Statistics suggest that six weeks into the New Year, most resolutions have been broken or forgotten. Resolve is strong, but following through is tougher. We are sick, we get interrupted, we are just plain lazy. Like Bloody Mary says in South Pacific, we may have a dream, but we have no idea how we’re going to make that dream come true.
It isn’t easy, but here are some ways to help keep your writing resolutions.
1-Write it down. Putting your goal in writing makes it real, something you can strive for. Something you can see. Tape your goals to your monitor so every time you sit down to write, you know what you want to accomplish.
2- It isn’t enough to write it down, you need to be specific. Instead of saying I’m going to write a novel this year, say I am going to finish the first draft of my novel by June 1. That gives you something concrete to aim for. Whatever you are working on, be it a short story or a novel, set a deadline, and resolve to stick to it.
3- Create Manageable Chunks. Like money, to be successful, you must budget your time. If you want to finish a draft of your 400-page novel by June 1 and it is now the middle of February, you have approximately 112 days to write 400 pages. You will have to write 3.5 new pages every day in order to finish your draft on time. If you take weekends off, you will have to make up those 7 extra pages sometime during the week. Breaking your task into manageable numbers lets you see what you need to accomplish on a daily basis.
4- Keep a daily calendar. Write down each day what you need to accomplish and refer to your calendar often. Keeping a calendar helps you stay on track.
5- Hold yourself accountable. Unless you have an agent or a publisher, no one stands over you with a whip; you have to be your own taskmaster. Give yourself consequences. You can’t read until you finish your daily pages. You can’t take in a movie or go out to dinner until you have finished so many chapters. Make your writing a priority. If you don’t take yourself seriously, no one else will either.
6- Read as Much as You Write. Great writers are also avid readers. Make it a goal to read as much as you write. If you don’t already have one, make a reading list and start knocking those books off one at a time. Read inside your genre and outside your genre to keep yourself knowledgeable and your writing fresh.
7- Publicize Your Goals. Telling others makes you accountable to someone besides yourself. If you have a blog, post your goals for everyone to see. Or call a friend and tell them what you want to accomplish. Then, if you feel lazy or like slacking, not only will you be letting yourself down, you will be letting down the people who are rooting for you.
8- Ask for help. Writing is a lonely and frustrating business. Few of us can keep our writing resolutions without some form of encouragement. If you hit a roadblock, ask for help. Find a writing partner, and call them if you feel stumped. Talking to another person always helps. If you are working on something technical, don’t be afraid to ask an expert for help. They are always willing to help you get the details right.
9- Collaborate with other writers. If you’re a writer, chances are you have other friends who also write. If you’re feeling creative, start your own website like I did with my writer friends. Since we started The Other Bunch, we have been more productive. In addition to posting a monthly question for writers, we are working on an anthology of short stores. Being with a group of like-minded people brings energy to the project and keeps it from becoming routine and boring. It also helps keep you focused.
10-Don’t let fear or rejection keep you from reaching your goals. Voltaire is credited with saying, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” If you break your resolution today, try again tomorrow. Don’t give up. Rather, exercise the power of positive thinking. You are what you think you are. So think of yourself as a powerful, professional writer and others will too.
Good luck keeping your writing resolutions!