New Year Resolutions for Writers - The Best Kind to Make and How to Keep Them
On the first day of a bright and shiny new year, stretching out ahead of us full of possibilities, it's so easy to feel a sense of determination. ("This year I'm DOING it! I'm going to write a book / lose weight / take more time for myself... etc etc.)
But as the first month of the new year gives way to the second, what happens? The old, comfortable routines are still there. The problems from the previous year haven't magically disappeared.
You ease into it. A new year resolution is, after all, just another name for a goal. Goals become difficult to attain when you set your sights too high. (Am I saying "Don't aim high"? No, not at all. Read on.)
Here's a step by step method of setting goals (or, if you like, making new year resolutions) that work.
1. Make A Resolution That Is Impossible Not To Keep
This one has to be ridiculously easy. Like "Write a polished first chapter by the last day of December." That gives you 365 days to plan, write and polish just that first chapter.
Or: "Join an online critique group."
Or: "Find 5 websites for writers and print out some good advice from those sites."
Your resolution may be entirely different. Whatever it is, make it so simple you'd have to be comatose not to achieve it.
2. Make A Resolution That Involves Your Family/Friends.
To be able to write effectively, most of us need cooperation from people who are important to us. Think about what you need.
Writers spend a lot of time sitting and staring at a computer. They get cramps from crouching over a desk editing drafts. In order to squeeze in as much writing time as possible around other commitments, good health goes out the window.
It is essential to look after your health if you want a long-lasting career as a writer.
Here are some simple, easy-to-keep resolutions to keep you healthy. Well, at least a little healthier!
We've already talked about the really easy resolution - the one you would have to be comatose not to achieve! That can be the bottom step of an imaginary staircase.
Let's say you have ten steps. The lowest step is your "easy" goal. Now you need to decide on the next nine. We're going to do the tenth and highest step first. (This is where you have to aim high!)
Goal number 10 should not be something out of reach. It should be something you feel you can attain with some hard work (and maybe a little bit of luck). A goal where you stretch yourself a bit.
Here's an example:Step 1: Find 5 internet sites for writers and print out useful articles.
Step 2: Decide on the project you most want to work on. Outline it.
Step 3: Look for other writers to give you support. (An online critique group, a local group that meets in each others' homes, a writing buddy in the same town.)
Step 4: Keep working on the project decided on in Step 2.
Step 5. Look around for a writer's workshop or seminar or festival. Commit to going.
Step 6. Keep working on main project. (If it's not working, solve the problems or start again. Don't give up.)
Step 7. Decide on what you need to learn. (To develop characters? Write dialogue? Improve grammar? Write a proposal? Build a website? Create an e-book?) Take action to build your skills. Enrol in a short course, download information from the Internet, work with a friend to overcome problems.)
Step 8. Keep working on main project. Review your ten-step "new year resolution" program. What's working? What's not working? What needs to change? Be adaptable. Nobody knows what life is going to throw at them. You could have a dream year - or everything could fall apart. The important thing is to be flexible, call on supportive friends and family, and set some new goals if necessary. Just don't give up.
Step 9. The end is in sight. Keep working on your main project or projects. Are you close to your 'stretch yourself' goal? If so, that's great - you've had a good year. If not, analyse what went wrong. Rather than getting angry or frustrated, move into damage control. There's a solution for everything. Learn from roadblocks; see if you can turn obstacles into opportunities.
Step 10. Have a completed, polished manuscript in your hand/get an agent. If everything's gone according to plan, you're either one of the lucky ones (life didn't intervene!) or you're very well organized. If you didn't achieve what you'd hoped, go back over your ten steps and see what you did get done.Many writers, frustrated at their apparent lack of success, overlook how much they actually have achieved. You're sure to have moved ahead in your skills, your achievements and your career generally.
Just keep moving forward. After all, resolutions are not made to be either broken or rigidly adhered to. They're made to give you direction. Use them to cast a light on the path - and especially keep looking up to that bright, shining light on Step No. 10!
(c) Copyright Marg McAlister
Marg McAlister has published magazine articles, short stories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales letters and web content. She has written 5 distance education courses on writing, and her online help for writers is popular all over the world. Sign up for her regular writers' tipsheet at http://www.writing4success.com/
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