Since this is the start of another year it seems like the perfect time to set new writing goals. To help you get started here are few that should be on every writer’s resolution list:
Make a Solid, Attainable Goal
If you have a specific goal in mind, you’ll be less likely to get sidetracked. An attainable goal is one that can be reached through your efforts, not someone else’s. Writing a book, sending out proposals, attending workshops, entering contests, increasing readership or contacting agents are all manageable goals; winning a Pulitzer is not. Everything you do from blogging to attending conferences should move you closer to your goal. If not, don’t waste your time.
All that time spent on blogging and Facebook will not advance a writing career, no matter what you might have heard. You’d be amazed at how many N.Y. Times bestselling authors do not have a FB page. If you want to blog, Twitter or post on Facebook, fine; just don’t call it writing time.
If you don’t take your writing seriously, no one else will, including your family. I suspect this is more of a problem with women than men. When I taught creative writing, I noticed that whenever my class fell on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the women all stayed home to prepare for the holiday, but my male students attended class as usual. Writing sometimes has to play second fiddle to families, jobs and other responsibilities, but if it isn’t on your priority list (or can’t even compete with a turkey) you might not be ready for a writing career.
Go for Your BA degree. That’s BA for Be Alert.
Things are changing so rapidly in the publishing world, it’s hard to keep track. There are many resources that track industry changes, but I found the following two resources helpful to my writing:
1. The non-fiction bestseller lists: what people are reading in nonfiction often gives a clue as to what they will be looking for in fiction a year or two from now.
2. The British: they trend six months ahead of us in fashion, music, TV and books.
Motivate Yourself Daily by Celebrating
My first sale was to a local magazine for which I received five dollars. My husband took out me to dinner to celebrate. Shortly after I sold another article for five dollars and again we painted the town red. By the third such sale my husband said, “Honey, we can’t afford all this success.” He had a point, but those little celebrations kept me going even as I piled up rejections for my books.
So celebrate every success no matter how small. Add a coin to a jar every time you finish a chapter, enter a contest, receive a rejection (hey, that meant you sent something out!), query or read a how-to-write book. When the jar’s full, treat yourself or use it as conference money. (To be on the safe side, I always keep a bottle of sparkly in the ‘fridge because you never know when something wonderful will happen.)
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Write the book!
This might seem basic, but conferences are filled with aspiring writers clamoring to meet editors and agents before having completed a single book. Remember, as little as a page a day will produce a book by year’s end. So write the book, the whole book and nothing but the book.
Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of Waiting for Morning. Tell me what your New Years Resolution as a WRITER is and may you all have a safe, creative and productive New Year!
Margaret Brownley is the author of more than 25 novels and is a N.Y. Times bestselling author and Romance Writers of American RITA finalist. Her latest book “Waiting for Morning” has just been released and is part of her Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. The next book in the series “Gunpowder Tea” is scheduled for a fall release. Also, look for her story in the Brides for All Seasons collection in June (with Mary Connealy, Robin Lee Hatcher and Debra Clapton).