“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”
– Neil Gaiman
Maybe 2012 was a great writing year for you. Perhaps you launched a blog, took part in NaNoWriMo, got placed in a short story competition, sold your first magazine article, or had any number of writing-related successes.
Or maybe 2012 was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps that big goal you had – to finish your novel draft, or to launch your freelancing career, or to get a book deal – didn’t get very far.
Either way, you’re starting again. A new year is like a new chapter, full of promise and potential.
What will you do with it?
I’m a big fan of goal setting – and I’ve no problem with aiming high. When it comes to resolutions, though, I find that it’s very easy to get too ambitious … and give up entirely.
That’s why I’ve set myself a mini-resolution this year (if you receive the Aliventures newsletter, you’ll have heard about it yesterday):
Write fiction for at least five minutes every day.
However busy I am (and I expect to be busy when the baby arrives in February!), I know that I can find five minutes each day to write. Of course, I hope that, often, I’ll manage to write for much longer than that – but simply managing those five minutes will help me build good habits and stay connected to my fiction-writing.
You’re very welcome to borrow my resolution – or you might want to choose from one of these extra ideas:
#2: Read one writing-related book every other month.
My resolution was inspired by The Five-Minute Writer by Margret Geraghty – a book that my Writers’ Huddle read during December. Reading can be a great way to learn new techniques, to get inspired, or simply to put yourself in a writing frame of mind.
#3: Set up a Twitter account and tweet at least twice a week.
Whatever your writing ambitions are, an online platform will help you reach your goals. Whether you want to self-publish, get a traditional deal, or find freelancing clients, you’ll benefit from a strong network of online connections. Twitter is a great place to meet other writers. (You can find me there at @aliventures.)
#4: Enter one writing competition every three months.
Competitions are great for writing inspiration and discipline: they typically come with a topic, a word length, and a deadline! It might be daunting to enter your first competition – but if you commit to entering at least four this year, you’ll find that it gets easier each time.
#5: Write in a journal twice a week.
Journaling is a powerful tool for getting to grips with your thoughts and feelings – and it’s also a great way to build a regular writing habit. Your journal is a private place where you’re free to experiment, to break all the rules, or simply to have a good rant about whatever’s on your mind.
#6: Write from a prompt once a week.
You can use writing prompts to warm up at the beginning of a writing session, or as a way to spark off a whole new piece. A couple of books of prompts I’ve used and enjoyed are The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspiration for Writing (Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk), by Monica Wood, and The Writer’s Book of Matches by Fresh Boiled Peanuts and Phillip Sexton (Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk).
#7: Write in a cafe (library / park / etc) once a month.
Getting away from your usual writing location can make a huge difference to how productive you are (and how inspired you feel). If you normally write at home, you probably struggle against dozens of distractions. By getting out to a local cafe, library, park, or any other location where you can sit down with your laptop / notebook, you may well find that you concentrate much better.
#8: Open your book-in-progress document (or notebook) every day.
If you’re working on a big project – like a novel or a non-fiction book – it’s very easy to let days go by without any progress. Committing to opening the document that contains your book might feel almost silly – but once you open that document (or your notebook, if you write by hand), you’ll have already taken a big step toward conquering your internal resistance to writing.
#9: Join a local writing group that meets regularly.
Unless you live somewhere very rural, there’s a high chance that you can find a local writing group to attend. It might be anything from a weekly workshopping group to a monthly writers’ circle that invites speakers. Join and attend a group: being around like-minded people is a great way to boost your motivation, and you’ll usually have the chance to gain valuable feedback on your writing.
#10: Identify as a writer.
Do you describe yourself as a writer? Many writers don’t – they think that the type of writing they do doesn’t count (“I’m just a blogger”) or they think that they need to be published in order to claim the title “writer”. The truth is, if you write, you’re a writer – and you have every right to call yourself that, and to take your writing seriously.
Which of the above mini-resolutions will you choose to tackle this year? Or do you have a different resolution for your writing? Pop a comment below to tell us!
Coming next week: I’m putting the finishing touches on the newest book in my Blogger’s Guide series, The Blogger’s Guide to Loyal Readers.
If you’re a blogger, keep an eye on Aliventures for more information, as it’ll be on special offer for the first couple of weeks.