Let’s put that year behind us and think about how we can have a much better time in the future. Alas, that was also the opening line of my January newsletter. Maybe you did have a fantastic year, if so well done. Could some of my suggestions help you to make 2022 even better? But if 2021 was pants for you as well as for me, then here are some ideas for improving 2022 without beating yourself up, or setting unrealistic targets.
Firstly, here is that old acronym about goal setting – make goals SMART. That means they should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. So for instance, there is no point in setting yourself the goal of ‘getting an agent’ because that is not in your control. But you could set yourself the goal of ‘approaching one agent a month’. Another for instance, if you know you only have an hour a day to write, don’t set yourself a goal which can’t be achieved in that time. Right, with all that in mind, here goes….
1. Find your sweet spot. Work out the best time of day to write, and keep that time sacred. My May newsletter had some ideas about how to do that.
2. Try something new. Anything you haven’t done before or have avoided. So if you’re a poet, try flash fiction. If you’re a novelist, write a limerick. It’s all about getting the old creative mind out of a rut. You could even sign up to a writing course – my June newsletter covered this.
3. Shake it up a bit. Try varying the point of view, genre, tense. See what unfolds.
4. Read more. You can set yourself a challenge on Goodreads and record your progress there. And here I will allow you to push yourself a bit; if you think you’d normally read 1 book a week, so 52 books a year, set yourself the goal of reading 60. What will happen if you fail this? Nothing, but if you succeed you will be pleased with yourself AND you’ll have devoured some new books. And to help your writing, focus as much as you can on reading newly published books in your genre. If you fancy it, you could follow me on Goodreads, and see if you can out read me! (And to help you get started, do read my last blog which lists my best reads of 2021).
5, Get involved. Join a critique group or a book group. Volunteer to help with something arty. The brilliant thing about doing this is that you will get back more than you give. It really does work. And you’ll be networking at the same time. I covered this a bit in February.
6. Finish something. if you’ve got lots of projects on the go, make yourself see one through to the end.
7. Put yourself out there. Give yourself a challenge to regularly submit your work to an agent, publisher or competition. My March newsletter covered that.
How to write – book of the month
In the spirit of trying something new, this month’s recommended how to write book tells you everything you need to know about writing poetry, and it’s written by national treasure and all round reassuring voice, Stephen Fry. Whether you’ve never written one line of poetry, or whether you’re an expert, there will be something in here for you. It covers metre, rhyme and form in tons of detail, and you can dip in and out wherever and whenever you fancy. This is the only book you’ll ever need.