A Writer’s New Year’s Resolutions + A Tip for Success

Resolutions. Do you make them? I always have, though I’ve learned to be a bit kinder to myself over the years. One of the biggest reasons people often don’t meet their NY’s resolutions, or any goal for that matter, is because they simply set the bar too high. I am a guilty party. We want such big things to happen, so we set those goals, and then end up feeling like we’ve failed in some way when the New Year rolls around and we didn’t meet whatever stringent criteria we set when we were giddy on bubbly.

I think there’s an easy fix to this: Make attainable, realistic resolutions.

That’s not saying to shoot low. You should always aim high. But 1) aim high for things you have say over, and 2) don’t misjudge the height.

Want to get an agent in 2016?? That’s an awesome thing, but it’s also out of your control for the most part. You can make a goal to have a book ready to query by December 31, 2016 (which means accepting the work load it takes to get a book to that point), or you can make a goal to get a book out to agents before 2017 rolls around, but you cannot control whether or not an agent snags that book.

How crappy will you feel if it doesn’t happen?? Pretty crappy. BUT, if you do the deed and get the book out there?
And something you CAN control.

Want to finish that novel? Give yourself time. “I will finish this 450 page work of art in 30 days” is not realistic. That’s misjudging the height of the goal. It’s making things super tough on yourself especially if you have other life responsibilities. Accept that such a goal takes time, allow yourself that time, get your ass to work, and do it. Just don’t make it an impossible feat.

The bottom line is to be kind to yourself. We expect so much out of ourselves that we end up stressing out and giving up 1/4 of the way into the year. I’ve done it. There’s no need for all that. Writing is a long term thing. If you’re a writer, chances are you’re a writer for LIFE. It’s not something most writers can give up. For long, anyway. If you’re a writer for life, the endeavor of this craft is a daily task. It’s always on your mind. It’s a career you already have or are working to have.

So don’t make it miserable.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me give you guys a fabulous tip I learned this year!

Keeping. A. Calendar.

This has been the single most effective tool for me in 2015.

The point of keeping a calendar is so you can see at a glance what you’ve achieved in any given month. Instead of focusing mentally on all the things you didn’t do, you see what you DID do. If you track life stuff along with writing stuff, it’s even better, because you see what you were capable of achieving even in spite of life craziness. I managed to write just over 30K in November even though my dad had his bladder removed and I was his caregiver all month. Seeing that made me realize what I’m capable of. Talk about motivating!

It’s a positive swing on dealing with yourself. Instead of negative thinking at the end of a month because you didn’t get that book finished, you can see that maybe you wrote 10K and edited 20 out of 30 days. Or maybe you were sick for an entire week, or your day job worked you long hours, or the kids had crazy schedules, or you were out of town a lot. Seeing progress, or even seeing why you maybe didn’t have as much progress as you would have liked, is so much better than having no record of anything. It allows you pride in yourself for achievements made and self-love and kindness to yourself for times when you just couldn’t do ALL THE THINGS.

Typically, you just grab a desktop calendar and some stickers of choice, set a key for the things you want to track, and get to it. It’s so motivating at the end of the month when you do the tally. The first month you kinda see where you are, a baseline, and then you feel more determined to see an increase in words written, or pages edited, or miles walked, or…{insert goal of choice}. It works!! Here are some pics of mine and my CP’s calendars.

I’m using the Erin Condren Life Planner to get even more organized this year. If you haven’t seen those, check them out. If you’re a bit crafty, they’re especially fun.

So good luck to you guys!!!!

Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Be realistic.
Set attainable goals.
Track your progress.
Love 2016.

Happy New Year!!

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1 Comment

  1. I love the example you used in regards to finding an agent. It's important to only set goals that you can actually control. I've made unrealistic goals before, but I always find it helpful to think about what I can actually accomplish without exorbitant effort and then up it a little bit for a challenge.

    Thanks for the inspiration!