It is that time of year again. New Year’s resolutions have been a tradition since the time of the Babylonians when they made promises to their gods to return the things they had borrowed and to pay off the debts they had accrued in the previous year. In the United States roughly half of all Americans have made resolutions each new year, with those doing so seeing a tenfold increase in success in following through with their promised life changes over those who made no such resolutions.
For me, I am pursuing two resolutions above all others this year. Write more. Read more. I have found that I am happier when I am consistently writing, and look forward to life more when I have a new book in hand. Thinking more about it, this doesn’t surprise me. Both reading and writing have been found to provide multiple benefits to those who diligently pursue them:
- Mental Stimulation: A good story, whether being written or read, flexes our grey matter and keeps our brain healthy. Working this most important muscle in this way leads to benefits in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other issues later on in life. Your memory itself will likely benefit as well.
- Stress Reduction: Escaping to another place or time transports you out of the daily grind and separates you from those things that wear you down day-to-day. This break leads to a reduction in stress.
- Knowledge and Critical Thinking: Consuming non-fiction leads to the digestion of new information, and writing more leads us to critically think about the life we find ourselves living. Benefits of doing so include a greater grasp of the world around us all the way to an expanded vocabulary with which to engage with the people and society around us.
For these reasons I made a resolution last night to both write more and to read more for this coming year. It is my hope that, in doing so, I will complete 100+ words a day written and 100 books read over 2021. I hope to complete more than those minimums in each of these resolutions this year, but I think that is a good starting point. This article (written on January 1st to be published January 2nd) is my first effort to followthrough with these resolutions. Wish me luck!
If you are interested in writing or reading more this coming year, the following are some recommendations to get you started.
So You Want To Read More?
I have two main recommendations to tackle more books this year. The first deals with making it easier to devour books without a huge hit to your wallet. The second is about a specific author I recommend as his works have shifted how I think about life and the pursuit of my own happiness.
- Subscribe to a Kindle Unlimited Membership Plan or, if you drive or run a lot, look into trying Audible Plus. Since I have a goal of 100+ books this year, using these services allows me to chip away at this count without breaking my bank account (something my wife appreciates). Moreover, this allows the subscriber to take greater risk in reading the works of indie authors who have pursued self-publishing their books.
- I also wrote a previous article on four books by Robert Greene that have been enjoyable reads for their historical content, as well as their attempts to break down the nuances of life that we as individuals might pursue living more deliberately, specifically in the hopes of attaining more happiness, success, and contentedness. Check it out here.
So You Want To Write More?
I have three main recommendations for those of you interested in writing more this coming year. The first is for personal accountability, the second is for references, and the third is for feedback.
- Take the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge in November of this Year! I haven’t completed it successfully yet (too many distractions these past few years) but I am hoping this year will be the first!
- Pick up one of the many books out there on the writing craft! The ones most helpful for me in terms of the short stories I have published, and the novels that are still works in progress are: On Writing Well, Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, Writing Fiction (10th Edition), Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: How to Create Out-of-This-World Novels and Short Stories, and the classic work on the craft by Stephen King titled On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft.
- Submit! Submit! Submit! By sending off your short stories, pitches, or novels to magazines, agents, and publishers you reinforce the fact that you are a writer. Doing this has no downsides. At the worst you will see rejections, some of which will come with feedback or advice to do better next time. At the best you will get paid for your work or given a book contract. Regardless, all submissions will see you share your work with the world, letting others enjoy your work.
So pick up a pen, sit at a keyboard, or crack open a book every week this year. I promise you won’t regret it.
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This article contains some affiliate links to books that serve as recommendations for writing or references to fiction/nonfiction books I recommend. If you choose to purchase these books or resources via my affiliate links, you will help support my writing and research at no additional cost to you.