Happy New Year, one and all!
As much as possible, I want to incorporate the following 12 goals throughout 2016:
1. Be on the lookout for inspiration.
Unless you have a better memory than I do, you’ll want to record inspiration when it hits. I have a half dozen tiny notebooks for different subjects (i.e.: blog ideas, quotes, books to read, etc.). You may prefer to use your smartphone instead. I would, but mine died.
2. Set up your writer’s nook.
What do you need close at hand when you write? Pictures of your family? A shelf of skills development books? Your journal and a stash of multi-coloured gel pens? Your favourite beverage and the busyness of a crowded coffee shop? I’m most productive when I sit at my computer and stay off the Internet. A clutter-free workspace is the best, but it’s rarely a reality.
3. Enlist your support system.
You, my fellow writers, are a tremendous encouragement to me. Knowing I’m part of a community that “speaks my language” is amazing. I encourage you to connect with other writers from time to time. Although my writers’ group doesn’t meet over the winter months, we stay in touch via Facebook. Plus, I’m a member of COMPEL and The Word Guild as well as InScribe of course.
4. Write regularly—if possible, every day.
I recently heard of a pastor who also writes books. If the blank screen is taunting him, sometimes he types gibberish just to get his fingers moving. There’s something to be said for simply writing “whatever” until the words begin to flow. Obviously, we want to go beyond typing random letters and writing nonsense to actually creating something we’ll be pleased to share, but we all have to start each session by simply putting fingers to keyboard or pen to paper.
5. Set a specific writing goal.
Do you want to write a new blog post each week? A short ebook or novella for publication online every two to six months? A full-length novel or nonfiction book for print within the year? If we break each task into bite-sized pieces and set deadlines for each piece, we are much more likely to achieve our goal(s)—at least I know it’s true of me.
6. Read skills development books and blog posts.
There’s always more to learn. Plus, it’s important to incorporate what we’re learning rather than just accumulate the knowledge.
7. Read other books as well.
No matter what we read, we can pick up on things we’d love to incorporate into our own work—and things we’d like to avoid.
8. Enter writing contests regularly.
Entering contests is a great skills development exercise—even if we never win. I’m not sure I’ll have time to enter many contests in 2016, but we’ll see.
9. Join an online writing challenge.
I participate in OctPoWriMo (October Poetry Writing Month) and PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) each year. In October I write 31 poems and in November I come up with 30 ideas for picture books. I often attend Camp NaNoWriMo once or twice a year but have never participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), though I would like to do so one of these years. You can learn about these and other challenges online. I may try to participate in OctPoWriMo, but with the other things that are on my plate for 2016, I’m pretty sure that will be it.
10. Attend a writers’ conference or one-day workshop.
From skills development to networking … from inspiration to feeling understood … there’s nothing quite like hanging out with other writers and industry pros. We shouldn’t feel intimidated. No matter how far along the path, every writer has more to learn. And every writer was a newbie at some point. Since it looks like I’ll be filling in for our church administrator while she’s on mat leave, I don’t think I’ll make it to a conference this year. But as a member of COMPEL and Goodriter, I have access to lots of great training online.
11. Join or start a writers’ group.
I had the privilege of being one of the original four members of Women Writing for Christ. Over a decade later, we still meet monthly (except in the winter) and share the adventure of writing. We each write in different genres and for different audiences, but it is a wonderful opportunity to encourage one another. It’s a highlight of my month.
12. Be patient with yourself.
As in any area, it’s important to create SMART goals. Pace yourself and add one or two realistic goals per month. You can do this—and so can I!