I know, I know—an article in early January about New Year’s resolutions? How original is that? But I happen to be a list maker junkie and New Year’s resolutions are the mother of all lists, so I can’t help it. I look forward to setting new goals, charting my progress, marking off the accomplishments on the list (yes, I’m a geek). Lots of people despise resolutions and feel they set us up for failure, disappointment, and self-loathing (and who needs any more of those?), so if it’s not your thing, no worries. They work for me, and my only hard and fast motto for this crazy business of writing is “whatever works.” If making writing resolutions sounds like something that might galvanize you, too, then here are some tips that make your resolutions more likely to stick.
START WITH THE REVERSE OF RESOLUTIONS
While it is important to challenge ourselves, it’s just as important to acknowledge the things we already accomplished. I know, I know, we are taught not to “toot our own horn,” but really, it’s good to take a look at all you’ve done in the course of a year—good for the soul, good for the ego, just plain good any way you look at it. Take an indulgent, congratulatory look at all the cool stuff you did between this year and last. It will make you feel proud, it will make you feel kinder towards yourself, and it’s a nice affirmation.
Some years, your list might include more “biggies” than others, for example “I landed an agent,” or “I published my fifth novel,” or, for me, 2014 included “I finally started teaching online writing classes after people have been bugging me to for years” (I have brand new ones beginning January 15 if you’re interested…) and “finished a draft of a new novel.”
But be sure to include accomplishments no one else might recognize or know about, such as: “Never got lost a single time while renting a car on book tour” or “Stopped going to writing group with X because it was toxic and not giving me anything.”
You get the idea. Nothing that comes to mind is too small to include. Sometimes, on discouraging days, it helps to go back and read your list—especially on days you feel you aren’t living up to your resolutions. You’ll go over your list and think, “Look at me. Look at all I did. Okay, tomorrow is another day. I’m inspired to do better.”
Start making your list. Look at you! Look at how strong, kickass and interesting you are!
Don’t you feel better already?
MAKE SURE THE OUTCOME IS IN YOUR OWN HANDS
As you make a list of resolutions for your writing life in 2015, don’t allow anyone else to control your success or failure. It’s not a good idea to resolve “I will be published in 2015” or “I will become a bestseller in 2015” because that outcome is not something you can actually control. [Read more…]