10 Ways to Jump-Start Creativity in the New Year

Ten authors share New Year's Resolutions.

Posted Dec 28, 2017

Jennifer Haupt
Source: Jennifer Haupt

I’m not usually one to make New Year’s resolutions but, frankly, my creative life could really use a kick start. I’ve spent the past nine months putting in-place the promotional foundation for my debut novel, the novel I worked on for eleven years. I’ll admit, I was actually thrilled to take a break from my characters! And now, with the recent completion of final edits, I need to crank up my creative gears again to complete novel number two. So, I asked some of my favorite authors — debut authors and old pros — to come up with New Year’s resolutions for creative inspiration, and I also came up with my own:

"My New Year’s resolution is to be more open about my shortcomings. Success can pave over the emotional reality of being a writer, which isn’t always pretty. I think that honesty in real life, will translate to honesty on the page." — Jamie Ford, Love and Other Consolation Prizes

"In my creative life, I resolve to be forgiving and gentle toward myself when my writing process feels overwhelming or confusing. To do this, I will remind myself —like a mantra — to have faith, to accept that confusion is a natural part of making art, and that this process of searching and discovery will inevitably bring clarity, flashes of inspiration, and  surprising narrative gifts." — Jessica Keener, Strangers in Budapest

"In 2018, I resolve to trust that the time it takes to write something is the right amount of time, even if it takes longer than I want it to, or my agent or editor wants it to. And I’ll trust that what I want to write is what I should be writing. I’ll remember that I’m the one in charge of my writing life, and that what occurs each day at my desk is exactly what should be happening in order for me to get where I want to go.” — Jennie Shortridge, Love Water Memory

"When the everyday problems and appointments crowd my writing time, my New Year’s pledge is not to toss away what’s left because I decide it’s not enough time to get anything meaningful written. Any amount counts is going to be my mantra. I think I’ll be pleasantly surprised." — Victoria Redel, Before Everything

"I'm swinging for the fences on my current novel, which bridges 14,000 years of history in the northwest, and employs dozens of points-of-view. The breadth and complexity of the interwoven narratives, along with their attendant timelines and systems of logic, as well as the necessity for continuity, connective tissue, and thematic unity can be at times a bit overwhelming when I step back. So, my New Year resolution for 2018 is to maintain my focus on the task at hand, and keep reminding myself to eat this elephant one bite at a time." — Jonathan Evison, Lawn Boy

"For 2017, I want to learn how to accept who I am as a writer. It is so easy to fall into the trap of comparison — longing for the skills of other authors I admire, wishing for the accolades that other writers have received — and when I am that place it brings my own work to a halt. This year, I plan to work on seeing in myself what my readers see, and learning to be content with that." — Janelle Brown, Watch Me Disappear

"Another author once told me that there are three words one must come to terms with in order to survive as a writer: Why. Not. Me. In a profession where success is so often measured in relative terms — who’s made which list, who’s won what award, who is selling the most copies, who has earned more stars — it’s easy to continually feel “less-than.” This year, as my debut novel goes out into the world, my resolution is to stay grounded in knowing that I wrote the book I wanted to write, and to cheer on others who are pursuing their dreams." — Mira T. Lee, Everything Here is Beautiful

"I am in the process of writing my second novel, five months before my debut hits the shelves. My New Years Resolution is to not panic. (Ha.) It is also my resolution to remember that while in my work I may feel the pull of others' expectations —agent, editor, readers, "the market" — my only obligation is to the story." — Aimee Molloy, The Perfect Mother

"I'm determined not to fall into the anxiety-traps laying in wait for those of us with books about to be published. It's easy to click on reviews and begin to judge our worth in 1-5 stars, to measure our success by the publicity our fellow writers receive, or to focus on winning praise from those who wield the most power in this business. Instead, I resolve to turn my attention toward all gestures of enthusiasm, unprompted kindness and generosity — gifts that not only boost the career but also the soul." — Susan Henderson, The Flicker of Old Dreams

"It occurs to me, with the impending publication of my debut novel that I have had — and still have — a boatload of expectations around publication and success. My resolution is to let go of my expectations so that I may enjoy the unexpected pleasures." — Jennifer Haupt, In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills