Happy New Year!
Need a jumpstart to get through this week--or year?
Here are a few "write-able" things that will not take long but will improve how you write in 2011 and beyond.
1. Revise one more time. No matter how many times you usually revise something, go through one additional revision. You will catch all sorts of things that otherwise would slip by.
2. Ask one more person than you usually do for feedback (which means, of course, if you don't normally ask anyone, ask one person). Another set of eyes will give you a fresh perspective.
3. Attend one literary reading. Bookstores, the Library of Congress, and universities all schedule regular readings by poets and prose writers. I'm not suggesting weekly or even monthly attendance, unless that is what you enjoy doing. Just try one. It is very inspiring.
4. Read one book about the craft of writing. Two of my favorites are by William Zinsser (On Writing Well and Inventing the Truth). Others I go back to include On Writing by Stephen King (yes, that Stephen King) and Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande (written in 1934!).
5. Write one piece in a genre you have never tried. A poem, an op-ed, a travel article--something you don't normally try. Make it short. Don't spend a lot of time on it unless you get inspired. But stretch yourself a bit.
6. Read one literary classic. Go back to an author of your choice--Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Herman Melville, or any other author that you have been "meaning to get to."
7. Bookmark one new reference website that you will actually use. A few possibilities: The Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online, Chicago Manual of Style Online, or the Mayo Clinic, depending on your needs and interests.
8. Schedule an artist's date that does not involve words. Those familiar with Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way know she suggests a weekly "artist's date"--a walk in nature, a museum, an interesting shop--to get the creative juices flowing. In this case, help your writing through something visual, musical, or tactile.
9. Write a letter (not an e-mail) to a friend or family member. You might even consider doing something really daring, like handwriting it.
Nothing too bold, nothing too time-consuming. Just a few suggestions that get at both the art and craft of writing. Let me know what other ideas you have--I would love to hear them. And best wishes for a healthy, happy 2011!
Accounting for 2010
Here's a report on my two writing-related resolutions of 2010:
- Write 12 essays or nonfiction pieces: Semi-success. I drafted about one-third that number, then segued into research and a small website on fascinating history: Alexandria, Union-occupied in the Civil War. My main creative writing goal for 2011: delving more into the characters and events of that time.
- Join or form a book club: This one I did. When I couldn't find a nearby group to join, I proposed a book club through my neighborhood email list. About 10 of us now meet every other month. When we read Stroke of Insight, we heard from one of our neighbors about her own stroke and recovery. When we read Three Cups of Tea, we heard from a neighbor with a son about to go to Afghanistan with the Marines. Great conversations that I would not otherwise have had.
(As you can see, I am a fan of not over-resolving to improve my chances of accomplishing.)
|Get in Touch!|
Do you have a book, website, or blog to share with other readers in 2011?
Do you have a question related to writing or editing I can cover in this newsletter, or suggestions about how I can make past issues more useful to you or your colleagues?
Please let me know.