Using Your Writing Superpower in 2023

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”  –T.S. Eliot

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Happy New Year, everyone!

I’m honored to be the first to welcome TKZers to 2023! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, filled with family, food and fun, and ending with a resolution to use your writing superpower to its fullest extent in 2023.

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“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11

In a 2013 article on, Darcy Jacobsen wrote:

“Words matter. Anthropologists tell us that our ability for complex reasoning evolved at the same time as humans developed language. That’s because language provides us with a sort of source code for advanced thought. Before we had it, we simply lacked the ability to THINK the way we do now.”

But spoken language has its limitations. It isn’t as structured as written communication and lacks the permanent nature of the written word. And spoken words tend to morph over time and evolve into something that may have an entirely different meaning than the original.

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“If you want to change the world, take up your pen and write.” –Martin Luther

Jacobsen addressed the additional power of the written word by stating;

“…writing ideas makes them more concrete to us, and by mulling written words, we are better able to internalize and understand them, and to allow them to affect our behavior… In other words, every major accomplishment our species has made has been powered by writing, because writing gives our brains the code to organize ideas and create systems for advancement.”

Consider just a few of the things we would lack in a world without the written word:

  • The Bible
  • The Magna Carta
  • The U.S. Constitution
  • Written history

Without such documents, we would depend on oral communication to tell us how to interpret our world, what events happened in history, and how to treat our fellow human beings. But the written word is more than historical documents, biographies, or reporting on true events. There is also fiction.

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Joseph Conrad recognized the power of fiction when he said,

“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel–it is, before all, to make you see.”

Here at TKZ, we often focus on the craft, the HOW of writing. We examine plot structure, character arcs, point of view, conflict, and other aspects of the novel. But given what we know about the power of words, I’d like to home in on the WHAT and WHY of fiction writing.

In a 2016 article in, Vineetha Mokkil looked at the effect fiction has on readers:

“Scientific research has proven that reading fiction makes us more empathetic. Psychologists at the New School for Social Research, New York say that reading literary fiction literally makes us better people. It improves our ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions. This equips us to negotiate complex social relationships in the real world with greater skill. In this context, the writer essentially helps us connect to our own humanity. When fiction writers bare the inner lives of their characters it makes us reflect on our frailties and flaws.”

The writer of novels goes beyond the limits of historical fact to create new worlds where readers can connect with characters through emotion and intellect, discover new perspectives, and even search for the truth. The impression a good work of fiction makes on a reader will last long after he or she has put the book aside.

Of course, we all want to make money with our work. But if we spend months – or even years – crafting a tale to release upon the world, we surely want the result to be meaningful. Whatever our motive for writing a story — whether it’s to give the reader a sense of hope, a lesson in problem-solving, or a different perspective on the world — authors have the potential to make people think and to transform their lives. That’s a powerful skill and a great responsibility.

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So here’s to the new year with all of its days spread out before us like 365 blank sheets of paper. We have the ability to choose how we’ll use our writing superpower to fill those days. Let’s roll up our sleeves and choose wisely.

“But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.” — Lord Byron

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So TKZers: How will you use your writing superpower in 2023? What story will you release into the world? And why do you want to write it?

33 thoughts on “Using Your Writing Superpower in 2023

  1. The written word gets time – for much needed reflection. That alone makes it superior to the spoken word.

    Those who can speak extemporaneously can be gifted. They can also have a narrow range (some preachers) of topics they can do that on.

    But expansive use of language comes to those who write.

    • Good morning, Alicia.

      “But expansive use of language comes to those who write.” Well said. Figuring out how to communicate effectively in writing is one of life’s great joys.

  2. Happy New Year, Kay. In 2023 I’ll release a thriller whose writing helped me understand the confluence of my writing as both entertainment and message. Like “China Syndrome,” I hope “Van Gogh Syndrome” will not only give my readers the “story,” the big “what if,” will all the accompanying thrills, but also the understanding that . . . it really could happen. I’m hoping that embedding my message in a truly entertaining thriller will help readers better understand that we really must change what we’re doing to our environment–if we plan to inhabit earth much longer. Thanks for your blog. I truly enjoy your work.

    • Good morning, Mary.

      Writing fiction that entertains as well as makes people think is such a worthy goal. I’m looking forward to reading “Van Gogh Syndrome.” (Love the title.) Let us know when it releases.

      Have a great year!

  3. Happy new year, Kay. Per my habit I will strive to write 3000 publishable words of fiction (average) per day. I’ve learned that if I have a good daily word-count goal and a decent average, the number of novels I write will take care of itself. Most of my novels are in the 50,000 to 60,000 word range, so that’s roughly how many books I’ll release in 2023. It’s all math.

    • Good morning, Harvey. 3000 publishable words / day! You are the standard to which I aspire.

      I did the math. You’re writing around a million words per year, and you must be publishing 10 to 20 books per year. Is that right?

