As we start a new year, it’s common for authors to set goals and resolutions for their writing. In this article, Penguin Random House editors chime in with New Year’s resolution ideas for writers.
1. Set a realistic writing goal for 2017.
If you’re a writer, it’s always good to start with a writing goal for the upcoming year. Do you want to finish a new draft? Turn in your revisions on time? Work on a side project? Whatever it might be, write it all down and hold yourself to it.
Better yet, reach out to one of your writer friends for a joint goal-setting session. You may have vastly different goals, but you can hold each other accountable and check in throughout the year.
2. Meet other authors.
Make a goal to spend time with other authors this year—even if that time happens on social media. A lot of information can be picked up from other writers: you can discover a new writing process or learn tips and tricks of the trade. Not to mention, who else understands the exhilarating, and sometimes stressful, facets of being an author like another author?
Some good ways to meet other authors: join a writers’ group (either online or in-person), go on a writing retreat, or participate in panels and discussions at local bookstores and venues. You can also check the “Community Contacts” section of the Author Portal to connect with other Penguin Random House authors in your imprint or genre.
3. Set a 2017 reading goal.
For a writer, reading other published books accomplishes many things: it helps you stay current on trends, it helps you hone your own writing, and it’s a hobby that most writers are predisposed to enjoy.
There’s really no downside to reading. So make sure to set a goal to read widely both inside and outside your genre. Throughout the year, use a website like Goodreads or Litsy to track your reading progress.
4. Try something new.
In the new year, resolve to try something new with your writing process. Do you always write at night? Try writing first thing in the morning. Do you always outline? Try drafting a scene without one. If you ever feel stuck, trying something new is a great way to work your mind around writer’s block. The more tips and tools you have at your disposal, the easier your writing process will become.
5. Improve your social media skills.
Social media offers a fun way to interact with readers and build your audience. The social media landscape is ever-changing, but that means authors can easily join the fray at any point. This year, set a tangible social media goal that you’re comfortable with and that fits your experience level. For example, aim to increase your Facebook and Twitter reach twofold in the next year, double your frequency of Instagram posts, or get acquainted with an entirely new platform. As always, don’t be afraid to drop the platforms that aren’t working for you.
Need help getting up to speed? Make sure to check out our recent author tips. From Facebook to Snapchat to Litsy, News for Authors offers basic tips and new tools for all the popular social media sites out there.
6. Tell yourself it’s okay to write “badly.”
First drafts are just that: your first attempt at telling your story. Often authors compare their first drafts to previous final drafts, or other authors’ published books. Authors innately have a keen critical eye, so it is understandable that many will want to go back and “fix” as they draft.
So, for 2017, make sure to give yourself permission to write “badly” at first. There is plenty of time to go back in revisions—but as Jodi Picoult famously said, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
This mindset will keep you moving forward in your draft, even if you’re begging yourself to turn back and fix a description or tweak a character arc.
7. Make time for writing and revision.
This tip is easier said than done. There’s no one best way to make time for writing and revision. What works for one writer might not for another. But everything’s worth a try, so find what works best for you.
- Create a daily writing calendar to find which hours in the day are your most productive.
- Try to make writing the first, or last, thing you do every day. See what works best and keep writing at the same time until you form a daily habit.
- Protect your writing time by scheduling social events around it.
- Use apps to stay organized and even write while you’re on the go.
8. Refill the well.
This year, remind yourself that it’s okay to take a break and take time to refill the well. As Grammarly suggests, refilling your creative well can be as easy as talking to a colleague or taking a walk. Learn something new, read a good article, and don’t be afraid to unplug from social media and do whatever activity you find most relaxing.
The News for Authors team wishes all of our readers a happy and successful new year.
Phil Stamper-Halpin is Manager, Publishing Development & Author Platforms for Penguin Random House.