Many writers are stressed at the end of the year, not because of holiday parties, last-minute shopping, or a second batch of cookies, but because it’s time to plan next year’s writing progress with the dreaded New Year’s resolutions. Instead of getting stumped on the same “write more, write better” goal, these 31 writing-related resolutions – one for every day of January – offer ideas every writer can embrace for a productive and profitable new year.
1. Write Daily: Even if the muse vanishes, keep polishing your skills by writing every day, if only a rough draft, scattered notes, or a revision of an older piece.
2. Self-Edit: The spellchecker is nowhere near as effective as a real editor. Reread, read aloud, and revise your work to polish it perfectly.
3. Try New Genres: Expand your market by embracing new types of writing. Always write fiction? Try a how-to article on crafting believable characters. Nonfiction writers – make that attempt at a short story. Poems, greeting cards, and grant proposals are other great options.
4. Get Educated: Enhance your skills by enrolling in a writing course or expand your expertise by choosing a hobby-based class you can write about.
5. Add a Subscription: Subscribe to a new writing newsletter or magazine or choose a publication in a field you frequently write about to stay up on the latest trends.
6. Go Query Crazy: Queries can be quick to write, so write more of them. Aim to have a certain number circulating at all times, and when you get one response send out a new query that same day.
7. Embrace the Internet: Online marketing is critical for writers, so now is the time to get that website or blog up and running. Already have one? Add new features and content to attract more visitors.
8. Think Outside the Border: Thousands of magazines, newsletters, and newspapers are published in every country – think outside your nationality and send an idea to a foreign publication.
9. Attend a Conference: Choose a writing conference that can help build your skills and will provide new networking opportunities.
10. Get Critical: Join a critique group or start a local one dedicated to your type of writing.
11. Go for the Gold: Enter a contest, or more than one. Many contests are available for free or low-cost entries, and recognition as an award winning writer is well worth it.
12. Repeat Yourself: Dig through your old files and refresh pieces to sell as reprints.
13. Stay in Touch: Follow up with editors about queries and submissions. Sometimes replies get lost in the mail and an extra note can lead to a sale.
14. Negotiate: You’re worth a higher pay rate, so talk to an editor about how to get one.
15. Just Say No: To free or low-paying markets, that is. Drop a poor market in favor of pursuing better opportunities.
16. Read for Pleasure: Enjoying a new book or favorite magazine will remind you why you wanted to be a writer in the first place.
17. Get Organized: File those financial records and receipts to make tax time more efficient and less painful. Organize queries, submissions, and client files to help your entire business run smoothly.
18. Read Your Mentors: Read books by your favorite authors in your genre, noting why you like them so you can adapt their successful strategies to your own writing.
19. Upgrade: Choose a better computer, nicer office furniture, or custom business cards to establish yourself as a professional and boost your productivity.
20. Go Pro: Enhance your credentials by becoming a member of a professional writing or editing association and reap the membership benefits.
21. Market Yourself: Advertise in writing newsletters, print bookmarks for local bookstores, arrange a book signing, or otherwise get the word out about your work.
22. Learn Photography: A picture can add a new dimension to your writing and a new digit to your paycheck.
23. Get Local: Investigate local and regional magazines, weekly newspapers, and other markets that would love to feature a hometown writer.
24. Take a Break: Schedule downtime to relax and prevent writing burnout that can take a hefty toll on your career and your bank account.
25. Mark Your Territory: Designate your writing space, whether it is a home office, a computer armoire, or a favorite coffee shop table, and use that space for work alone.
26. Be Narcissistic: Post clips of your most prestigious articles on the walls of your office, the refrigerator, or anywhere they can offer inspiration and remind you that you can succeed.
27. Network: Cultivate your friends and family members for their expertise and attend local events featuring experts who can be valuable resources for your writing.
28. Time Yourself: Write for longer periods each day and find uninterrupted time when you can be most productive.
29. Be a Writer: When asked what you do for a living, be honest and say you’re a writer. Get writing business cards and be proud of your career.
30. Thank an Editor: Individual feedback, a swift reply, fast payment, and other good attention always deserve thanks that can build a relationship for future work.
31. Enjoy Writing: If you enjoy it, you’ll do it more and do it better, and that is the best way to be more productive and profitable.
Melissa Mayntz is the About.com Guide to Birding and Wild Birds, writes and edits frequently for LoveToKnow.com, and is a local stringer for a weekly paper. Her work has appeared in newspapers, newsletters, magazines, and websites, and she edits for both publishers and individual writers. Visit http://www.MelissaMayntz.com for more details.