Monday, January 5, 2015

Writing Resolutions 2015

I'm a few days late with this post, but as it's the New Year, I know my fellow writers are setting their goals for 2015. I've set some of my own goals as well, but with a certain degree of caution, as in previous years I've been a little overzealous with my writing goals. When you set goals that are outside of your control and then you fail to meet them, it can be pretty disheartening year after year. And why would we waste time setting goals that we can't even meet? The point of new years resolutions isn't to make us feel bad, or to abandon them a week into the new year, but to set ourselves on a path to success.

To make 2015 your Best Writing Year Yet, take a look at your goals and ask yourself: can I achieve this? If the answer is yes, then it's time to make a plan.

You're setting goals, not labeling dreams. A lot of the time when making goals (and I myself am very guilty of this) I get a bit of a big head and begin planning all sorts of things. "I'm going to write nine books this year!" I would exclaim, completely neglecting how on earth I would fit that much writing and that many words into such a (relatively) short time frame. It would be lovely to conquer the world in 2015, but unless I can figure out how to accomplish this and be able to visualize myself achieving this, then it's likely going to remain a dream. Take a look at your own goals and visualize yourself accomplishing this goal and, based on your previous experiences, how long this will take. Just because a goal is overzealous doesn't mean it's not a goal worth pursuing. Sometimes it's just about adjusting the scale.

Don't set a goal that hinges on someone else's decision. This can take a lot of forms. Many writers make the mistake of trying to obtain an agent or editor as one of their new year's goals, when in reality, you have little to no control over it. This goal can mean, as it did for me in previous years, sending out more queries, working on researching more, entering pitch contests and attempting to engage more with potential agents, and that is where you should focus your goal. On actions you can take. If that means 2015 will be the time you perfect your query writing skills, then set that as your goal. Because even if you do everything right, it is still up to the agent/editor whether or not the time is right for the particular work you have. A lot of this business hinges on luck and timing and personal opinion. Just because you didn't snag an agent doesn't mean you didn't spend hours perfecting your pitches, sending our queries, doing research. If you hinge your success on that yes, you're often forgetting all the hard work you've put in. Don't sell yourself short, kids.

Goals need to be obtainable. Don't tell yourself you'll read 100 books this year if last year you only managed five. If you want to set a goal to improve productivity, look at how much you did last year, and then attempt to double that number. Or set a schedule you can keep in order to reach the set goal you want.

Make a plan. If you don't have a plan for obtaining your goal, it's probably going to stay a dream. Plan to read ten pages a day. Or write 1000 words a day. Don't just make a goal to "write more blog posts." Make a plan to "write one blog post a week." When we get into these routines, they become habits and then something we do without thought. More than that, though, we have to use that schedule to push ourselves through those times we'd rather be doing something else. Writer's block, feeling blah, busy work life, too much housework-- the excuses are innumerable, but if you have a set time to sit down and work, it's easier to push those other things aside. After all, just as housework and real life and self-care are all important, so is writing, so we have to make time for it.

How are your writing resolutions going? What did you decide on this year? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments, as I'd love to have your input.

Happy New Year, keyboard kritters, and may all the best muses make nests in your brain.


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