Writerly Resolutions, New Year’s Resolutions for the Writer in You

2 Jan

It’s that time of year again, when we resolve to do better, become a little wiser, divest ourselves of some of our flaws, and generally try to be what we’re not.  Therefore, I’ve come up with my list of five New Year’s resolutions, aimed at becoming a better and more productive writer.  I hope you will find some hope in them, some inspiration, a warning or two, and maybe a mirror.  Here we go:

RESOLUTION #1:  Put off Procrastination!  Writers – particularly myself – are great avoiders.  That’s because nothing is harder to face than that blank page.  (At least, writers really like to think that.  When pressed, I can actually think of a thousand other things that are more difficult to face – a tax audit for one, cleaning up after my dogs in the back yard for another, and anything that arrives in the mail that begins with the phrase, “We are sure that due to some unintended oversight on your part we have not received…”)   Nevertheless, I’m aware of my problem of waiting to the last moment to write something, and eventually I plan to do something about it.  I’m just not going to rush into anything – okay?

RESOLUTION #2:  (PLEASE NOTE:  This is actually an addendum to Resolution #1.)  Avoid playing online video games!  I really should start this resolution with the phrase, “Hello, I’m Brad Geagley and I’m an online mahjong addict.”  Write a paragraph, play three games of online mahjong.  Hit a bump in your writing, play three games of online solitaire.  The trouble is that it may take ten minutes to write the paragraph, but half-an-hour to play the three games I limit myself to.  Actually, I’m getting a little easier with this because I just read an essay by Jonathan Franzen, who claims that he has won nine games of online solitaire in a row.  My question is this – if I can win ten games of online solitaire in a row, will this make me a better writer than Jonathan Franzen?  I don’t know but I’m going to find out!

RESOLUTION #3:  Focus!  Focus!  Focus!  Do not be waylaid by research!  Avoid Wikipedia!  Since I write novels that are usually historically based, I am called from time to time to research the odd factoid.  For instance, when I was writing “Year of the Hyenas”, which is based in the late period of Ancient Egypt, one of my characters is a potter.  Since I took a ceramics class in college, I know that you can hand-build items using slabs and coils or cast them on a wheel.  But I didn’t know which technique the ancient Egyptians used – so, to the Internet!  Well, Wikipedia did not come right out and tell me the answer, but it had a very interesting sub-article about the kind of clay the Nile produced, and how many of the ancient clay dredgers had been dragged to their deaths by Nile crocodiles, and when I clicked on that sub article, I was stunned to learn that prehistoric crocodiles had actually preyed on such beasts as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, for they had found Albertosaurus remains (which I discovered was a smaller relative of the Rex, found in – where else? – Alberta, Canada) in the fossilized belly of a sixty-foot crocodile, and how the apex predator of the Jurassic still lives among us in rivers and lagoons, only at a much smaller size…well, two hours later I still hadn’t learned whether the Egyptians had built their pots with coils or wheels, and so I wrote that my potter used a wheel – I figured that I’m writing fiction, for God’s sake!  If you want to know more about ancient Egyptian pottery, you go to Wikipedia.

RESOLUTION #4:  Be more Entrepreneurial!  Promote yourself!  Get your name out there!  It’s not enough to be a good writer; sadly, you also have to get yourself known by the public.  If not, you’re that tree in the forest that no one knows has fallen because no one was there to listen to you crack.  Therefore, from now on, for every day of 2012 I’m going to write to Oprah Winfrey and beg her to read my work, and then to promote it on her “O” channel.  And once she has said yes, I will haughtily spurn her approaches, saying that my fiction is high art and that it cannot be sullied by such crass fingers as hers!  After all, it worked for Jonathan Franzen – no one had heard about the little creep before he had kicked her in the teeth.  Or, I might go the James Frey route and write a complete work of fiction and tell the apparently-credulous Ms. Winfrey that it is the absolute truth.  How foolish she will look then, and how superior I will seem!  (She has obviously never written a thing herself, for she doesn’t know the fact that, when caught between writing a better sentence or telling the simple truth, most writers will choose the sentence.  As Livy said, “I would have had Pompey win the battle of Pharsalus if it meant a more beautiful turn of phrase.”)  At any rate, I’m absolutely sure that Oprah will answer me and then I’ll be made!  PR problem solved!

