, etc.)
- Set a goal to become proficient in writing in a specific genre by studying its conventions and mastering its techniques.
- Explore different authors to diversify your reading experience.
- Create a reading list and actively discuss the books you read.
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”— William Faulkner
2. Kill Your Darlings
Set a goal to spend specific time reviewing your project each day. Editing and revision are critical stages in the writing process. So, as sad as it may be, make those pages bleed with red!
- Complete the first revision of a novel or a specific project by a set deadline.
- Conduct a thorough review for grammatical errors, awkward phrasing, and sentence variety.
- Eliminate repeated words, phrases, or information that doesn’t contribute to the narrative.
- Review the overall structure, checking the organization of paragraphs and chapters.
“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”— Stephen King
3. Network, Connect, and Submit
Connect with other writers through a local writing group or online community. Sharing your work, receiving feedback, and engaging in discussions can benefit your growth as a writer.
- Join a writing group or online community to share and receive feedback on your work.
- Actively participate in writing challenges or prompts on social media.
- Submit your work to several literary magazines, contests, or publishers.
- Invest in your craft by attending writing conferences or workshops.
“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time — proof that humans can work magic.”― Carl Sagan
4. Be Professional, But Be Yourself
Being a writer is so much more than being able to write words on a page. It’s about finding a voice and using it to stand out. Being professional is essential, but keep your individuality!
- Create an author’s website/portfolio to showcase your work.
- Develop an author bio (write it in third-person) and update your writing resume with any new accomplishments.
- Create and maintain a presence on social media platforms to share your writing journey (let your creativity flow!).
- Experiment with different types of content, such as blogs, short stories, or writing tips.
“Style is to forget all styles.”― Jules Renard
5. Study The Craft
Whether honing your dialogue skills, unraveling the writing industry’s mysteries, or tuning into Ted Talks on audience connection, don’t shy away from the essential groundwork. Embrace the basics, delve into the details, and let research be the foundation of your writing journey.
- Dedicate time each month to learning about the publishing industry or marketing for writers.
- Explore trends in reader demographics to tailor your writing style and themes to your intended readership.
- Research traditional and self-publishing options to make informed decisions about your publishing path.
- Research book marketing techniques, including cover design, book blurbs, and promotional activities.
“I think the deeper you go into questions, the deeper or more interesting the questions get. And I think that’s the job of art.”— Andre Dubus III
6. Stop Comparing Yourself
Becoming a writer is not about achieving perfection; rather, it’s the act of writing itself that defines a writer. Comparison is the thief of joy — don’t let it rob the world of the story you’re meant to tell!
- Draw inspiration from others without imitating their style.
- Be kind to yourself and remember everyone struggles; growth takes time!
- Keep a journal of your improvements, techniques learned, and constructive feedback.
- Identify what makes you as a writer unique, and focus on expressing your voice.
“Comparisons deplete the actuality of the things compared…”— William S. Wilson
6. Write the Damn Story
There is only one way you’ll get published: to write. Whether it’s a short story, novel, or collection of poems, set a goal to complete a writing project in the coming year.
- Prioritize self-care to maintain a healthy balance between writing and personal life.
- Schedule breaks during writing sessions to avoid burnout.
- Establish a comfortable and inspiring writing space.
- Only revise once you’re done (creativity flows best untamed).
- Make sure to have fun!
“A person who wrote badly did better than a person who does not write at all. A bad writing can be corrected. An empty page remains an empty page.”— Israelmore Ayivor
As you embark on this journey of literary exploration, remember each resolution is a stepping stone toward a more fulfilling and successful writing experience — but it’s your passion that ultimately makes or breaks your success! Here’s to a year of inspiration, growth, and extraordinary storytelling! Happy writing!
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