It's the season for new year's resolutions, a both hopeful and dreaded time for creative types everywhere. "This year, I will be more creative!" That's the hopeful part. The dreadful bit? "Er, no pressure or anything... (What have I gotten myself into?)"
So Boulder Writing Examiner presents, for your 100% pressure-free experimentation, the following Suggested New Year's Resolutions For Working Writers. Try 'em, see if you like 'em, but don't beat yourself up with 'em, right? This writing thing is supposed to be fun.
First, for those who write speculative fiction...
1. Apply to attend Viable Paradise
VP is a week-long workshop held on Martha's Vineyard from Sunday, October 13th, through Friday, October 18th, 2013. It's taught by some of the brightest stars in today's fantasy and science fiction galaxy. Applicants submit the first 10,000 words of a novel (or a collection of shorter works approaching 10,000 words total); if accepted, that novel excerpt (or collection) will be critiqued both in a small instructor-led group and in one-on-one instructor sessions. You'll also learn about key lime pie, chess, slight of hand, alleged cures for scurvy, luminescent jellyfish, island living, and (so I'm told) the local mushroom kingdom. Also there are the best pancakes you have ever had, if you wake up early enough for them. (This all has to do with writing commercial genre fiction. You scoff, but just you wait.)
The submission period began on January 1 and will remain open until June 15, so you have plenty of time to whip your application into shape.
A suggested resolution for freelance writers...
2. Get a new gig (need not replace your current gig)
The content-site industry hasn't gone away; if anything, it's increasing. Which means there's still a huge need for writers to write how-tos and informational articles and magazine features and newspaper columns and more. As a freelance writer, you're very familiar with the adage to "never keep all your eggs in one basket." So with 2013 starting up, diversify! Some online resources to help you find new markets for your wordsmithery are the Writing For Pennies blog (specific to content-site income), the Freelance Writing Jobs blog (daily lists of lightly vetted freelance job ads), and the Freelance & Work For Hire forum at Absolute Write. Those will get you started. Watch the conversation in the forums especially for further leads.
And regardless of your format or genre, if you're writing to sell or publish at all, this one's for you:
3. Write 1, Sub 1
Write 1 Sub 1 is an "annual writing experiment in Ray Bradbury's shadow." In his book Zen in the Art of Writing, Bradbury talked about renting a typewriter at the University of California library, 10 cents per half hour, and writing a new short story every week. He'd start it on Monday, and he'd submit it on Friday. No excuses. No delay. A work-week like any other--but, for Bradbury, one filled with more joy than your usual work-a-day grind. He writes also of leaping out of bed every morning, newly delighted that he was going to write!
So. Write something every week: a story, an article, a poem. Submit something (not necessarily the same thing) by the end of the week. The W1S1 website says that you should commit to doing this every week in 2013 with a goal of 52 submissions, and that you should check in with the W1S1 community (or via Twitter, Facebook, or Google+) to share your progress; do these if it makes you happy. Or do it yourself, starting next week. Like NaNoWriMo, the main thing is pushing yourself to a new level of productivity. Unlike NaNoWriMo, the goal is publishable/saleable work.
4. Join or create a writing group
This writing thing is lonely enough by nature. Find friends to support and be supported by, to exchange critiques with, to cheer you on when you make a sale and commiserate with you over rejection letters. A formal writing group can be a big help to your process, but just connecting with several writing friends over lunch or coffee a couple times a month is fantastically energizing. Search for writing groups in Boulder at Meetup.com, attend a Boulder Writers' Workshop literary salon, take a class at the Boulder Writing Studio. Or go to a local convention like Mile Hi, COSine or AnomalyCon--even if you manage not to meet other local writers, you'll have a blast.
5. Resolve to do that one thing
You know. That thing. The one you've been avoiding. And the more you avoid it, the more it haunts you. The more it saps your energy. The more the very thought of it in your head is a point of pain. You feel guilty because you haven't done it, you feel stressed out because it needs to be done, and you feel depressed because, sheesh, what kind of a lazy pathetic case are you that you haven't done it yet? And of course the more you feel guilty, stressed and depressed, the harder it is to even think about doing it...
Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Resolve to take away that thing's power over you. It's not a big hulking monstrous weight ready to flatten you; it's just a handful of small tasks, really. It's just a series of small steps that lead toward completion.
Now, open your eyes and proceed to the computer, the phone, the office, wherever that thing lives... and take the first step.
Happy new year.