• 2014 Writing & Reading Resolutions

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 10 comments

    FireworksUgh. It is indeed that time again, WriteByNighters, when some of us feel compelled to form goals for the new year. “This is the year I’ll write that novel,” we say. “This year, I will read at least one work of classic literature per month. I will write daily in my journal, and I will forgo TV and read the Paris Review and the New Yorker instead. I will, I will, I will.”

    I vowed to read 80 books in 2013, and if I failed I would perform a public dramatic reading of Fifty Shades of Grey while wearing a hot-pink onesieā€”a cruel and unusual punishment y’all arrived at by consensus, and I do thank you for it. I polished off my 80th book the day after Christmas. (Sorry!)

    But by the end of the year, reading had come to feel like a chore. Rather than read whatever the hell I wanted to, I had to consider each book from angles I’d never cared about before: page count, for instance. Density. Difficulty of prose. “Readability,” if you will. Often I discarded long books that looked interesting in favor of short books that looked (and proved) dull.

    Meanwhile, my magazines and New York Reviews piled up, my favorite publications going unread because I’d become a servant to my 2013 resolution to … read more. By forcing myself to indulge in what has always been one of my favorite activities, I sucked much of the fun out of it.

    The same can happen with writing, naturally. Some of you NaNoWriMo folks can attest to that.

    I’m still working out whether or not I want to make any 2014 goals/resolutions. If I do, they will most certainly be less strict. Rather than “I will read 80 books,” I might say, “I will make a conscious effort to read more.” Or, “One day a week I will turn off the Internet/phone/TV and spend the day reading and writing.”

    Or, “In 2014 I vow to read one book, and anything above that is just gravy.”

    How about you fine folks? Any reading/writing resolutions for 2014?

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    J. Sommers

    In 2014, I will write 80 books.

    Just kidding. I do want to write my novel, like you said above. But I’m not holding myself to any punishment. I also want to read a few classics I’ve never picked up: Jane Eyre, Crime & Punishment, Middlemarch (gulp), um, something from Bellow, etc. But again, if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. Making a resolution is almost always a surefire way to make sure you never hit your goal.


    Publish an essay in one of my top ten target publications. The top one being the New Yorker, all the way down to my MFA program’s journal. Also, to make $100,000 on said essay.

    Kim Reynolds

    Any ol’ essay, or something you’ve been working on?

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    I’d like to submit more work this year. I spent 2013 producing pages, which I’m happy about. Now it’s time to get those pages out there.

    Carrie Winters

    Mine have nothing to do with word count or daily writing time or anything, but it’s more like what you talk about, the decision making. Try to catch myself doing unproductive things, stop doing those things, and do more productive things. If I’m spending eight hours straight watching a marathon of some idiotic reality show, I want to force myself to snap out of it, turn off the &*%(% TV, and pick up a book, pick up a notepad, or just take a walk.

    Less Internet, less time-wasting.


    I agree with Carrie about being more high-minded with my time. I do like binge watching on Netflix, but then I go, “What have I read lately?” So, first, let me say that I succeeded in finishing my novel in 2013–thank you, Justine! After putting effort in throughout the year, on and off, I scrambled and brainstormed in the last week and now I have a book! Next Q: self-publish or…? So that tells me I can meet writing resolutions if I want to. But I’ll say that I simply want to write more, especially journaling, and I feel unshackled… Read more »

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    Congratulations on finishing the novel, Dana! That is huge. I hope the critique we provided was helpful for your revisions. Please let me know if you’d like to discuss publishing options and/or potential next steps. As you know, we’re here when you need us. Again, well done!


    This year I’m beginning a deadline-free project of reading all of the Pulitzer winners, in order. James Michener’s Tales From the South Pacific is #1. It’s a long one, but not as long as some of that guy’s other work! So I’ll get through that and then, yes, the rest “is just gravy.”

    Thanks for the post.

    Kim Reynolds

    When you break down 80 books into 1.5/week it doesn’t sound like so much. But I wouldn’t want to do it, with punishments involved. Do we get to see a list of the books? The breakdowns of genre, male vs female, American vs translated, etc.?

    My goal for this year is just to get to know more writers. I thrive on some sense of community, and I’m not getting that lately.

    […] another post we’re collecting your 2014 writing/reading resolutions. If one of yours is to take the plunge and have your work critiqued in a workshop setting this […]

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