The celebration of a New Year comes with the tradition of making “New Years Resolutions” which are generally geared towards self-improvement. For a writer, this can be an exciting time. Most of us are goal setters to begin with (you have to be to finish that current #WIP right?), so the ability to declare what we hope to achieve over the next twelve months is right up our alley.
I can already here you yelling, wait, where do I start? I have so much going on! I can’t set writing goals or declare my intentions for the entire year.
Yes. You. Can.
Step back, take a deep breath and really look at what you want to accomplish.
If you're letting FEAR hold you back, you need to read my post 3 Things Every New Writer Needs to Hear for my thoughts on fear. Don’t fear the future. Embrace it! Look forward to the changing of the seasons and the chance to improve your writing craft.
Setting writing goals in 2022 doesn't have to be hard. And your goals don't all have to be writing centric. Here's my “Top 8”. Pick and choose what you like and tailor them to fit your specific needs. But whatever you do, don’t sit idly by until next December and then wonder, why didn’t my writing improve?
Set a weekly word count goal
Did you participate in #NanoWriMo this year? Did you complete your project? I have to admit, the goal of 50,000 words in one month is a little lofty if you aren’t prepared with a specific project in mind. But, the art of using a word count goal with a deadline is one of the most important skills to learn as a writer. Someday, when you have deadlines from your publishing house, you'll have to be able to produce within a set period of time.
Doing this at home, it's easy! Set a weekly goal that you know you can meet. Make it 1000 words. Then, write every day. A few words, a lot of words. Whatever you can do to reach that end of week or end of month goal. Once you are used to reaching 1000 words. Increase it. Push yourself.
Enter a writing contest
If you’re like me, you like to have an occasional win. Writing contests give you that chance. Even if you don't "win" the contest, the excitement of completing a short story or poem and entering it is exhilarating. There are TONS of contests out there. From pay-for-play to 100% free, you decide what you are willing to invest. I like to check Twitter, Reedsy and Submittable to find opportunities.
Join a critique group
Make this the year you find your writing peeps! Helping others authors find their voice can be incredibly rewarding for a writer. We all come to the table with different experience levels, so why not share your skills, you might be surprised at what you get back in return.
Write a Query Letter
If you have dreams of traditional publishing, then you know all about Query Letters. There is a science to writing them. My best suggestion is to draft a few, ask for your friends/fam/critique group to review. Then take a class, read some articles, try it again and again and again.
Writing a good Query takes time. So don't wait until you’re knee deep on a Literary Agent’s submission page before you throw something together! For one-on-one professional guidance, try the amazing Queery Helpline.
Resurrect an old draft, and FINISH it
Simple enough. Do it. I dare you!
Hit for the cycle
Huh? Isn’t that baseball? You know, hitting a single, double, triple and home run...
Yes, in a literal sense. But, by now, as a writer you should know not to take anything too literal. For me, hitting the cycle is:
But for you it could be: Essay, Narrative Non-Fiction, Blog Series, Non-Fiction Feature. Make your "cycle" anything you want! Give your self 3 months to accomplish each task, then by next New Years, guess what? You've accomplished four complete pieces you can be proud of. If you follow my beat, the Novel comes during Q4, which lines up nicely with #NanoWriMo (and maybe I'll be better prepared this year!).
Read one book per month
Amazon is great, but come on, go out and support your local bookstores by buying one book per month! Easy, not super expensive, and totally worth it. Ask for recommendations in your genre. Read anything! Try something new each month, from Romance to Historical, YA to Military. Check out specific writers you admire and buy their latest titles. Not only does reading help you with your writing skills, but the best way to have comps for your book when you are Querying is to have read what’s trending and being requested out in the real world.
And last, but not least…
Take a writing course
The internet is full of amazing resources for writers. There are a TON of free tutorials (and paid options as well). You can also look up courses at your local Community College for a reasonably priced option. Some Universities even offer students the ability to “audit” a course for free or reduced price. Auditing a course allows you access to a teacher and materials, without worrying about paying for credits. The only way to improve is to educate yourself and practice. The Write Practice has some pay-for-play courses and so does Writer's Digest.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning out the next 12 months. I want to see what YOU can do with a fresh year ahead of you.
As always my friends, let me know how your own writing journey is going on the Twitterverse @writingwithreed.