I’m in an unusual space at the moment—waiting for feedback on my latest novel and trying to leave the manuscript alone in the mean time. But this phase is also an opportunity to write other things, form new habits, and expand my knowledge base. With those goals in mind, I developed 10 writing resolutions, some of which I’m already working toward and others that are new and exciting.
1. Write every day. That means during the week, spend a minimum of three hours on my current big project and on weekends, write blogs, articles, short stories, comedy material, letters to the editor—almost anything to keep the juices flowing.
2. Write bold. Do not be afraid to offend an occasional reader. I can’t make everyone happy. If I did, my stories/blogs/comedy would be boring.
3. Dig deeper into characters’ motivations. Who are these people and why do they act the way they do?
4. Make more trips to the library. I only finish about one in three books I start, so I have to buy books regularly. I’ve been ordering from Powells and buying a mix of new and used. It’s expensive, but I’m supporting other writers, so I don’t feel bad about the money. Yet I need to supplement my purchases with more library books (titles that I’m uncertain about and new books that I can’t afford).
5. Read more literary fiction. Maybe read an occasional poem for inspiration. My writing is straightforward and lean and could benefit from an occasional poetic flair.
6. Conduct research interviews. Meet with law enforcement personnel and others in the community to develop background knowledge for future stories.
7. Listen carefully to first readers. Be open to criticism and willing to fix problems. This is the point of having first readers and why it’s called a first draft.
8. Do not be in a hurry to submit. Let the manuscript sit untouched for a few weeks. Then revise the story with early readers comments in mind. Then send it out to other readers.
9. Start outlining my next novel. So I’m already writing it when the rejections start coming in. It’s easier to think “This next story will be the one,” if I’m in the process and feeling good about the new story.
10. Write new comedy material. It’s hard work, but great fun at the same time. It’s an important creative change of pace to get away from the serious crime stuff. Then go perform that material.