10 Resolutions for the Writing Life

It's a new year and a time not only for reflecting on the past, but also for looking toward the future. As writers, we are used to the solitary life. It’s always us vs. the blank page, with the knowledge that nobody can do the work for us. In order to find inspiration and camaraderie, we must look to each other and seek understanding in the common experience.

As I look back on what worked last year and what needs a major overhaul, I'm sharing my Ten Resolutions for the Writing Life, in hopes that you might find something here to identify with.

1. Keep My Eyes on My Own Paper

It is a wonderful time to be a writer. If you’re looking for a community of like-minded souls, look no further than social media where it’s easy to jump in and find your tribe. But with that connection comes the inkling that everybody else is succeeding but you. All too often, I find myself wondering when my time will come. When will I finish that draft? When will I find that agent? Why is everybody moving forward without me? People by nature post mostly the good on social media, the snippets of success and joy, and this year I will keep my eyes on my own paper and not let comparison be the thief of joy. (Thanks, Teddy Roosevelt).

This year I will keep my eyes on my own paper and not let comparison be the thief of joy. (Thanks, Teddy Roosevelt).

2. Write Outside of My Comfort Zone

I wouldn’t say that I’m in a rut, per se, but when it came to writing in 2015, I definitely remained securely within my own comfort zone. In 2016 I will move outside of the confines of the easy and explore the unfamiliar in my writing, and I hope you will too. For me, that means stepping away from the Young Adult genre and trying my hand at adult fiction. For you it probably means something much different. If you’re a novelist, maybe you’ll try your hand at a short story or poetry. Or maybe it means writing in a new space, with new music, or with someone else as a companion. This year I will expand my writing horizons. Will you?

3. Write Anyway

Is it just me, or is it so darned easy to put off writing? It’s too early in the morning. It’s too late at night. There’s a game on. Netflix is asking me if I’m still watching. Or the best yet—I’m just not inspired. Whatever the excuse, I’ve been incredibly good at putting off the work. This year I will say no to excuses and write anyway.

4. Study The Craft

When I first began seriously pursuing writing, I sought education and read widely to study the craft, but as I’ve moved away from those early days, that initial thirst for knowledge has subsided. In 2016, I will look for creative ways to study craft. I will seek books and classes that expand my knowledge and help me to look at writing in a new way.

5. Drop the Aspiring

This resolution is a long time coming, but in 2016 I will stop referring to myself as an “aspiring” writer. I may not be traditionally published, but I write. And that alone makes me worthy of the title Writer.

I may not be traditionally published, but I write. And that alone makes me worthy of the title Writer.

6. Finish My Shit

Oh, how much a love a Shiny New Idea! There’s nothing quite as inspiring as that first initial thought of a project, where the possibilities are endless and the limitations are nil. But, I’m quickly learning that if I’m ever going to fulfill my dream of being published, it’s going to be necessary to quit chasing plot bunnies and actually finish something. This is the year of finishing projects. In 2016, I vow to simply finish my shit. You should join me.

7. Put Myself Out There

For me, writing is a very personal endeavor. I’m sure I’m not alone in knowing that I put my heart and soul into my writing and often leave truths on the page that leave me vulnerable. It’s very easy for me to write alone and then hide it away. That being said, I don’t want to be the writer whose work lives only in the confines of my own hard drive. I want to be published. I want to share. So, in 2016, I will put myself out there. This is the year that I enter that contest and submit to that critique group.

8. Absorb Stories

It’s been said time and time again that good writers are also good readers, and I definitely subscribe to the idea that it’s incredibly important to read widely and absorb good storytelling in order to become a better writer. I’ve pretty much got the art of reading down, but in 2016 I will absorb all types of stories, from film and television to novels and poetry. I will learn the art of storytelling from a multitude of mediums.

9. Give Back

The writing community at large is so often generous and open with information and support, but I feel like I’ve been taking too long and not reciprocating enough. In the coming year, I will give back a little more. Maybe that takes the form of offering to beta read for a fellow writer, or providing a review for a newbie author. There are a million ways to say thank you, and in 2016 I will seek opportunities to do so.

10. Back It Up

I don’t always forget to back up my writing, but when I do, it is inevitable that I will lose hours of hard work in one fell swoop. In 2016 I will spare myself the pain and remember to back up and back up frequently. Let’s do this one together. The cloud is a beautiful thing.

Looking back, this list of writing resolutions is ambitious, but at the same time they’re really quite attainable. I love the fresh start a new year provides, and I’m looking forward to making this my most creative and productive writing year yet.

What are your resolutions for the writing life?

Riki Cleveland

Column by Riki Cleveland

Riki has a long-standing love affair with all things books and writing. She indulged her love for all things literary with a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University and is currently studying at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Although she is well past her own teen years, Riki’s reading passion lies with Young Adult literature where she devours books that handle the “firsts” in life. When not reading and writing she can be found yelling at the television while watching sports.

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