The world didn’t end, the Olympics are over, the tree’s down, 2013 is going to be your year – your Year of Writing Dangerously.
Here are my ten suggested New Year’s Resolutions – what ones do you like the sound of?
1. Step out of your technological comfort zone
Make 2013 the year you try something techy that you’ve been avoiding, such as Twitter (follow me if you like @BookAnalyst ), Scrivener or G+
2. Find your own Bat Cave
Every writer needs a place where they’re mentally and physically set up to write. But remember, what suits one writer may not suit another. Do you like background noise or total silence? Warmth or bracing freshness? Monastic austerity or hot and cold running lattes on tap? If 2013 isn’t the year you’ve won the lottery and the Writing Wing isn’t a possibility, consider picking a local café or library as your base.
Aim to finish at least one new (to you) book a month. The really organised may wish to make a list of outstanding titles, but it’s also good to see what books travel across your path. Remember, it’s almost impossible to be a good writer unless you’re a good reader.
And I don’t mean online. There is no substitute for meeting up with other writers, there’s an energy and a buzz that you just can’t get online. Try and join a local writing group (you may need to try a few) or attend a writing conference or workshop.
Try and have an aim for each month. You can then take each day as it comes but working towards your focus for that month. For example January might be working on your plot and chapter plan, February might be chapters 1-5, and so on.
6. Travel to the Dark or Fluffy side
Come out of your genre comfort zone. If you normally write thrillers, give romance a try, or vice-versa. Don’t worry – you only have to give it a go for a couple of weeks, but you may find you enjoy different genres from those you thought you did, or that you learn something that you can take back to your normal corner.
7. Take your medicine
Check your grammar and spelling. Buy a good guide – or follow Guardian Style on Twitter. Bring your basic level of literacy up a notch and see your work improve as a result.
8. Spread the love
Offer to read a friend’s work (even just three chapters if time is tight) and give your feedback. They may even offer to reciprocate, but it’s good practice for you too to look at writing critically.
9. Trap those ideas
Start an ideas journal if you’ve not already got one. Just carry a small notebook (or the electronic equivalent) around with you for those flashes of genius and inspiration.
10. Go retro
Try handwriting your work if that’s not what you usually do. Studies have shown that this accesses different parts of your brain, and may lead to more inspiration. If you usually handwrite, try typing, or using a recording device to dictate your words.
and 11. The first rule of Write Club is – Write.
Don’t forget – all the rest is the froth on the cappuccino of your effort!