02 January 2018

Writer’s Resolutions 2018 – Fragile: Do Not Break

Well, since it’s the day after the New Year, I thought I’d come up with some writer’s resolutions. Not that I feel I need any as I’m so perfect – just ask my wife. But what the hell?

My prose will not be written in passive voice. I will not be plagued by this bad writing habit. This is one resolution that will definitely be kept.

And I’ll try to use “but” and “and” and “just” just a little bit less. But I like using them and they make me feel like the narrator is a real person talking like a real person does. Really.

Take criticism better: My wife, Amy, is my number one beta reader. And she’s a damn good critic and editor, but sometimes I just don’t like hearing what she has to say. Not that she’s wrong, just that she likes to make more work for me. I like to think everything I write is straight from the muse to the page. But she feels like she has to get between the muse and me. Most of the time, about 2/3 to 3/4, I take her advice, grumbling all the way. But in the end, I think the work is better for it.

Try not to be jealous of others’ successes: I’m always happy to see other people have success, but there’s always that tinge of envy. So I’ll try to squash the tinge and complain less. As others have pointed out, there’s always someone looking at you (me) wishing they had what I had. But I guess that’s the human condition.

Get up from the desk more often: Amy gave me a Fitbit, and it’s pretty-pretty cool. It buzzes to yell at me and tells me to get up and walk around, which I do just so it will stop shouting at me. And I do walk the dogs and other things, but sometimes when you’re in the zone you just want to keep writing. But it bugs me to get off my ass and walk around…so I do. Just to shut it up.

Do less Facebooking: Oh, yeah, that’s gonna happen. FB is my watercooler. Since I work at home and we live in the middle of nowhere (not quite as nowhere as the abandoned missile silo that I tried to talk Amy into, but that’s another story) it’s good to have a place to connect with people. It gives me a place to see what others are up to and thinking. Chat and feel like I have friends. Well, I could stand less posts about politics and more cute cat videos.

Stop calling surfing the net research: I love surfing the net. I love doing research. Sometimes when I’m surfing the net, looking up Indian head test patterns and how to murder someone and get away with it, I can talk myself into thinking I’m doing research. Or like when I was writing my 1940s homefront mystery and I spent hours just looking up big band leaders and listening to their songs on YouTube. Y’know, research, even though I only needed one song and already had picked one.

Spend less time on e-mails: I do tend to spend a lot of time on e-mails, reading them, responding to them, crafting them. It’s kind of like the Facebook thing, keeps me in touch with the outside world. Our phone hardly rings anymore. Uh, Take 2: Our phone rings many times a day…but it’s almost never from people we know. One telemarketer after another. So we don’t even bother to answer anymore, but we do feel we should keep the landline. Mostly I connect with people via e-mail or another type of electronic communication. But I’m not big on texting…yet. Still, every once in a while it’s nice to actually hear someone’s voice. But not too often!

Get back to the novel that’s been dangling for a couple of years now…and rewriting the first novel that was accepted by a publisher: I have a novel that I like quite a bit that’s about half-finished but for various reasons has been languishing. And I really want to get back to it, but something always seems to come up that takes priority. And I also want to rework somewhat the first novel that a publisher picked up. I may have mentioned this before, but the first novel I completed was accepted for publication at a major house. It was a satire on a screenwriter trying to make it in Hollywood. Eventually, the whole editorial staff at that publisher was swept out and, as a new broom sweeps clean, my book was swept out with them. And since the humor was topical it was pretty dated even after only a couple of years so it couldn’t really go to another publisher. The lesson: don’t write things that are so topical that their shelf life is shorter than yogurt left on the counter on a steaming, hot day. Remember what George S. Kaufman said, satire is what closes Saturday night. Story of my life. But I’ve learned a lesson – No Topical Humor.

Be kind to the computer: Like Amy says there are no dumb computers, only dumb humans. But I beg to differ. It’s usually the computer that makes the mistake – not me…

Write 10000 5000 2000 100 words a day. This one’s self-explanatory.

Well, there you have it. Gotta run, gotta hit Facebook. Gotta start breaking those resolutions. It wouldn’t do to have any of them unbroken after the third of January, would it?

What are your resolutions? And which ones do you plan to break first?

