Fremantle Press editor Armelle Davies offers her six top tips to writers on how to make effective new year resolutions … and how to make sure you stick to them.
1. Set yourself a routine
Try to write at the same time every day. Even if you’re not feeling inspired enough to continue with your work in progress or start a new piece, make notes and lists, create word associations, copy out passages from your favourite books, anything you can do to keep the muscle memory of writing strong. It’ll pay off after a while as you find yourself getting into the habit of seeing this as ‘writing time’ and the words will flow as soon as you sit down at your desk.
2. Find your writing space
Make or find a specific place to dedicate to your writing that’s free from distractions. Depending on how you work best, this could be somewhere you keep free from clutter or one that’s covered with notes and scribbles and pictures that inspire you. It could even be in a park or at your local library. Much like writing at the same time each day, writing in the same place will help put you straight into the writing zone.
3. Keep yourself accountable
Writing can be a solitary process, but for most successful writers, it takes a village to raise a book. Join a writers group, tell a friend about your progress, post updates on Facebook, make plans to participate in a writing challenge like NaNoWriMo. Whatever you do, make sure there’s someone else who’s invested in your work and wants to see it finished. Not only is it an excellent way to chart your progress and keep you writing, you’ll also get some useful feedback and probably find that the support you get will ease your doubts.
4. Create some unblockers
Writer’s block is common to most creatives, but instead of staring at a blank page and waiting for inspiration to strike, create yourself a list of exercises to ease you back into creativity. If you’re stuck halfway through a piece, write around your main story by doing character studies and questionnaires, writing alternate timelines and exploring potential subplots or drawing out maps of the setting. If you’re struggling to start something new, there are plenty of lists of prompts online to get you going, or you could challenge yourself to write in a different genre to what you’re used to. If nothing is working, don’t try to force it. Go out and take a walk, or get some inspiration from reading.
5. Set deadlines
Entering competitions is a great source of motivation because it forces you to work to a deadline. Research competitions that will suit your chosen genre and put the dates up somewhere you can see them. It’ll motivate you when you feel stuck and give you something to aim for. Winning isn’t necessarily the aim here, but there are some great prizes on offer for emerging writers, and getting on a longlist or shortlist will get your name out there and might even attract the attention of publishers. Check out the Fogarty Literary Award, a significant new literary award that’s just been unveiled for 2019.
6. Look after yourself
Take time out for some self-care every once in a while. Writing is an exhausting thing to do, both emotionally and physically, and there will be days you can’t manage it. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and make sure that if you need a break, you take one. There’s always tomorrow.