We might as well dream big if we are to dream at all!
Let me share with you my bold new year’s writing resolutions:
1. Write every day.
Whether it’s a sentence, paragraph, stanza, poem, 500-, or 1,000-word short story, it doesn’t matter, as long as I write something, on this blog, or in my journal, every single day. My goal is to develop a writing habit, and to make writing second nature to me and a part of my daily routine.
2. Write one short story each week.
As Ray Bradbury said:
3. Write at least one poem every week.
I recently finished reading Aimless Love by Billy Collins, and what a fantastic book it is! I have never really enjoyed a poetry book before I read this book. Collins is such an intelligent and funny writer. He is now my favorite poet. Before him, I never really had a favorite poet because I couldn’t understand and appreciate poetry very much. Now I do.
The whole time I was reading his book, I was writing my own poems, too. I couldn’t help it. His poems stirred in me the longing to write my own verses. He wrote about this in The Trouble With Poetry:
The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night —
cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky —
the trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.
And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,
and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.
Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.
But mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
to appear at the tip of my pencil.
The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. Poetry begets poetry. It never ends! The same must be true with fiction-writing as well.
4. Write one essay per week.
I have written so few essays in my life! I’ve written several articles over the years, and back in college two of my write ups appeared in a newspaper here in our city. And I occasionally write for our Catholic community’s publication. But that’s about it.
I want to write essays for major publications. I’ve always struggled with the essay form. I don’t know why this is. It’s probably because I rarely write non-fiction. I plan to write more this year.
5. Get three short stories published in a national magazine or anthology within the year.
Last year, I got one short story published in a national magazine. I realize now that I should have written more and submitted more often.
6. Get at least three poems published in a national magazine or anthology within the year.
Last year, I got one poem included in a poetry anthology that was published in the US. Again, I realize that that output is extremely low for a writer. It’s laughable. I should have tried to make more submissions.
7. Get at least one essay published in a print or online magazine or newspaper every month.
I am thinking of major publications like the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Rappler, SunStar, Philippines Graphic, Philippine Free Press, and others.
8. Qualify as a fellow to the Silliman University National Writers Workshop.
The Silliman University National Writers Workshop is one of the major writing workshops in the Philippines and is held annually in the beautiful city of Dumaguete. It is every Filipino writer’s dream workshop because the members of the panel are some of the giants in Philippine literature and the program lasts for about three weeks (which makes it the longest workshop in the country.) So it is no small feat to get into this prestigious workshop. This year will be my first time to apply and I hope and pray that I’ll make it.
Of course, there’s a great chance that I will fail — that my stories, poems, and essays will get rejected, and that I won’t make it to the Silliman Workshop. But all that is okay! Failure is a great teacher. Disappointments humble us and shape our character. And they can definitely improve our writing skill.
For instance, I recall the time I applied for a writing workshop in a university here in Cebu last year. I was so confident that I’ll make it because I already got in to the Cornelio Faigao Memorial Annual Writing Workshop in 2013. Plus, one of the panelists is a friend of mine, so I wasn’t a complete stranger to the screening committee. I submitted a piece of flash fiction. I was reading Raymond Carver at that time and I wanted to sound like him. I also submitted a few poems. But I didn’t get in, and I was so heart-broken! I was depressed for a long time. But you know what happened? I got so fired up after that that I just went out of my comfort zone and wrote a short story that I felt I would love to read. It was over 3,000-words long. I dared to find my own unique voice instead of just playing it safe (as I did with the flash fiction piece that I submitted to the workshop)! I wanted the story to be intelligent and funny, and I absolutely loved writing every word of it! And you know what? The editors of the Philippines Graphic liked it and they published it a few months later. It wouldn’t have happened had I not been rejected by that workshop.
So even failures and rejections are good for us, and we must embrace them with humility and learn from them.
Of course, reading goes hand-in-hand with writing. You can’t be a good writer if you’re not also a good reader. So this year I plan to read well, too.
I took the Goodreads challenge in 2013 and 2014 but I wasn’t able to meet my own goals. Last year, I only read 12 out of the 24 that I have planned to read. This year will be different. I am skipping the Goodreads challenge altogether and will just take it easy. After all, it’s really not the quantity of books that matters:
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. (Mortimer Adler)
My goal this time is more modest: to read one book a month. But the more, the better. One book is just the minimum.
I also plan to watch or listen to podcasts, lectures, and online courses which may or may not be related to writing. I just want to continue learning new things and feed my mind with great stuff. I have tons of courses from The Great Courses which I haven’t yet watched! I’m interested in Philosophy, Science, Business, Literature, and many other things.
I invite you, fellow writer, to dream big as well. What are your writing resolutions for this new year? Let us journey together. If I can do it, so can you!