The promise of a new year usually inspires me to cobble together a list of writing resolutions for the months ahead. But as the possibilities of 2020 glitter before us, I find myself in the mood for something different. Something with flair. So rather than dusting off old favorites, like write 2,000 words a day or finish my novel, this year I’ve decided to put a new spin on a tired tradition.
To get the ideas flowing, I called on our ever-helpful Writer Unboxed Facebook community to learn how other writers approach New Year’s resolutions. With their creative insights, I’ve assembled a list of “un-resolutions”—alternative approaches to traditional goal setting to help you realize your writing goals in 2020 and beyond.
- Choose a theme.
Fellow WUer Lisa Montanaro doesn’t begin the new year with a list of goals but rather a one-word theme. She uses it as her battle cry throughout the year, applying it across all areas of her life, not just her writing. To keep herself honest and accountable, she shares her theme on her blog every January and announces it to her clients (many of whom have adopted this practice themselves). Lisa has followed this tradition for over a decade—past themes have included implement, discover, and presence—and it’s helped her navigate major changes in her life and business.
Following Lisa’s example, I’ve decided my theme for 2020 will be experiment.
to try or test, especially in order to discover or prove something
I am equally excited about my theme’s promise of discovery (new things about myself, my work, the world) as I am about proving (what works, what doesn’t), so I can focus my energy where it has the most impact.
In the coming year, I hope experiment will give me the freedom to try new things without fear of failure (because failure is a necessary component of any experiment, right?). In my creative life, experiment might mean trying my hand at a new genre. Exploring different formats and emerging technologies. Forging new partnerships. Creating beyond words.
What word would you choose as your theme for next year?
- Write a letter to your future self.
We all know that writing can be a powerful way to clarify your vision and focus your intentions, but it doesn’t have to be a list of goals. Fellow WUer Mandy Webster and her kids write letters to their future selves laying out their hopes and plans for the coming year. They open them the following December and delight in learning which elements of their dreams came true. (They also write longer-term letters, which they open five or even ten years into the future.)
Mandy’s approach is a refreshing alternative to making a list of specific, measurable goals because it enables us to aim in a general direction and allows limitless possibilities for getting there.
Inspired by her approach, I’ve started drafting a letter to my future self to open next December. Here are a few excerpts: By the time you read this, I hope you’ve found a writing partner you connect with … I hope you’ve completed the next book in the High Flyers series … I hope you’ve been invited to speak at elementary schools outside of Pennsylvania … I hope your writing has taken you to new places—real and imagined.
What would you say in a letter to your future self? [Read more…]