Be as newborn babes, ye writers of 2013. Resolve, as writer Chuck Wendig has done, to do more, be better, and write in 2014.
Last year, I did 25 writer resolutions for 2013 –
This year, I thought I’d add some more thought-midden to the steaming ordure heap that is this blog and toss out another ten resolutions for 2014.
I WILL UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF WRITING ADVICE
Writing advice as it exists, unregarded, is entirely neutral. It’s no different from me telling you how to make great chocolate chip cookies, or my favorite way to groom one’s pubic shrubbery, or the “best” way to get to Big Dan-Don’s Dildo Barn and Enchilada Factory. It’s either a pocket full of gold of a fist full of hot garbage — meaning, it either works for you or it damn well doesn’t. None of this — including anything I say here at this blog — is gospel. If a piece of advice sounds interesting or presents a solution to a problem of yours, then fuck yeah. Pick it up, try it out, see what happens. If it doesn’t inspire a change or challenge you to do differently? Then drop it like an angry squirrel. Also worth noting you should firmly get your order of operations straight: the writing comes first. The talking-and-reading-about-writing comes second. Writing advice is here to support your art, not support the illusion of your art.
I WILL TRY NEW SHIT
It’s a weird new world out there for writers, and fortune favors the bold and occasionally batshit. Everything is changing. New tech. New ways to reach an audience. New ways to allow your audience to support you. And these changes in publishing can allow for changes in storytelling, too — the traditional system will remain in place and will continue to do the job it’s doing, but it will never be able to (or be willing to) accommodate riskier forms or formats. And that’s where you come in. Don’t you hate eating out with those people who get the same thing every time? “I’ll have the koala quesadillas with the deep-friend chimichurri hamster-bombs on the side. I’ll have these again and again until I die.” Nobody wants to see a storyteller do the same thing again and again, either. Be brave. Get weird. None of this is guaranteed. Safe art is boring art. Try stuff.
I WILL STOP THINKING OF MYSELF AS A BRAND
Coca-Cola is a brand. Burger King is a brand. Big Dan-Don’s is a brand (“American Dildos made by American* Hands!”). A brand is a corporate identity. It is the standard-bearer of comfort and consistency: same burger every time, same bowl of cereal, same firm-but-squishy dongs. You are not a brand. You are a human being. Writing is your craft. Story is your art. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: who wants to read a story by a brand? (“Ah, the erotic culinary autobiography of the Burger King. Finally, it is mine.”) Your voice is what matters. Your ideas are what mark you.Your milkshake is what brings all the boys to the yard. You know what a brand is? A brand is the thing they use to mark a cow so that it gets identified with the rest of the mooing herd.
* translation: South American hands
I WILL GIVE MY WORK THE TIME IT NEEDS
Sometimes a story comes out fast. Sometimes it comes out slow. And this isn’t just about a single story: learning to do this thing and do it well may not take the arbitrary 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell suggests, but it’s not learning to play beer pong, either. Overnight successes never are; what you see is just the iceberg’s peak poking out of the slush. This takes time. From ideation to action. From writing one junk novel to a worse novel to a better one to the ninth one that’s actually worth a good goddamn. From writing to rewriting to editing to copyediting. Don’t “just click publish.” Don’t just send it off half-baked to some editor or agent — they get hundreds of stories a day that are the narrative equivalent to a sloppy equine miscarriage or half-eaten ham salad sandwich. Don’t punish your potential readers by squatting over the Amazon toilet and voiding your creative bowels into the digital porcelain. Take pride in what you do. Go the distance and get shit done. Not just a little bit done, but all-the-way-to-the-awesome-end done.
I WILL WRITE
The simplest commandment of them all: write. Write a little or a lot every day but goddamnit,write. Whether it’s 350 words or 3500 — the only way out is through. Put words down. Smash them together and force them to tell stories. Boot distractions into the trash bin. Kick haters into the wood chipper. Get shut of fear — what are you afraid of? Not being good enough? You don’t get to good enough by sitting on your ass and staring into your hands. Drown your doubt in a washtub. We all have doubt. We’re all plagued by the bitey monkeys of uncertainty — the difference is, some folks let the monkeys weigh them down, and other folks just keep on staggering forward, flinging those chattering doubt-gibbons and fear-baboons into the brush. Write! Write. Write. Write your way through 2014 — a year in words, a year in stories, a year in getting shit done.
Photo by marin.