If you’re like a lot of writers, you’ve probably put together a list of goals or resolutions for the New Year. Maybe you fell short of your goals last year and are hoping to do better in 2019. Or, maybe 2018 exceeded all expectations and you’re looking to repeat your success in the New Year. Maybe, like some of us, you’re frustrated with writing. You no longer feel joy when you sit down in front of the keyboard. You no longer feel like a writer and have considered giving up. Before you pack up your laptop or sit down to write a list of goals you aren’t sure you can achieve, I hope you’ll read the following list of things that might ignite your passion and love for writing once again.
- Remember why you started writing. Why did you begin writing? Did you have an amazing idea for a story? Or did you begin writing to work through your emotions and heal your soul? Yes, our writing evolves as we grow and change as writers. Poets become novelists. Memoirists write screenplays. I’m not telling you to find a genre and stick with it until eternity, or to never try something new. That’s the path to boredom and lack of growth. I’m telling you to go back to that place when you wrote because you had to, because the words could not be contained. A place before you thought about publishing and agents and reviews. Go back to that time when you couldn’t wait to sit down and pour your heart out onto the page.
- Be passionate. What is writing without passion? It’s a job. A chore. Query letters, technical writing, work emails: sometimes writing is unavoidably boring. But you need to take time to write something that evokes passion. Even if it’s just for you and no one will ever see it. Write something – anything – that makes you laugh or cry or type so fast your fingers are stumbling across the keyboard.
- Stop thinking of writing as a business. Okay, that’s not entirely possible because once you sell a book or sign a contract or hire an editor, your writing has become a business. Record keeping, taxes, royalties, expenses – these are things that take your writing from hobby to business. If you write for a living, it’s almost impossible to separate your writing from your business. But, if you want reconnect with your creativity and fall in love with writing all over again, you need to stop thinking about writing as a job, at least some of the time. Don’t think about trends and deadlines. Don’t think about how readers and reviewers will react before you put words down on the page. Set aside a few moments to write something just for YOU.
- Write something. I know, for some of us, it’s impossible to write every single day. Jobs, families, life gets in the way of sitting down to write. It’s not a matter of restructuring our free time – sometimes free time just doesn’t exist. The problem with not writing on a regular basis is, as time passes by, we’ve found we haven’t written anything at all in a very long time. We hardly feel like writers at all, because we’ve been told over and over again that writers are supposed to write! It’s up to you how often you write. Maybe it’s ten minutes each day. Or ten minutes each week. You don’t have to be working on the great American novel – just write something. Writing on a regular basis will remind you that you ARE a writer and that, although you might not have a lot of time to commit to writing now, you haven’t given up on who you are.
- Set realistic goals. Many of us begin the New Year with resolutions to finish a novel or to write an hour a day. For some, those are completely realistic goals. For others, not so much. My personal goal is to write ten minutes a day. That probably doesn’t seem like much to some of you, especially those who publish several novels a year. But for me, ten minutes is something I know I can do no matter what. If you decide to make some writing resolutions, don’t set yourself up for failure by setting the bar too high. Take an honest look at your life and your current situation and set your goals according to what you CAN do, not what others are doing.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. This is the quickest and easiest way to set yourself up for failure. Facebook groups are filled with bestselling authors who talk about their six-figure incomes, rave reviews, and mega-success. While you’re happy for them, it’s hard not to wonder why you’re struggling to publish a book a year, or why your sales numbers are dismal. If you define your own success by someone else’s accomplishments, you’ll never be happy. Challenge yourself to be a better writer than you were last year, to learn a new skill, to double last year’s sales – whatever your goal, be sure it’s based on challenging yourself, not competing with someone else.
- Be the best writer you can be. Never stop learning and improving your writing. Try new things. Take a class. Experiment with different genres. Each time you write something, you’re practicing your craft and improving your skills.
- Write what you love. Trends come and go. Today’s hottest trend might lead to tomorrow’s oversaturated market. If you’re writing a certain genre because you think it’s your best chance of making money, how much are you really enjoying what you’re writing? There’s no guarantee that any book you write will make a single dollar, so you might as well put all that time and effort into writing something you would love to read.
- Stop holding back. Write with reckless abandon. Write for fun. Don’t worry about perfection or self-editing as you go. You can always edit and revise later, if you want. Just write!
- Embrace it. I’ve struggled to put myself out there as a writer. Not just in terms of promoting myself and my books, but in terms of claiming the title “writer.” I never talk about my writing with coworkers or neighbors; they don’t know I write at all. When someone asks me what I do, I immediately tell about my day job. Well, my day job might pay a few bills, but it’s my writing that makes me whole. Writing is what I do. I’m a writer. If you’re a writer, join me in embracing it!
I hope you all have a wonderful 2019 filled with books, blessings, and joy!