Happy New Year everyone – here’s hoping 2019 is the best year yet!
Here are a few powerful resolutions that will make a real difference on your writing adventures.
1. Make realistic goals.
When I first started writing my goals were huge and grandiose – things like “I’ll have a best-selling novel by the end of the year!!” Not only was this totally unrealistic, it ended up being depressing too when it didn’t happen. These days my goals are more like – Write a decent first draft of “Castaway”. That I can control.
2. Submit 10 points worth of stories.
Have you heard of the 10 points plan? My friend, writer Fiona Robertson, first put me onto it. Score yourself 1 point per story submitted, aiming to have 10 points worth out at any time. The more stories you have out the better your chances. It does mean you sometimes get a flurry of rejections, but as we know rejections are badges of honour – and mixed in will be a YES (or two)! You can wiggle it around too – 3 points for novels/ full length works, and Helena and I reckon all grant applications are worth 3 too – they’re not much fun to do. How many points do you have out right now?
3. Read more books!
For me this means watching less crap TV. I can get hooked on the most ridiculous shows – did anyone say The Bachelor? I’m a sucker for romance. But really, it’s a waste of my precious time. I love reading all kinds of books and you can learn so much about writing – what to do, how to do and even what not to do. So instead of switching on the idiot box I’m going to open a book and read. How about you?
4. Fill up your writer’s well.
Ernie Hemmingway first talked about writers having a well of inspiration that they draw from that they need to keep replenished with images, adventures and ideas. My recent trip to the UK has given me an overflowing supply of inspiration, story ideas, images, conversations and joy to keep me going. People who are familiar with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron will know that Artist’s Dates are usually the first things we let slide. I’m guilty as charged. But this year I’m determined to make more time for adventures and fun because I know it all helps my writing. Otherwise I’ll keep pumping my well dry and it will show in my work.
5. Take time out.
Writers need quiet time. Much as I love people, I really love solitude and silence as well. If I don’t get enough alone time, I start getting very grouchy. If that’s combined with no writing as well then— watch out! Take yourself off for an afternoon. Send the kids to grandmas and spend the day lying around in your pyjamas and staring at the ceiling if that’s all you have the energy to do. Take yourself on a solo retreat and write your heart out. Or find a week or weekend away with other writers that will fill your tank and renew your mojo. Here’s a link to find out about our next retreat if you’re tempted.
6. Be your own cheer squad and find others to cheer along with you.
Writers face a lot of criticism and rejection. We really don’t need a noisy inner critic dishing out more of the same – usually meaner and harsher than anything we get from others. Send your inner critic from the room or train her to be your best friend who believes in you and your writing no matter what. Train her to say – “You know I still really love that story – maybe if I just fiddle with it one more time and send it out again, I’ll get lucky.” I’m working on a YouTube deep relaxation to share with you to help quiet that nasty voice. Connect with other like-minded writers to encourage and support you through the ups and downs of the writing life. Going to writing groups, workshops, festivals and retreats is a great way to meet writing buddies.
7. Keep a journal.
I’ve kept the most important till last. Dancers do stretches, artists do sketches, writers keep journals. It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning. It doesn’t have to be three pages. A few lines every day, or every few days. But make sure it’s uncensored blah. Complaining, moaning, hoping, dreaming, remembering, planning, it all goes in. The main thing is to get used to writing fast and furiously without editing yourself or trying to sound “writerly”. Journaling is the best way I know to find your authentic voice.
What are your new year’s resolutions? Have you got any really good ideas that should be on this list? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
Keep safe over the New Year’s festivities and write like furies!
Lots of love