Writer’s Resolutions: 5 Writing Goals to Live By
The New Year is coming and I—like most people—have resolutions. Here are my resolutions as a writer:
- “Write, write, write, and don’t stop writing.” I resolve to write a lot and in many forms, take risks on my time, and deliver results for clients.
- “Do that and read, read, read, and don’t stop reading.” I resolve to read widely and deeply… and to apply what I learn to my writing.
- For scheduled work, I resolve to keep doing what I know is best: break it down into chunks and start it early. This is something that I live by but it’s easy to forget the wisdom when different assignments from different clients pile up. I love a long stretch of days to dig in to a new assignment, research, mull it over, then outline, draft, review, re-draft (and again, if necessary), revise, polish, and submit. The same is true when I’m starting a new story. All those steps may add up to 6-10 hours hands-on (or 40-50 or 200-250) on a writing assignment, but the merit of starting early and breaking it down is having time to mull it over, sleep on it, get some distance, and start again fresh… and having time to deal with any technical difficulties. Life doesn’t always give those long stretches of time, but thinking that 6 hours (for example) in 6-hour burst of energy is as useful as 6 hours spread over 1 week is wrong. Wrong. I’m going to repeat that — WRONG. What if the last online source needed is not available because of some technical foul-up? What if a key expert is shy, sick, away at a conference, or on sabbatical? What if I finish the writing but can’t send it electronically because ice storms downed my Internet Service Provider? What if I am struck by stomach flu and up-chucking as the deadline flies by? Enough said: I will continue to break it down and start it early.
- For commissioned work, I resolve to keep doing what I know is best: clarify wants and expectations, ask the “stupid questions” that must be asked, identify needs, outline possible solutions, and deliver. Sometimes clients don’t know what they want, can’t express what they need, and don’t know what is possible or advisable. Figuring out what they want, what they need, and what will be effective takes a whole lot of detective work. However, the client needs to hear options: we could do this X way or Y way, and here are the benefits of each…
- I resolve to solicit and use advice with care. Considered, insightful, effective, well-timed feedback is gold. However, not all feedback is given with care and backed by experience. (More on giving and receiving feedback in a coming blog…)
Thank you to Toronto writer June Callwood for #1 and #2, which she paraphrased from writers Timothy Findley and Margaret Atwood. June was a treasure; I appreciate the time she took with me. All the best for the New Year!