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Tis the season for making resolutions. And while most people are promising to lose weight, quit smoking, or remodel the kitchen, we’ve got a proposition for you creative writers out there. Stay motivated and encouraged by making this important promise to yourself (repeat after us): This year I promise to always THINK BIG.
Need motivation? It’s a great time to be a writer. The world is going through incredible changes right before our eyes, and whether the changes are good or bad, the truth is that turmoil and upheaval birth creative genius, innovative ideas, and new directions.
Visualize yourself actively creating this year, rather than passively sitting back to see what happens in the publishing industry. Everyone will have a different idea of what BIG is—whether it’s overcoming your fear of rejection and sending out that very first submission or landing a big-time literary agent—but it’s important to make thinking on a grand scale a part of your everyday life.
When it comes to the writing life, the easy thing to do is stack negatives. It’s hard to make a living as a writer; the odds of publication are daunting; my sister hated my short story; my wrists hurt.
A successful writer will have vision that transcends the negatives. I’m doing what I truly love to do. I have talent. Writing is my creative outlet. I see myself doing BIG things in the writing arena. And by thinking this way, it’s so much easier to actually achieve big goals.
Some writers will make a checklist of small, attainable steps as building blocks to their ultimate goal. Others will just sit down and get to the business of writing a novel (or a play or a poem) until it’s complete. The key is COMMITMENT to these goals. See yourself as a flourishing and dedicated writer and then make it happen, any way you know how.
Don’t let yourself be intimidated by big dreams. Remember that old joke about how to eat an elephant: “One bite at a time.” Approach your writing goals the same way, and don’t let that big bad elephant send you running from the room.
Maintain your enthusiasm. New Year’s resolutions are fueled by an initial burst of resolve that typically fritters away throughout the year. If you remind yourself each day to think BIG, this kind of positive attitude can actually become a part of your nature; eventually, you will naturally see yourself as a successful writer.
You won’t be derailed by rejection letters, writer’s block, or editors who won’t publish your short story. Instead, you’ll see this as a necessary part of the process of writing. Rejection and roadblocks won’t define you as a writer; they will inspire you to forge ahead.
Reward yourself generously for your dedication. For some, crossing off an item on a list can be tremendously rewarding. For others, a pint of ice cream or a trip to the botanical gardens is reward enough for finishing a difficult chapter or sending out a new batch of query letters.
Use positive reinforcement on yourself—it works well for children and pets, so why not writers?—and treat yourself kindly and with patience.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. If I don’t write a novel and see it published by next year, I quit! Instead, see yourself reaching attainable goals. I’m going to get a rough draft of a novel completed by this time next year! Don’t make failure a possibility.
Always come from a place of excellence. Do your best work, always, and continue to expand and improve your skills. Take writing classes, read the classics, welcome constructive criticism. At the end of the day, know that even if you simply wrote one paragraph, it was an excellent paragraph—your best effort.
Embrace your career with joy and enthusiasm. You’re a writer! Even if you spend eight hours a day at a mattress factory, that’s just your day job. You’re a writer! Your work inspires, motivates, challenges, and creates emotional reactions for your readers. What an incredible gift you have to share! Read More: Ask Ronnie: Ten Reasons We Love Writers.
The bottom line. Whether you’ve got a four-page to-do list for the new year or one big ambition, frame your goals in a positive light and get started. If you get bogged down by plot problems or blindsided by a particularly scathing rejection letter, take a moment to bring your vision to the forefront. Visualize the BIG prize and see yourself taking it for your own.
At Writer’s Relief, we believe in thinking BIG. We see our writer clients as stars in the making, and we celebrate their every success. If you need help getting started—whether you’re having trouble with a query letter or you need help targeting your creative writing submissions more effectively—let us know. We’ll be cheering you on all the way!