Sunday, January 01, 2017

My Ten Writing Goals for 2017


I already declared my New Year's resolution for 2017, which is having at least one article up on the blog every day this year. My hope is to have it usually posted in the morning but the needs to write pay copy and look after adventurous daughter may mean it will often to be an evening post. It will likely take many forms such as a review, a long form think pieces on major news, an attempt at something funny, cute picture of my kids and dog, or a link to work that is published elsewhere (there will be a lot more of that this year). My hope is that this is the one stop shop for anything I write online and though there likely will be a major focus on movies, I still want to have pieces on parenting, news, politics, and some occasional fiction.

I have some big goals for my writing career in 2017. Now that the year has officially kicked off, I thought I'd reveal the ten things that I hope to accomplish as 2017 unfolds.

1. Spend more time with family and friends. Yes, I am aware nothing in that statement has anything to do with actual writing. But being successful at this will mean everything for having a rewarding writing career in 2017. My family is my lifeblood, and though I think I am a pretty decent father. I know I could have spent way more time with my family in 2016 and definitely been more proactive in planning events for us to do. As for friends, my wife bestows the curmudgeon label on me for a reason and I hope to get it permanently annexed from her vocabulary this year. But the reason that I have it as a writing goal is because getting the energy and giving the love to my family will pile on more happiness in my life and give me the motivation to continue hunting down the muse for daily word creation. Also the more adventures with family and friends leads to more inspiration for future stories and articles.

2. Connect with more writers. Once again, not actual writing but vital to my writing success. I already have arranged a meeting to talk to a multiple times published novelist, contacted a writer's group in my city about attending their meetings, and been enrolled (thanks to my lovely and patient wife) in a creative writing course. I hope to build relationships and be able to learn from other writers but also become a support for them as well. Community is a crucial ingredient for happiness and fulfillment, and it is very important to be able to spend time with those that share some similar passions and loves. I also want to be far more active on social media in interacting with various writers from novelist, movie writers, journalists, screenwriters, and various other writers. I have much to learn but even more, just need to grow my circle of friends and colleagues in order to help improve and grow my own writing. This is the year that I humble myself and realize I still have so much more to be learn about writing.

3. Complete a manuscript. I have three novels that currently rest on my laptop that are incomplete. Before 2018, I want to have all three completed and have been shopped around to publishers (and possibly before that agents). This month I will be picking one of the three, going through what I have written, and then deciding the direction to take to complete it and make it something I would want to read. The biggest challenge is that in all three manuscripts, I  have probably two or three potential novels in each one, so I need to cut out what isn't necessary for these specific novels completion, focus on the main story, finish these novels and then start crafting these new stories. The positive is that I not only have the potential for three completed novels this year but the start for several more. Or I end up realizing a few of these ideas aren't salvageable, but I will only know that from digging it in and getting them done.

4. Review every wide release movie. This is will be one of the hardest goal to accomplish this year and if it happens, won't come to fruition until much later into the year. It is also one that is in some ways out of my direct control in it being able to happen. At this point, I am reviewing at least one theatrical movie a week and during some really busy weeks two or three, but then there are a few stretches where the only new release is something on Netflix. In order to make sure I can review everything that comes through my local theatre, I need to substantially grow my movie review reading audience by several tens of thousands so that I can either monetize this site or use it as leverage to get a regular gig as a critic for a Collective Publishing-like site that is fine with reviews posted a little later than most critics. Or of course, getting credentials that allow me into press screenings so I can write reviews before the movie is released. The thing that I can control is write reviews for every 2017 movie that I see along with my regular podcast reviews.

5. Write a weekly column. I miss my pop culture column for Collective Publishing and my "Dad's Eye View" for Pregnancy & Newborn. I am currently actively looking to fill that void with a few different publications, because there is something exhilarating about having a weekly deadline where I need to come up with a fresh idea to explore on a specific topic. I would love for it to be movies or parenting again, but at this point, I just want my own paid column again.

6. Try out new forms of media. My other outlet for the last few years has been the weekly Breakdown podcast. It has been a great creative avenue to flex my other skills plus has given me a place to work on writing outlines, scripts, and planning out show ideas. We live in an age that there is more to writing than just an article or book. To continue expanding, I want to break into doing weekly videos and if my audience increases, I'd also like trying out some public speaking. The latter is probably a year or more away from being viable, but videos just need a video camera, which I have. At this point, I just need to sort out what type of videos that I want to make, because I am not sure if I need a third format to do movie reviews.

7. Write more fiction. Obviously, there are the must-be-completed novels that I will be working on during the first half of the year. I also have several short stories that I want to shop around to different outlets and enter into contests like the yearly one at the Toronto Star. I also want to start trying to write a short story a month that I can either add to an anthology or sell to different periodicals and magazines. I've also been playing with the idea of writhing a serialized story that I would post on a set day every week (I'm thinking Wednesday) that would continue for several months. The plan would be I'd offer up this free fictional series as a different way of building an audience and see if I can build up a fanbase for my other fiction writing. The biggest issue at this point is finding a story that I am willing to offer up for free and more importantly, would work properly in serialized form. Right now, I just want to get the blog back as a place where there is something new to read every day and once that is established, I'll get this serialized story started (ideally, it begins before January comes to an end, but I don't even have a story picked yet let alone written).

8. Journalism. I miss doing interviews with major figures or doing some investigative journalism. I did a little bit of it back in 2012 when I started for Collective Publishing, and it was a different kind of writing that offered a type of challenge than most other forms. It also forces me out of my comfort zone and allows for stories that have a significant importance for society and community. I would also really like to cover a major event this year like a film festival or sporting event. I'm currently pitching some ideas to newspapers that I've had relationships with in the past, and yes, print may not be what it was but it is still the best place for writing respectable news articles.

9. Diversify writing on blog. Movie reviews, thoughts on major movie news, and the adventures of parenting will likely be the dominate content on this site, but I really want to start returning to writing on a variety of topics and forms again. There is the plan for a weekly serialized fiction story that I mentioned, but I would also like to return to my random humour pieces that I did in the past like my Terrific Thursday Top Ten, Letter to Katie Holmes, Advice for Customer Service, interview with my teddy bear, Mary Christmas, and various others. I also just want to be a lot better at throwing up my gut reaction to major news pieces or just writing quick thoughts on pop culture that I consume. Movies are the only entertainment I plan to do weekly in-depth reviews, but I hope to still do some quick weekly thoughts on TV, sports, and books when there is something worth analyzing or discussing. It will also give me an idea if there is a larger readership for covering things like TV and if that is the direction I should move towards.

10. Take chances. I just need to keep on writing every day. Some days it will be heaping garbage and some days I hope I can connect with a few readers. I can't conjure up the magic if I just spend most days thinking about it. I want to write more and more things that scare me and force me to be honest. This challenge should help me stand out and force me to be a better writer.


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