Every year I create two sets of resolutions. The first is a general life list posted prominently on the refrigerator. The second, my writing resolutions, get tucked inside my desk drawer and don’t often see the light of day. The refrigerator list has changed over the years and boasts columns and bullet points, action plans and recipes, inspirational pictures and doodles. Meanwhile, the writing resolutions need none of this because they are uncomplicated, and I’ve committed them to memory. But I still write them down fresh each and every year as a reminder of how to get the job done.
Write every morning.
Read twice as much as I write.
Starve the rejections; feed the victories.
While none of these are revelations, the three of them together have helped me persevere both professionally and personally. And their brevity contributes to the bigger picture that writing is a profession and passion about action.
Write every morning – I’ve made several blog posts about writing rituals, but for me I am freshest in the morning and most optimistic. In those first few minutes, if I can avoid the news and other potential pitfalls by getting up before the rest of my household has roused, the day is nothing but a blank slate. I feel rather invincible, not to mention what happens once coffee is added.
Read twice as much as I write. – Stephen King said it best. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” In theory, you are writing because you love the written word, and it would only make sense that you want to carry all of them in your arsenal. And not just the meanings and spellings of words either. Every time you read, you’re actually studying your craft and observing how other authors assemble those words into radical new patters. So read, read, read.
Starve the rejections; feed the victories. – This one is my favorite and simultaneously the hardest to adhere to throughout the year. Whether it’s by email, by phone, by post, or by owl, I give the rejections no more than a moment to invade my brain. Even the big ones. I might have slaved over a project for months only to have it shot down in the eleventh hour. That’s life. And as a writer, rejections are frequent. The worst are the days where it feels like editors or agents collaborated and all decided to say no at precisely the same time. You need to starve the heck out of those days. Don’t entertain negative thoughts. Instead, feed the wins. Maybe it’s a publication you’ve been waiting for or simply a well done from your critique partner on a particularly sticky scene. Throw a handful of confetti in the air. Dance your best Beyoncé when no one’s looking. Or go to the local bakery and buy an obnoxiously expensive piece of cake. But make those victories count because one is fantastic. Two, even better. And if you press your energy towards the light, rejections sting less than a band-aid being pulled off. They will no longer have the power from stopping you from making good on your first resolution…to keep writing.
Happy New Year!
A mother, teacher, and writer who enjoys all good stories and believes in the magic we can make every day by telling them.