Writing new year resolutions and/or to-do-lists have proven to be immeasurably helpful. Frankly, there’s always a temptation to rely solely on mental notes. But there’s so much your brain can hold and reproduce at urgent times. So I’ve made a list of resolutions to guide me and help me improve on my writing.
1. I shall take my blog seriously. Trust me; starting a creative writing blog has paid off immensely. Apart from enjoying the pleasure that one gets from doing what you love (and being recognized for it), I’ve got a good platform for honing my skills. In addition, I got some publicity even though I have tried to manage the blog as anonymously as possible.
P.S. Blogs are completely free of charge. Writers are afraid of starting blogs because they think blogs cost a fortune. No, it’s free. Interested writers can e-mail, if they need advice on this.
2. Write for at least one hour each day. It’s an old writing advice. I’ve known it all along. Everyone knows it. I shall spend more time doing this thing I love until I’m a master at it. Need I say more?
3. Uncluttering my life has become imperative. I shall start each day with a comprehensive priority list. That way, I’m sure to get more valuable work done. A few years ago, I was alarmed at how much time and energy that could go into just gisting and watching TV, and sleeping. Sometimes, precious 18 hours were wasted on these events. A sage once said, people who slept for at least eight hours each day would have slept for 20 years by the time they were 60! Now, do the mathematics for having gossiped and watched African Magic for ten or twelve hours. Yet, we say we don’t have time to read.
4. Read. Read. Read more books. I shall read more good books and grow my library for the good of me and my unborn children. Head Above Water by Buchi Emecheta (An Autobiography) is one book I shall read again this year. There’s so much wisdom and philosophy in it. I think it helped me make very important decisions at a crucial stage in my life.
5. I shall write more amateurish reviews of the books I’ve read –and shall read. At least, to get a better understanding of the books, to be able to put facts in perspective. Writing reviews, I’ve noticed encourages me to read more and write more.
6. Be careful not to take on more editing and proofreading jobs than you can handle: I have fallen for this several times. Especially with the teeming number of self-published writers in the country. They’re quick to shove autographed copies of poorly edited works at me. That’s not the problem. The problem is, they start asking me to proofread and/or edit. Initially, I thought, ‘what the heck! It shouldn’t be so bad. Help a budding writer.’ But after realizing what a huge, painful job I’d be doing for free while my own writing (and work) suffered, I decided not to make any such commitments, especially with very long works. Because you see, I also work as a computer engineer in a telecommunications firm. So I turn them down as politely as possible. However, I have a few writing buddies who critique and edit my work for me, and I do same for them when they ask. But I’m careful to scratch the backs of those who will give me a productive and soothing scratch in turn as well. So I’ve learned to spend more time cleaning up my manuscript as best as I can before sending it off to the editors.
7. I shall apply to bigger writing programs: Well, may be the bigger ones will come much later. Not immediately. But there’s the Luminary Literary Agency workshop. A workshop which comes up in July, 2012. The workshop comes with irresistible packages as workshops, opportunities to be published in anthologies and royalty as well. Hopefully, it’ll be fabulous.
8. Preach it to everyone. Attend creative writing workshops. In Nigeria, there are the Farafina (Chimamanda-organised) workshop and the Helon Habila’s too. Those writers are giving African writers opportunities that they’d have had to pay millions to get abroad. Frankly, there’re only few slots each year. Applying for and getting accepted into these workshops is like applying to an Ivy League school for scholarship. It’s difficult but the acceptance email gives every writer her own awakening. There’s that silent sigh of relief. (Actually, mine wasn’t silent. I screamed until the foundations of the office heaved. Ok, that was a hyperbole.) But trust me, these small writing programs give young writers the courage and exposure they need. There’s a lot to learn. Writers also get stipends and fanciful certificates!
9. I shall be courageous enough to contribute to literary journals. So help me God overcome my fear of trying.
10.Paste my resolutions at a strategic and conspicuous point in my room, and in my office.
Happy New year everyone!
- NATIONAL YOUTH ESSAY COMPETITION, 2011
- Luminary Literary Agency: Annual Short Story Workshop