RESOLUTION #5:  Write ten usable pages every day!  And I will do that just as soon as I finish my game of mahjong, read that article on mahjong’s origins and how the Chinese Emperors once banned it as irreligious and right after I’ve heard from Oprah.

There.  I feel much better now that I have a really workable plan.

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51 Responses to “Writerly Resolutions, New Year’s Resolutions for the Writer in You”

  1. bookxoxo January 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Inspirational and relative to many a thought already in my head for the new year. I enjoy reading, but I like to write about what I read even more. Thank you for an post that is kind of like – oh say…a push off the end of the plank. 🙂

    • Brad Geagley January 4, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

      That’s fitting, pirates are like writers… thievery is in our tool box.
      Happy New Year!
      Brad

  2. Bill Brown January 2, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Excellent list. And thanks for visiting my site earlier. Bill Brown, Amongst My Enemies. My resolution is to stay off blog sites and just write. Like you, where did the day go?

    • Brad Geagley January 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

      Blogs are great, as motivation and connecting with other artists and of course, selling books… better than solitaire. Oh boy, look at the time.
      Best, Brad

  3. A.J. O'Connell January 2, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    I’m with you on Resolution #3. Research gets me every time. I’ll go to Wikipedia to research drag queens, and three hours later I’ve learned everything there is to know about Anne Boleyn and watched several scenes from Showtime’s “Tudors.” It’s a real problem.
    Great list!

    • Brad Geagley January 2, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      A.J., It’s because interesting people are so interested in everything. But put a timer on and get back to writing. Can’t wait to read what you’re writing. Happy New Year!
      Brad

  4. wynwords January 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    As a writer who has been procrastinating for way too long… wow. That mirror trick really works. Although I have actually dipped my toes back in, with book reviews, there’s nothing set in even invisible ink for goals.

    Mayhaps its time to dust off the plot book.

    Thanks!

    • Brad Geagley January 2, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      Dust away! Can’t wait to read what your writing. Writers have to stick together.
      Happy New Year! Keep me posted, Brad

  5. The Mad Hatter January 3, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    Excellent list and Good luck with #2! It took me a long time to quit playing online euchre. Unfortunately, I’m still fighting against the time warp that is Google (#3). I’ve lost several hours on Wiki pages already this year

    • Brad Geagley January 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

      Push on Hatter! Can’t wait to read what you write!
      Brad

  6. Colin January 3, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    Great post Brad. Procrastination is indeed the greatest enemy of anyone who writes, whether professionally or (like myself) as a pastime. And I quite agree – trying to maintain focus on what you’re actually supposed to be doing is a major struggle sometimes.

  7. maxeyhouse January 3, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    As always, thank you for your inspiration, as well as a delightful read……

  8. lula1234 January 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by at my blog and through yours revealing to me that I am not alone! I write a lot as part of my job and have just recently taken to blogging to develop my creative writing, to be inspired and to inspire, and I absolutely identify with 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5! As a matter of fact, my potential saving grace is that one of my online games is due to be shut down on Jan 31st, but for some reason, this is a motivation for me to rack up as many levels and masteries as possible – what for? I don’t know – it won’t even matter in 28 days…

    • Brad Geagley January 4, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

      Lula, Resist the urge to find a new outlet… Let it be all about the writing. Good Luck! And keep me posted!
      Brad

      • lula1234 January 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

        I will take advantage of the opportunity to resist! Thanks Brad!

  9. baboonreviews January 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Brilliant! I love this post. Funny stuff and oh so very true….

  10. susanmccrea January 3, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Hi Brad. Thanks for dropping by my blog today and reading my book review about “the angel of Tucson”, Christina-Taylor Green. I enjoyed your advice to us writers, inspired by a new year, who are determined to really write in 2012! There was a lot of wisdom in between your wit – no procrastination, avoid distractions and rabbit trails, promote self, and WRITE daily! Thanks!

