Happy New Year! Hope the year ahead is filled with exciting opportunities.
I love the start of a New Year. It’s always filled with great promise and hope, just like the start of the school year or the first day of spring. I’m eager to start new projects and try new things. I even try to make resolutions, and though I might fail to achieve them, I believe making them sets the tone for the year.
Yes, I know. Resolution is a dirty word for some people. Perhaps we should call them goals, plans or challenges. I’m always looking for the next challenge though, and I also remind myself that I have a full 365 days in which to achieve it.
So even if you don’t believe in making New Year’s Resolutions, maybe there’s some small goal you’d like to achieve in the coming year. If you can’t think of anything, never fear. I have a few ideas, all related to literary pursuits.
In honor of the year 2020, here are 20 resolutions for the New Year. Choose one or two to pursue, then see how your life unfolds.
1. Read the dictionary or thesaurus front to back as if you were reading a novel. What better way to build your vocabulary.
2. Choose one author whose books you have wanted to read and read every book they’ve written. Select someone who has written at least five books, but no more than twelve. You still want to leave room for other author’s works.
3. Attend a writer’s conference. Immerse yourself in the culture, build your network and rub elbows with authors and editors. Find a conference that matches your genre, like romance or science fiction or screenwriting. Bring along your manuscript and have it critiqued. Attend as many of the sessions as you can handle. You’ll walk away eager to put into practice what you’ve learned.
4. Attend an author reading in your town once a month. Brownie points if you ask the author questions afterward about their craft.
5. Participate in your own reading challenge. Set a goal for the number of books you’d like to read in the next 365 days. For example, I usually set a goal of 32 books because that’s what I’ve averaged the past few years.
6. Same as number 5 above but with a twist. Each book you read is a different genre – from light-hearted romance and detective stories to cookbooks and politics. Each fiction genre opens you to a different style of writing and storytelling, while the non-fiction books can provide background information for your latest work.
7. Start a writer’s journal. Keep track of story ideas, scenes, character descriptions, the humble beginnings of a poem – you get the idea. When you’re ready to start your next story, browse through your journal and see what inspires you.
8. Finish that story, poem or essay you’ve been working on for the past few years. Pull it out from the bottom of your desk drawer and dust it off. Keep working at it until you feel satisfied that it is your best work. Bonus points if you submit it to an editor for publication.
9. Volunteer to be a literacy tutor. There are plenty of organizations that provide reading and writing tutoring to children and adults. Share your love of reading and writing with others.
10. Clear out your bookshelves. Donate the ones you no longer want to worthy organizations. Or if you have a lot of books, host your own book sale, then donate the proceeds to a worthy organization. Either way, you’ll be clearing the shelves for more books.
11. Get up half an hour early each day and use that time to write. You can easily write a couple hundred words during that time. Do that every day, and you will have one or two chapters written within a month.
12. Select a place in your town that you’ve never been to – whether it’s a university campus, a public park, a landmark or even a coffee shop. Then write about your experience. What did the place look like? What kind of people visited the place that day? How did you feel walking through the place? The experience might inspire a short story or essay.
13. Participate in a local write-in. A write-in is a day set aside where visitors can use the time and space to simply write with no interruptions. Universities, writing studios, even some libraries host write-ins. You don’t have to stay the whole day. You can spend one hour or four. Either way, it’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the writing process surrounded by other people who are doing the same thing. If you have trouble sticking to a daily writing schedule, attending a write-in can be just the thing to jump start your progress.
14. Write a review of a book you’ve completed or a movie you’ve just seen. For example, if you saw the film Little Women, how did it compare with other film versions? How did it compare with the novel? Even if you’ve never written a book or movie review, trying it once or twice is good practice to develop analytical skills.
15. Visit a different bookstore once a month. Even if you don’t buy anything, browse the current releases to see what is being published.
16. Visit the library once a month. Even if you don’t have a library card or borrow books, there are plenty of resources to browse through. Read the newspaper or a magazine, do some research, or bring a notebook to write with little interruption.
17. Find a writing buddy and meet with them once a month. Having someone along on your writing journey can keep you motivated.
18. Join a Meetup group of writers or book fans. If you’re working on a screenplay, for example, check your local Meetup to see if there is a group for screenwriters. Or maybe you prefer poetry or non-fiction. Whatever your passion is, find like-minded individuals to share it. If there isn’t a Meetup group that meets your interests, start one of your own.
19. Learn about a different writing style or genre. If you’re a business writer, maybe you want to transition into doing personal essays. Find a class or two about writing essays or stock up on books about that topic.
20. Volunteer for an organization that provides reading services to the visually impaired. Many students and seniors have difficulty reading because of their impairment. Organizations like the Blind Service Association in Chicago
need volunteers to read and record everything from textbooks to magazines, whatever is needed. Check to see if there’s a comparable organization in your area.
There you have it – 20 ideas for resolutions for literary types. Hope you see one or two that you’d like to try. You may find it opens up new opportunities in unexpected ways.