What Lit Agent X said

At the beginning of the year, Lit Agent X put up a post of writing resolutions.

These were the resolutions she suggested and listed (I thought of excerpting her post, but then realized ALL her suggestions were so worthy and inspirational, I couldn’t excise any of them):

  • No matter how many times you’ve revised your current novel, promise yourself you’ll at least write a short story or begin something new this year to keep your creativity sharp. Even if you don’t end up writing the full book, write yourself a synopsis. Or ten of them. Creativity thrives when you feed it.
  • Promise yourself you’ll get some feedback. Join a writers group, send out ten queries, and get yourself a writing accountability partner. (You know, someone who will ask you, “How many pages did you write this week?”)
  • Resolve to set aside time to read. For pleasure.
  • Explore things that catch your fancy. Ever wondered about the history of the grandfather clock? Research it. Curious about a play opening in your town? Go see it. Read the script. Read it out loud. It will help you develop an ear for dialog. Is there an exhibit opening up in your local museum? Go take a look. Does a painting of a creepy old house inspire you to write a short story about the owner? Write it. Is there a concert downtown you’ve heard about? Attend and pay attention to every detail. Ever thought of taking a dance lesson? Go for it. While you’re walking your dog, take time to chat with other dog owners. Talk to strangers. Listen in on the confersation next to you in the coffee shop.
  • Start a list this year of everything that delights you: Someone thanks you for changing their life and you didn’t realize you did. A compliment from a stranger. A delicious dinner. Your child bragging about you to her friends. Success at something you’ve worked on for a long time. Falling in love. Coming home. Taking a hot shower after being cold. Don’t forget to give your characters these moments. Keep this list in a file you can read at any time. If you’re having a bad day, and you read it, I guarantee you’ll feel better.
  • People watch. Imagine lives for them. Imagine their dreams and their biggest obstacles. Give them fictitious names. Don’t use photos in magazines, use real people and take in their clothes, the way they move, the way they talk. Malls are good for this. So are parks. And really, any busy street corner in NYC. Take time to observe places and people. Watchers are better writers.
  • Try to figure out what makes people tick, especially if this person happens to annoy you to pieces. Try to imagine what’s going on inside their heads and how they justify and rationalize their actions. The more you can empathize with people you disagree with, the better you’ll be at developing antagonists in your own writing.
  • Finally, add a resolution yourself. Give us a writing goal or a writing tip, how getting out there and living fully gave you inspiration for your work. Did you find inspiration for setting while on a vacation? Share and enjoy.

She concludes by saying:

One of the best things about being a writer is that you can find inspiration everywhere, in good or bad times, in misfortune or happiness. Resolve to see every event in your life as a possibility for growth, not just as a human being, but as the better writer you are constantly becoming.

I hope this helps you as much as it’s helping me right now.

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15 Comments

Filed under Inspiring, Writing

15 responses to “What Lit Agent X said

  1. Thanks for sharing these great tips. I’m bookmarking this for reference. Some of these I already do, so the first point resonated most strongly with me. Keep feeding the creativity, and find an accountability partner – those I’m going to do.

  2. These are great. Thank you so much. And thanks, Agent X.

  3. Oh, great list!

    I love to collect people for possible future characters: I’m a constant eavesdropper / people-watcher, to the point where I’ve scribbled down what they say and have worried that someone might see me staring and slap me. Even so… this makes me want to do it all the more.

  4. I’m glad you like the list–i thought it was awesome and am happy to share. I kept thinking about how to edit the list down, and I just.could.not. Now you know why!

  5. Pingback: reading like a writer and the daily blather of life « Swimming Upstream

  6. w

    Try to figure out what makes people tick, especially if this person happens to annoy you to pieces.

    Oh boy, I do this to the nth degree. I know somebody who has rather odd, obvious tics that I note down and assign to many characters; if I didn’t do this, I’d go crazy with wanting to kick this person’s butt.

  7. Yes, w–a professor of mine said that the most interesting characters in literature are the ones you never want to meet in your own life!

  8. Great list jade. And I bet I know who said that. The same one who said her husband is a very good person and not at all interesting enough to write about…

  9. Thank you.
    I’ve re-visited some of my story ideas and I’m trying to flush them out. It’s terrfying to stare at my computer screen and try to compose words to describe these bullet points of a plot. But I’m going to finish some of these short stories this year.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

  10. good luck to you, queenkv. 🙂 keep writing!

  11. I really like the second to last one on the list. I tend to ignore people who grate my nerves but I should start analyzing how they do it and what makes them that way!

  12. I need to make some changes (your list is a good place to start). Can’t figure out how or who to get to be my accountability partner.

    I need someone I respect and whose respect I want to earn. They need to be compassionate but scary. My friends are too nice and forgiving (a great thing in a friend but a poor thing in an accountability partner) and if I wasn’t performing they’d just bring me fudge to cheer me up. I got an accountability partner through an online writer’s group, but she disappeared. MIA. Where do you propose looking for an accountability partner and how does that work in your plan?

    Thanks!

  13. Actually, I see that this post of yours is exactly one year old. I’m not used to seeing “2008” yet so it didn’t register that this wasn’t today’s post.

    Let me rephrase my question. Did you get an accountability partner and how did it go?

    I’m also sorry to read about your health troubles. That can derail any plan, but it sounds like you’ve got the courage and fortitude to power through any set back.

    Hope you get good news at the eye doctor.

  14. Hi Anne

    Thanks for your encouragement and such! (I’m sooo glad 2007 is over). Yes–this was last year’s post, but I think still very relevant a year later. I do have accountability partners–my writing partner happens to be the kind of person who is the perfect balance of discipline and compassion, I am sooo fortunate. Plus every once in awhile, my husband gives me nudges that remind me of my own milestones.

    I guess with accountability partners who don’t start out grassroots like mine–you would set expectations for each other. Say you’ll check in every week and just forward each other what you’ve written…no comments/feedback, just a way to forward that “product” on to someone else. So you’re accountable, and so you know someone else is keeping tabs on your writing production. I’ve heard of people doing that, and that it works!

    Good luck, Anne.

  15. Pingback: an old and inspiring post « Writing Under a Pseudonym

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