Books·CBC Literary Prizes

CBC Literary Prizes winners and finalists share their writing resolutions for 2019

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

A new writing year, a new writing you? CBC Books asked 10 shortlisted finalists and the three winners of the 2018 CBC Literary Prizes to share their writing resolutions for 2019. 

1. Lily Chang

Lily Chang is a writer and editor based in Montreal. (SuAnne Yang)

"My 2019 resolutions are to finish revising my speculative fiction manuscript that was also my master's thesis (is there ever an end to revising?) and to continue discussing and workshopping writings with fellow writers and friends on a regular basis."

2. Sanita Fejzić

Sanita Fejzić is a poet, writer and playwright based in Ottawa. (E.L. Photography)

"In 2019, I will finish my book manuscript by writing two hours everyday."

3. Neil Griffin

Neil Griffin is an author and poet based in Victoria, B.C. (Sonja Pinto)

"I couldn't think immediately of a writing resolution for 2019, so I asked a friend of mine for help and she provided a list of suggestions which, like the advice of all good friends, was somewhere in-between writing advice and personal attack. The best suggestion was this: to be honest, and more honest still, in whatever I write.

"In my notes I have an unattributed line (a more prosaic resolution: take better notes). The line reads: 'say one thing so true that it is true.' That's my resolution — to say that one thing, and then another, and another, and another."

4. Natalie Lim

Natalie Lim is a Vancouver-based poet and musician. (Amanda Lim)

"My writing resolution for the new year is simply to do more of it! My last semester is in the spring, so the time I would normally spend reading and writing for classes will hopefully be directed towards reading and writing for myself."

5. Kat Main

Kat Main has been a psychology teacher, writer and researcher. (Aileen Smith)

"For 2019, I am planning on doing a 10 day self-directed writing retreat in March at the Banff Centre. I also have a pact with a couple of other author friends to do at least a page a day of writing in the new year."

6. Julie Mannell

Julie Mannell is a poet based in Toronto. (Sarah Bodri)

"I'm sitting in a café in the middle of Omaha, Nebraska pondering the notion of 'resolution' and how it possibly relates to 'writing' or its associated mediums. I don't want to write anything like the dusty white people who performed last night at a place called the 'Om Centre.' My student line of credit payments kick in this February so my resolution is to make rent without having my bank accounts frozen and somewhere therein still walk into beautiful accidents and find time for meaningful reflection afterwards. I'm networking like crazy all over America but I have a resolution to not behave as those in Toronto. The ones campaigning for Mayor of Poetry: I find them painful — put their books at the bottom of my shelf, put their books in the little free library because to burn them would be another sin. Abby just got back from New York — her and Will and Will's three-legged pug, Sushi, all watch Jeopardy on top of each other: maybe I could get stuck in a warm poem like that one. Will's friend Mike is cute and he cooks and he talks like a cowboy. We're all going to boy scout camp to shoot guns later: is that a poem? Am I truly resolute about these moments and my duty to them as Poet? I don't really care. Though, it could be my poems that keep accidentally saving me. Lately I'm really into lighting a candle and saying a prayer for my grandmother and a prayer for my Romar. I maybe owe a poem to Omaha, definitely a prayer. Anyhow, in the new year, Will's resolute about driving me down to Arkansas where people are outnumbered by guns and guns are outnumbered by bibles. I think we're going to try and find Jesus. I hear they got a big poetry factory down there. It'll for sure be nice to check it out before I fly back North."

7. Anastasia McEwen

Anastasia McEwen is a short story writer, poet and high school teacher. (James McAvoy)

"Each night before bed, instead of trolling political forums or flipping through memes, I'll read one of the many lit magazines collecting on my shelf. I'll also throw a couple into my work bag so they'll be ready to read in the car, a waiting room, or during the occasional staff meeting. There are a lot of gems in these pages waiting to be unearthed.

"Once a month I'll go to the library or bookstore and pick up a Journey Prize Anthology. These stories inspire me when I'm feeling unmotivated or uncreative. Sometimes just one sentence can trigger a new idea.

"I'll also start digging through that folder on my desktop, the one where unfinished essays, sentimental poems and rejected stories are laid to rest. I'll exhume a forgotten piece and bring it back to life, perhaps creating a new scene, a new point of view, or a new character. I may even play Frankenstein and hack apart two stories, take the beginning of one, the end of another, and write a fresh middle just to see where it goes.

"Hopefully, these strategies will motivate me to write more and submit more. And when that rejection pops up in my email, I won't get discouraged — instead I'll see it as a message to try again."

8. Leah Mol

Leah Mol is an author, proofreader and piano teacher in Toronto, Ont. (Ajay Mehra)

"My resolution for 2019 is to work on writing every day. If I'm doing a first draft, I aim for 500 words a day (no excuses!). Right now I'm doing some rewrites on a novel, so for the first part of the year I'm aiming to spend an hour or two a day on that. I tend to enjoy measuring my work in words rather than time, so hopefully I can get back to that soon!"

9. Terri Monture

Terri Monture is a Mohawk author and Indigenous rights activist based in Toronto. (Rosalie Favell)

"For 2019, my writing resolution is to try to organize my notes and ideas for stories and other projects in a much better way. I tend to have weird story ideas in the shower, on transit, in the line at the grocery store and then never write them down. I downloaded the Scrivener app to try to make this capture of ideas a bit more easier and in the moment, so that if I'm hit with inspiration I don't lose the idea to the accumulated detritus of my day."

10. Sandra Murdock

Sandra Murdock is a writer based in Dartmouth, N.S. (Arleigh Hood)

"My writing resolutions are to complete the collection I am working on, of which the piece I submitted to the competition is a part. I have also committed to getting serious about submissions to a literary journal. I'm starting a spreadsheet! (This may end up as a giant poster board but you gotta do what you gotta do, right?) And finally, I am committing to one project at a time and will not let myself lose focus."

11. Bola Opaleke

Bola Opaleke is a poet based in Winnipeg. (Esther Opaleke)

"Next year I would like to enter for a major chapbook poetry contest, submit again to the CBC Poetry [Prize], and work hard to complete my book-length poetry collection."

12. Ayelet Tsabari

Ayelet Tsabari is an award-winning writer. Her memoir in essay, The Art of Leaving, is forthcoming in 2019. (Jonathan Bloom)

"In 2019 I'd love to finish a draft, however rough and messy, of my novel. And to do that I have to commit to writing more regularly, even if it means waking up at the godawful hour of 5:00 am to write before my daughter gets up and my (other) work begins."

13. Lee Thomas

Lee Thomas is an international speaker, writer and advocate. They are based in Calgary, Alta. (Shilo McCavour)

"My resolution for the new year is to set aside concentrated time to write my own stuff — just like how you schedule time for a doctor's appointment or to go to the gym or have a date night, I want to really focus on giving myself time to just write."


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