December 28, 2008



The New Year's tradition we love to hate.

The promises we set out intending to break.

The whole process seems like an exercise in futility. Yet, every year we promise ourselves to lose weight, get organized, quite a bad habit, acquire some healthy ones.

For a writer, the New Year means forgiveness for 365 days of false starts, pages that wind up in the trash can and ideas that get trashed in our minds. This is the year we will finish the book. This time around we will write 2,000 words a day or devote three hours a night on our story. By 2010 we will be published.

All lofty goals. And all obtainable.

The trick to success in writing is breaking down the process into small accomplishments. If a writer says, “I'm going to write an 80,000 word manuscript,” the number hangs overhead ready to crush dreams. But, if a writer says, “I will write three pages a day,” suddenly the numbers don't seem daunting at all. Two books a year could be written sticking to that resolution.

The following small promises are for serious writers only.

1. I promise to put writing at the top of my “to do” list. If I let it drop down to fourth or fifth on the list, it becomes a “never.”

2. I will not be disappointed if my writing isn't brilliant every day.

3. I refuse to feel guilty for taking away time from other activities in order to write.

4. I will take notes on everything. Even if I feel awkward about carrying around notebooks and scribbling scenes in waiting rooms, in restaurants or other public places, I can capture descriptions of people around me with accuracy.

5. I will respect the creative process. Short cuts makes for sloppy writing. If a scene isn't coming together, I won't skip it. I will work through the words.

6. Writer's block? I'll sit myself down and look at the problem with complete honesty. No excuses. I won't get defensive, but will try to understand what's holding me back. I will take control.

7. I will make sure I get enough sleep. No staying up half the night because the muse is working overtime. A tired mind loses creativity. Instead, I will let my mind ponder, not worry, about the plot and characters. I'll wake up refreshed and ready to write.

8. I will be open to criticism, but remember: only my name will be on the finished manuscript. I may take suggestions to heart, but my instincts have the last say.

9. I will read books actively, not passively. I will look for authors who use words creatively and study how they craft sentences.

10. Finally, I will always be passionate about my story, my characters and the world I imagine. They are my creations. I will believe that what I'm doing is important enough to do follow all of the above resolutions. Happy, productive New Year!



At December 28, 2008 at 9:16 PM , Blogger Amy Leasure said...

I like the idea of not staying up too late. I have spent many late nights writing good things but have been very mentally and physically exhausted after.

And I agree about the notebook. Carrying around a notebook is a lot less weird that writing poetry on a bar napkin...

Fun entry!

At December 29, 2008 at 3:59 PM , Blogger Dorinda Ohnstad said...

Here's to New Year's resolutions! Thanks for the inspiration.

At December 31, 2008 at 8:41 AM , Blogger Marilyn said...

Good resolutions. Need to start writing first, then read my emails when I take a break.


At January 8, 2009 at 8:27 AM , Blogger June Rodriguez said...

Sunny, I see you are good at making list too. What a great list to start the new year with. I printed it and taped it to my desk. Now it is hanging in my face and I can't miss it. Would you call that incentive?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home