by Evan Yeong
Another year, another chance to change our lives for the better! The more pessimistic among us might point out that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail, but why let that stop you from attempting to improve yourself? For readers and would-be writers of romance, 2020 is an opportunity to work on the part of our lives we already love so much.
But what possible resolutions could you make in terms of reading? Studying for a major in English literature kept me up to my neck in assigned novels, meaning that at one point in time I needed to make a conscious effort to read for pleasure and not for the benefit of my grades. To some extent the same can be said for being in editorial right now. For those who don’t read for school or work, however, it may be finding time in a hectic day to read at all. Though if diving headfirst into a good romance is already how you unwind, maybe it’s not time we should be focusing on…
In January 2018 I looked back at a long list of the books I read in the past 12 months and decided that the titles I picked up needed to be less male, less white, less American. Thus started a year where I dedicated a month to female writers, another to Black authors, another to queer fiction, and so on. In doing so I picked up books I never would have otherwise, and realized that I find myself just as engrossed in a history of colonial North America as I do in a novel.
Many readers find out what they like fairly early on and don’t look any further than that. Even if we choose to stay solely within the romance genre, however, there is an overwhelming range to choose from! When was the last time you picked up a book where the hero and heroine work together to track down a serial killer, or navigate the unforgiving social strata of 1800s Great Britain, or fend off hordes of starving zombies?
When was the last time you picked up a romance that starred two heroes or two heroines, or where one or both of the leads wasn’t white? The world of happily ever afters is broad. How will 2020 shake up your reading list?
Now when it comes to writing, it’s all too obvious what we could be doing differently. Whereas getting a lost in a book can be almost effortless, forcing ourselves to sit down in front of a keyboard and actually typing (instead of just scrolling through our social media feed of choice) feels impossible. What we want is to be family-friendly Kermit the Frog-
-but instead fall more in line with the titular star of don’t-watch-this-with-your-kids BoJack Horseman–
Every one of my most successful stints at writing with any kind of regularity has been by working with others. There were almost half a dozen failed blogs that came and went before I asked a classmate to co-write with me, the fear of disappointing them by not fulfilling my end of the bargain motivating me to stick with it. For a number of months I wrote one short story a week alongside a group of friends who encouraged one another to be better writers.
While collaboration and support from others can be key to sticking to your writing resolution, what’s even more important is having it be realistic. The last thing you need is to set yourself up to fail, so don’t promise to write three romance novels in 2020 (like the most prolific of our authors do).
It’s also worth remembering that your resolution can change! Maybe you start out by committing to writing a single page a day. Just like working out, you’ll find that the more you practice the easier it will be, meaning that after a few months that count could be bumped up to two pages, or even five or more! The trick is to start small so that you can achieve success almost immediately, and not to give up if and when you do fail.
Choosing to become a better romance reader and writer is something you can do at any time, but we’re encouraging you to start a resolution and share it with us in the comments! And just to get the ball rolling…
Well, maybe. But what I can actually promise is:
My 2020 Reading Resolution is to explore the world of romance! This isn’t a genre that I read very much of before starting at Harlequin, outside of a handful of Nicholas Sparks novels, and I want to go from reading once a month to two (not including what I read in the office, of course).
My 2020 Writing Resolution is to continue writing Scooby-Doo screenplays, at the rate of one a month. I wrote my first last December for a podcast a friend and I co-host and I’m hooked! The format is one I really enjoy, and it feels like falling in love with writing all over again.