The beginning of a new year is naturally a time to reflect on what one has done and left undone and needs undoing from the previous year, as well as from life in general. And so, we are in the habits of coming up with New Year’s Resolutions, affirmations we claim for ourselves for the upcoming year. There are always personal ones like “quit smoking” and “lose weight” (the two most popular resolutions). But a Creative Writer can add professional resolutions. Here are a few you may wish to add to your own list. Many of these are already on mine.
10. Join a critique group – Your family and friends will love your writing, but you need feedback from people who know what good writing is and are willing to tell you.
9. Read more of the Classics – You may be a genre reader, and maybe even a genre writer, but the Classics are the Classics for a reason. Read the best around and it will elevate your writing.
8. Always have soft ears and thick skin – Some people have taken criticism of their writing hard, like me. Our writing is so personal to us that any criticism of it is often taken as a personal insult. Don’t let it get to you because you may be getting some good advice.
7. Write and publish a few short stories – Novelists cannot get away from short fiction. It is a good exercise if nothing else, and getting published will help get your name out there.
6. Leave no unfinished manuscripts behind – A good soldier leaves no wounded comrade behind on the field of battle. A good writer finishes his manuscripts. Even if the story is bad and you never use it, at least give it a chance.
5. Join a book club – This will force you to read stuff you might not otherwise. You can also listen to readers and what they think goes into a good story. They may even buy your book if you are nice to them.
4. Don’t write all that is in you, save some for tomorrow – This was a trick Hemingway used. If you leave a little you will always have something to write the next day.
3. Be more observant – The best Creative Writers are more observant than creative. Notice how people act and speak, take notes of the interesting and unusual stuff to fertilize your character bed. I’m always saying, “That’s going in a book!”
2. Back up everything – I have had more than one incident of drama this past year for not having something backed up. Lesson learned!
1. Schedule time to write and stick to it – Creative Writers write every day, that is axiomatic. This is best accomplished when time is set aside only for writing. Writing only when you can fit it in leaves you and me not writing regularly.
These things will help me and I hope they will help you, too. What did I leave out that you would include in your list? Tell me about this is the Comment section below.