I’ve never liked New Year’s resolutions. I’m not against the idea of resolutions themselves but most people that make New Year’s resolutions are just blowing smoke. They’re counting on some mystical power of January 1 that just isn’t there folks. They call it resolution but it’s usually self-pitying wishful thinking. It lacks intent.
That said, I find myself at a spot where I need a little evaluation and revitalization in my writing habits. It happens to be days away from New Year’s so I won’t be able to avoid it really being a New Year’s Resolution. I’ll share some of my thoughts on making resolutions stick with you while simultaneously making my deadline for this blog. I’m slick like that.
Write it down. It might seem odd to tell people who are writers to write stuff down but I’ll say it again. Write it down. This advice is given in all sorts of life-coach situations (fitness, therapy, business…). It’s probably the most useful, easiest to use, and most often ignored tool around. It feels dorky. Hell it is dorky. It’s also effective. Effective out of all proportion to the effort required. Seriously, write it down.
Be specific. ‘Write more’ is not specific. ‘Start novel’ or ‘finish novel’ is better but you need specific goals within that category. ‘Write everyday’ sounds specific but when? ‘Monday thru Friday. 6pm to 7pm. Phone off. Door closed. 1000 word minimum.’ That’s specific. Also be specific about what you’re working on. If you like to revise as you go, schedule time for that. Maybe ‘Saturday mornings. 8am. Revise all pages from the previous week.’
Be realistic. The goal of a serious writer is to write everyday. That’s a good goal but if you really can’t make it be honest. If you have to drive the kids to TaeKwonDo on Thursdays and wait around while they kick each other don’t schedule writing on that day. If you can only get three days a week commit to those days and write on those days. You’ll be more productive actually writing for three days than wishing you were writing for seven and only getting it done on two. Make sense?
Build in assessment. Every month is a good time to reassess. If whatever you tried is working keep at it. If it’s not working, why? Be honest, make adjustments, write them down and keep at it.
Failure is not the end. I’ve said this elsewhere but it bears repeating here. If you skip a day, don’t waste time telling yourself how much you suck. Definitely don’t stop. That day is gone. Forever. There’s nothing you can do about it but you can write today. So do that.
Be positive. Lose weight. Quit smoking. Stop cheating on my wife. Most resolutions are to fix things people don’t like about themselves. That’s fine but it’s counterproductive to hold on to all that negative energy. Acknowledge the bad and then move on with the good. Build good habits and celebrate your little victories along the way. While you’re at it try and have some fun.