Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Writer's Top 10 New Year Resolutions

You may be one of those big goal setters, ready to tackle your list of New Year resolutions on January 1st. Or you may be like me, hating those long lists of goals that never get filled, and deciding to pick just One Word to use as the lens through which you look at your life this year. (See Seekerville's post about One Word and see my post here to see my one word.)

But a writer is different from the average person. A writer needs goals. We need resolutions to help us traverse the rocky journey of the writing life. So I've put together a writer's top 10 resolutions for this new year of 2011.

10. Start and finish a new novel. Pretty basic, but the hallmark of a writer is not just starting a book, but finishing a book.

9. Edit your finished novel. You can't pitch an unedited novel, because, well, it would never get looked at. Polish that baby up!

8. Join a critique group or get a critique partner. You can edit your book on your own, but you will never see all it's mistakes and problems on your own. You need another pair of eyes to help you story bleed red with correction, making it the book it needs to be. ACFW offers a critique pool. To sign up, go HER E. (You have to be a member to access this site.)

7. Write a synopsis. The dreaded synopsis is not quite so daunting a task if you learn how to do it right. Camy Tang has a fabulous synopsis worksheet that takes you step by step through the process. I have used it and can honestly say it was the only thing that got me through it! You can order it for $5 HERE. Also, Kaye Dacus has a post about it that is very helpful. Access it HERE.

6. Query for an agent. The sad truth is that if you go the traditional publishing route, you need an agent to get your manuscript looked at. Do your research when locating agents to query. Find the right one for your genre and style. Michael Hyatt has a great list of literary agents who represent Christian authors HERE.

5. Go to a writing conference. Conferences offer a wealth of information in regards to writing and all things publishing. Many provide opportunities to meet agents and editors--a great place to get your foot in the door and get some experience pitching. For a good list of Christian writing conferences, go HERE.

4. Read several books on the writing craft. There are many good books on writing that provide tools necessary in developing a well written book that will grab the reader. For a list of resources, see our Resource Shop Page above or go HERE. Also, author Jody Hedlund has an extensive list of writing books HERE.

3. Subscribe to great blogs about writing and the writing life. Of course, all our Alley Cat Gals here have fabulous blogs and you can access them in the side bar. Here are a few others that are extremely helpful.
2. Read. Yes, read books in the genre you are writing. Read books in a variety of genres. Read for pleasure. Read to "research". Read, read, read!

1. Write every day. Writers write and writers should keep up the practice. 1000 words a day will get you a book in about three months. So write to your heart's delight, letting your creativity and words flow free.

So there are my Top Ten Resolutions for writers. What would you add to the list?


Keli Gwyn said...

This is a great list, Sherrinda. One thing I'd consider adding is to enter a contest. I've gotten wonderful feedback from judges that has taught me a great deal. A side benefit is that if you final, your entry is seen by one or more publishing professionals.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Keli! Of course! How could I have forgotten contests! It is an invaluable tool on the writing journey. Thanks for the reminder. :) BTW...what are you doing up so early/late?

Debra E. Marvin said...

This year I will finish edits, send out for full critiques, submit to agent. Those are my absolutes. The 'wannas' are of course . . . agent contract, The Call, first sale party. Dreams are important, too!

I'm only responsible for completing my part of the formula.

Oh, I might do one contest this year.

Jody Hedlund said...

Great list, Sherrinda! Although getting an agent has become an integral part of the process, I'm not sure that I'd describe having to get one as "sad." :-) (Although I know what you're referring to--the discouragement and difficulty of finding one as being sad!)

I really think getting an agent is incredibly helpful in finding the right publisher. I don't know that I would have submitted to Bethany House on my own (if I could have), but my agent knew it was the perfect fit for my books. So I'm grateful for the wisdom and help in finding the perfect partner.

Thank you so much for mentioning my blog and my book link! You're such a sweetheart! Hope you'll have a wonderful year! :-)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Awesome post, Sherrinda! I've been reading lots of novels but no writing craft books in the last few months. I think it's time to pull one out next.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Great advice! This definitely will be in my list of favorite posts for 2011. Thanks, Sherrinda. I'm going right now to check out those "here"s you listed above.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Check. Check. Check. That's what I kept saying to myself as I read these. Wonderful list and resources and Jody couldn't be any more personable.
~ Wendy

Casey said...

What a great list Sherrinda. :) I like it! Nearly all of them I hope to be doing in the coming year. I don't think I will be quering agents for sometime to come. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Thanks for all the comments. Sorry to have gotten back so late in the day. I worked a 10-1/2 hour day and am just getting to relax on the couch with my laptop. Whew!

Jody, I don't really mean it is sad that you have to get an agent. It just seems to be a difficult thing to do these days. (At least for most people!) :) I know it is a HUGE advantage and I will be looking for one at some point. Thanks for stopping by!

MaDonna Maurer said...

Thanks for a great list. Reminds me that I need to up the number of books on the craft of writing. And I love the One Word for the year. I'm still processing what it should be for me. I'm a processor for sure! =)