Happy New Year to Everyone! Now get busy breaking those resolutions.


Please join me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/paul.d.marks and check out my website www.PaulDMarks.com


  1. These are JUST resolutions AND are well meant BUT will they work?
    That's probably a grammatically incorrect sentence.
    Time will tell. Wait, that's a cliche and fiction writers must avoid cliches. Unless they are in dialogue because people speak in cliches so consider the opening of this paragraph - dialogue. Shoulda used " marks, I know, I know.
    Hang in there. The year's just begun.

    *I love proving I'm not a robot first thing in the morning.

  2. O'Neil, you are not a robot. Or are you? Hmm...

  3. Paul,

    I love your sense of humor! (Okay, maybe I could resolve to use fewer exclamation marks) Most of what you've resolved applies equally to me.

  4. You could have been writing this about me, Paul. Every resolution you mentioned is one I should adopt...and probably won't. Have a great New Year, and I hope it's a successful, prosperous, and healthy one.

  5. Thanks, Jacqueline. And if most of what I said applies to you, I hope you'll start breaking those resolutions soon. I don't want to be the only one doing that :-)

  6. Thanks, David. And maybe you should do what I'm doing: adopt the resolutions for a day, then quickly start breaking them before they become habit. -- You have a great, successful and healthy New Year, too!

  7. I suspect most of these resolutions will be made by just about all writers and the desire to write better will be cited as the cause, but how many of those resolutions will be kept by those writers?

    Facebook and email are social interaction, right? And a lonely trade/craft/art is engaged in by writers, so they need social interaction so they won't be perceived as weird. And when you kept listening to the big band stuff (much of which is terrific, ask me why I know this), your first choice for a song was being confirmed.

    Boy, writing like this is hard to maintain...

    But a great post full of good ideas.

  8. Thanks, Steve. And how do you know that much big band stuff is terrific? [Well, you said to ask, so I had to ask :-) ]

  9. I don't write New Year's resolutions, but if I did they would be similar to yours, so I will consider the task done. Thanks for the help.

  10. Love these resolutions! I need to add most of them to my list too..... Happy New Year!

  11. Love this list! My addition? Appreciate my writer friends even more. They cheer me on, as I do the same. Bless you all.

  12. Paul, it's so nice to know that I'm not the only writer in the world who strays over to FB and/or internet surfing and reemerges hours later, just in time to go do something else that does not involve writing. My New Year's Resolution, such as it is, is to stop doing that. Yeah, like that'll happen. Wonderful post!

  13. Paul,
    My parents were good dancers and LOVED the big bands. I have several CDs of reissued stuff by Glenn Miller, the Dorseys, Kay Kyser, Harry James and others. I used a lot of it when I designed the sound for period shows, especially The Cover of Life, which examines the lives of three wives who married brothers who enlisted after Pearl Harbor.

    But I can't dance.

  14. It's day 2 of 2018 and I've already caved on my promise to keep my office organized. Oh well, there's always 2019.

  15. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. And hope you don’t mind that I respond to several here in one response:

    Thanks for your comment, Gayle. And the good thing about my resolutions is that they’re made to be broken…as soon as possible.

    Thanks, Art. Between your list and mine I think we have it covered. Happy New Year to you, too!

    Thanks, Melodie. And that’s a great addition.

    Thanks, Eve. And since we both like playing hooky, I’ll see you on Facebook :-) .

    I’m glad you explained that, Steve. I was curious. And it sounds like we have some things in common. My parents also grew up during and loved the big bands. And I think some of that trickled down to me ‘cause I really love swing music, both the original era and some of the newer stuff that’s been around the last couple decades or so. When I was younger, a friend of mine and I actually went around and saw some of the remnants of the big bands. We saw the Glenn Miller Orchestra, at that time I believe it was led by Tex Beneke, who had played with Miller, I think. And they had Bob Eberly and Helen O’Connell with them. And those two sang Brazil and Tangerine with Jimmy Dorsey originally. I also saw Benny Goodman when I was a kid, but I didn’t really appreciate it at the time. I think half the reason I wrote my World War II homefront mystery is so I could listen to the music… -- As for dancing, I’m with you.

    I think you’re off to a great start, Maggie :-) !


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