Like a lot of writers, I’m cringing as I look back on 2016’s resolutions: In addition to getting a big fat book contract with a big fat advance, I wanted to finish a writing book and self-publish it. Did those things happen? The optimist in me says, “Not yet, but you just wait.” In other words, NO.
Writing Tip for Today: For 2017, I’ve made what I think may be the best resolution ever for writers.
In 2017, my goal is going to be to fall in love with writing again. I mean that burning passion, enthusiasm and confidence every newbie writer exudes as we first jump into learning the craft.
I want to revisit the time when I didn’t care so much for rules and structural flaws and whether I could ever gain purchase of an actual reading audience. You know the feeling: you’re sure you were put on this earth to tell your story, say what only you can say, reach out and connect with readers as if they grabbed onto the live wire that is your novel, story, poem. Like couples who renew their vows, I want to once again feel the heady rush that makes me itch to get to the keyboard. The feeling that everything else in life pales compared to closing the door in the morning for an hour’s worth of writing, then looking up as the fam pounds on the door and asks what’s for dinner. You know that exhilaration? Yeah, that one.
Of course, writing is harder than passion allows–especially as you reach the midpoint of your novel draft, or when you are in revision number forty-seven. This year, I want to recapture the enthusiasm I once had for the long haul that is a writer’s life. Way back when, I was so happy to see my keyboard. It always felt like eating stolen chocolate--probably because I was raising four kids and running an in-home daycare. A jillion stories had built up in my poor little head, and I just had to get them down. I thought I really had a chance to be a successful writer–hence my enthusiasm. But craft is never easy and soon I worried about ever writing well enough. I came close enough to my goals (finishing my first novel, seeing a few essays and poems published, snagging a big-time literary agent) that I was enthused. But I learned that success is fleeting. In 2017, I’m going to try to stay optimistic and maintain the enthusiasm summed up by one of my writing mentors: He said, “Writing is a craft. You can learn a craft.”
Rejection letters, near-misses and no pub credits erodes writer confidence with lightning speed. When I started seriously writing, traditional publishing was the only route to success. Twenty-five years later, writers can be snubbed by agents and publishers and yet go straight to Createspace or another self-publisher and get that book out there. Whether this is a good strategy depends on the book and the writer’s commitment to marketing. I know lots of writers who are confident about their books until they crash headlong into that Marketing Wall–when they learn the book cannot sell if it is either unknown or so poorly written it is unreadable. In 2017, I’m going down both roads to publication. While I’ll still pursue traditional publishers (a task made easier by the fact that I already have a literary agent) I’m eager to learn the self-publishing side of writing. My confidence will surely grow if I pay attention to Passion and Enthusiasm and treat every writing day as if it were my last. Go Write!
What’s your 2017 writing resolution?