(This was originally written for a writer’s workshop in 2001.
I’ve updated it slightly to serve as New Year’s Resolutions for 2015 and onwards.)
Writers should be committed. No one whom lives with a writer will question that. Writers cry over imaginary tragedies that happen to made-up people. Writers laugh at funny things nonexistent people say. Writers get that faraway look, and it’s hard to get our attention. We lose track of time. Dinners don’t get cooked. We stay up all night at keyboards. We see things that aren’t there. You can’t reject us enough to make us quit, be you lover or publisher.
So, we’re different. We know that. We’re writers. Now to what should we, as writers, be committed?
Commit to work. No waiting for “inspiration” to strike out of the blue. No one builds a story on one day’s work a year. Keep going when the pure inspiration wears off. Writing is work, even if it is fun!
Commit to paper. No one ever revised a blank page. Thinking about writing doesn’t count! Do you want to write, or do you want to “be a writer”? Not the same thing!
Commit to improving your writing. Grammar rules and Spelling are part of your toolbox. Spell Check. As you read-and you should read—notice how other writers handle things you struggle with. Practice may not make perfect, but it makes better.
Commit to time. Books are not written in a day, or a week. Write as little as one page per day, and in a year you have a book. Patience pays!
Commit to priorities. Make writing one of yours, right up there with your job, your family. Save energy for your writing. Choose a work time when you’re alert and interested. Don’t leave it for the last scrap of the day when you’re half asleep, tired, easily discouraged. You deserve better.
Commit to keeping on. Never be negative, no matter how it’s going. Giving up is no answer. Don’t train yourself to quit. Don’t abandon a project as soon as the going gets sticky.
Commit to serial monogamy. Keep at a story till it’s done, then go on to the next. Give each story everything you’ve got! Aim to finish what you start.
Commit to goals. Make them reasonable. Make them achievable. Make them reasonable. “I will write every day”, not “I will write a best-seller.” As you meet goals, set the bar higher. Stretch and grow.
Commit to you. Don’t compare yourself to other writers in a negative way. You are you. No one else is. Be kind to yourself. Recharge your creative self. Read. Listen to music. Walk. Eat right. Don’t do anything to excess.
Commit to keeping up with the field. Read books. Read whatever you’re trying to write. Knowledge is power, so study the history, the trends. Read outside your chosen field as well—good things are found everywhere. You never know what will be useful or inspiring. Writers who don’t read are rare. Successful writers who don’t read are rarer still.
Commit to keeping up with the market. Do your research—browse the internet, visit book stores. If a field is saturated, then your book must be sensational to stand out. Best to understand this. Know what your competition is.
Commit to hope. It’s the book that gets the one-star review, not you! Feel the pain, then move on. Write more. Vent into a journal. Eat chocolate. Go for a walk. Don’t waste energy flaming the reviewer, don’t beat yourself up, just go write something! The next project is always the best!