Writing Resolutions for 2015? A Good Idea?

something motivational - a writer's new year's resolutionWould now be a good time to ask you about New Year’s Resolutions for your writing? I’ve never tried it you see, but this year I’m giving it a go.

By the time you read this the turkey will be a distant memory. Unless, of course, like me you make a massive pot of stock with the bones, put it in the garage for lack of space because the fridge is full of leftover yummies, and then find it in the Spring.

The wrapping paper will be in the recycle box; you’ll have worn Great Auntie Sybil’s sweater with the reindeer on and too-long sleeves for long enough to decently consign it to the laundry basket (or possibly the bin). The final few mince pies will have been hidden in the freezer so that you can surprise yourself with them at Easter (yeah, maybe just me again) and 2015 is looming.

My resolutions for 2014 were the usual sort of thing … resolving not to make resolutions because then you feel bad when you don’t keep them. But maybe exercise a bit, think positivish, perhaps try a tad harder not to let those nasty thoughts I have about people escape through my mouth. Generally Be a Bit Better! Drink less gin. Etcetera. Somewhere at the back of my mind though was also the idea that I could get started on writing a couple of books. Obviously I’d have them available for my fans (ahem) to buy for Christmas gifts in December. Well here we are, post stuffing, sprouts and pud, and one of those books has 5,000 words and the other has, um, an opening paragraph.

So, this year I will be strict. New Year’s Resolutions not only made but printed out, pasted to the office wall, several other walls, and posted on social media for all to see. ‘Please make me stick to these all year,’ I will post on Facebook. (Since resolution number 1 is ‘Spend less time on Facebook’ this may have limited effect.)

And this year, for the first time, my resolutions are going to be about nothing but writing. No more pointless efforts to be nice, fit or slim for me, I’m going to bitch and drink to my heart’s content, and consign my waistline to the ravages of time. But I am also going to write those books. They will be out for next Christmas.

As a kind of failsafe, I’ve asked the family to lock me away in my office for two hours a day and refuse to let me come out for anything except wees unless I’ve written something. Judging by the gleams in their eyes I think they might relish the opportunity a little too much, but I could still spend those hours doing stupid stuff eh? Only I can force that brilliant idea out of my head and onto the page to find out exactly how brilliant it isn’t.

So, here we go, these are my 2015 resolutions:

  1. Spend less time on Facebook.
  2. Pay it forward by tweeting something for a fellow writer every day.
  3. Then get the hell off social media.
  4. Prioritise writing above TV and radio (except for The Archers, natch.)
  5. Write it even if it’s crap.
  6. Say no to every project that doesn’t pay (except for Indies Unlimited, natch.)
  7. Write a bit more, even if it’s crap.

What do you reckon? Do I stand a chance? I don’t want to be the writerly equivalent of the January gym brigade, all enthusiastic for at least three weeks and then back to normal. Although I suppose that would mean another 5,000 words and a 2nd paragraph by this time next year, which is some sort of progress.

Maybe what I need is a big motivational poster in every room with something profound on it. ‘Literature Needs You.’ Or maybe, ‘Call yourself a writer?’ How about ‘Only you can write this one’?

Over to you lovely lot. Do you make resolutions? Do they work? How about catchy phrases to keep you in the zone? If you had to make a writerly motivational poster for me what would it say? There could be prizes. I’ve got a left-over mince pie in the freezer all ready to mail to the commenter who nails it.

No? They’re lovely if you’re a Brit, a bit weird otherwise.

You might have to settle for basking in the glory of being quoted on the wall in every room of my house then.

Author: Carolyn Steele

Carolyn writes websites, copy and nonsense about emigrating. She also occasionally ambles off to do something daft in case it’s interesting enough to write about. Her latest book grew from the blog Trucking in English, and you can learn more at her blog and her Amazon author page.

20 thoughts on “Writing Resolutions for 2015? A Good Idea?”

  1. I stopped making New year’s resolutions years ago. What I do, though, is o take myself to account on a regular basis and kick my own butt back into shape if I’ve been slacking.

  2. Carolyn, you are too funny! I write To-Do Lists. If I make a resolution that is about me, that poor resolution, however high-minded, dies and never is resurrected. For 2015 I decided to do what is best for my books. That had some motivation behind it because it is not about me. I started a 2015 To-Do List in November. I’m taking my books on a round of book signings. That task has its own To-Do List… arrange for posters, book marks and giveaways. I’m plotting my books into two boxed sets–one for February and one for Fall. I signed up and paid for a writers convention. I’m keen on paying-it-forward and that brings in it own tasks with eNovel Authors at Work. I did put “be kind to others” on my list. I don’t know how that will work out because I’m old, grumpy, jaded and warped. I’ve resolved that some things I will just have to accommodate.
    My Best Wishes to you and Indies Unlimited for all of 2015.
    Jackie Weger

    1. Good luck with it all Jackie, with any luck my 2016 will be all about what’s best for my books, but 2015 is going to have to be head-down and writing them. And as for being kind, don’t completely retire the snake gun. 😉

  3. There’s an easy way to tell between good resolutions and bad ones.

    Good ones can be measured. Bad ones are vague.
    Good ones are within your control. Bad ones are outside your control.
    Good ones move you closer to achieving your goals, whether or not you succeed completely. Bad ones don’t.

