Confessions of a Writing Fanatic
How I write...Why I Write...Why You Should, Too...
New Year's resolutions are sticky wickets. They offer both limitless possibilities and a sense of dread. All the promise of what you can succeed and missteps that feel like trapdoors into permanent doom. I always separate my writing resolutions from others specifically for this reason. Much like a finicky plant, I know that the only way to achieve them is tend to them often, give them proper attention, and realize as they grow they will change.
Let's be honest. Writing resolutions isn't much different than writing a poem, book, or story. They require editing. The right words to set up for success. And there cannot be too many of them. If they are numerous and demanding, I might as well give up on Day One. Feel free to use mine as models for your own as you prepare yourself for the wonderful achievements ahead.
Write Daily - Notice I didn't include word count, when to write, or what I'll be working on. Phrases like finish a novel or write 1,000 words a day immediately defines boundaries that life often has other plans for. Can I write something every single day? Absolutely.
Engage With Readers - Stop counting. Followers. Comments. Sales. Of course, all of those things are nice, but they are more often than not out of your control. Pursuing authentic engagement with people proven to read your work will yield more attention. They will write back. You will meet other people tangentially. You will also learn why they are reading your work, an added bonus.
Study the Craft - This is far easier than people make it out to be. Yes, there are expensive programs and workshops out there. But you also study the craft as you read, collaborate or swap with other writers, and take advantage of the many free resources online. Writing in a vacuum doesn't work. To get better, study others. Embrace new methodologies. Enjoy the idea that you can get better every single day for your entire writing career.
Trade Goals for Grace - One of the few self-improvement books I swear by is Atomic Habits by James Clear. He immediately dispels the power of the goal, which is finite and often ineffective. In his missive, he discusses swapping goals for systems that support your mission - great advice. For me, I prefer swapping my goals for grace. How do I define grace? Doing honor to my writing. If I am giving it my energy and attention, the products will come. Instead of a novel looming over my head, I am reminded daily this is a professional pursuit that I love.
Place your resolutions somewhere for easy reference. Mine live in the back of my writing planner. I flip to them often not as a dubious eye judging my habits but a gentle reminder of what my definition of being a successful writer looks like. Whatever your goals, believe in them. Pursue them with vigor. And understand they are your goals and subject to change. Happy 2024!