By this point, I hope that you’ve already made your resolutions this year, and while this blog can’t help you with weight loss, a cleaner house, or fewer sweets, what I can do is give you some tips for keeping your writing resolutions. Motivation is a large part of writing, and there are a few ways to get jump started on your novel, research paper, or chapbook of poems.
Step 1: Lose the phrase writers’ block. I’m serious. Most of the time this phrase is simply an excuse not to sit down and write. Changing terminology may seem pedantic, but motivation is all about psychology. Psyche yourself out and call your struggles “reallocation of writing talents” or something like that. If you can’t find the right words, then write the wrong ones for as long as it takes. You can always delete later. The only “wrong” words, really, are the ones you don’t write because of a fear of failure or an uncertainty about where the writing will go.
Step 2: Get in the groove. Write as often as you can. Writing every day is the goal, and some easy ways to do this are to start a blog or journal. Ten words or a thousand, the amount is not the point—the point is to keep your hands moving and your brain working.
Step 3: Set goals. Give yourself a reason for writing. Finish a short story; write a novel; submit your writing somewhere. You don’t have to tell anyone what your goal is, but I highly recommend that you do. If someone else knows, then it makes the goal more “real.”
Step 4: Set deadlines. I know. I know. Your life already revolves around way too many deadlines, but there is an important point to this: deadlines make amorphous goals into solid destinations. As with your goal, if you’re comfortable, share your deadline with someone else, someone that you know will keep you accountable and ask about your project. If you are serious about developing your skills as a writer, goals and deadlines will push you to grow.
Step 5: Push yourself. Writing is like any other skill (or muscle), improvement comes from use. Try moving beyond just the types of writing that you’re comfortable with. Write something technical or creative; use a point of view that you’ve never tried before. Tackle haiku.
Step 6: Perfect what you start. Once you’ve got something written down, keep working on it. Get in the habit of revising everything that you write—even if it’s for your eyes only. Revising helps you to see your weakest areas and grow in the writing that is for others.
Step 7: Enjoy what you do. While goals and deadlines will help motivate you, keep in mind that writing should be about the joy of using words to convey a message. If you’re not enjoying the writing, then it’s less likely that others will enjoy the reading.
I hope 2009 is the best year for your writing yet.