  11. kmharrington January 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    I often procrastinate thus losing focus and finally accomplishing something I never set out to do. Keep your heads up fellow facebookers, pinterestites, netflixanatics, and mahjongenaires.

    [thanks for liking my post on http://www.fourthxrugby.wordpress.com ]

    all the best-

    • Brad Geagley January 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

      Happy New Year Kayleigh, and Happy Writing!
      Brad

  12. jessesublett January 4, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    Good points, all of them. Enjoyed reading this, even though I should be writing.

    • Brad Geagley January 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      Jesse,
      We all need a moment or two… Happy writing! And Happy New Year!
      Brad

  13. YoshiAnn January 4, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    Love this list, it’s both funny and true =) Hopefully, you’ll be able to keep up with it – I know that I’m terrible with the actual follow-through on my resolutions.
    Also, thanks for stopping by Beautiful & Distracted the other day!

    YoshiAnn

    • Brad Geagley January 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      YoshiAnn, I’m so glad you liked the list. I’m posting an excerpt from my newest novel, tomorrow. Stay tuned!
      Brad

      • YoshiAnn January 4, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

        Absolutely. Can’t wait to read it!

  14. inspiredbysandy January 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Hi Brad,

    Thanks for liking my Cinder book review! I’m going to have to work on Resolution #1, as I got sucked into your blog and put off writing for a few more minutes. 🙂 I totally relate to this post, and I’m very happy to be connected to another writer who is even more easily distracted by the wicked world wide web than I am.

    My best,
    Sandy

    • Brad Geagley January 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      Sandy,
      What’s two minutes… ten minutes… ? Oh well, you should just download my new book and get back in bed to read the day away!
      Best, Brad

  15. Chaos Mechanica January 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    I love these! And incredibly relevant to what my thought process is right now. Very awesome!

    • Brad Geagley January 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

      Wonderful! I began the blog as a way to promote my recent mystery novel, The Stand In. But it has provided such a great community of writers and readers. I’m enjoying it to no end. (And of course, I’m hoping folks will buy and review my book…)
      Good luck with your writing.
      Best, Brad

  16. Jane Dring January 5, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    Brilliant and thanks for the like Brad. Happy New Year!
    Jane

  17. sterlingsop January 5, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    Brilliant! You must have a spy on my laptop…how did you know about my online gaming habit?! It’s a major source of distraction and procrastination for me and it robs so much of my time I wonder just what I could get done if I wasn’t online every day.

  18. molivermade January 6, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    truth with a bit of humor…gotta go, the year is already slipping away.

  19. Nella January 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    Ok, you’ve helped me with this one. I am going to follow your rules – the one that is most apt for me is the carrying on doing research. I love researching; it’s far easer than writing. I don’t play online games, but I check my email compulsively (and reply to comments like I’m doing now instead of writing).

    • Brad Geagley January 8, 2012 at 9:19 am #

      Nella, Research is very seductive, but we have to stay on task. Good luck!
      Best,
      Brad

  20. flyingscribbler January 7, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    Just knowing all these writers procranstinate as much as each other makes me feel better about myself. The fact that we all do it, yet still get stuff written, must be sign of hope? Yes? Please say yes.

  21. Author Mary J. McCoy-Dressel January 7, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    Okay, it’s time to stop playing Mahjong, at least for a while, and get at least a paragraph written. 🙂 I’m not hooked on online games but I have my own distractions. I needed to read these resolutions for writers–great tips. Glad you shared. Thanks for stopping by my blog and hitting LIKE.

    • Brad Geagley January 8, 2012 at 9:17 am #

      Mary, Good luck with your writing.
      Best,
      Brad

  22. Ileandra Young January 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Crikey but that all feels familiar. My problem at the moment is Diamond Dash on Facebook. Thankfully it takes 8 minutes to recharge each ‘heart’ that allows me to play, so the gap forces me to do some writing.
    …or mooch around other people’s blogs and write comments about the fact that I should be writing. 😉

    • Brad Geagley January 8, 2012 at 9:17 am #

      Ileandra, If you are mooching around, I’m glad it’s here.
      Best,
      Brad

  23. Lora @ Crazy Book Reviews January 9, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Great list!! Never play Snood… that game is a time suck!

