|Write-able Resolutions for 2014|
Happy new year! Need a jumpstart to get through this week--or year?
Two years ago, I compiled a list of "write-able" resolutions. They will not take long, but they will improve how you write. Here it is again, back by popular demand and with a few new ideas thrown in:
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). In 2013, I enjoyed Good Prose by Tracey Kidder and Richard Todd, and I am now reading The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg.
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."
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.
10. Free-write 15 minutes a day. Use a prompt or a situation that sticks in your mind. React to a picture, a news headline, a snip of music, or your own day's events.
Nothing too bold, nothing too time-consuming. Just a few suggestions that get at both the art and craft of writing. Let me know other ideas--I would love to hear them. And best wishes for a healthy, happy 2014!
Java Jolt with Julia
As many of you know, I have been working with the Civil War diaries of abolitionist Julia Wilbur, who came to Alexandria during the Civil War. You can read about my project in a past issue of this newsletter.
On Saturday, Jan. 25, 10 a.m., I will make a short presentation at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum (on the third floor of the Torpedo Factor on Union Street in Old Town Alexandria.)
Admission is free, but RSVP with an email to Ruth Reeder, the education director at the museum.