Sharpen Those Proverbial Pencils: It’s a New Year!

It’s a new year. So what does that mean for us as writers?

Well, the New Year is a fresh slate in many ways for writers. It is a great time to start submitting work. Many editors have cleared out their slush piles and are looking for fresh talent. J. David Osborne, the publisher-in-chief of Broken River Books, told me in early December that his goal for the month was to get through the last 200 submissions before the year was out. With spring around the corner editors will be looking for that new voice and perfect story. So it’s time to turn those concepts into words, those sketches into stories, and those rough drafts into polished gems.

Of course the New Year is also a time to make resolutions. Mine is a simple one: quit procrastinating so much and write more.

The San Francisco Writer’s Conference is in February and I have vowed to have my novel polished to perfection by then. This involves some serious editing to an 86,000-word manuscript as well as completely rewriting several scenes. Of course this isn’t the first time I have made this vow. The original date of completion was in September which quickly got bumped up to October. In the spirit of NaNoWriMo I decided November would be a good time to dedicate myself to tackling the beast once and for all and even made contact with other writers for beta readings. Well, here it is—the New Year—and I’m still not finished. With the clock ticking I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to write more on a daily basis.

So, work ethic and writing muscle memory is the literary goal for 2016, keeping an eye out for all those old pitfalls like procrastination, internet surfing, and waiting for inspiration instead of seizing it. I’m sharpening my pencils and polishing my keyboard. To help get me going I just signed up for a course in writing violence over at LitReactor taught by splatterpunk pioneer John Skip.

Little things like this can go a long way in keeping one inspired. Sometimes taking an online class or finding a good writing partner to trade manuscripts with is all you need to keep the fire burning. Writing isn’t always easy, the words don’t always come pouring out, the ideas and concepts can be stubborn in revealing themselves. When you’re hot you’re hot and when you’re not it is just so easy to check your email or browse social media. Those old digital distractions. The internet is a great boon to writers, there are classes, contests, great sites like this one, and any fact can be checked in the blink of an eye. But it can also be a great distraction. Balancing these elements can be challenging, especially to imaginative types like writers hungry for new ideas and inspiration.

So, here’s to 2016: may it be a productive year for us all. May we keep our resolutions, have high daily word counts, and submit more work than ever. May we keep those digital distractions at bay and always find inspiration when we need it.

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