by Cathy Yan, Junior Editor for Creative Non-fiction jaBlog!
The New Year is the perfect time to explore new ideas and abandon the burdens that have dragged you down this past year. From taking on a fresh genre, to scrapping an old and tired draft, January is the perfect time to refresh your inspiration, expand your talents, and achieve all of your literary goals.
Try a New Plot
Have you been working with the same plot line or characters since the third grade? Wringing it out over and over again like a dirty washrag? If so, it’s time to put the old ghosts to rest and try something different. The sheer novelty will rekindle your love for writing and send your creativity to new heights. Initially, you’re bound to have some trouble with plot lines and such; but it’s the struggle that makes this experience rewarding and worthwhile. You may find yourself quickly slipping back into your old ways, but persevere in your task of trying something different. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new passion.
Try a New Genre
Speaking of letting go of what you know, now’s the time to get adventurous and try a new genre. Yes, fantasy has become second nature to you, but there are whole literary worlds out of the current boundaries waiting to be tapped. This doesn’t mean you need to take a lot of time to try out every single style, but you can and should dabble in the unknown. If you feel lost and overwhelmed by the sudden change, start off with memoir writing. Since you’ll be talking about yourself, you’ll know the subject well. As an added bonus, it will also help you refine your speech as you’ll learn to engage and hold the attention of an audience with your personal anecdotes. Overall, no matter what genre you choose, you’ll be expanding your horizons as a writer.
Try New Words
Another important part of growing as a writer is developing your vocabulary. This is not to say you should use the longest, most difficult words in the dictionary; it just means choosing diction that reflects your meaning. To add some words into your mental dictionary, sign up for programs like Word of the Day, where Dictionary.com sends daily notifications of new vocabulary to your phone. If you want to go the low-tech route, invest in a Thesaurus. When used correctly, the new, richer words you try out, will enhance and add interest to your works as well as impress your audience.
Try New Settings
Your home town may be your playground, but staging all of your stories in one place sets up unnecessary limitations that hinder creativity. This year, take the time to travel (even if only on Google) to a new place. Learn the culture, familiarize yourself with key phrases in the language, and then use your newfound knowledge to put together a brand new piece that takes place in the area you “visited.” You’ll be amazed at the wealth of information and history you can include to immerse your reader into a refreshingly different world.
Whether you’re a seasoned writer with twenty books to your name or a newbie just starting out to tame your dragon, there is no better time than today for a new beginning in exploration and inspiration. Is it going to be easy putting aside all that you are familiar with? Definitely not. However, it will be rewarding, enriching, and bound to bring new life into your literary worlds.
Do you have writing goals for the year? Want some help being accountable? Want the company of other writers like you? Send your goals to Laura and she will publish them.