7 Resolutions Every Writer Should Consider

image via Gratisography

Well folks, it’s a new year and some of us are somehow still alive. Is this worth celebrating? I honestly don’t know anymore. But bills need to be paid, projects need to be promoted, and my dog needs new sweaters, so it’s time to write another article for the handsome, generous people of LitReactor dot com.

There are several things we all tend to associate with the beginning of another year: opening new calendars, deleting the latest unnecessarily cruel wave of story rejections from editors attempting to clean out their slush pile by the end of December, injecting anxiety medication into dogs’ mouths as fireworks explode over our homes, and—of course—deciding on a new list of resolutions that we might follow for maybe a month before returning to our old, disgusting ways.

We’re already 10 days into January. How are those resolutions treating you so far? Probably not great. That’s because resolutions are typically horseshit. Exercise more? Eat healthier? Stop swatting my racist cousin Greg’s bungalow? I don’t think so.

But I do think there are some resolutions worth considering, especially if you happen to be a writer (which, come on, you’re reading LitReactor; you’re a writer).

Resolutions like…

7. Read That One Author You've Been Meaning To For Years

Every reader has that one author they’ve wanted to read for years and years, yet for whatever reason they’ve never gotten around to it. For me, that writer is Philip K. Dick. I understand what kinds of books he wrote, and know a little bit about their plots, and there’s little chance I won’t love his entire bibliography.

So why haven’t I pulled the trigger yet? I’m not sure. I guess I feel the need to save his books—but for what? As a little treat, something for me to enjoy once I have more free time (on my deathbed). There’s really no excuse at this point. A couple years back, my now-late mother gifted me that Library of America boxset of his entire works for Christmas, and it’s just been sitting on my bookshelves since, collecting dust.

I’m sure everybody has a similar situation. Who is the author you’ve been meaning to read since forever? Are you going to finally break the streak and see what they’re all about? You really should. How much longer do you expect to be alive, anyway? Time’s ticking, buddy. Let’s go.

For me, this is the year I finally crack one of these hardcovers open. This is the year I treat myself to some Dick.

6. Spend Less Time On Social Media

Much like the previous resolution, this one should be attempted by everybody on the planet, not just writers. Social media is poison to the brain. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you a subscription to something (which you'll discover is exactly what I'm doing by the end of this article). It is simply not good for us. Look at how much time we’ve wasted obsessing over the tweets of rich dipshits like Elon Musk. Imagine what we could have accomplished without that kind of morbid toxicity wasting space in our skulls.

I am not saying no social media is the solution—although, sometimes it does feel like it is. I understand that without social media, so many writers will go undiscovered. We need these outlets to help our voices get heard. But it’s healthy to stay aware of how it’s restructuring our thoughts and behaviors.

Spending less time on social media and more time conscious of life beyond screens is necessary for any writer. Don’t live your life on Twitter, or any app. Throw your phone into a volcano. Shoot it with a pistol. Bring it to a boil and eat it with ramen noodles. Anything to battle temptation.

Unless I’m the only person constantly struggling with this. Maybe discussing these issues with social media aren’t relatable and nobody else has ever found the endless newsfeed helplessly addictive. In which case, whoops! Please disregard!

5. Set Up A Newsletter

This kind of ties into the previous resolution. If 2022 reminded us of anything, it should’ve been that social media platforms do not last forever. Your account can be permanently deleted for the silliest reasons, and entire apps can implode due to bruised egos. Relying only on Twitter followers for promotion is not the smartest strategy. If you haven’t already set up a newsletter, now’s the time to stop procrastinating. Newsletters are one of the strongest tools any writer can utilize, because mailing lists are something nobody can take away from you (assuming you’re smart and regularly export your subscribers on a monthly basis). 

4. Read Outside Your Comfort Zone

This resolution should be considered by all readers, but especially by writers. The only true way to improve your craft is by reading, but after so long even that isn’t going to be as effective if you’re only reading the same stuff over and over. Personally, I mainly read horror and crime fiction, since those two genres are where my interests tend to burst with the most excitement. I also, for less clear reasons, only seem to read more modern books. I am missing out on a lot of classics that do interest me, but due to the nature of publishing’s frantic schedule, I never seem to have time to explore. Which is why this year I also want to finally read Moby-Dick. And maybe some depressing Russian literature. More nonfiction? Sure, why not!

3. Write Outside Your Comfort Zone

The “read outside your comfort zone” advice is so old it’s practically a stereotype at this point, but I don’t often notice people saying the same thing about writing outside your comfort zone, which I feel might be just as important when it comes to maintaining longevity as a writer. In 2023, don’t just write novels and short stories. Try poetry. Give scripts and plays a chance. Write a freakin’ radio drama! There are so many ways to write a story, and there’s no reason to continue restricting your abilities.

2. Stop Reading Reviews

So, we’ve talked about things you should be reading, but what about stuff you should stop reading? In 2023, can we please stop reading reviews of our own writing? These reviews are not for you, they are for other readers. The more you let this shit get to your head, the less productive you’ll end up becoming. Delete your Goodreads account. Ask yourself why you want to be a writer, and hope like hell the answer isn’t “to get good reviews on the internet.” And, before any wiseguys pop up in the comments pointing out that I recently tweeted a Publishers Weekly review of my upcoming collection Abnormal Statistics…this article, like everything I write, is directed at myself more than anyone else.

1. Support More Indies

Indie presses release the best books. Don’t try to argue. It’s a simple fact. In 2023, I encourage you to be more thoughtful about who you support, and why. When given the chance, try to lean toward indie and local creators. Stop buying books from Amazon. Make friends with your local indie bookstore—if it’s not within driving distance, I guarantee they have a website! Like Butcher Cabin Books or Little Ghosts Books. You can now shop from cool little shops that exist all over the world, directly from your couch.

You can also buy directly from publishers. Most of them have their own webstores, too, and generally offer cool merch with every order—like King Shot Press and Weirdpunk Books—who, by the way, are currently offering subscriptions for their 2023 lineup. I’ve already purchased a paperback subscription and I encourage everybody to do the same. Much like King Shot, Weirdpunk consistently publishes quality books.

And, to end this article by promoting my own indie horror press, my company Ghoulish Books is also currently offering subscriptions for our 2023 schedule. Via Kickstarter, we have several tiered book bundles available to pre-order throughout the month of January. Consider backing us and helping keep indie lit alive.

Happy New Year! And good luck with those resolutions!

Max Booth III

Column by Max Booth III

Max Booth III is the CEO of Ghoulish Books, the host of the GHOULISH and Dog Ears podcasts, the co-founder of the Ghoulish Book Festival, and the author of several spooky books, including Abnormal Statistics, Maggots Screaming!, Touch the Night, and others. He wrote both the novella and film versions of We Need to Do Something, which was released by IFC Midnight in 2021 and can currently be streamed on Hulu. He was raised in Northwest Indiana and now lives in San Antonio.

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