Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordcraft -- Resolution number 1: subscribe

Here I ’m writing about resolutions for the coming year and it’s not even Hanukkah yet. What a grinch! But seriously, it’s waiting until New Year’s Day, when some of us are sleep-deprived, possibly even hung-over, that gives New Year’s resolutions a bad name.

So we wait until the last minute, jotting down vague pledges to lose weight, be kinder, get a new relationship -- maybe a new bank. Or find a job. Any job. Or promises to do stuff we know we’d never do. Because it hurts or it’s too hard (losing weight, etc.).

I found out longer ago than some of you have been alive that resolutions can be fun and easy and still be good for you.

Here’s a suggestion for resolution number 1: subscribe to a journal. Subscribe to a magazine to hone your writing craft or because it contains the kind of stories you enjoy and would like to write. These may not be the kinds of magazines you think are good for you. They’re the ones whose presence in your mailbox or inbox makes you read them cover to cover before you even look at the bills.

(I tell my mail carrier she doesn’t have to deliver the bills, but she says something about it being her job.)

Even if the magazine you subscribe to is a “just stories” one, it will help you improve your craft as you begin to notice how the writers you love to read do their job.

Publishers make all kinds of offers this time of year to get your subscription. Go to a newsstand, shake a few magazines, and see what offers fall out. Or tell those people who otherwise will buy you another pair of socks or, goddess forbid, a fruitcake, what

magazines you’d like to see in your mailbox over the coming year.

If you’re not sure what you like, look at the picture accompanying this post for ideas. (Just not at poor old Realms of Fantasy. I got an email while preparing to write this saying that they’ve gone down for the third, probably last time.) Online resources such as (or see link at the end of this blog) list sources of fiction and poetry, of whatever type suits your fancy. And you can often link to the magazine’s website to give it a free peek.

Online ’zines are even easier to subscribe to than print ones, and usually free. Subscribing to these is so fun, easy and cheap you may end up with way too many. Don’t let that stop you. Too much of a good thing can be even better.

(Next Wednesday: Resolution number 2 -- find a writing group. Writing doesn’t have to be lonely.)

Deadline for SheWrites’ first-ever Young Adult Novel Contest is December 15. Top five winners get advice on their book from agents. All proceeds benefit Girls Write Now, mentoring the next generation of women writers. For info, see And yes, you can join SheWrites even if you’re a man!

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