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 alone. 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 at least somewhere on your priority list 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
Listen to motivating speeches and tapes. Surround yourself with positive and successful people. Celebrate every little success. Add a coin to a jar every time you finish a chapter, enter a contest, get a good review, 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.
Hey, it’s a crazy business. I once knew someone who wrote a children’s non-fiction book about coffee. The publisher told her they would like to publish it but they needed one little revision; could she please change the coffee to tea? Every published writer can tell you similar stories. Learn to accept this craziness and laugh. You’ll live longer.
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. Write the book, the whole book and nothing but the book.
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.