In this blog post, we look at five unique strategies to kick-start your writing in the New Year.
New Year, new writing ambitions
Many of us start the New Year with a blank page, both metaphorically and literally. We have a whole year ahead of us to start afresh – with stories we’re itching to tell, a novel to edit or revise, and perhaps even a screenplay to tackle.
However, before you plunge in headfirst, take a moment to pause. Have you really let go of your writing baggage from the year that’s been? If you didn’t achieve your writing goals, why? Why did you let things slip? And will this year be any different?
It’s always helpful to reflect on the year gone past – this can be in the form on an honest, but gentle written audit, or a quiet hour sitting and mulling over your writing ambitions.
5 Fresh Starts To Your Writing
If you’re struggling to get started on your writing, here are five innovative methods to help kick-start your next creative project.
Start From Zero
While this may sound defeatist, it actually isn’t. For many writers, guilt weighs heavily on our shoulders. When you push a hard reset, you are forced to let go of the past, which includes all the unfinished manuscripts and false starts, the hours you believe were ‘wasted’, and, most importantly, the guilt.
▀ Top tip: Create a clearance certificate for the next year and paste it up at your writing desk.
Challenge One Myth About Yourself
Sometimes we create narratives about our writing that aren’t necessarily true. Put another way, when we listen to that nagging, critical little voice in the back of our minds, we start to believe it. At the start of this new year, why not challenge just one myth you have about yourself?
For example, you could be telling yourself:
- ‘I’m just not that talented.’
- ‘I have to focus on raising my kids.’
- ‘I don’t think anyone would be interested in the story I want to tell.’
Yes, any of these may be true – but they may also not be true. You need to find a way to interrupt and circumvent that internal critic.
For example, you can start telling yourself:
- ‘I may not be as talented as my favourite writer, but I have enough talent to tell my own story.’
- ‘I can allow more time to write my story so that it doesn’t affect my parenting.’
- ‘I’m going to write the most interesting story I can without worrying about an audience or publication.’
Turn Excuses Into Experiments
If there is one thing writers are great at, it’s finding excuses. These excuses run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Often, the invention of these excuses shows our imagination and creativity at its best. We continually come up with excuses as to why can’t or shouldn’t be writing.
This year it’s time to attack these excuses with an altogether different strategy. It’s time to turn every excuse on its head.
Excuse: ‘I’m too tired to write tonight.’
Experiment: ‘I’m going to have a warm shower and see if I feel better.’
Excuse: ‘I can’t seem to focus on my writing.’
Experiment: ‘I will focus for just five minutes or finish just one page of my story.’
Excuse: ‘I have to cook the family meal.’
Experiment: ‘I will prepare two meals in advance each week.’
▀ Top tip: Like any good experiment, it may be helpful to record the ‘findings’ of your experiment.
List The Little Victories
When we have taken an extended break from our writing, it’s hard to see our successes over the last year. We’re so busy putting ourselves down, we forget the minor ‘wins’ we’ve accumulated. Sometimes writing is a bit like an awkward dance – two steps forward, one step back.
As we reflect on our writing in the past year, perhaps it’s time to record a few of our victories. The list could look something like this:
- ‘I regularly attended my writing group..’
- ‘I read and studied six novels.’
- ‘I wrote in my journal every day.’
- ‘I sorted out the notes for my novel.’
- ‘I stayed off social media when I knew I had a deadline.’
▀ Top tip: Keep a small notebook to record your daily victories.
Make A Contract
Just as you can start from zero, you can also renegotiate what you want from your writing in a new year.
If you’ve decided to give up your idealistic dream of writing a post-modern instant classic that is sure to scoop the Booker Prize, to instead write a detective story, that’s fine – you can set your writing on a new course. The important element of a contract with your writing self is to stick to it.
Keep in mind:
- As much as a contract is a promise to do something, it can also be a promise not to do something, too (e.g. ‘I won’t abandon my first draft halfway through.’)
- You must see the value in what you’re doing in your writing (e.g., ‘I believe it will be helpful to others if I share my own story or journey.’)
- Don’t commit to a writing project if you don’t feel emotionally attached to it; at the very least, it should be an exciting topic.
- Be clear as to what you expect from your writing and yourself during the year ahead.
- If possible, create a timeline for the project you’ve set yourself; break down the task into smaller, achievable objectives.
▀ Top tip: If you feel you can’t keep a promise to yourself, talk to a friend or fellow writer – they can help keep you accountable.
The Last Word
In parting, let’s remember the words of the writer of iconic Westerns, Louis L’Amour: ‘Start writing, no matter what. Water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.’
More Posts From Anthony:
- 8 Ways To Uncover Your Character’s Motivations
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- Writer In Search Of A Novel – Finding Your Genre As A New Novelist
- Writing For Tweens & Teens? 8 Insights For Middle Grade & Young Adult Authors
- Ready To Save The Cat?
- 5 Simple Steps To Writing A Short Story
- 2 Questions To Find Your Writing Process
- 11 Popular Sub-Genres In Fantasy Romance
- Write Your Synopsis Without Losing The Essence Of Your Story