    1) Measured Goals
    Have a metric to gauge your success by. Saying “I won’t waste so much time on Facebook” is useless, because there is no metric for measurement. Instead, try: “I will not spend more than 30 minutes a day on Facebook.” And then measure your time spent to ensure you meet that goal.

    Likewise “I’ll write more” is useless. Try “I will write at least 1000 words a day” or “I will write at least 5,000 words per week”.

    Ideally, keep the goal periods short. Saying “I will lose 50 pounds by the end of the year” gives you months of wiggle room to do nothing. Likewise “I will write 200,000 words this year” gives you all sorts of wiggle room. Keep the goals daily or weekly.

    2. In Your Control
    Don’t bother with setting goals you can’t control. “I will sell a book to a publisher this year” is useless. You can’t control that. Saying “I will submit my book to another publisher within 24 hours of getting a refusal through the entire year” works, though – it’s something you can control.

    “I will get fifty reviews for my new book” – useless. You can’t make those happen. “I will send out review requests to 200 reviewers” = good, because this is an actionable goal. Better: “I will send out ten review requests for my book per day, every day, until I reach fifty reviews on my book on Amazon.”

    Make the goals things YOU can control.

    3. Fail To Success
    If you set a goal to write 200,000 words this year, don’t get started till November, and manage only 10k before you give up frustrated because you’ll never “meet your goal”, then you have suffered the results of a badly planned goal.

    Instead, try shorter terms. If you say instead “I will write 5k words each week”, then if you miss a week, you HAVEN’T blown your goal for the year. You can still strive to achieve it each week, anew. And whatever progress you make toward the daily or weekly mini-goal is really pushing you toward your long term goals.

    It’s a little bit like quitting smoking. Most people don’t quit smoking forever. They just exert the willpower to not smoke *right now*. Eventually, not smoking right now becomes a habit, which helps – but even then, ex-smokers backslide. That doesn’t undo all the good from having NOT smoked the last six months, just because you had a cigarette. And as soon as you can put the cancer sticks back down again, you can get right back on board moving toward your end goal again. (Yes, been there, done this.)

    Writing is a lot like that. Most goals worth achieving – the long term, hard work ones – are. You’ll stop. You’ll miss milestones. You’ll backslide. But if you have set short term goals, short milestones for success, then even when you fail to meet them, you’re still able to fail to success – to move forward toward your end goal even when you have failed a little bit along the way.

    1. Some excellent points, Kevin, but for me I think it’s simpler. Like stopping smoking: I smoked from about ten years of age and, from my mid-twenties, I would give up smoking once or twice a year. I would tell people, ‘I’ve given up smoking,’ and really mean it, but as you said, ‘people who give up smoking usually backslide.’ Eventually I learned how to turn the decisions I made into facts: adopt the appropriate set of rules, with no doubts, and behave as though it has always been that way. One day, twenty three years ago, I told someone, simply, I don’t smoke (not, ‘I gave up’). That person believed the statement, and so did I.

      Being a non-smoker was something I assumed as fact, and everything I have successfully completed since then I’ve done in the same way. The trick is making the decision to change a fact.

  4. Excellent tips, thank you. I will revise my plans accordingly. And there was me thinking I’d tightened it all up so much from ‘be a bit better’. lol I Fail To Success might go on the wall. Thank you for such a time-consuming and considered reply.

  5. I spend some time each December making goals for the next year. That’s about as far as I get. There is a notecard next to the computer, however: On one side, I’ve written WRITE THE *&$#%@$ STORY. On the other, WRITE IT ANYWAY. At the very least, it makes me smile.

  6. I think my New Year’s resolution will be to re-format my own goals along the lines of Kevin’s excellent suggestions. 😀 Good luck, Carolyn, and happy New Year!

  7. I stopped doing resolutions long long ago. Instead, at the end of the year I set goals for the upcoming years, specific, measurable, and realistic goals. I also make sure to share them with others for some semblance of accountability and do monthly check ins on how I’m progressing. 🙂

    I actually posted mine last night as part of my final podcast episode for 2014: http://anmanatsu.com/archives/5161586

  8. Nice post Carolyn. Spending less time on Fcaebook sounds like an excelelnt idea! I’m always more productive when I stay off-line, and apparently same goes for others. So glad to see Kevin drop a line, he always offers sound advice. Thank you Kevin! we can all use this type of thinking in everything we do. Measurement = insight

  9. Just remember, Carolyn, that in order to establish a habit, we have to do something 21 times. So if you start right away, I’m figuring right about Jan 19, your locking yourself in your room and pounding away should be the most natural thing in the world, and you may not even have to have someone bar the door for you. Good luck!

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