Happy 2024! This year, why not include a resolution to up your writing game?
Writing Tip for Today: Here are some ways to change up your writing this year:
We all know about those pesky resolutions. They wind up on the trash heap (or that exercise bike where you hang your clothes) within days or weeks. When it comes to writing, however, you can make a new plan or adjust how you approach your writing.
Do you need a schedule? Plan a doable routine. Remember, writing it all in your head doesn’t count. Yet you don’t want to doom your plans because you set unrealistic goals. If you have a day job, small children or a tough schedule, pick a time when you are least likely to be interrupted.
Where do you write? If you are more productive sitting in Starbucks, go for it. If you are seduced by dust bunnies or other interferences, clear your desk or take your laptop into the closet. Experiment with different areas to be while you write until you feel you can hit the zone.
Write Fast, Edit Slow
Writing and editing at the same time can slow your progress. In general, drafting and revising should be separated. If you must stop and ponder word choice or placement, not much drafting will happen.
Give yourself permission to write badly. The draft stage is for getting your ideas down. Sure, it may be messy or need a lot of work. But in my opinion, writing is rewriting. As Anne Lamott famously says, “First you get it down. Then you fix it up.”
Some writers think that if they edit as they write, they can save themselves from rewriting. Only very advanced or skilled writers can do this—and even they must often revise multiple times. Don’t cut corners. When you draft, give it your full attention. And when (in a different session) you revise, be willing to revise multiple times.
“Writing is rewriting.”
Maybe you already have a great routine and a workspace that suits you. You already practice self-editing away from drafting. You know to polish your drafts many times. This year, try adding a twist to your work: write truer.
When you draft or revise, stop trying to impress readers. Instead, go for raw honesty. This could mean killing those darlings, actually finishing a piece or chapter or giving yourself grace when your life has babies, caregiving or a demanding job sucking all your time.
In fiction and memoir writing, you can write truer by digging deep into the emotions and motivations of a character. Readers relate most to things and people they feel deeply. This year, do a deeper dive into what makes a character tick. In 2024, I wish you much success and I hope we all aim to write as true as we can.