Another year begins and so, another year of writing. Whether you’re soldiering on with a work in progress (WIP) or beginning something completely new, you’re probably starting the year with some writing resolutions. As with all resolutions, the danger is setting your goals to high, only to see them fall by the wayside before we even reach Valentine’s Day. Some are lucky if they make it that far. Here are 5 New Year’s resolutions for writers that are easy to make and difficult to break.
- Write – Writing is the only way to be a writer. Writing is what separates a writer from a reader, a dreamer or a procrastinator. It’s easy to say I don’t have time – I’m raising a family, I’ve got a job, I’m tired or just one more level or I’ll just finish watching Game of Thrones. The truth is, we all have 24 hours in a day. Sometimes you just have to look between the cracks, at those lost moments. Sitting on the bus or in the doctor’s waiting room. In the bath or 15 minutes before you put the light out. I used to write game reviews in my lunch hour and on the bus to and from my boring job. Take a look at the moments that slip by undetected and use them. Even if you only write 500 words a day, by June you’ll have a novel-length something.
- Make it a habit – Make writing your habit. Biting your nails gets you nowhere and correcting people’s grammar on forums only gets you trolls. Ditch those habits and start writing every day, without fail. Set your alarm a bit early and pick up your notepad (digital or paper). Or head to a cafe for your lunch hour and get writing. Sit in the car park outside the office and write. Do it every day. Make writing part of your routine and your brain will start to expect it.
- Be realistic – ‘I’m going to write the modern equivalent of The Grapes of Wrath by Easter’. Now there’s one resolution even Steinbeck couldn’t live up to. Don’t set yourself starry goals, as you’ll only sink into a quagmire of self-loathing when you don’t reach them. If you can’t write for an hour a day, only write for 30 minutes. If 500 words is too many, do 250. If you generally read pacey thrillers, maybe the plan for the epic fantasy trilogy is too much for your first novel. Pick your goals carefully, then you’ll be inspired to carry on, when you actually achieve them.
- Finish something – It’s the new year, so there’s a natural urge to start something new…again. Unless you’re
Iain Rankin, who starts a new novel on 2nd January, every year, you shouldn’t do this. If you didn’t finish the novel you started last January, starting a new one could be another form of procrastination. Ask yourself whether you’re running away from a WIP because it’s getting hard and you want the buzz of starting a new story. If you really can’t face your current, unfinished work, then go ahead and start something. But you must honest inujun’, pinky swear to finish it – it will give you an even better buzz and you’ll start your next project knowing you can finish it.
- Give yourself a break – When you do go a week of writing every day or you reach one of your goals, give yourself a pat on the back. Shout about it on twitter or something and your friends will give you a virtual thumbs-up, making you feel all smug. Buy yourself a cake or go to your favourite bar or beach or tell your family and they’ll say ‘hooray for you’. If you don’t meet your goals, don’t go to your favourite bar and end the night on the karaoke machine singing Love Will Tear Us Apart. Do look at why you failed and adjust your goals. Read something inspiring or talk to a fellow writer – they’ll soon get you back on track.
Yes, I realise I’m a week late on publishing the resolutions blog post. I’m so glad that irony wasn’t lost on you. Now stop mocking me and get some writing done.