6 Canadian writers share writing resolutions for 2018

Making New Year's resolutions can allow one to establish some direction for the year. Hear what these authors have to say about improving their writing craft.

A new writing year, a new writing you? CBC Books asked six writers who juried the 2017 CBC Literary Prizes to share their writing resolutions for 2018. 

Looking for your own writing resolution? The 2018 CBC Nonfiction Prize is open for submissions! You could win $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, a 10-day writing residency from the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have your work published on CBC Books.

1. Charlotte Gray

Charlotte Gray is the author of The Promise of Canada: 150 Years — People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country. (Valberg Imaging)

"Tell the nonfiction facts as I see them, but acknowledge other people have other truths. Even if I don't accept another person's version of events, get beneath their words to see why they are saying it."

2. Carmen Aguirre

Carmen Aguirre is an actor, playwright and writer. Her memoir Something Fierce won the 2012 edition of Canada Reads.

"Get started on my new novel, Three Virgins!"

3. Shyam Selvadurai

Shyam Selvadurai is the author of the novel The Hungry Ghosts. (Kevin Kelly)

"Keep writing despite all the other demands on me!"

4. Marina Endicott

Marina Endicott is the author of the novel Close to Hugh. (Wikimedia Commons)

"I resolve to finish my book in 2017. I mean 2018. Okay, that is my resolution every flipping year, but this year I mean it."

5. Humble The Poet

Humble The Poet won Canada Reads 2017 with his defense of Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis. (CBC)

"My resolution is to not have any resolutions, but to continue my journey of lifelong learning as well as improving my health, my art and spending time with those that matter most to me."

6. Gary Barwin

Gary Barwin is the author of the novel Yiddish for Pirates. (Adela Talbot)

"I don't usually keep — or make — New Year's resolutions about writing. I mean what has the calendar to do with procrastination or deadlines? Any resolutions that I make are more of the 'rolling' type. Indeed, resolutions are — as in Twain's quip about giving up smoking — easy to make. Heck, I've made 16 resolutions today. Including the one where I promised I'd finish this piece of writing this morning. BTW, I had a sandwich for lunch.

"But it can be productive to take stock of one's writing life to consider what one would like to accomplish, and how. It's valuable to think about what one values and what has become a habit that one wants to eliminate, continue or interrogate. Though it often seems like the writing is the one making the resolutions and my job is just to learn from the process and consider what it all means.

"What does it mean? It means that I haven't finished the novel I'm working on. It's a bit like that exercise machine in my recently flooded basement. A beautiful and marvellous thing to consider. Sheer potential sloshing about in a surprise lake.

"But I hereby resolve to finish that novel. There, I've said it. So now I have to do it. Just like last year, when I said I'd become an astronaut. Or was it a dolphin? In any case, writing can be like echolocation. Or, at least, echolocution. A lot of sloshing around and only avoiding disaster by beaming out transmissions and listening for what they sound like coming back.

"What else? O New Year, grant me the temerity to write about the things I cannot change; the courage to write about the things I can; and the wisdom not to know the difference.

"But also, O Year that is New, grant me the serenity to accept the writing I do not understand; the courage to edit the writing I can; and an editor to know the difference.

"And be calmed and not becalmed. And read more, write more, wash more, walk more, be quiet more. Just kidding, I don't need to walk more. There are many things to do. I resolve not to worry about the things I'm not currently worrying about. Except when strictly necessary. Incidentally, I love the biblical name for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, "Yom Teruah.' Apparently it means, literally, 'day [of] shouting/blasting.' That is how I hope to begin the year, ecolocuting the heck out of the future, sending blithe huzzahs into the corners of the past, and chortling frabjously at the strange and slithy present."  

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