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The top 5 goals for a writers' new year's resolutions

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The holidays are over and many of us writers may be feeling pretty, well, deprived of keyboard clicks and creativity. I know my own holiday extravaganzas took up much of my writing time and I've barely posted an article, let alone worked on my fiction project. So, here's to you writers out there who actually want to write:

1. Write! It doesn't have to be a lot. Try this exercise to get you going. Keep a notebook with you all day. Make sure it's small enough to fit into your pocket and purse. Oh, a writing utensil will also come in handy unless you want to use your blood or berries in some caveman fashion. Take time to write down five sentences several days out of the week. They don't have to be connected, but they do have to include some sort of detail using one of your senses (i.e. taste).

2. Read a book! It's amazing how much reading we do each day that doesn't help our writing. I mean, look at all the billboards and advertisements, the memes and these advice articles. We read so much each day, but very little of it both inspires and improves our own skills. So, read fiction, sci fi, or someone's memoir--whatever peaks your interest. Get off the internet (after you finish reading this article, of course) and pick up a book or your friendly neighborhood reading device and read.

3. Watch TV! Yes, it's ok to find inspiration from TV, as long as you're able to turn the TV off at some point and actually start writing. TV offers a unique perspective on pacing that we can easily miss while reading. It shows you when to introduce new characters or when to kill them off. It shows you the sort of details that really makes you hate or love a character. Watch TV from a writer's perspective. Watch for detail and pace.

4. Get out! Make it a goal to people watch. To me, characters make the story. If you follow a different philosophy, you should still make this a goal because your story will most likely have at least one character. Go to a store or coffee shop and take note of people's various habits. How do they walk? How do they wear their hair? What do they do with their hands while they're ordering? Get out and watch your fellow humans.

5. Write again, but write more! This is not the same as tip #1, because I want you to push yourself here. Set aside at least one day a month (but preferably more like once a week) and write for an hour straight. It can be incoherent nonsense, but try to string something together and push yourself past your normal stopping point. Aim for 2,000 words and see what you come up with. Focus on character details, settings, and anything that you picked up from accomplishing your other four goals.

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