Shelley Widhalm

Making the most of New Year’s Resolutions (and Writing)

In New Year's Resolutions, Writing Goals on January 4, 2015 at 11:00 am

I am reading from some of my writing in a public venue.

I am reading from some of my writing in a public venue.

I love getting a new planner (I still use paper) for the New Year, facing all of the blank pages to fill in my plans for the upcoming year.

Making New Year’s resolutions inevitably are part of those plans. I have three writing resolutions for 2015: participate in National Novel Writing Month, write a novel and keep blogging (but in a way that feels new to me). I’ve been blogging for five years now, mainly about writing and what’s involved in crafting, editing and revising stories. I’m working out how I will refresh my blog, Shell’s Ink, in 2015.

My personal resolutions are related to jobs and health. I plan to make the most of my writing and editing career by finding additional freelance work and taking professional and creative writing classes through the local library and writer’s groups. As for my health, I’ll continue to eat those fruits and vegetables and go to the gym every other day. I’m up to two miles running (after two years of running a slow mile) and an hour of lifting.

These are things I’m already doing. I like to have goals for the future and acknowledge what I’ve accomplished (i.e. finding that one mile isn’t enough anymore to feel fit).

But keeping to a resolution for the entire year can be difficult—according to the latest statistics, only 8 percent of those who make resolutions follow through. Research shows that the top resolutions are to lose weight, get organized and spend less money.

I would wager that the top resolutions for writers is to write a novel, join a writers’ group and stick with it, and participate in NaNoWriMo, a month-long challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Here are a few ways to stick to those resolutions:

  • Pick a resolution that you want to do, instead of something that is good for you or is something everyone else is doing (like writing novels when writing short stories is your preference).
  • Pick one, two or three resolutions instead of a long list that will be difficult to manage or even remember. That way you can focus your efforts on what you really want to accomplish.
  • Write down your goals and visualize what you want to accomplish and how you’ll do it. Put your goals in a prominent place, such as on your desk or the fridge.
  • Make a plan to carry out your goals with smaller steps that can be accomplished each week or month. If writing is one of your goals, start out with 500 words or a half hour and build from there. (I started my novel a week ago and said whatever I write is fine, because I don’t know my plan yet, so my 500 words was just fine).
  • Be specific, such as planning to write two days a week for one hour each time, or to write 2,000 words three times a week. Set aside a certain time for writing or for your other goals.
  • Check in every so often to make sure you’re meeting your goals and ask if any adjustments need to be made.

As you work on your resolutions, find motivation in seeing your efforts lead toward tangible results. And remember change takes time and adjustment, that continual motivation and discipline.

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