If I were the type to make New Year's resolutions, my writing resolutions for '09 would be:
1. Write more fresh material
2. Read more widely
3. Listen to what readers say about the novels they enjoy
4. Learn from items 1, 2, and 3
The past couple years, I let too many activities put the big squeeze on the amount of time I spend working on my own writing. That changes in '09. I'm almost certain that to be considered a writer, one must write.
Reading current best-sellers in or near my chosen genre is very useful, but there are benefits to reading classics outside my genre too. I'm currently reading my first Agatha Christie novels, and seeing how she holds a reader's attention and keeps us involved is a great learning experience, even though I'm not a mystery writer. Good writing applies to any genre.
Knowing your target audience is great, but listening to them is better. My partner, Jack, is my valued first-reader, so I benefit from his impressions of my novels, but he also offers me more. Jack's not only a careful and thorough reader, he's got a knack for pinpointing exactly what he likes about any novel he reads. That's useful information for a writer. An added bonus is that he doesn't read like a writer (you writers out there know what I mean). Jack is part of my target audience, so his impressions are gold, whether they're about my novels or someone else's.
Writing, reading, and listening more are great goals for '09, especially if I actively learn from the experiences. Of course, my writing won't improve if I don't put what I learn into practice, so maybe I need a fifth resolution this year. Er-- I mean-- Maybe I would need a fifth resolution. You know, if I were a resolution-making kind of guy.
I hope you're all resolved to ending '08 safely and having a wonderful '09.