01 January 2019

New year’s writing resolutions

Writing a scene
by Anna Davis Events, Writing Tips

Well my goodness me, it’s new year again, which means we all have a clean slate and the chance to start afresh. For many that might mean joining the gym, dry January or perhaps arranging that long-put-off trip to the dentist … But for us writers, it’s also an important moment to set goals for our writing in the year ahead. There are some obvious promises we might make to ourselves, of course: I’m going to finally start writing that novel, or, This year I’m going to get all the way to the end – or, Now’s the time to pitch my novel to agents. (Check out the bottom of this blog for our online courses to help you achieve all three of those writing goals …). But also I think this is a great moment to reflect more deeply on your writing practice, and make some specific commitments about how you plan to raise your game as a writer. Perhaps there is something new you’d like to try out for the first time, or a bad writing habit that you’d like to finally get rid of? We’d love to know about your new year writing resolutions (find out more further down this blog) – and to kick things off, here are the writing resolutions of some of the Curtis Brown Creative tutors and published alumni – as well as mine:

CBC TUTORS:

Anna: As a writer I tend to shy away from genre. I’m inherently resistant to labels – but that’s not a good thing for me. In the new year I’m going to embrace the ‘crime’ genre for my new novel, and make it the best crime novel I can write.

Catherine JohnsonAs I’ve just moved house and set up my work space (thanks be for writing rooms!)I’ve come across a story that hit the buffers about a year and a half ago. It’s different from anything else I’ve written because it’s – shhh!- for adults. I read it over, decided I really like it and have made a promise to myself to finish the first draft as soon as I can. I know I’ll have to squeeze it in between everything else I’m doing, but I will kick myself if I don’t find out what happens to these people…

Charlotte Mendelson: This year I’m going to try to write every single day, even a tiny bit, so my novel keeps moving forward irrespective of Life Chaos.

Erin Kelly: I’m trying something different with my work-in-progress. Usually I have a vague plot that evolves with every scene I write. This time, I’m seeing if I can plan the whole thing before I start, partly because I had to throw out 40,000 words of my last novel and I don’t want to waste another three months like that again. I’m interested to see if I can make it happen, or whether feeling my way as I go is essential to my process.

Laura Barnett: In 2019, I’m going to keep on doing my morning pages every day. This is a technique made famous by Julia Cameron in her wonderful book The Artist’s Way, which I worked through during 2018, during a time when I felt I needed to reconnect with the source of my inspiration and motivation as a writer. Every morning, you shut yourself away to write three pages in a notebook, longhand, without pausing or re-reading. It feels strange at first – I seemed to end up writing a lot about the weather. But over time, I found the exercise brilliantly freeing – like stretching or limbering up before diving into the marathon business of novel writing.

Lisa O’Donnell: My writing resolution is to practise what I preach. I am always telling students to remember the story they set out to tell and plan their novel around their novel’s main arc. I admit it. I am guilty of bad planning and losing the plot. It leads me into development hell where I pretend I am editing when really I am rewriting what should never have been on the page in the first place.

Nikita Lalwani: I’ve just finished a book and my resolution is to a) start the next once soon whilst flushed with the flow of this one and b) to remember that setting up the world and tone takes time, but if I get it right then the rest comes much more easily for me.

Simon Wroe: This year, in my writing, I will try to be deep rather than wide, to be subtle rather than ‘smart’.

Suzannah Dunn: To take at least four writing ‘retreats’ – to anywhere I’m not responsible for any cleaning/tidying up other than after myself  – of at least 3-4 days, and which I will regard as an investment rather than an indulgence.

CBC PUBLISHED ALUMNI:

Catherine Bennetto: This year my New Year’s writing resolution is to forget that deadlines and sales figures and supermarket slots and marketing plans/no budget-for-marketing-plans exist and get back that feeling I had when I wrote my first book; writing entirely for myself because I love writing.

I lost that joy when I embarked on my latest book. I was too worried if my editor would like it, if my agent would approve, if the supermarkets would give me a chance, if I was sitting correctly in the genre, if I should change genre, if I would be able to deliver it on time, or execute it the way I’d told my editor I would. I was worried worried worried. And, all of my own doing, I became creatively stifled. But then I broke my shoulder and couldn’t write. And it has been the jolt I’ve needed.

So I’m going back to the page in 2019 with the carefree attitude of a writer writing their first book; blissfully unaware that supermarket slots, deadlines, and ‘unfashionable genres’ are even a thing.

*Disclaimer to my editor: I promise not the entirely forget about the deadline…..

Caz FrearMy writing resolution is to write a quick, messy first draft and to enjoy the creative freedom. I’ve always been an ‘edit-as-I-go’ kind of writer, however I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that it isn’t the best way – not for productivity or for keeping the old self-doubt at bay! So next year, I will be embracing imperfection and repeating the mantra, “I can fix it in the edit……I can fix it in the edit….”

Hannah McKinnon: My resolution is to answer firmly with ‘an author’ when asked what I do for a living, not say ‘We-ell…I used to be in IT recruitment, but now…

James Hannah: This has been coming. I’m going to have to accept it: my brain and body have changed. It used to be that I did all of my writing last thing at night. Now, after much trial and error, I have discovered I am most able to think and make unusual connections at 5-7 in the morning. There is apparently nothing I can do about this. So, I am resolved: I shall embrace that massive and unpalatable inconvenience and bid farewell to any hope of a lie-in.

Jane Harper: My resolution is to remember to plan more so I can write less. Time spent planning my novel is always time well spent, and makes the writing process itself so much easier.

Laura Marshall: In 2019 I plan to limit my time on social media as it is a time-guzzling monster!

We’d like to invite you to share your writing resolutions with us on Twitter on 3rd January. Just tweet your new year’s writing resolution, including the hashtag #WriteCBC and tagging @cbcreative – we’re intrigued to hear the promises you’re making to yourself …

We run three short online courses at budget-price, all perfect to help you achieve you new year’s goals, they are designed to help writers at different stages of their novel-writing journey: Starting to Write Your NovelWrite to the End of Your Novel and Edit & Pitch Your Novel – all starting in January 2019.

If you’re currently working on a novel, why not take a look at our selective entry novel-writing courses. Our spring 2019 courses are currently open for applications: Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course with Lisa O’Donnell or Six-Month Novel-Writing Course in London with Laura Barnett

Or, if you’re writing YA or children’s fiction why not take a look at our selective entry online course for Writing YA and Children’s Fiction with Catherine Johnson.

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