My Controversial New Year’s Resolution. And Tell Me: What’s Your Reading-Related Resolution?

King QuoteThere are so many great ways to incorporate reading into your New Year’s Resolutions.

Do you want to read more books in 2016? Try Harper’s 50 Book Pledge.

Do you want to read books you wouldn’t otherwise? Here’s a great reading challenge from Pop Sugar!

Do you want to increase the diverse reading you’re doing? Check out WNDB’s campaigns.

Do you need accountability? Try the Goodreads Challenge.

Do you need help with discoverability? Why not follow the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.

Or maybe you’re like me and have decided to read fewer books next year. That’s right, my New Year’s Resolution is to read fewer books. Why? Because I want to read slower, remember more, and enjoy them more. 

Instead of trying to read everything this year–because let’s be serious, there is no way on earth to read all the books published in one year–I’m going to focus on (outside of my clients and slush-pile work reading of course!) the “special to me” books. No beating myself up about not getting to everything. Books are meant to come into your life when you need them most. I can only get out of them what I put in and rushed reading isn’t helping me.

This is my favorite Doris Lessing quote and you’ll quickly see why:

“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag-and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty-and vise versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.”

Q: What’s your reading-related New Year’s Resolution? Do you agree with mine?

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10 Great Writing Tips, in Quotes

typeEveryone’s looking for the “rules” of getting published. I try to share some wisdom on my blog, but who am I kidding? There are no rules. However, here are some guidelines (in quote form!) for aspiring writers…

10 Great Writing Tips, in Quotes:

1. What works for other writers doesn’t have to work for you. It’s okay to make your own rules. And, what works for other writers often won’t work for you so it’s best not to compare your writing or your style to anyone else.

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” — Jon Acuff

2. You don’t have to write every day. In fact, it’s perfectly okay to avoid burn out and take a day off. It doesn’t mean you’re not a writer.

“Hard scheduling rules — write every day! work on research for one hour each morning! exercise 10 hours a week! — deployed in isolation will lead to procrastination as soon as you start to violate them, which you almost certainly will do.” — Cal Newport

3. You have to make writing a priority, though. Even if it’s not everyday…

“I could not have written a novel if I hadn’t been a journalist first, because it taught me that there’s no muse that’s going to come down and bestow upon you the mood to write. You just have to do it. I’m definitely not precious.” — Gillian Flynn

4. Perfectionism doesn’t exist. There will never be a perfect first draft. Or any draft for that matter.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” — Anne Lamott

5. In order to commercially succeed your writing has to be meaningful for others, not just yourself.

“When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored.” — Anne Lamott

6. You don’t need a complete outline in order to get started. You might not be a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser.’ All you need is the ambition to start.

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” — E.L. Doctorow

7. Know why you write. That will get you through the days you won’t want start.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” — Stephen King

8. The best way to hone your writing chops is to read. There is no better teacher or better research, just read.

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” — Samuel Johnson

9. Your stories are all around you. You are living your ideas. You just need to open your mind and grab a notebook.

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” — Orson Scott Card

10. You are the only one holding yourself back from writing your breakout novel.

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” — Les Brown

Why You Want An Agent Who Reads

BelleBATBAgent Janet Reid wrote a great blog post about agent burnout among other things. One part that stuck with me was her comment about agents reading things that aren’t client work.

I can understand when writers see their agents talking on Twitter or Facebook about books that aren’t theirs and they think: “If they had spare time, why weren’t they reading my manuscript?” But one of the most important things an agent can do is read and READ A LOT.

Why you want an agent who reads:

1. They know what’s selling.

If we don’t read published books, how up-to-date is our taste? How do we know what is working in the market? I call it ‘cleansing the palate’ and it’s a much needed respite.

2. They know what’s successful. Continue reading Why You Want An Agent Who Reads

RIP Doris Lessing

goldennotebookDoris Lessing had a great effect on me as a reader. The Golden Notebook and The Grass is Singing are two of the books that changed my life.

Here is my favourite quote from her 1971 ‘Introduction’ to TGN:

“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty and vice versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you. Continue reading RIP Doris Lessing