Writing: Your New Beginning

With a week to go before the whole country makes New Year’s resolutions, let’s take a look at what you might consider changing in the coming year.

Writing Tip for Today: Your 2023 writing life doesn’t need to be your 2024 writing life. Here’s why:

Routine Changes

I always advise my writing students to set a writing routine that is doable. If you try to imitate Stephen King and produce 5k words per day, yet you have a newborn, well good luck. Setting a schedule for writing that you can actually accomplish is a far better way to stay productive.

Yet life is change. Maybe you can point to major life changes or maybe you just want to shake things up. For 2024, see if you can identify the weak spots in your current writing routine. Look for the times/places where you’ve been most productive. Do you write more if you are closeted away or are you more productive writing in Starbucks or Barnes & Noble?

When you look back, see if you can alter your current writing routine to make it easier to meet your goals. Remember, it’s pointless to set a goal that you know you’ll have trouble meeting—just like that gym membership that you end up ignoring.

Practical Applications

Maybe 2024 is the year you finally: upgrade that old computer, learn Scrivener, travel for “research,” or learn a speech-to-type program. If you try to do too many new things, you may short circuit your plans. Instead, choose the new thing or way that you’re most excited about and start planning for a learning curve.

If you’re a yellow legal pad scribbler, try out a keyboard and see how your word count changes. If you’ve always wanted to use Scrivener (a program that lets you save and store your manuscript but also your research and plot devices), start by viewing some tutorials.

I’ve tried hard to learn Dragon Naturally Speaking (a voice to type program). Alas, for me, words seem to come from the ends of my fingers. But you might discover that you really like speaking your manuscript. Many other apps and writing helps are out there—find one that streamlines your writing routine.

Set aside time each week to pursue your passion project.

Heart Writing

Some writers end up writing stuff they aren’t passionate about, just to support themselves. Still, you’ll want (need?) to keep the flame alive for what you really want to write. Set up a schedule where one day or session per week you set aside for your heart writing.

Or maybe you’ve been reluctant to get your work out there. Commit to either entering contests or submitting shorter pieces to periodicals in the coming months. In my own writing life, I set aside Fridays to do queries, keep track of submissions and other marketing/promotional stuff.

Finally, do you have good feedback for what you produce? Maybe this is the year you take the plunge and find a good critique partner or group. Whether face-to-face or online, feedback can help you see flaws you overlooked or boost your ego when you’re feeling rejected. Whatever you change in your writing life, I hope that change results in your best writing yet. Remember, there are only two kinds of writing: writing that works and writing that NEEDS work. Happy writing!

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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