Monday, January 01, 2007

5 Writing Resolutions for the New Year

Commit an hour, a half hour – even just 15 minutes – to writing every day. The goal is to make it a habit so try and set aside a time for writing the same time every day. To help you get started it might prove helpful to start keeping a journal. Though journaling is an art in itself, you may find yourself developing ideas for future story projects. If nothing else, maintaining a journal is a good way to ensure that you’re writing consistently.

If you’re a writer just starting out one of the greatest difficulties you can face right from the onset is finding your own writing voice. To help develop this try reading the work of authors you admire to determine what makes their writing unique. Also read something you might not be regularly inclined to read. Can you see yourself writing this way? If not, why? These answers don’t necessarily matter, as long as you are aware of the voice.

For established writers, one’s writing voice is an automatic, built-in reaction to the art of writing. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon or developed further. Experiment by breaking out of your comfort zone. If you customarily write articles, try a short story. If you write for an adult audience, attempt a short piece for children. The goal isn’t to break into a new market, just an exercise for the muscles you already have.

If a lack of space is keeping you from writing, put this at the top of your list. Your resolution might also be to just make your writing space more conducive to your work. Clean up the clutter; surround yourself with things that inspire you. Have a space you look forward to entering.

Are there books you've always meant to read, but haven't? Do you have a pile of books you’ve been meaning to read but feel daunted by the task of choosing one? Make a plan. Browse bookstores (online or in person) and create a reading list. If you find your “to be read pile” overwhelming create a reading queue to help you sift through the mess.

To create a reading queue: alphabetize your “to be read” pile by author and then assign each book a number. When the time comes to pick your next book use a random number generator to decide. Yes, such dedicated organization might appear to fulfill the most compulsive of disorders but you might find that each new book selected for you is a surprise rather than an agonizing decision (well, maybe it's not that bad). And remember if you go buy a book or get one as a gift, it goes into the queue. Maybe you'll read it next week, maybe you'll read it in five years; the reading queue will decide.

Focus on what you do accomplish this year, not on your failures. Writing is hard, and getting published even harder. Beating yourself up doesn't help anything. Reward yourself for having found something that you love this much, and for sticking to it.

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