Writing Resolutions, Boston Style

We all know the start of a new year is the perfect time to tweak (or overhaul) our habits.  Here are some suggestions on how to make this year a productive one filled with writing:

Resolved: To write a novel this year

It may sound like a daunting task, but it really isn’t (I wrote a novel this past year with that resolution).  You certainly can do it in a year if you devote yourself to it, redeeming your downtime (see next).  And it gives you a manageable yet firm timetable in which to finish.

Resolved: To write during my lunch break (or other period of redeemable time)

Where are those little bits of time during your day when you could be productive?  During lunch, on the train, commercials breaks?  Think of it this way: If you take the time to write one page during your lunch break every day, and you work five days a week, that’s a 261 page book you’ve written over the course of a year (see above).

Resolved: To write a short story a month

Focusing on short fiction this year?  Use the same strategy as above, only compress the deadline to one month.  Again, it’s a manageable yet firm timetable.

Resolved: To start submitting pieces (or submit more pieces)

Probably the most daunting aspect of writing is submitting pieces to be published.  Most hesitation comes from not knowing where to send those stories.  Check out The Review Review and Poets & Writers for a listing of literary magazines accepting new work: what they’re looking for, what are their deadlines, how much they pay, etc.

Resolved: To learn more about the publishing industry

One of the most crucial things that writers tend to lack is basic knowledge about the publishing industry.  It would be like wanting to be a professional baseball player yet knowing nothing about any of the teams, coaches, management, etc.  Start following blogs and Twitter feeds devoted to publishing.  Publisher’s Weekly’s Twitter feed is a good place to start, as are the writings of Jane Friedman.

Resolved: To read more books in my genre to inspire me

The best way that a writer can inform their craft is to read, read, read.  First, what genre are you in?  Do you write literary fiction, memoir, or haiku?  Read classics in your genre to show you how it can be done well and how it can be made to last.  Ask your local bookseller for recommendations, or use the “Customers who bought this also bought ___” feature on your favorite online book retailer’s page.

Resolved: To apply to that MFA program

Ready to take that leap?  First, ask yourself why you want to, and wrestle out your decision.  We have a listing of Boston MFA programs here, and Poets & Writers puts out a listing as well.

Resolved: To take a writing workshop class

Looking to get feedback on some things you wrote, or just get over the fear of having strangers read your work?  Check out our list of workshop pros and cons here.  When you’re ready, Grub Street will have everything you need!

Resolved: To meet more of my fellow writers

Boston is just the place to do that!  Every October you can rub elbows with local authors and readers at the Boston Book Festival.  Grub Street has started a Muse in the Marketplace conference in May.  And the annual AWP conference is being hosted here this March!

Resolved: To just start writing!

Excellent!  Just put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and go!