I only have one writing goal for 2017: Improve my writing. That’s it. I like to keep it simple and focused, and I cannot imagine a simpler and more focused goal than that. It’s not that I haven’t worked on improving my writing in the past – I have, but 2017 will be solely about pushing my work to the next level. In 2016, I wrote a lot – certainly over a thousand pages when all is said and done, and I completed two more draft novels. I’ve received some great feedback from other writers and agents, and the reality is that I still have a lot of work to do if I’m ever going to get to the point of publication, so I’m dedicating 2017 to getting better. Much better.
It’s nice to have a goal, but without a plan, it’s worthless. Once again, I’m going to keep it simple. There are three things I’m going to do in 2017 to help me achieve this goal: (1) Read (or finish) five books on writing, (2) Attend the Fifth Semester workshop, and (3) Practice. I’m a glutton for punishment, so I couldn’t resist forming a corny acronym out of my plan called RAP – Read, Attend, Practice. Can you tell I’ve worked in the corporate world for over 20 years? Every morning when I get up to write before work, I will remind myself of RAP and ensure that anything I’m doing with that precious hour falls in line with my plan.
To get even more specific (and focused), here are the five books I plan to read (or finish) on writing:
- Story Trumps Structure by Steven James
- On Writing Well by William Zinsser
- The Art of Character by David Corbett
- How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell
- Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland
All of these books have been recommended to me by other writers or on blogs about writing.
I’m most excited about the Fifth Semester. This four-month-long workshop that includes three-day residencies in Chicago and New York will give me the opportunity to really accelerate my development as a writer. I plan to take my latest novel, Into the Caldera, and put it through the wringer of this course in the hope that I come out with my first publishable novel. It’s a huge investment, but it will pay off in terms of my improvement.
Last, but definitely not least, I will continue to practice by writing at least five days a week during that seminal hour every morning from 5 AM to 6 AM. My focus will not be on completing additional novels; although, I will continue to work on new ideas. Previously, I had set a goal of writing two novels a year, but I’ve backed off that goal as I’ve accumulated seven complete novels and have yet to get to the point of publication. I’ve learned a lot in this process, but now, I need to focus my efforts on getting past novels in the proverbial desk drawer. Much of my practice will be shared here in this blog as has been the case for the past two years. This blog is like my lab, not everything makes it out as a finished product, but at least the experimentation is fun.
Here’s to an exciting and, hopefully, rewarding 2017! Happy New Year!