Sunday, December 31, 2017

Resolutions for Writers

Perhaps you plan to make them about what you eat or how much you exercise. Doesn’t your novel deserve the same determination to replace lousy habits with nourishing ones?

But since the writing process differs for every writer, not all resolutions work for every writer. Nor are all resolutions equally successful. Not everything below will necessarily apply, but here are some ideas to get you started.


x Absurd goals.

Unrealistic deadlines often result in ignoring deadlines altogether—and actually writing less.

x Self-judgment.

Never disrespect your work or yourself, and adding humor to self-disparagement can’t entirely defeat the deleterious effect. The publication market has never been tighter, so it’s not fair to assess your talent based on what happens there (or doesn’t).

x Rationalization. 

This manifests in myriad ways; “The passage isn’t that bad,” “A dreadful sentence every so often isn’t a problem,” “So what if they have to reread a couple of lines to know who says what:” or “Tension on every page quickly gets tedious.” If you found it, fix it.

x Envy.

Someone will always be better, whether it’s plotting or prose, characterization or comedy. Comparing yourself to others accomplishes nothing. There’s only one person you’re competing with. That’s you.


~ Verbs. 

The best ones electrify by clarifying, inciting, deepening, intensifying and so on

~ Revision.

Instead of fiddling with synonyms, assess the deep structure. As Helen Dunmore notes:
Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn't work, throw it away. It's a nice feeling, and you don't want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.

~ Risk.

How will you know what you can do or who wants your book or what a review will say—unless you try? According to Soren Kierkegaard,
To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.
~ Strengths. 

And once you set your goals for yourself, whatever those are, you needn’t go it alone. As Anjali Sachdeva says, 
When you join forces with someone else, or even tell others about your goal, you are more likely to follow through.

Best of luck with your goals, your writing, and everything else in this new year!

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