On December 31st, 2012 I made a New Year’s Resolution for myself.
Well, several of them, actually, and two of them pertain to writing. Write one short story a week and get published. The one short story a week rule was something I picked up from a Ray Bradbury lecture I found on YouTube, and getting published has always been a dream of mine since the day in fifth grade when I tried mailing a handwritten, barely legible poem to Dr. Seuss in hopes that he’d do all the rest of the work for me; oh, the ambitions of childhood.
Now, as the first quarter of 2014 quickly draws to a close, I look back at the past couple of years and deeply regret how lazy I became and how little writing actually got done. Needless to say, I never got published. Embarrassingly, I only finished two complete short stories, and both of them were only short-shorts of a thousand words apiece. The quality of those micro-stories was terrible. Over the past couple of weeks I began to feel that maybe I set the bar too high for myself, and began pouring over every book and article on writing that I could find in hopes of being able to set more reasonable goals for me for this coming year. I am happy to say that I have been able to do just that. Here they are, in no apparent order, along with the inspiration behind each of my 2014 writing resolutions.
I must write every day. “The day is lost in which I don’t type,” Isaac Asimov once said. I originally planned on writing 1000 words a day every day, with no interruptions. My uncle, who had graduated towards the top of his class at Western Michigan University with a degree in creative writing—and a life-long writer himself—pointed out to me recently that I’m trying to hurry myself and that I should focus on the words that I am actually getting down on paper, not the amount of words. This year, following my uncle’s suggestion, I am going to write as much as I can every day and not worry about how many words come out. He assures me that it’ll be less stressful that way.
I will finish what I start. This one probably sounds very familiar, and rightfully so. This is the second of Robert A. Heinlein’s Rules. Many times I have started writing a story or a novel but have given up after a couple of pages. It saddens me to think of how many books and stories I could have completed by now had I followed through and completed them all. They might not all be salable but they’d be finished, which would have greatly boosted my confidence level as a writer. This year, I will finish every single little piece of writing that I start.
I’m going to read as much as I can. This might be some of the most common sense information that I could find, but I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read nearly as much as I could—or should. With the exception of a couple John Scalzi novels and a couple Event Group thrillers by David L. Golemon, the only other things I’ve read are a few short stories from my Asimov’s subscription. Yet, somehow I expected to become a better writer just by pulling words out of my head and magically putting them together in a great order on paper. I’ve learned lately that reading is just as important to the aspiring writer as writing is itself. It not only fuels the creative juices and gets the brain working but it also introduces you to the fruits of others’ labors—a taste of what the readers of your work are going to experience when you’ve finally written something they’re going to read. My parents bought me a Nook for Christmas and I’ve read more in six days than I have in 12 months. I read the first couple of pages of a George R. R. Martin short story and I was instantly at my computer, typing out 500 words of my very first fantasy short story. I was amazed at the inspiration I got so quickly. 2014 will definitely see me reading every single day and soaking up as much information and inspiration as I can from books.
I’m going to start blogging. I have started blogs in the past but they never got anywhere. I have one blog out there in Internet Land still that I haven’t touched since April that I look at from time to time. The majority of its content is tiny posts about me complaining about writer’s block. Nothing worthwhile about that and certainly not anything that would help improve my writing. I’m not going to jump at this right away at midnight or anything, but in 2014 sometime I am going to start a new blog. I’m going to give myself time to come up with a good purpose for the blog, a good title, theme, etc. By blogging it will give me a chance to work on non-fiction as well as fiction. It could also gain me a little readership and help me make some good friends. That way when it comes time for a story to be submitted or a book to be published, I’ll have interested readers all ready to jump at the chance to read it.
There you have it: my New Years Writing Resolutions for 2014, four months late. I’m excited for the rest of the year. I have so many plans and stories in my head that I want to get on paper, and what better time to start dishing them out than the present?
Happy (belated) New Year! I hope you will all keep the words flowing.