Getting more exercise, keeping track of finances better—January is a great time to start a new leaf.
For the past several years, I have suggested to colleagues and clients that they also use the new year to institute a few, small changes to their writing routines. Small changes, big results. Nothing too onerous, some even fun. Consider one or more of the following this year:
- Revise one more time. No matter how many times you usually revise something, go through one additional revision. You will catch all sorts of things that otherwise would slip by.
- Ask one more person than you usually do for feedback (which means, of course, if you don’t normally ask anyone at all, ask one person). Another set of eyes will give you a fresh perspective.
- Attend one literary reading. Bookstores, the Library of Congress, and universities all schedule regular readings by poets and prose writers. I’m not suggesting weekly or even monthly attendance, unless that is what you enjoy doing. Just try one. It is very inspiring.
- Read one book about the craft of writing. Two of my favorites are by William Zinsser (On Writing Well and Inventing the Truth).
- Write one piece in a genre you have never tried. A poem, an op-ed, a travel article–something you don’t normally try. Make it short. Don’t spend a lot of time on it unless you get inspired. But stretch yourself a bit.
- Read one literary classic. Go back to an author of your choice–Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Herman Melville, or any other author that you have been “meaning to get to.”
- Bookmark one new reference website that you will actually use. A few possibilities: The Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online, Chicago Manual of Style Online, or the Mayo Clinic, depending on your needs and interests.
- Schedule an artist’s date that does not involve words. Those familiar with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way know she suggests a weekly “artist’s date”–a walk in nature, a museum, an interesting shop–to get the creative juices flowing. In this case, help your writing through something visual, musical, or tactile. If weekly sounds too overwhelming, try monthly or quarterly.
- Write a letter (not an e-mail) to a friend or family member. You might even consider doing something really daring, like handwriting it.
Do you have another write-able resolution to try? Let me know how it goes!