Happy New Year fellow scribblers! It’s that brand new shiny first day of another new year, sprinkled with fairy dust, hope, and endless possibilities. Writers all over the world are cracking open the first page of their special edition unicorn diary and filling it with resolutions for the year to come. Some writers are also staunchly refusing to write that list on the grounds that these things just set you up for disappointment when you fail to reach all your goals. I see their point, which is why my resolution for this year is to not set myself unrealistic goals. For those of us who like a challenge, I’ll share a couple of my favourites.
Be Gentle with Yourself
If you’re going to set yourself deadlines to publish, or minimum daily word counts for this year, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution. Just because you know that you can comfortably write two thousand words a day doesn’t mean that life will allow it. If you think that you can have your new book ready to publish or submit by the end of March, set your deadline for the end of April instead.
Writing is not only your passion, it’s also your job when you choose it as a career, so try and be professional with all the accoutrements of your trade. If you can, have an “office” – a place to set up your computer, files, books, research, and the twenty five thousand gorgeous new pens in your collection. A place where you work. Set your working hours, and try to stick to them every day before doing anything else.
Do Your Most Important Research
Your most important research if you’re a fiction writer is to read. Always have a book that you’re reading. Who said work wasn’t fun?
Look After Yourself
Writers are the worst for forgetting about their own wellbeing. We get lost in the stories and bang away at our computers for hours before surfacing and wondering where the day went – or the night, and having to fight our way through piles of chip and sweet packets to get out. Then we’re just too tired to do anything other than what we have to. Make an effort to give your body a little TLC with a bit of healthy exercise, relaxation, and some good food and sunshine. Laughter helps too.
Play a Little
Write something out of your comfort zone. Something you think that you can’t do. Write a short story in a genre that’s foreign to you, or play around with your writing style.
We all have hundreds of half finished things lurking around, that we’ve started and then totally forgotten about. Dig around in the murky bowels of your computer and find one, and then finish it.
Writing is something that nobody gets to tell you how to do. Apart from having to learn about grammar and spelling, your learning to write comes only from reading the works of others, and having the talent and whackadoodle magic scribbler’s imagination to do it yourself. Let it flow naturally and without fear.
Be Careful Who You Ask
I’ve seen a lot of new writers have all the wind taken out of their sails by asking for critique. Too much and too often. Rest assured that there are many, many pontificating and self righteous people lurking around critique groups just waiting for a newbie to pounce on. They will rip the soul out of anything you submit purely for the pleasure of being the awesome super cool dudes that they think they are. Don’t lose your dreams to these people. If you’re not confident enough to write on through till you’re finished the book before asking for critique, be yourself a lurker and watch from the sidelines before putting your baby before the wolves.
Back Up Your Work
There are loads of free and paid ways to back up your work, and you should do this Every – Single – Day. I lost tons of manuscripts, research and cover art when my old computer crashed. You could use a memory stick, Dropbox or simply email your manuscript to yourself when you’re finished writing for the day.
And so onward and forward my fellow people of the pen, into our shimmering new year, I wish you all a prosperous one, filled with happy days of writing, and writing, and writing.