It’s almost the end of a doozy year (Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021!), and more than ever the world needs people to set resolutions and keep them. Especially writers. We not only provide diversions and entertainment, but we tackle the hard topics of injustice, we shine the light on those who have been left in the dark, and we are dang good at what we do. That’s why we’ve created Resolutions Every Writer Needs.
But what if you didn’t succeed in 2020? (Or whatever year you’re reading this in?)
What if you aren’t dang good or even feel like you can say you’re adequate?
Well you’ve hit on the first resolution (of 5) that we’ll discuss today:
The Resolution to Evaluate
How can you know what goals to set if you don’t know where you’re at?
Simply, you can’t.
What did you accomplish last year with your writing? Think hard and write it down. Maybe you wrote a chapter, three novels, edited a clunky mess, imagined yourself writing while you played endless hours of video games, or you finally submitted to agents.
Maybe you accomplished more than you’re giving yourself credit for.
And if not, that’s okay. What held you back from reaching your goals?
Maybe it was a worldwide plague.
Or poor organizational skills.
Regardless of what you dealt with in the past, today isn’t yesterday. You don’t have to be the same as you were then. Even if the same difficulties plague you today as they did before, you now have hindsight, a type of 2020 vision (pun intended).
What worked? What didn’t? How can you maximize your time? How can you improve? How can you avoid writer’s block? Those answers will be different for every person, and if you sit down and truly evaluate, you can set some kick-butt goals that only you can accomplish.
Resolutions Every Writer Needs: Giving Grace
I’m not referring to prayer here, although that isn’t a bad idea. I’m talking about a different kind. A personal kind.
Maybe you didn’t reach all of your goals last year, or any of them. One of the best things you can do is to give yourself grace. It’s okay if you didn’t reach your goal. It’s okay if you didn’t even attempt. Some years, life gets in the way. It happens to the best of us. But last year doesn’t mean anything to this year. Period.
How can I say that?
Simple. Excuse me for a second while I pull out my business minor background to explain. There’s a principle called sunk costs in economics, which basically means in our context that the past is in the past. You can’t do anything to change it so let last year sink to the bottomless abyss and focus solely on today. Today you can read this article and set goals. Tomorrow you can work toward them.
Give yourself grace.
The Resolution to Write What you Love
If you’re like most writers, you’ve struggled with writer’s block. In our article on Writer’s Block: How to Power Your Way to 50K Carolyn gives 33 ideas on how to conquer the writer’s block beast, and almost all of the suggestions are geared toward doing things you love. So doesn’t it make sense to write what you love to read, something that you would enjoy?
Maybe you have a boring day job that requires you to write magazine articles about hideous men’s trousers. That would suck my creativity dry. Or you have an agent expecting a non-fiction masterpiece on how you defeated depression, which is awesome, but not sparking your fire. Imagine if you gave yourself a break to sneak away and write that Space Opera that’s been lurking in the back of your mind. Maybe it would help you with your less-pleasurable writing.
Resolutions Every Writer Needs: Help Other Writers
Every successful writer has beta readers (unless they’re born as writing geniuses – and I have yet to meet one). The best way to get good beta-readers is to be one yourself.
If you don’t know the specifics of a good beta reader (or alpha reader – if you don’t know the difference read the article linked to above), read up on the subject. Diana Urban has an amazing, quick read here, and K.M. Weiland shares even more tips here to get you started.
The Resolution to Celebrate Small Victories
Every word you write is one step closer to your goals, even if that word gets deleted. Carolyn quoted me once during a writing lament that I’d wasted time on a manuscript that stunk. I had once said “No writing is wasted,” and she kindly threw it back in my face.
Every time you pick up the pen, you’re honing your craft. So even if you don’t get that book finished this year or pick up your dream agent or finish plotting, if you tried, you succeeded. You grew as a writer. And when you put your perspective on growing as a writer (I have a feeling Carolyn will someday throw this quote at me too), you’ll eventually reach your big goals. And you’ll be better at it.
Thanks for reading our post on Resolutions Every Writer Needs. We hope you have an amazing writing year and if you need help with setting goals and time management, check out our post on 10 Time Management Tips for More Efficient Writing.