Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Writer's Resolutions for 2010

I am always filled with a sense of adventure and excitement when the New Year comes around. Maybe it’s because I was born on New Year’s Eve and everybody is celebrating, although not because of my birthday. Or maybe it’s because I’m hopeful that better things are standing at my threshold than those of the previous year. Let’s face it, 2010 has better possibilities to offer me than my mother’s death, a pay decrease, and the bathroom pipes springing a leak.

I feel the same excitement about my writing. I started my newest writing project last June and hope to be at least ¾ of the way, or even closer to the end, by next December. I get all jittery inside when I think of 365 days of writing opportunities, and I have intensified my enthusiasm by taking a week’s vacation in January to get a running head start.

Even with all this exhilaration, I’ve decided to devise a few strategies that will help me stay on track when the words refuse to materialize, or when research binds me in chains, or when life gets in the way. The motto Be Prepared works just as well for a writer as it does for a Boy Scout. So here are ten writers’ resolutions for 2010 to keep the prose flowing and discouragement at bay:

  1. Reevaluate Your Writing Career: Take note of what you achieved as a writer in the previous year and what you want to accomplish in the coming year. Make goals to achieve this new direction.
  2. Resolve to Write: A writer must commit to produce. Without the will, there is no way. Set goals of when, where, and how often you will work. That way when friends want to distract you, you will be ready to politely turn them down.
  3. Set Realistic Goals: If you set your goals too high, you are sure to fail or at least overextend yourself in the process. Moderation is the key to all writing pursuits. By setting lower goals and surpassing them, you will feel more successful and spare energy for other writing endeavors.
  4. Add Variety: Sometimes I get bored with the same piece of fiction day in and day out. I keep a variety of writing projects at hand to stir up the muse. Journal writing and blogging also keep me writing, and these outlets are cathartic ways to practice the art. Just don’t overdo the variety and neglect your more important projects. That would defeat the goal.
  5. Finish Old Projects: There is nothing more stifling or draining than unfinished writing tasks. Their constant cry for completion is like an invisible shield that blocks free thinking. Finish these annoyances and you will unclog the passageways that hold back creativity.
  6. Read More: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We can learn how to write by reading other writers’ works. The way they use words and the way they structure plot can spur us out of writer’s block and help us handle plot in better ways than if we attempted the task in a stupor.
  7. Focus on Your Successes: Dwell on the things that you do accomplish this year instead of on what you don’t. Failures aren’t really failures. They are just methods you’ve tried which don’t work. Attempt different techniques and ways of approaching the subject and you might turn the piece into one that works. But until then, be kind to yourself and pat yourself on the back for all you have achieved.
  8. Submit: There is only one thing to say about submission. If you submit, you provide opportunities to get published. The opposite holds true if you fail to do so.
  9. Be Confident: Wherever you are on the publication scale, don’t think your failure to get your work out in the world makes you a bad writer. I hate to say it, but sometimes publication depends on timing or whether or not the editor had a fight with her husband that morning. Your abilities aren’t necessarily the reason you haven’t seen your name on a book cover.
  10. Promote Yourself: And do so whenever you find the opportunity. Promotion is a vital part of a writer’s success. You might hand out business cards, or contact an editor, or be bold and tell everyone you talk to you are a writer. If you’re like me, this part of the equation is difficult, but critically important if you want others to know your work.
Such are my ten resolutions to keep moving forward on my novel in 2010. I hope those of you who read this little list may find solutions to some of your own writing dilemmas.

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