The new year brings a fresh start and a list of personal resolutions designed to make us healthier, happier and better people. Writers are no exception. We vow to write more and more consistently and hone our craft. However, like the gym memberships that boom in January, we can’t allow our resolutions to go bust by mid-March. Not if we are serious writers.
I’ve seen dozens of articles and websites devoted to writers’ resolutions. However, I think the best was the one that poet and The Charlotte Observer columnist Dannye Romine Powell penned: “Advice to writers: Work hard, write to win.”
Dannye, a talented writer, took a contrarian view to some of the advice she was seeing. The bottom line: If you want to be a professional writer, act like one. People who are tops in their fields don’t dabble. They are successful because they work at it. They stand out from the crowd because they aren’t part of the crowd. They find their own paths to go their own way. They work – hard.
In addition to the usual advice of having a time, place and quota for writing, Dannye says to compare the quality of writing and work habits of successful peers with our own and see how we measure up. She advises reading – a lot, especially out-of-the-mainstream works. And, as author James Dickey said, write like a winner. We don’t want to write as well as other authors. We don’t want to be average. We should push ourselves to be the best, to stand out from the pack.
In 2015, I resolve to read, write and revise, meeting my weekly quota without fail. Through practice, I will strengthen my writing and my unique voice. Only then will it become strong and loud and soar sweetly above the din.