The beginning of a new year is a great time to plan for change(s).
We've all made extravagant New Year's Resolutions ... jogging every day, eliminating meat and foods that start with the letter 'Q' from your diet, never touching alcohol again, getting to work early and staying late, being a better parent/son/husband/friend, etc.; most of these go by the wayside before the end of the first week in January.
I'm trying a different approach this year, and wanted to share.
As the spinach-eater said, "I am what I am!", and that's not likely to change; so instead, my focus for this year is to change my writing in five ways:
#1: I will write a novel and three shorter works this year
In 2013, I published my first novel, two shorter works, and a number of poems. I would love to plan on writing everyday, but that's not a likely outgrowth of my lifestyle or work/home schedule. I have my 2014 novel ready to publish, and plans for the next two novellas in my Tyler Cunningham series. In addition to that, I have felt the shape of a new work, and am interested in possibly rendering this as a series of short stories, or in serial form.
#2: I will read 24 novels this year
To be a writer, you need to be a reader ... I believe this in the same way that I believe that I need to breathe air to stay alive. I plan to read two new (to me) novels every month; at least half of these by writers I'm not familiar with already. Even if I don't love each of the books, I'm certain to get something useful from them ... something that can inform my writing or thinking or planning process.
#3: I will learn about writing from accomplished writers
I enjoyed reading and listening to a number of essays and books and interviews about and by authors whose work I enjoy. My plan for 2014 is to continue this process, but in a more organized manner. I have built a small library of books and collected interviews in which authors I respect talk about the craft of writing. I would also like to go to more author-events, and maybe conferences to learn more about the art and science of writing fiction from people whose work I enjoy and respect.
#4: I will share my thoughts about writing
and/or publish poetry on my blog on a weekly basis
Since setting up this blog, I've tried to post something every week or two; in 2014, I would like to establish and maintain a more rigorous and predictable schedule. I enjoy using the blog as a place to talk about writing, share updates about my current projects, and sometimes share short pieces of my writing with the people who visit. I believe that doing this not only spreads the word about me and my writing, but provides an opportunity for me to practice expressing myself in a public forum, both of which are useful to me as a writer.
#5: I will work on improving the grammar in my writing
The act of writing, and sharing, my work keeps a steady pressure on me to improve my writing. Beyond this, I want to find other ways to polish my style and use of language. Working with my copy-editor during the final stages of cleaning up my second novel, "Caretakers", was a real eye-opener about how much the mechanics of my writing could improve, and I want to stretch myself over the course of this next year to make a more readable product for my readers.
I think that these five resolutions will make me a better writer ... and could help every writer improve the quality of their writing (which is why I'm sharing it). I would love to hear about other ways that writers are resolved to improve their writing over the next year!