How do you keep the momentum going and stick to your New Year’s writing resolutions once the flush of determination and enthusiasm begins to fade? Whether your goal is to become a published author in 2014 or simply to hop aboard the social media train for the first time, we’ve got 10 tips to help writers keep their New Year’s resolutions all year long!
10 Ways to Help You Stick to Your New Year’s Writing Resolutions:
1) Pick one resolution. We’d all love to get in shape and conquer all our bad habits. And we may have a long list of writing-related resolutions as well. For greater chances of success, we recommend choosing ONE New Year’s writing resolution that you can devote yourself to fully.
2) Choose a resolution you can control. “Get published in 2014” is not a resolution over which you have much control. No matter how great your work, writers are at the mercy of literary agents and editors. “Submit my short story to X number of journals per month” is a goal you can control and achieve. Writer’s Relief can help! Our clients make approximately 150 submissions a year—and they hardly lift a finger. Visit our Services page for more.
3) Define your goal and use specific language. A month-by-month time line can help break down an intimidating “Write a nonfiction book” resolution into more concrete (and attainable) goals. For example, “January: Lay out a chapter-by-chapter outline.”
4) Be realistic. Some of us start the New Year with goals like “Win American Idol” or “Discover a new species”—and this usually leads to disappointment at the end of the year. To avoid this letdown, set a realistic, attainable New Year’s writing resolution. If your proposed novel is a 100,000-word sci-fi project, “Write X words per month” might be more doable than “Write a long novel.”
5) Enlist a partner. Find a partner who wants to achieve his/her own New Year’s writing resolution, and you can help each other stick to your goals. Hold each other accountable and set regular check-in times to monitor your progress. HINT: Watch for a forthcoming article about finding a mentor!
6) Use positive reinforcement. You submitted five poems in February? Pat yourself on the back, and treat yourself to a reward—it could be a massage, tickets to a game, or simply a quiet afternoon at the park with a good book. (It helps to determine the rewards in advance.)
7) Use negative reinforcement. We’re not talking about yelling or beating yourself up here. Instead, promise yourself (or better, someone else) that you’ll donate a certain amount of money or time to a charity for every month’s goal you don’t reach. (Or, do something nice for someone you don’t like!)
8) Don’t be derailed by setbacks. Some smokers might tell you that one slipup means they’ve failed to quit smoking entirely, but those who have managed to quit successfully know that you don’t let that one weak moment define your entire effort. Pick yourself up and keep trying.
9) Let go of the pressure to be perfect. Reward and measure yourself for your efforts, not your results. And be prepared to readjust your monthly goals if you find you’ve set the bar too high…or the water heater exploded…or you broke a leg trying to save a kitten stuck in a tree…or your company has relocated you to Siberia.
10) Take advantage of cool new technology. There’s an app for just about every writing goal—and when doesn’t an app make life more fun? Check out Poetreat for poets; Scrivener for organizing novels; Day One for those who love to journal; or Write or Die for those who need a kick in the pants to get going! And read our article Apps for Writers!
A Few Examples of Good New Year’s Resolutions For Writers:
Improve my craft. Resolve to take a certain number of classes or seminars; to read a specific list of books; or to spend a certain number of hours per day writing.
Increase my social media presence. Resolve to post X number of blog entries per day or post on Twitter or to your Facebook fan page on a regular basis.
Create a custom author’s website. (Web Design Relief can help!)
Develop a killer submission strategy.
Photo by Sean MacEntee