      Have a great writing year.

      • I wish I could write 3000 words every day. I’m aiming for 7000 words a week. 1000 words per day. And if I miss a day, which I do most weeks, I have enough room to catch up.

        Happy New Year and happy writing. 😄

        • Olivia,

          1000 words / day is also my goal. I write six days a week, and I know there’ll be days when I don’t make the quota, but I hope I can make it up.

          Good luck and happy writing in 2023!

  4. Happy New Year, KillZone. I enjoy your posts. I wrote a post, hit enter, and . . . it got eaten! Lol. I’m launching a thriller in 2023 whose research and writing helped me understand the confluence between entertainment and message. In “Van Gogh Syndrome,” as in “China Syndrome,” readers get the thrills that accompany the big “what if,” along with the idea that, yes, the unthinkable could happen here, and it will happen here. If we plan to stick around on this planet, we must change how we are treating our environment.

  5. Happy New Year to everyone. I think my writing superpower is playing with my characters keeps me sane, and protects a lot of other people from my potential wrath. I’ll be releasing my 11th Mapleton mystery in a couple of months, which will be my 38th piece of fiction. If I can provide a reader with a few hours of escape, that’s enough.

    • Good morning, Terry.

      “I think my writing superpower is playing with my characters keeps me sane, and protects a lot of other people from my potential wrath.” 🙂 Many of us can identify.

      Providing readers with a few hours of escape is still an influence on their lives. That may be one of the things that keeps a reader sane.

      Congratulations on your 38th piece of fiction. Do you have a title for this one yet?

  6. Happy New Year, Kay! All the quotes resonated with me. I’m shooting for another three novels in my Mayhem Series. My goal? To bring awareness to the beauty and wonders of the Natural World and our roles within in. All of my proceeds of Unnatural Mayhem I’m donating to help fight animal trafficking, and I’ll continue to donate a percentage of each subsequent book.

    • Happy New Year to you, Sue!

      Three novels in 2023? I’m in awe of your consistently prolific output.

      I like the way you’ve thought through your goal for writing: “To bring awareness to the beauty and wonders of the Natural World and our roles within in.” And I love that you’re using the proceeds from your writing for a good cause.

      Have a great writing year!

  7. Happy New Year, Kay and TKZ community!

    Kay, loved the phrase “all of its days spread out before us like 365 blank sheets of paper.”

    I’m on the home stretch of my eighth thriller Deep Fake. The theme is how AI technology can be abused and used to punish the innocent.

    Fiction gives me the superpower to right a few wrongs and dispense justice that doesn’t often happen in real life.

    Also, one doesn’t wind up prison for killing people on the page!

    • Happy New Year to you, Debbie!

      I’m eagerly awaiting your new novel Deep Fake. I remember the TKZ post you did that opened my eyes to the incredible power AI technology may have.

      “Fiction gives me the superpower to right a few wrongs and dispense justice that doesn’t often happen in real life.” That’s a great superpower to have. And it can influence the reader to work for that kind of world.

      Have a great writing year!

  8. Happy New Year, Kay and fellow KZBers! Kay you started off 2023 here with such an inspiring post. I’m with Debbie on loving your image of the new year spread out before us. I’m with you 100% on wanting my fiction to do more than just earn cash. (Though I do want to earn some with each book 🙂

    For 2023, I’ll be publishing A Shush Before Dying and the sequel. My stretch goal is to actually publish the third in my library cozy series as well. We’ll see, but I’m now focused squarely on mystery and this series and the past few weeks have gotten out of my own way and letting myself write what’s been missing in A Shush.

    I also plan on writing a short story every quarter as another stretch goal, at least two of which will be tie-ins to the Meg Booker Librarian Mysteries. I want to tell a compelling mystery that draws the reader into the world I’ve created, and recreates, at least a little, the bygone library world that existed in the 1980s.

    Thanks so much for getting 2023 off to a wonderful start here!

    • Good morning and Happy New Year, Dale!

      I’m replying through the back door since I’ve started to get the dreaded “Denied for Too Many Attempts” message. I hope this one gets through.

      Your goal of drawing the reader into a compelling mystery and recreating the library world of the 80’s is a worthy one. I’m looking forward to reading A Shush Before Dying. What a great title!

      And thanks for letting us know about your stretch goal to write a short story every quarter. I think I’m going to add that to my list. 🙂

  9. Happy New Year, all. It’s great to be back.

    This year, two Mike Romeo thrillers, a stand alone, a new craft book, and Patreon short stories, flash fiction, and perhaps a novella. I have a middle grade idea…dare I go there? Heck, why not? If we don’t do a little Captain Kirking, where’s the adventure and fun?

    • Happy New Year, Jim.

      Wow! That’s an impressive list of goals for 2023. I especially like the Middle Grade idea.

      Looking forward to the next Romeo book. What a great series.

