Monday, December 25, 2017

New Year's Resolutions for Writers

I love New Year's resolutions! What can I say, I guess I've always been a dreamer :) And 2018 is going to be particularly awesome, because I'm quitting my day job to write full time!!! I have SO MANY goals for this upcoming year, but in terms of writing I want to spend more time operating in the 'learning zone.' This is different from the 'performance zone' where you have deadlines, high stakes and probably high stress. The 'learning zone' is where we can break down writing into its component parts and spend time improving each of these skills. For a complete discussion of the 'learning zone' vs. 'performance zone', see this great TED Talk by Eduardo BriceƱo.

So, here are some of the ideas I have for improving my writing in the 'learning zone' this year. Hopefully, they can be of some use to you as well.

Blank Notebook

1. Analyze books from a writer's perspective and start a dedicated notebook where I record what I learn. I often have these breakthrough moments when I'm analyzing a novel and I say, 'oh, that's how it's done!' but then I don't take notes and I inevitably forget everything I've learned. No more in 2018! I'm starting a dedicated notebook to record my eureka moments, and I want to analyze more books from a writing perspective, too. Let's say 24 total.

Ufo Crash

2. Write and read outside of my genre/area of expertise. I want to broaden my perspective as a writer by reading books that are wildly different from what I usually read and writing stories, in new genres or using new styles, that I never plan to show to anyone (ever). Maybe I'll try a sci-fi western in first person present, or, horror upon horrors, a romance :P This would also be a great way to experiment, in a no pressure environment, with skills that I'm not completely comfortable with, like writing books with large casts.

3. Listen to other writers talk about their craft and spend time doing writing exercises, even and especially when they don't relate directly to a piece I have under contract. I love the podcast Writing Excuses, but I've never actually tried one of the exercises that they give at the end of every episode. That will change in 2018!

4. Read more for pleasure. Not every type of reading should involve notes, so I also want to read more for fun more in 2018, focusing on library books and books I already own (since I will officially be a starving artist). I'm going to set my goal low, at another 24 books, which brings me to 48 total, including the titles I plan to analyze. That's only one book a week (with four bonus weeks), which means I'll hopefully be setting myself up to exceed my goal!

As I'm putting these resolutions into practice, it's my hope that I'll identify some specific areas of my writing that need work and then I can hone those skills through reading and practice. Hopefully these resolutions have given you something to think about as we get ready for 2018, and here's wishing an adventurous, productive year to all!!!


WendyMcLeodMacKnight said...

Love these!

Shari Green said...

I've often thought I should "read like a writer" and analyze books I love, so I think keeping a dedicated notebook and setting a goal for this is a great idea. Usually I go in with great intentions to observe and learn, but then I get lost in the story and totally forget to "analyze". Perhaps I need to set a similar goal for 2018...thanks! :)

Shari Green said...

I mean, a similar goal similar to yours, not a goal similar to my "lost in the story, fail to analyze" history! LOL