Thursday, January 15, 2009

Top Ten Resolutions for Writers

By Beth Terrell

Okay, so the New Year is a few weeks past, but it's still a lot closer to the beginning of 2009 than it is to the end of it. I resolved not to make any resolutions this year, but in the grand old tradition of breaking resolutions before the month of January is even over, I've decided to make some anyway. Not the usual ones (lose weight, save money, keep my car clean--assuming it ever gets out of the shop, etc., etc.). Instead, here are my top ten writing resolutions for 2009.

10. I will not steal writing utensils (even unwittingly) from banks, restaurants, co-workers, or anybody else for that matter. It's not that I mean to steal them. It's just that they feel so natural in my hand. Who can let go of a good pen, really? Doesn't it just feel like it belongs there, resting so peacefully between the thumb and forefinger? It's almost supernatural, the way a pen can cast a veil of forgetfulness over the mind, so that sometime after leaving an establishment, I look down at the ballpoint pen in my hand and think, "Hey! Where did THAT come from?!"

9. I will not buy a new blank journal every time I go into a bookstore, not even a handmade, leather-bound Italian one with creamy parchment pages.

8. If a friend is sharing a devastating personal experience, I will refrain from musing aloud that, with just a little tweaking, this would be a good sub-plot for my next novel.

7. I will acknowledge that sending my novel to one agent a year is not really "putting it out there," and take steps to actually put it out there by sending at least one query a week.

6. Even though I love fountain pens, I will never, ever use one without first donning gloves and a yellow slicker raincoat (or a paint-spattered artist's tunic) to keep from wearing more ink than I get on the page.

5. I will update my website at least once a week. By which I mean, I will actually add useful content. Just going into the FrontPage program and changing the "last edited" date on the home page does not count.

4. I will not play "Mafia Wars" on Facebook until I have made forward progress on my book.

3. I will acknowledge that Minesweeper and Spider Solitaire are vices and not really warm-ups for writing.

2. I will treat marketing my book as a vital part of my writing career and devote at least a small amount of time to it every day. Visualizing millions of people buying my book is a good motivational tool, but it will not actually sell any books.

And the number one New Year's resolution for writers?

1. I will write at least 1000 new words every day. Well, okay, every day except Sunday. (Even God needed a day of rest.) If I miss a day, I'll add that day's word goal to the next day's word goal, so that, even if I get super-busy and can't write at all for a few days, I will still write at least 6,000 words every week.

So, how about the rest of you? Anybody else making writing resolutions this year?


Jean Henry Mead said...

All great resolutions, Beth. My resolution for 2009 is to interview as many mystery and suspense writers as possible for my new blog site, Mysterious People. If you'd like to be included, please get in touch.

Anonymous said...


Your resolutions are neat. I think I'll try for 1,000 words a day.

It sounds like a lot and for me it is. As I always say, I'm slower than that guy chpping Crazy Horse out of a mountain in the Dakotas.

But 1,000 words is only 4 pages, double spaced. Doesn't sound impossible.

Keep us posted on your goal!


Beth Terrell said...

Pat, on a good day, when I don't have to do the paying job, it's not that much, but on a regular day, it's a lot. That's why I leave myself the option of making it up on later in the week; 5,000 words on a Saturday is very do-able for me.

Jean, I look forward to it.

I'll keep you guys posted. I have already managed to get out of a Barnes & Noble without buying a beautiful journal!