5 Realistic Ways We're Going To Be Better Writers In 2012

Not a big fan of resolutions for the year to come. They tend to be very complex and lofty things that have no shot of being attained. A couple of reasons for the failure: 1) People never seem to have a plan for reaching the resolution. 2) They tend to be focused on very complex things that require multiple steps to achieve. Not a formula for success.

Take the "I'm going to be a better friend, spouse, parent, etc." resolution for instance. Have you considered why you're a bad one? Are there concrete measures you can take to get "better"? Is it realistic to attempt to undue a lifetime psychological maladjustment in a year? Probably not. 

That's why I give you this, dear writerly cohort:

5 *REALISTIC* Ways We're Going To Be Better Writers in 2012

5. Read More & Read Different

The first part is easy. Just read more than we do right now. Well, unless you're one of those book-a-week freaks. If so, you should probably change this to "drink more coffee", cause you're going to be losing a lot of sleep.

I'm a slow reader, so my personal goal is 2 new reads a month. I probably average this over a year already (some months I might get in 3, others only 1), but I think if I actually strategize for 2 each month I might end up reading more as a result. 

The second part is a challenge to read outside of your comfort zone. So why not pick 1 of those monthly reads to be dedicated to reading the classics (if you're behind like I am). Or maybe read in a genre you don't write in? 

Say it with me now: GREAT WRITERS ARE GREAT READERS

4.  Finish Something... I Mean Really Finish It!

Remember the 200,000 words we jotted down during NaNoWriMo? Why don't we polish them up a bit? Then find some folks to read it. Then polish it some more. Then find some more folks to read it again. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Then *GASP* query some agents about it, submit it to a contest or maybe even publish it. 

Perhaps you didn't do the November Writing Sadist Workshop thing, or that project is just too big of a mountain to climb. I bet you've got something else you've been working on. If not, surely you could crank out a couple of short stories, a collection of poems--something. The point is this: make 2012 the year you write something and see it as far as you can possibly take it. 

Yes, it might end in rejection. Yes, it might only sell a couple of copies on Amazon. However, just going through the steps of editing, rounding up readers, etc. is going to push our writing to great new places.

3. Get Crafty

Writing, like most things, will yield only as much as we put into it. (Sometimes, it doesn't yield as much as we put into it, but that's a therapy lesson for another day.) As such, it's important that we invest in learning the actual craft. The nuts, bolts and such. That goes for everyone at every stage of the game.

So next year we're finally going to read that book about saving the feline everyone keeps yapping about. We're going to sign up for an online (or real-world) workshop. We're going to go to a conference, talk shop with a real, live author, join a critique group or do some other activity that's going to further our knowledge of placing words on paper/screen. We don't have to do them all, just vow to do something.

2. We're going to quit being so damned hard on ourselves.

Every writer does it. You think you're trash. EVERYONE is better than you, even your friends who don't write are better than you. Your six-year-old niece got her letter to Santa printed in the paper and you're jealous because she has more publication credits than you do.  Every person on the planet knows you've been working at this writing thing for years, and they wake up every day thinking about what a massive failure you are.  STOP

We're not giving in to that crap next year! Once a day, once a week--or however many times we have to do it--we're going to find a mirror (ignoring our coffee-stained sweatshirt and bed hair) and say, "I'm doing this for me, because I love it. I have talent and I'm going to get better."

That's it.

1. Not giving up

This is perhaps the easiest resolution ever. And it's the most important. Just don't quit writing. Yes, yes. Listen to all of the writing wisdom: Write as often as you can. (As Dr. Seuss might say, "Do it in a blog, do it in a song, do it until the Flarfel Beasts begin to yawn.") Set goals. Revise like the Devil. So on and so forth.

Most of all, we can't give up. Not next year. Not the year after that. Any deadlines we make in terms of our pursuit of a writing career are made by us. Thus they can be undone by us. I've done it. I've said, "If I'm not published by XYZ I'm trying something else." It was a dumb thing to do two years ago and it would be just as dumb to do next year. 

If you check back with me in 2013, if I'm alive and well, I'll be writing. You do the same.

With that, I'll bid you all a very Happy New Year! Thanks for all of your support, as always. I hope to see you around the Webs in 2012, and not outside staring at the giant meteor that is sure to destroy the planet. Stupid Mayans think they're so smart...

~EJW~

23 comments:

  1. EJ, you are so right - if we're going to hit a goal, we need to be specific and make plans on how we intend to hit it.
    And number two gave me a chuckle!
    Happy New Year.

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  2. So what if you're one of those book a week freaks who doesn't drink coffee?

    Really, a great list. #4 is actually on my personal list for the coming year. And #2 made me laugh out loud. So, so true.

    Happy New Year...

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  3. Great post; these are probably things we ALL need to do in 2012.

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  4. Great advice. Consider me on board with theh EJ plan for 2012.

    mood

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  5. Oh, yes... the metiorite. Sheesh! I nearly forgot. Well, I won't have to worry about #1-5, if that happens, will I? (^;

    Happy New Year, my friend and I will be checking up on you--sooner than 2013--if I'm still alive and able to type, etc.!

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  6. This is a great post. I'm pretty excited about my writing goals for 2012 and I've been doing everything I can to make sure I stick with them and not waiting until tomorrow to start them.

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  7. Thanks E. J! These are perfect. Except #5. I read more, and diverse this year, so I'm trying to read LESS this year. I'll explain it on the blog next week :)

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  8. All great ideas, EJ!

    Happy New Year!

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  9. Excellent ideas. I think it's a great point to read outside of your usual favorites.
    Happy New Year!

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  10. Loved your list. perfect, but I love the definition of New Years Eve Resolution the most!

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  11. That's a great list of resolutions! Keep at it!!

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  12. Nice to meet you and happy new year from a new follower. That was a great post and a good kick up the rear. Off to dig out mu languishing NaNo wip!
    Lx

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  13. Um...Heck to the YES! I nearly screamed out a cheer after this. These were all things I needed to see. I drag my feet too much with my writing but I do read like a crazy person while I drink way too much coffee. The result is a very hyper person who talks too fast and hardly ever blinks. It's scary. But I'm going to make something happen this year. I just don't know what yet, but I promise it won't be dangerous.

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  14. I love the new look on your blog. It's so clean. And yes I agree...we shall be kicking some ass in writing this year (you and I).

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  15. This is the perfect post for me to read as I start the New Year. Thanks for hitting on some realistic goals that'll help me improve as a writer!

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  16. Wonderful E.J. Thanks for all the inspiration!

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  17. Great post, EJ!

    I know there have been times in the last year I've been too hard on myself.

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  18. Happy New Year, EJ!

    Great plans you have, and much luck with reaching all your writing goals in '12.

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  19. Hey EJ!! Happy New Year! Love your baby step goals. I posted something similar for my resolution post. And I lurve What About Bob. ;)
    You really hit the nail on the head here... we have to start with the basics, then get to the huge life changing goals. And simply put, if you're not willing to work for it, you don't deserve it. That's what I tell myself anyway.
    I remember once, a year or so a go, when I posted on my lack of success with publication so far and you made a comment that really stuck with me ever since.... you said "Look at how far you've come." And really, that's what keeps us all going... taking the time to appreciate how far we've come.
    SO rock on, brother. Hope to see good things from you this year! :)

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  20. haha! Love it! Great list. Just keep writing. Just keep writing.

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“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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