Well, the new year is upon us. It’s January 2015, which means it’s time to do what all Americans do, aside from partaking in pork, collard greens and black-eyed peas. That’s right. It’s time to make those dreaded New Year’s resolutions. You know, those promises you make to yourself to do things differently, to make this year better than the last. Those promises that, after a month or two, don’t come to fruition. I don’t know if it’s me, but why is it that we Americans only participate in this tradition?
Point being is that we do this to ourselves the beginning of every year. We make these promises to make our lives better: lose weight, stop smoking and drinking, find a better job, buy a house, get married, have kids, etc. And every year, we disappoint ourselves. I think the problem is that we’re too hard on ourselves when we don’t accomplish what we set out to do.
This is especially true of the creative folk. We have goals of doing something great with our talents: write that novel, paint a masterpiece, whatever it is that gets our creative juices flowing. I know because I am one of those creative people. More specifically, I am a writer. I have dreams to write the next great novel, like so many writers before me. In the past few years, I waned on whether or not I want to pursue this dream. I graduated from college with a major in the subject, but have done nothing with it. No novel, no submissions, nothing. This past year, I made the decision to take this more seriously, but never executed a plan on how. That changes this year.
This year, I created a plan to take my writing to a whole new level. I have Ava Jae to thank for this post. Her list of promises inspired me to think of and create this list of promises to become a better writer. So, in particular order, here are my ten…
- Write Five Short Stories. They say writing short stories are good practice for writing a novel. So, I must be close to writing a pretty good novel. Unfortunately, me writing a short story is the equivalent of writing a novel. I write and rewrite with nothing to show for it. This year, I want to write more short stories, widening my range of what I write: romance, suspense, whatever.
- Enter a Short Story Contest. What is the point of writing these stories if no one’s there to read it? Now there are no guarantees that I’ll get published or, if I do, that it will pay. The point is getting my work out there.
- Read More. Stephen King said it best: if you don’t read, you can’t write. Reading makes you a better writer. You learn what to do, what not to do. I wish I had heeded this advice earlier in my writing days. Even before I wanted to become a writer. But, it’s not too late. I made a reading list for this year, and am on the hunt for more.
- Buy a New Laptop and Purchase Scrivener. Everyone swears by Scrivener. From what I understand, Scrivener allows more flexibility than Microsoft Word. When I get my new laptop, it will be the first software/download I’ll invest in.
- Find a Writing Group. Yes, we writers are a lonely breed. We have this whole notion that we do our best writing when we’re alone with our thoughts. And while there’s some truth to that statement, I don’t think we were meant to go at this endeavor alone. That’s why the Good Lord created writing groups; to gather the lone wolves together to pursue a common goal: to spur each other on. As good as family is, I need others who share the same passion as I do and can help me become a better writer.
- Find a Critique Partner. This coincides with the last point. Having a group is good; having a critique partner is better. Having someone read your work and catch mistakes you might have missed. Like the writing group, I need this to make my writing stronger.
- Plot Out a Novel/Novella. Every writer’s dream is to write a novel that will one day make the New York Times’ Bestseller List. But that won’t happen unless we write that novel. I have dreams to write said novel, but just writing it is not going to happen. I need a plan.
- Write Every Day For a Month. There are conflicting opinions about this piece of advice. Some say it’s essential, some not so much. I was on the fence about this, but I figure to build a good habit, I need to write every day. I haven’t picked a month on which to implement this promise, but it will happen. Which leads me to…
- Participate in NaNoWriMo. For those not in the know, National Novel Writing Month takes place every November. Ever since I heard about it, I wanted to participate in this “rite of passage.” Every year, I chicken out. I’ve used every excuse in the book. Not this year. Now, I don’t know how to sign up for it or how to track these fifty thousand words, but I will do this.
- Write In This Blog. Now, this is a no-brainer. Otherwise, what is the point of having a blog? A few years ago, I had a blog, but because I didn’t have the discipline to keep up, it fell by the wayside. This will be different. I have plans for this blog, plans to showcase my work to the world, to share the knowledge of what I learned. And throw in a little commentary here and there. Expect a post at least once a month, maybe twice.
Well, these are the promises I made for 2015. As with any New Year’s resolution, the key to making them successful is to not make it personal if you fail. Failure is inevitable. It’s what you do with it that will make or break your year. I admit that to not take things personal is hard. I set some lofty goals; we all do. I intend to fulfill these goals. I can do this. I will do this.