    • Brad Geagley January 11, 2012 at 10:03 am #

      Note to self, avoid Snood.
      Thanks for reading.
      Best,
      Brad

  24. Geri, The History Lady January 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    But Brad, you didn’t mention staying away from “Words with Friends” specifically… I assume that’s still OK?

    I love, love what you said about research — it is true that I like to be as accurate as possible, but chasing after some small tidbit can take you down a rabbit hole faster than Alice, and with less amusing consequences. It does not further the plot and your head will feel like it is cut-off!

    Thanks for the “like” on my blog.
    Geri

    • Brad Geagley January 11, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Geri,
      Oooohhh sure. Word with Friends is perfectly acceptable to do instead of writing. And I hear there are professional tournaments where one can win and earn the same kind of creative satisfaction that writing brings.
      NOT.
      We all feel the pull of the rabbit hole of research. Thanks for reading and commenting.
      Best,
      Brad

  25. Keri Peardon January 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    LOL, this sounds similar to my ongoing struggle with the more general flaw of procrastination.

    And I resemble the remark that a simple trip to the internet to look for a single fact results in a tangle of tangents. (Hmm, “tangle of tangents” sounds impressive and artistic; I’ll have to remember it.)

    With my first historic novel, I did very little research during the initial writing; I went back during revisions and looked up specific details. For instance, I just went ahead and wrote about a village which had certain geographical details and was approximately 15 miles from Prague. It was only during revisions that I sat down with a map and determined the name of my village. Oddly enough, it was faster to find a real place which matched my fictional place than to research a bunch of real places then pick one to write about.

    In your case, it’s faster to just write about your Egyptian using a potter’s wheel, and then later check that the potter’s wheel indeed existed at the time, than to research the much more vague and broad subject of Egyptian pottery.

    (And, for the record, it took me about two minutes on Wikipedia to find out that yes, the pottery wheel existed during your time period and was in use in Egypt. So you’re good to go!) If you have a good, general knowledge of your topic going into writing, your instincts will generally turn out right.

    • Brad Geagley January 11, 2012 at 10:10 am #

      Keri,
      One of the wonderful things about being with a major publishing house, was fact checkers. I’m keen on research and detail, but was put to the test by the professional fact checkers with Simon & Schuster. I was in awe and maddened by her prodigious skills.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.
      Best,
      Brad

  26. miq January 11, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Haha! Love the resolutions/advice. And that there is a bit of humor thrown in. But honestly, mahjong helps the creative juices flow.

    • Brad Geagley January 11, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      If that’s true, you are a better creative than I. It’s all about balance right?
      And Mahjong. And Words with Friends. And Angry Birds.
      Best,
      Brad

  27. sustainabilitea January 13, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    Brad, thanks for being the first person to “like” something I wrote on my new blog! I can see that I’ll be checking your blog regularly, too, although I’m not currently writing books. I do love to write, however, and want to do a children’s book with our younger daughter, a talented artist, so I’ll look for ideas and encouragement here.

    • Brad Geagley January 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone.
      Best,
      Brad

  28. unicoachingster January 19, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Brad, not sure where to have left this, but I want to let you know I appreciated your like and follow on my Skooter Girl blog. Alas Skooter Girl (Amy) is sitting on her butt somewhere in a park with no place to go because I haven’t brought her any life recently. I’m attempting to learn how to blog and begin my following on http://lifesthirdtrimester.wordpress.com but Amy has many adventures to relate and is my sweet coming of age book I’ve been working on for about 10 years now (sorry to say). I’m inspired by your resolutions post and am happy to have found you. Thanks

  29. journeyofjordannaeast January 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    One of the best blog posts I’ve read since I joined wordpress. And I especially love that I could have written it myself since it describes my writing obstacles to a T. Haha. Good luck!

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