Lisa Kothari is an emerging screenwriter who focuses on writing comedies that are either romantic, like The Michaels, or fun mash-up concepts, like The Hip-Hop Hillbilly. She enjoys writing across many types of mediums, from blog articles to essays to a memoir, and is constantly working on new material to write and publish. Most recently, she has undertaken a graduate degree program in mental health counseling, not only to counsel people, but also to draw compelling characters in their fictional worlds.
To start 2017 off on the “write” foot, I am putting down my end-of-year merry-making to focus on the top 10 writer's resolutions for 2017. You may not think we need any, but there’s always room to start anew and create or change habits that may help boost our writing success.
Before I continue to introduce this idea any further (in an effort to procrastinate and stave off writing my list no less) let me just get there already.
Top 10 Writing Resolutions for 2017:
1. Stop procrastinating.
Of course, as I just illustrated, this one tops my list. Without procrastination we would not only meet our goals, but also probably write a whole lot more than we already do today. What’s the secret? Set up a time each and every day and commit to writing within the designated time frame. Even if you don’t feel like it, write. By not procrastinating, and actually getting to the writing, the words will flow. Maybe not always, but inevitably they will.
Also, during that designated time frame, make sure to tackle the writing pieces that have been hounding you. Whether it’s a scene that needs to be rewritten, a character that needs more nuance, or a plot that needs more twists, start writing and see where the process takes you. By leaving the challenge for another day, week or month, your momentum lags. Yes, there are definitely times when your mind is working on these writing problems while you are not writing, but there is also nothing like cracking that writer’s problem now.
We love to write and so write. No more procrastinating.
2. Carve out the time on your calendar.
This brings me to my next resolution. The only way you are going to stop procrastinating is if you find time on your calendar each day or week to actually write. Making a daily date with yourself and your craft of writing is a significant way to ensure that you will not only have the time to write, but also make it a priority for that period of time.
This does not have to be an hour each day. It can be any time allotment you can afford. The point is to mark your calendar with 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, or more to dedicate to your writing.
I have my yearly calendar in front of me. It’s time for me to pencil in my writing time for me.
3. Meet your own deadlines.
When we have a deadline, we can procrastinate all we want up until the point where we must do the work and get it done to meet the due date. When we are writing our own material on spec, it is easy to work without deadline and some hazy date in our mind for when we would like to have the script completed. When that date pasts, we create another, and another – or, worse, we don’t create any due dates.
I challenge you to create due dates for all of your writing projects this year and work to meet them as best you can. This can be anything from a date of completion for a first draft or simply committing to writing five pages per day.
Due dates help you get the writing actually done. Now that you’ve carved out time to write on your calendar add in due dates to make sure your writing gets done.
4. Write what you love.
Now that you’ve committed to stop procrastinating and found time in your busy schedule to write, make sure you spend your precious time writing something you love. It will certainly help keep you inspired to not only complete the script, but also hone it through rewrites to be its very best.
If you find yourself lukewarm with a project you’ve decided to write, scrap it. Create material that interests you. Actually, write beyond mere interest, write material that you love.
5. Call it “good enough.”
I think we all know how the script ends up at the bottom of the drawer. We didn’t feel confident to call it “good enough” and actually go to market.
Resolve to not label your writing as “not good enough” this year. Instead, call it “good enough” and see what happens.
6. Create a circle of trusted fellow writers and share your material.
Once you’ve completed your draft, now is the time for feedback. Yes, there are professional readers who will charge you for their feedback. I opt for this option after a few reads from trusted fellow writers who have read my script and offered me some solid advice given they know me, my writing, and my genre. After a round or two of this feedback, I feel prepared for professional feedback.
You may think you already have this lined up. Yet, consider carefully if your inner circle of trusted readers are giving you feedback that improves your writing. If so, keep your network, but, if not, this is a great time to hone your circle of trusted fellow writers. It may sound cruel not to continue to exchange feedback from someone you’ve always gone to, but it may make all the difference in the feedback you receive and help to improve your writing.
Evaluate who is in your circle and make adjustments as needed.
7. Offer to read others’ work.
Just as you need feedback, recognize it’s important to provide feedback to others as well. Not only does it help the person you are reading for, but also strengthens your own writing as you read how others structured their story – from plot to characters and beyond.
Again, you may have a group of writers you always read for, but now is the time to evaluate if you want to continue or if you would like to ask others if you could read for them. Sometimes changing it up and reading new people will also help to shake up your own writing.
The start of the year is a great time to think about who is reading you and who are you reading for. If it all is still working, great. However, don’t be afraid to change it up on either end if you think it will help you.
8. Welcome feedback and say thanks when you receive it – no matter if you consider it positive or negative.
If you are seeking out fellow writers to review your work, keep in mind it takes another person a significant amount of time to read and respond to your writing. Whatever the feedback you receive, be gracious and say thank you. Everything they have responded to about your writing you do not have to agree with. As an artist, you will decide what you take on board to make changes and what you discard. In this light, remember to always say thanks.
Hopefully, you will receive the same when you read for others.
9. Put your work out to market.
Once you’ve had several rounds of feedback from fellow writers and the professionals, make another commitment to yourself to put your writing out to market far and wide. That’s right, go out and pitch through the many channels there are to get your work to producers who are looking for their next script to produce.
So many of us go through all of the steps of writing and rewriting and stop right there for fear of what the actual industry will think of our work. As a writer, honor yourself by going out to the industry when you feel your material is ready.
There is nothing gained by going all the way with your writing and shoving it into a drawer in the end.
10. Try, try, and try again. Never give up.
Imagine it’s the end of 2017 already – the years do seem to fly by. Now ask yourself, “What’s happened with my writing this past year?” Try and imagine the answer to that question and keep it in mind each day of 2017 to work toward your goals.
Part of this will entail not giving up. No matter what, don’t give up!
Perhaps you already know these resolutions, but the start of a new year is always a great moment to check in with yourself and evaluate how well you did in the past and how to take it to the next level in the new year.
What resolutions are you making for your writing career in 2017? I would love to hear yours as well.
Happy 2017! Here’s to your writing success!
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10 Practical Tips for More Consistent, Productive Writing