A guest post by Patrick Sullivan.
One of the biggest struggles a writer can face is against oneself. It can lead you to either not write at all, or if you do write a piece, to never let it out into the world to find an audience. When it comes to resolutions, this can lead down one of two paths very easily. Not making them to avoid any chance of failure, or making a resolution so easy that no growth comes from its completion.
With the onset of a new year, there is a chance to look deeper and find where improvement can happen. Has enough time been spent optimizing writing productivity? Or perhaps more time could be devoted to the craft at a sentence level. Unless every word put down gets its turn at being polished and seeing the light of day, there is always room to grow when it comes to seeing your work go out into the world.
Until fears are faced, they can never be overcome. Once the things that are shied away from are known, it is possible to figure out how to face them, defeat them, and grow in the craft, as well as the art of writing. This is why regular introspection is always key, be it as part of a New Year’s resolution or simply a regular part of your growth as an author.
Personally, I know I need to improve my craft at the sentence level a great deal, improve my output by dedicating more time to putting words on the page, and get my work out there so it can have the impact it is meant to. Therefore, I have set a number of goals for myself. Will I fail? Possibly, but I have to have the courage to risk that failure, and to own it.
My first goal: to write three brand new novels this year. The best I’ve done previously is a novel and a half, but that tends to be accomplished over a short period of time. If I dedicate enough time to preparation and putting down words, I can do this, and if I ever intend to reach where I want to with my craft, I have to learn to accomplish this.
Secondly, I will write one screenplay this year. I believe that spending time exploring other types of writing can improve different parts of the craft. Screenplays can allow a strong focus on dialogue and focused scene setting without all the other prose being there to hide those aspects. This means focused practice while gaining another skill.
Thirdly, I will write twelve poems this year, one per month, across multiple styles. This will force me to work on imagery and focused word choice, things that can be applied to novel-writing.
Finally, I will submit my work. There are two parts to this. One is polishing and submitting at least one novel to agents and editors, and thereby facing the fear of letting my work face critique and risk it being found wanting. The other half is writing two short stories and submitting them to Writers of the Future, with its prestige and knowledgeable judges making another excellent test to see where I am in my craft.
Will I fail at some or all of these goals? Possibly, but unless I try, I won’t know what I am capable of, which would be a foolish mistake for me to make. What are your goals for the coming year, and how will they help you grow as a writer?
Patrick Sullivan is an explorer of ideas across many forms, from digital data and code to stories. He grew up in southern Arkansas, but found his true home in Denver, Colorado where he now lives working in the software industry while writing tales he intends to someday share with the masses.