QueryTracker Blog

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! Resolutions You Can Keep

Well, here we are with a bright and shiny 2009 laid out before us. There are no rejections in 2009, no disappointments. We've made no mistakes... yet. :)

The fresh new year often draws out the lofty goal-makers in us. In my experience, the trouble with resolutions comes when we confuse dreams with promises. Our dreams lure us into grand resolutions to sculpt supermodel bodies, end global warming, and make bestseller lists.

Big dreams tend to come true only in their own sweet time, and in our Veruca Salt I-Want-It-Now culture, that can make these resolutions frustrating.


You can make resolutions that will help you achieve those dreams without the frustration. By setting tangible, measurable goals that you can accomplish as long as you're willing to make the effort.

So, I present 5 resolutions you can make as a writer this year:

Write, on average, at least 5 days a week. We all agree that the best way to improve your writing is to keep working at it. Many folks advise writing every day, which is great as long as you don't give up if life gets in the way. Make a promise that is flexible enough to keep, but still requires dedication to your writing.

Expand your reading list. A good writer needs to read as well as write. Many authors fall into one of two categories... those that read exclusively in the genre they write, and those that seldom read their own genre. Both categories are missing out. If you are a one-genre author, promise yourself you'll try something fresh and different. If you write a genre you seldom read, pick up some current titles to get a feel for the market you want to compete in. If you already read a wide variety of books, add an extra one to your reading list. And even better, go buy that book and help Moonrat save the publishing world. ;)

Put yourself and your writing out there. This could mean different things to different authors. For those of you who are finishing your first novel, it might mean letting some test readers have at it. For those of you with a polished project, it might mean getting the query process started. For those whose querying isn't going as well as expected, it might be finding a tough critique group to revise your proposal or your novel. The QueryTracker forum is a great resource for query reviews and critique partners, if you're in the market for them. If you have the time and the means, pick an interesting writing conference to attend and meet other publishing professionals. Writing is often a solitary activity, but to make a book successful you need help. Don't let fear or pride keep you from finding it.

Try something new. In writing-- and in life, really-- I think it's important to get out and experience everything you can. Your life's experience is what drives your creation of characters and the stories that belong to them. Make that experience as rich as possible. Commit to learning something new or trying something you never thought you would. Take a jewelry-making class at a community college. Learn sign-language. Invent a new meal without looking at a recipe. Buy a home-repair book and teach yourself how to fix a leaky faucet. Take a karate lesson. Try sushi. Walk to somewhere you've never been before. It doesn't have to be important or expensive, but find something new to you in this world and embrace it. Even if you hate it, it will open up new ideas in your writing.

Finally, don't give up. Not this year. Every writer has their moments of doubt and despair. With the current state of the economy and the recent publishing industry shake-ups, it is easy to get discouraged. Join your voice to the others channeling Douglas Adams and Don't Panic. The world will always want fascinating stories. So write them. Polish them to a blinding shine. And when the process of getting published seems so slow and futile that you're ready to give up, promise yourself you won't... Not This Year.
Keep those big dreams in mind while you make good on these 5 promises. And may 2009 see all your big dreams come true, too.

H. L. Dyer, M.D. writes women's fiction and works as the Clinical and Academic Director for the Hospitalist Program at a pediatric teaching hospital near Chicago. In addition to all things literary, she enjoys experimental cooking and composing impromptu parodies to annoy close friends and family. Click to visit her personal blog, Trying to Do the Write Thing.


Lady Glamis said...

Thanks for sharing. I believe those really are resolutions I can keep!

Christine Fonseca said...

I love this...great job. I plan to print and post where I can read it often. Thanks

H. L. Dyer said...

Thanks, Lady Glamis and Christine!

I'm very interested if anyone has any thoughts on a new thing they'll try.