Resolution: the act or process of resolving: as a: the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones, b: the act of answering: solving, and c: the act of determining.
The new year is upon us – resolutions of every shape and size seem to come out of the woodwork: dieting, exercising more, eating right – you name it – we all make them. We writers tend to put them on paper in hopes of keeping them at some point and time during the new year. This being the case, I have compiled a list of resolutions for all of you writers out there, whether you write fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose, whatever it is, so that you strive to write more and write better this year (I’m speaking for me as well).
Resolution #1: Back in that drawer somewhere or your old filing cabinet is a stack of old rejected manuscripts that you promised yourself you’d edit, revise and rewrite them at some point in your life. Now is that time. Take each one out and file it under one of these categories: FICTION, NONFICTION, CHILDREN STORIES, CHRISTIAN STORIES OR DEVOTIONALS, POETRY – you get the picture. This is your number one resolution!
Dedicate one day for each manuscript. Edit that one manuscript, taking notes of any particular message the editor may have written on the rejection letter. Once you have etched the story in your mind and you have some clear idea of where you’ll go with it during the rewriting process, research several potential markets that might accept the newly revised and rewritten manuscript. Take note of word length and particular needs of each market.
Now, start the revising and rewriting process until you feel the manuscript is ready to be mailed. When you feel the manuscript is perfect, then get it in the mail and out of the way for now.
The next day, start anew with manuscript number 2, then 3 – you get the picture!
If you have multiple manuscripts in those files, you’ll have a substantial amount of editing and rewriting to do for the next several weeks. Who said finding ideas to write about is hard work? Your old files from years back is a storehouse for wonderful new stories just waiting to happen.
Resolution #2: Somewhere in those files you may have a novel you started working on but never finished. Or maybe you finished the first draft and it’s still sitting there untouched and unpublished. It’s the new year, for crying out loud! It’s time to get that old book written or rewritten and ready for its new home on the shelves of all the major bookstores nationwide! Who knows, it could be the next best seller! It’s certainly had time to season after all this time! Two down and eight more resolutions to go! don’t worry, you’ll get there!
Resolution #3: For the past few weeks, you’ve been dusting off the cobwebs of a bunch of rejected manuscripts, revising and rewriting each one until they shimmered! Now it’s time for you to get a little exercise of your own. Take a walk in the woods every afternoon or join an exercise or aerobic class. Eat a salad for dinner at least twice a week to cut back on eating all that fattening food. Since you’re a writer, a good idea is to write in your journal on the days you’re not working just to keep the creative juices flowing and keeping you in the habit of writing everyday. Get out for an hour every day – go to a museum or an attraction that you’ve been meaning to go to since you moved to this town but never did. Write about the people you meet and the things you saw and learned. You never know when you’ll luck up on some great writing ideas!
Resolution #4: All the old manuscripts that were salvageable are now on their way to some lucky publisher, and you’re free to start writing something new. Somehow, because of all the weeks of cleaning up old manuscripts and rewriting them, you’re burned out and new ideas just seem a million miles away. You may need to regenerate yourself by reading a few back issues of Writer’s Digest Magazine – you can get a free newsletter online that offers tons of advice and weekly writing prompts that will rejuvenate you and help you get started writing again. To subscribe to the free newsletter and get your weekly writing prompts, visit their website at http://www.writersdigest.com. For this resolution, try your hand at writing using four of the weekly prompts offered. Write a story using each one from 500 to 1500 words. Let the words flow, and don’t worry about editing until later.
Resolution #5: Four down and six left to go! William Zinsser once said, “Writing is thinking on paper.” Using an inexpensive composition book, for the next thirty days, record some of your innermost secrets, dreams, and thoughts each day. Be careful if you have a spouse and some of your secrets, dreams and thoughts aren’t meant for his/her eyes to read! Thinking on paper could get you in trouble if it’s thoughts about someone else! These thoughts don’t have to be in story form. Your goal is to ‘think on paper’ each day for the next thirty days.
Resolution #6: How’s that exercise or gym class coming? Working for you, is it? Great. Now that your health issues are currently considered and all is well, let’s seriously consider joining a writer’s group. Most groups meet once a month and offer inspiration, motivation and encouragement. Membership varies with each group, but these groups are a valuable asset to writers. Resolve to attend the group each month for six months or one year. Let’s see what happens.
Resolution #7: For the next twelve months, send out at least one query letter a month for the next twelve months. In the meantime, work on each manuscript that will be forwarded to the editor once the query is accepted.
Resolution #8: This year, dedicate as much free time to writing as you can. If you’re not writing stories for submission, browse your local newspaper and find an issue or topic that ticks you off or interests you to the core. Submit letters to the editor of that newspaper expressing your opinion – seeing your letters printed is great writing therapy! And you’re writing and being published!
Resolution #9: This year, you deserve a break after all the long hours of writing, rewriting and keeping your resolutions. Take a vacation to your favorite destination. Take your laptop, and your camera. Oh, you can bet there are story ideas everywhere!
Resolution #10: At midnight on December 31, 2016 reread these resolutions and see what has been accomplished, if any. Save the ones that aren’t complete for the following year! 2017 will be here before you know it!
BONUS RESOLUTION: Every two hours, get up from your desk and walk outside and walk around for at least 5 minutes before returning to your desk. Not only will help your circulation but help you get a breath of fresh hour, and help you see your work with fresh eyes when you return to your desk.