Revisiting My Resolutions for Writers

26 Mar

Happy Monday! I’ve got a crazy busy schedule this week and thought I’d revisit the resolutions for writers I posted in January as a way of prodding you to take stock of where you are today with your novel or play or screenplay. I’d love to hear from you and where you are and where you want to be in your writing. Don’t forget to share this if you enjoyed it. There’s s pull-down button with all the links you’ll need to spread the word, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, PressThis. And if you’re not familiar with the tools, this is a great place to start and trust me as a writer you need to know each of them.

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.


14 Responses to “Revisiting My Resolutions for Writers”

  1. robincoyle March 26, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    Good list and good luck with your stalking of Oprah!

  2. Sandra Mauck March 26, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    I’m with you Gregg. I am adopting your points. This applies to entrepreneurial blog writers as well.

    • Brad Geagley March 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

      Sandra, Thanks for reading, it absolutely applies to blogging.

  3. Elke Feuer March 26, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Unfortunately mine are not as funny as yours :-), but I’m hanging in there with my resolutions for 2012, although I had to make some adjustments when I found out I’m expecting.

    Can’t wait to dig into your prior articles about Mystery Writing. It’s a new avenue for me and I need all the help I can get.

  4. M. L. Doyle March 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    I’ve been better at keeping my healthy lifestyle resolutions than I’ve been at keeping my writing resolutions. For example, the resolution that I would write a blog post every week, or that I’d get the rewrite for the latest project done by … about a month ago.

    Thanks for reminding me that I’ve got some work to do!

  5. friday is for fiction March 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    Hiya Brad, definitley working on resolutionn 4. Resolution 5…. can’t seem to write new stuff and edit. How do you get around that?

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    PS sorry about the repetition, forgot to tick the notify me box

  6. livingwater2009 March 28, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Love the writers advice. Been feeling a nudge to commit more time to write every day.This post was another nudge. Thanks for posting this useful information. I am not used to self promoting, nice to be encouraged to do so by another writer.

  7. Dawn Pisturino March 28, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Great post!

  8. maroon5gurl88 March 28, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    I try to do this when I blog regularly, thanks for the reminders!

  9. rayworth1973 March 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Of all of those, promoting is probably the hardest to to!

  10. nrpramik April 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    Great resolutions! Years ago, I resolved to write at least one page a day in some kind of project (usually a novel). Keeping it to one page helps me feel not so burdened down, especially if I have a great deal of grading to do. (I teach English for a partial living; the other part I hope comes from novel writing if I can ever get one fully edited!) It’s been said that you’ll never find time to write, you have to make time. And if you’re passionate about writing, it should eventually become a natural routine to your day. I’m definitely keeping this list nearby! 🙂

    • rayworth1973 April 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

      I also write something every day, but for a long time lately, it’s either something for my blog, or editing something I’ve already written.

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