New Year is the perfect time to reflect on where you are with your writing and where you would like to be. Before you return to your desk, why not take a moment to think about your goals and ambitions as a writer? Could changing your routine or approach help you to fulfil those ambitions? If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some writing resolutions designed to kick start your creativity and energise you for the year ahead.
Set yourself a writing goal for 2020
Do you want to finish the first draft of your novel by the end of the year? Perhaps you’d like to set to work on your memoir or write at least four new short stories and submit them to competitions. Whatever your goal, write it down and then think about how you’re going to achieve it. Can you start taking small steps now to make your bigger goal a reality? What habits can you adopt to get a bit a closer to your dream?
Develop a writing routine
Once you have a plan, you have to hold yourself to it, and this takes dedication, commitment and a great deal of courage. Making your writing part of your routine – something you do at a regular time and place each week even when you don’t feel like it – will help. Whether you can fit in half an hour every day before leaving for the office, or set aside Sunday afternoons, you must protect this time and schedule other things around it. Switch off your phone, turn down social engagements, let the chores wait. Your reward will be your growing word count.
Give yourself permission to write (badly)
First drafts are often messy and unwieldy, and debut writers tend to be overly hard on themselves. Comparing your first efforts to the prose of your favourite prize-winning author is not a good idea. Remember that most published authors will take a few years to write a novel and it will go through four or five (or more) drafts before publication – and some of those will be with a professional editor. You must shush the negative voices in your head. Get to the end and then roll up your sleeves and prepare to rewrite. Keep moving forwards. Don’t give up.
Read and read and read
For a writer, reading widely is essential. You need to understand trends and know what’s working in the market, as well as learning your craft by examining how the experts do it. Why not make yourself a long list of books to read this year? Include the latest prize-winners and bestsellers, classics you haven’t got around to yet, novels that have been turned into films. Ask friends what their favourite books are and add those to the list. Try a genre outside of your comfort zone. Note how language and sound are used for effect in poetry, how worlds are constructed in fantasy, how suspense is created in crime thrillers…
Join a writing group
If you’re feeling a bit stuck, consider joining a writing group or reaching out to other authors on social media. As well as providing moral support, connecting with other writers might help you to discover a new writing process or gain useful feedback on your work. Receiving critical comment can be difficult but it’s a vital part of learning to write well. Listen to what your readers say they like and don’t like. It’s your book and their ideas might not resonate with you at all, in which case you can ignore them. But if they’re questioning something, it’s always good practice to ask yourself why.
Break the rules
Don’t place limits on your storytelling. Experiment with different voices and narrative perspectives. Cut whole chapters or get rid of characters if they’re not working. Ignore your plan and skip ahead to the most exciting scene. Think about what’s holding you back. Write what scares you to get to the truth.
Perhaps you could freshen up your writing routine. If you write in the evening, try getting up an hour earlier and see what you can do. Or swap your laptop for a notebook and pencil. Let the paragraphs flow until your fingers cramp, and only then go back and edit.
Do your research
Write what you know is a fantastic piece of advice but don’t be afraid to find out new things. Think about what interests and compels you – it might not be something you’ve experienced directly, but you can read around the subject and talk to people about it. You can visit places you want to write about. You can observe others and listen to what they say. Do your research and what you don’t know becomes known.
Stay positive and don’t give up!
As wonderful and exciting as the creative process is, there will be days when you don’t write anything, where you sit at your computer and stare into the abyss. Constantly searching for the right words is draining and there will be times when you need a break. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Read a novel for fun. Go to an art gallery. Take a walk. Learn something new. Let your imagination roam free. Then return to your desk and try again. Stay true to your vision and goals. Stick with the programme and by this time next year you could have a complete first draft of the novel you’ve always wanted to write.
To celebrate the new year, we have some fantastic writing guides up for grabs. For a chance to win one of them, tweet us @CBCreative with your personal #writingresolution2020. We’ll select six winners at 11 a.m. on Friday 3rd!