Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year, A New Page

We will open the book. Its pages are blank.
We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.
- Edith Lovejoy Pierce

I’m not a resolution maker. I’ve done it and then promptly broken the resolutions before the fizz was off the champagne. Instead, I like to think about what the next year has in store. Like the verse above says, it’s a new book, the pages are blank, and I have the opportunity to fill them.

As writers, we’re all well-acquainted with the blank page. Most of us have greeted the clean white page with the excitement that comes with freely-flowing ideas and the abundance of words that wait to spill from us. Alternately, we’ve watched the cursor blink, blink, blink, on the blank page as we struggle to find a way to begin. The blank page is both a blessing and a curse.

Here are few ways to keep your writer's enthusiasm in the coming year -a few ideas for keeping the blank page filled:

Write everyday. We’ve all heard this advice countless times because it’s true. Have a goal and stick to it. Make a time to write every day. Meet your muse at the appointed time and she’ll reward you. Some of us work better with word-count goals, some of us with set-time goals, and some of us with rewards. Whatever works, use it, and watch your story grow.

Read everyday. If writing is your passion, make it your business to know how others do it, how the craft is used, or abused, by others. Be entertained, be inspired, be educated. Step out of your comfort zone and read in new genres, find a new author to rave about, read, read, read.

Finish a project. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a project to completion, whether it’s a work-in-progress, a sweater you’re knitting, or taking down that hideous velvet wallpaper in the front hall… Finish something, and when that project is done, find another to finish. The momentum gained as projects are conquered will spill over into your writing life. Success breeds success.

Connect with other writers.
There is nothing better than the company of like-minded souls to encourage you and give advice. Find a writer’s group this year and join in. Or start your own group. There are good writer’s groups on-line, such as CompuServe's Books and Writer’s Community.

Try something new. Just for kicks, try writing in a different genre, or write a poem, or a love letter, write something different that sparks the pathways in your brain, shakes up the monotony and gives way to the extraordinary and the imaginative.

Enjoy the process and welcome the adventure. We write because we have a passion for a story we want to tell. Enjoy the journey along the way and greet the process as an adventure in discovery - discovery of character and plot, discovery of our strengths and weaknesses, discovery of new ideas, new lessons learned. Every time you sit down to write, there’s something to be discovered. Sometimes a character will show you what that is. Sometimes you’ll find it yourself, but the journey is amazing.

Learn about the craft.
Knowing the craft can only make you a better writer. Read at least one book on the craft of writing, take a class, or attend a writer’s conference. Not only will you be inspired, you’ll go forth armed with new techniques, a wiser and better writer, for having educated yourself.

Dream big, don’t get discouraged. Keep your goal in sight. What writer doesn’t want to have a best-seller? But don’t be overwhelmed by that thought. Instead, tell the story within you and leave the niggling doubts and inner demons at the door.

Take care of yourself.
A healthy writer is a happy writer. Plan some exercise in your day. The endorphins from exercise are a natural high. You may find that ideas and inspiration strike while you’re out on a bike ride or taking a walk. Get out of the desk chair and meet your characters in the gym.

May the coming year be one of inspiration and a never-ending flow of words. You have a year’s worth of blank pages just waiting to be filled.

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
- T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"


  1. Excellent advice, Susan! I loke the 'write every day' one. It works.

  2. Thanks for the reminders...THIS will be the year! :)

  3. Sage advice, Susan. And Happy New Year!

  4. Thanks Susan, it's good to be beat over the head with these every once in a while, when I wonder if any of it is worth it or if I'll ever get anywhere. Finish a project - yes! there's nothing better than setting measurable goals you can complete, and feeling like you've accomplished something.

  5. Susan,

    I'm definitely trying to keep all of these things in mind. Number one, try to write every day...and definitely, take better care of myself on a health level. I find if I don't get some exercise, Jen gets grumpy. (g) But the same goes for when I'm not writing -- nothing puts me in a worse mood.