“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I love to write. Blog posts, articles for the newspaper, fiction, letters to my grandkids…I love to write!

Because I love to write, I want to learn to write better. What things am I doing this year to (hopefully) help improve my craft?

First, following Mr. King’s advice, I am reading more. My goal is to read two books per month, but more would be better. Thanks to recent arctic weather – we’ve been snowed in here in NW Tennessee for the past several days – I am ahead of my game, averaging a book per week. (Obviously, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is going to take a little longer than a week!)

As to what I read, I’m trying to mix things up: history, fiction, theology; old favorites, new titles; books given to me or recommended to me by friends; books from off the living room shelves, that I’ve never actually read; and, yes, books on writing.

Second, I have set a goal of entering one writing contest per month. While I don’t anticipate winning any of said contests (although that would be cool), I have found that the exercise of writing a short piece for a contest bumps me out of my comfort zone and forces me to look at my writing more critically. Writing contests rev my creative juices, and they help me feel connected to the broader writing community. Plus, they are FUN.

Third, I am trying to clear my mind of unnecessary clutter in order to make more room for creative thought. Simple routines, short checklists, time spent daily in God’s Word and in prayer, delegation of household chores, better care of my body…all of these work together to quiet the static that can easily drown out that story line I so badly want to develop.

And, well, I’m going to write, of course. As often as I can.

What skill would YOU like to develop this year? Do you have a plan to help you improve?

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