By Shelley Widhalm
I’ve fallen off the writing bandwagon and am accomplishing everything else on my to-do list.
Luckily, I’m good about making New Year’s resolutions (see New Year’s Resolutions | Psychology Today) and sticking with them. Though January is my least favorite month, short days and too much snow. I love goal setting because of the whole self-improvement thing and the easy excuse for self-reward.
My resolutions for 2022 are simple: send my novel to one agent a day for 30 days, then repeat. Second, I plan to plot my second novel in March as I continue submitting at the slower rate of two submissions a week.
Statistics show that only eight percent of those who make resolutions follow through with their plans (see New Year’s Resolution Statistics (2021 Updated) – Discover Happy Habits). To land within that eight percent, I have a stick-to-it plan I’ve developed.
To set and follow through with a resolution, here are a few suggestions:
- Pick a resolution that makes you feel excited and is something you want to do, such as writing a poem a day (I’ve been doing that since 2014).
- Opt for one to three resolutions instead of a long list, which are difficult to manage. Being selective can help you focus on what you really want to achieve.
- Break the resolution into smaller steps that can be completed each week or month so that the parts seem more doable than looking at the overall whole.
- Identify your most productive time to work and fit your goals into that timeframe. A lot can be accomplished by adding it up accumulatively.
- Write and post your goals in a prominent place to serve as a visual reminder .
- Create a checklist of accomplishments toward your goals, marking the time you put in each week. This is a way to make sure you’re meeting your goals and figuring out if any adjustments need to be made.
Working on your resolutions turns the desire to write into the action of writing. Writing becomes routine and, over time, a habit without too much planning or agonizing.
(See Writer’s Digest for alternative ideas at 10 Tips for Writing – Writer’s Digest (writersdigest.com.)
Top 10 Writing Tips
- Find a place to write, but don’t make it an absolute since writing can be done anywhere.
- Set a writing quota, one hour three to four times a week, or a specific word count of 500 or 1,000 words.
- Get rid of distractions and the inner critic that can serve as an excuse to not write or encourage writer’s block.
- Don’t wait for inspiration, but create it. The more you practice writing, the easier it is for words and ideas to germinate.
- Figure out what is most essential. Write about what interests you, what you want to learn, and what you already know.
- Have more awareness, using all of the senses to add details to your descriptions.
- Think about where your writing wants to go and trust your subconscious to make connections that aren’t readily apparent.
- Accept that writing is supposed to be hard. Focus on the process instead of the results. Enjoy that process.
- Realize that rough or first drafts aren’t perfect on the first try.
Lastly, accept that writing isn’t complete without revision, editing, and feedback, a process that takes time, precision, and repetition.
Top 10 Editing Tips
- Edit the overall structure to determine if the story has a plot arc and character arcs, unfolding in a natural, logical progression from beginning to end.
- Ask if there are missing details in story development or individual scenes that make the story feel choppy or unclear.
- Determine if there are boring parts that slow the pacing or where details are glossed over.
- Look for needless repetitions of character and plot elements and awkward transitions from scene to scene.
- Cut unnecessary words and sentences that do not move the story along or confuse the telling.
- Use the active voice whenever possible.
- Get rid of inconsistencies in descriptions and elements that don’t carry through, such as a dropped idea or a character that ends up having a one-time appearance.
- Vary the sentence structures so that not every sentence reads subject-verb-object.
- Get rid of clichés unless used for a specific purpose.
- Finally, look for spelling, grammar, mechanics, and syntax errors.
A clear plan with lists of top tips makes writing and editing fun. The lists serve as a source of motivation and inspiration and are a great reference tool for keeping track of goals. They also are a great way to welcome the year 2022.
We welcome the new year or we RING IN the new year.
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