New Year’s Resolutions never were a thing for me. I didn’t grow up making them and, in truth, avoided them like a bad review. My reasoning was that if I didn’t officially make any resolutions, I couldn’t break them or, more to the point, fail to come through.
However, last year, my mindset on this issue changed, and I not only committed to a few resolutions (okay, so only two and both pertaining to writing), but I even went so far as to recite them aloud to fellow writers in my local writing group, thereby putting my potential failure right out there for all to witness.
Nevertheless (and no surprise to me), I failed to completely follow through on either of those resolutions.
So, have I made any resolutions again this year?
Why, you ask?
Well, let me explain.
I still love writing and haven’t given up on those stories I’ve already started writing, or for that matter, the ones in my head just aching to be written. And in addition to being an author, I’m also a full-time editor and mentor and still love what I do and wish to continue to help others reach their own dreams and goals.
I want to take better care of myself and give more of myself to others.
I want to write more, share more, and read more.
I want to do more, give more, and be more.
And although I failed to come through completely on those two resolutions of 2022, I did make some advancements and improvements in both areas, which tells me that making those resolutions was well worth it.
So, yes, I’m renewing both of those resolutions again this year with total commitment to seeing them through. And even if I don’t quite reach the goals I’ve set for myself, I have no doubt I will, at the very least, see more improvement, and in the end, that’s a win!
The moral of this story is two-fold.
First, don’t give up on yourself, and don’t give up on your dreams and goals. Whether they are the same or different as this new year begins, make a commitment to yourself to at least reach for what you crave.
Second, don’t beat yourself up when you don’t quite reach those goals or manage to make those dreams come to fruition. Stop seeing your lack of reaching the finish line as a failure.
If you get yourself off the starting line and take even one step toward reaching that goal or making that dream come true, then you, my fellow writer, should congratulate yourself for that step.
Like I’ve done, make a commitment to taking another step this year. Or even a number of steps. And who knows? Perhaps you’ll make it further than you imagined.
So, now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that making those resolutions is a good idea, let’s have a little heart-to-heart about not letting what might look like an impending failure up ahead or a small setback get you down.
I have no doubt you’ve all heard the saying, “You are your own worst enemy.” Well, take a minute and let the meaning of that saying sink in because it is more often than not one hundred percent true.
No one tells us, “you can’t…” “you aren’t…” and “no,” more than we tell ourselves.
So stop it! Stop beating yourself up.
We all need to stop focusing on what we didn’t get done or failed to fully accomplish and start paying more attention to what we did.
Don’t just focus on the end goal but on each and every step it takes to get there.
We need to celebrate each and every step forward.
Now, I’m serious here. Writing a book, a good book that you can be proud of, and taking it all the way to publication takes a buttload of steps. So why only celebrate when you reach that end goal?
You’ve jotted down your story idea and know just where you want to go with it. Celebrate that new idea!
You’ve crafted your story structure and maybe even outlined a new story. (I say maybe because some of us pantsers don’t go that far.) But if you’ve done either, that’s an accomplishment, so congratulate yourself!
Did you complete your character profiles?
How about that world-building?
And let’s not forget the research.
Each is a step forward, an accomplishment to be rewarded and celebrated.
Maybe you’ve set a goal of writing a certain number of words every day. And maybe you don’t quite manage to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard every day, or maybe you do but don’t quite reach that number goal each and every day. That doesn’t in any way make you a failure.
Just look at what you did accomplish.
Did you finish a chapter? A scene? A page?
Do you have more written than you did the week or month before?
And let’s not forget that there is a lot more to writing than just getting words on a page.
So even if you don’t get those words on a page, ask yourself what else you did that either has or will advance your goals.
Perhaps you worked on improving your writing and/or storytelling skills by attending a writing workshop or listening to a vlog about writing.
Maybe you read a book about writing or checked out a blog or two that provides writing advice and tips.
I always say we improve our writing with every page, every chapter, and every book we write, but only if we allow ourselves to soak in the knowledge. And there’s always room for improvement, no matter how good we think we are.
Just thinking about your story or characters is part of writing.
People watching, musing, imagining, learning and working on improving our craft… It’s all part of creating.
So maybe you didn’t find time to sit down and actually add words to your manuscript today. But I’m willing to bet you found a few minutes here and there to write in your head or work on your craft in some way.
So, if you found time to watch or read or take notes, or found time to imagine a new character, a new scene, a plot twist, whatever, then you worked on your craft.
You took steps to further your story.
If you took time to read and enjoy another author’s hard work, write a review for another author, or comment on another writer’s post on social media, then you took steps to further your own goal of becoming a published author because taking time to give that support means everything!
Did you finish that first draft? Then celebrate, babe!
Did you go back and polish it and then polish it again?
Are you ready for beta readers?
Maybe you’re ready for a manuscript critique or possibly editing?
Whatever step you’ve reached, that is another tremendous step forward. A step that many (thousands per year, they say) never make it to.
Don’t you think that warrants some celebration? Some congratulations and a sincere pat on the back?
Well, I do.
There’s one last important part of making resolutions I want to touch on before closing, and that’s marking your progress.
Some of us judge our progress at the end of each day. For instance: Did I write those five hundred words today? And if not, we go to bed depressed and feeling like we’ve failed. But why?
Maybe you wrote two or three hundred words, and maybe you’ll write one thousand tomorrow or the next day. Either way, there is no reason you should consider that lack of reaching five hundred as a failure.
I have no doubt that if you go over your entire day, you’ll see that you did accomplish something, even if that something didn’t add words to your manuscript.
Now, that said, I’d like to challenge you to change that routine of judging yourself daily. In fact, I don’t want you to judge your progress weekly or even monthly. I say, let’s take a look at our progress on a quarterly basis, just like businesses do. After all, writing professionally is the same as running a small business, and as the author, you are the business owner.
So, at the end of each quarter, take a look back and compare it to the previous quarter. Also, compare it to the same quarter the year before.
We can not only more fairly judge our progress under this timeline, but we also allow ourselves adequate time to make improvements over the next three months. And quarterly is where you want to look and see how and where you’ve progressed.
If you see any steps taken in reverse, then you now know where you need to improve.
And whether it was a step back or a step forward, put on that analyst hat and see if you can decipher what you did that made the difference. If you can determine what either helped or hindered you, that knowledge should assist you going forward.
So much more could be said on this subject, but I’ll leave you with this.
Know that help and support is only a few keystrokes away. Thousands of your fellow writers are ready and more than willing to support you, and I am one of those thousands. All we ask is for your support in return. We should not see ourselves as competitors but as companions.
Now go forth and kill it!
Killing It Write