      Have a wonderful year!

  10. Happy New Year! Kay, you’ve brought TKZ back with a roar. Words matter — they can change lives and deeply wound. Harsh words are hard to forget.
    Speaking of words, my new Angela Richman mystery, “The Dead of Night,” will be published this year and I’m working on the next novel in the series. I just need to find the right . . .words.

    • Happy New Year, Elaine!

      I sometimes forget what enormous power we have when we write.

      I’m looking forward to your next Angela Richman book. Hope you find all the right words in this coming year.

      • Hi TKZ friends. Your thoughts and insights are important to us. If you’re trying to comment, but you’re getting the “Denied for too many attempts” error message, please keep trying to submit your comment. Our site administrator is working with the tech folks at our host platform to solve this issue.

  11. Nice to see you all back here and a wonderful post to start the year out right.
    I decided this time last year that 2022 was going to be my Creative Year but I didn’t realize how hard it would be so I’m ready to restart with all the fixins at hand.

    I did join a couple of local writing groups last year and they have been a great inspiration as well as a social outlet. One of the people has self published three collections of very good short stories in the country noir/grit lit genre with a touch of Twilight Zone and he is going to help me pound some of my short stories into shape and get them out there. So that is a big positive.

    His nom de plume is C.J. Friend and you can find him on Amazon.

    And I promise to fix more guitar amps and fix my pickup truck and paint the house and build a cowboy wok and get the BSA motorsickle running and and and.

    G-d has truly blessed me and all the other sailors on the unseen ocean. I’ll do my best to earn His trust in me.

    • Happy New Year, Robert!

      Sounds like you’re all set to write some good fiction this year. I hope you’ll let us know when you release those short stories out to the world.

      I’d forget all those other chores if I were you. (I had to Google “Cowboy wok.” Didn’t know there was such a thing.)

      Have a successful and fulfilling 2023!

  12. HNY, Kay and all! Great post…

    I plan to release my second novel, No Tomorrows-, this year. I wrote this story because I asked myself that “what if?” question, and Annie Lee answered it for me. I want to pass on her answer to my readers.

    I had a wonderful time with my bro from Atlanta and his family over Christmas. He has two brainiac boys in their twenties. I gave them the elevator pitch for the story, and then we had a cool discussion about book covers in which they gave me some great ideas I’ll pass on to my cover designer.

    In fact, my younger nephew, age 24, gave me this line that I might put on the cover: Life starts when it ends. Thinking about that line makes me shiver.

    Have a great day!

  13. I’ve tried over & over again since 8:30 this morning to comment. Maybe…

    I plan to release my 2nd novel this year; plus, I want to enter my first novel, published in October, The Master’s Inn, into a few contests; plus, finish the draft of another book which I want to pub in 2024.

  14. Happy New Year, Deb, and congratulations on not giving up! We’ve been having that infernal “Denied for too many attempts” issue, but our site admin worked with some folks at our hosting site, and it may be fixed now.

    You’ve had a great 2022, and it sounds like you’ve got a good plan going forward. Best wishes for a successful and fulfilling 2023!

  15. ¡Feliz año nuevo, Kay y el equipo!
    (just released my new thriller, which includes a lot of Spanish)

    I really enjoyed writing and publishing my first true thriller—”EL NORTE”—this past year, and plan to do another in 2023. And will be learning from all of you here in the process (I don’t get email alerts for some reason, so need to bookmark and stay on top of TKZ).

    As a man of a certain age, I enjoy using a lifetime of personal knowledge to create new worlds that hopefully resonate with others.

    I’ve been doodling with a couple of new thriller concepts and will be zeroing in on the one to run with soon.

    Thanks to TKZ for all you do.

    • Happy New Year to you, Harald, and congratulations on getting 2023 off to a good start with the release of your first thriller.

      Sounds like you have a good plan for the year. Best of luck with El Norte.

  16. Had a bit of trouble trying to post earlier today & forgot the specifics of what I was originally going to comment, so I will simply say:

    Happy New Year TKZers! Hope it’s an awesome writing year for us all!

    • Happy New Year, BK! We had a bit of an issue today, but we’re hoping all is cleared up now.

      I missed your always-insightful comments today. So glad you were finally able to get through.

      Best wishes to you also for an awesome writing year!

  17. Mainly a lurker (been lurking since 2016). My goal is to publish my first book. I’m close enough to taste it. 🙂 and to finish the first draft on my second.
    Even though my genre is not mystery/suspense/thriller this is the only writing blog I frequent. I read it religiously. I’ve learned something from every blog post. Thank you and Happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year to you, Bridgit! I’m so glad you’ve been lurking and that you decided to comment.

      Congratulations on getting close to publishing your first book. (Love your description of being “close enough to taste it.”) I would love to hear more about what you’re writing. Definitely let us know when your book is released.

      Best wishes for a very successful 2023!

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