Are you thinking about your new year’s resolution yet? What do you want to do next year? And what exactly is a good set of New Year’s resolutions for writers? I’ve set dozens of new year’s resolutions in the past, and I’ve rarely met either of them. To help me this year, I’ve followed five steps to get me to where I want to be. As a result, I’ve been able to create strong, achievable resolutions (although targets might be a better way of describing them). I think everyone should use the spirit of a new year like this.
Those steps are below – let me know if they helped!
Step one: Focus
How many projects do you have on the go at the moment? How many are you planning in your head right now? For 2018, start with one project in your mind, and promise yourself that you will finish it. This time, don’t get half way through and get bored, but actually finish it. Although you might be used to working on more than one thing at a time, until you have finished this one, make a promise that it will be the only thing you work on.
This is an important decision when picking your writing new year resolution. It should be a project that you’re interested in, and something that inspires you. After all, you’ll be doing nothing but working on it for as long as it takes.
This tactic will stop you from jumping back and forth. It will stop you from getting distracted. You’ll be able to work on one thing, and totally immerse yourself in it. By pushing out all of these distractions you’ll be able to get that word count up much quicker.
Step two: Set a realistic target
What do you want this piece of work to achieve? Is it a literary work of art, or a bit of pulp fiction you hope might make you a quick dollar? Now is the time to decide what you expect the work to achieve. I urge you to be cautious here though. Don’t pick a target to outsell Steven King. Don’t expect to win a Hugo Award.
While those are great long term goals for a project, you risk setting yourself an impossible target. You’ll then get demoralised a lot quicker. Pick something realistic, something more down to earth, and you’ll be more likely to reach it. You’ll then get one of those things that are so difficult to get when you’re a writer – a win!
Keeping enthusiasm as a writer is a really difficult thing to do, so don’t choose the tallest mountain to start with.
Step three: Understand how you will reach that target
You have a blank piece of paper and a target. But how on earth will you get there? Using the metaphor above, you wouldn’t climb a mountain without knowing where you were going to stay overnight on the way up. So have a think before you start writing and put in some little milestones on the way.
For a lot of writers this will be a new skill, so here’s some to get you started:
- Finish the first chapter
- Finish the book
- Edit after beta reader comments
- Design the cover
- Publish on Amazon
- Send to agents
It’s a good idea to put these in a chronological order. And do spend some time thinking about it – don’t follow a template and end up with a plan that doesn’t work for you. Part of the beauty of being a writer is that everyone has their own technique and process. So make sure that the milestones along the way match how you work.
Step four: how will you track your progress?
When you have those resolutions, you need to make sure that you’re keeping track of them. One of the things I love about NanoWriMo and Scrivener is that you can track your word count and set targets. Try and use similar tools, even if it’s just a spreadsheet stuck above your desk, to keep on top of where you want to be. Have that plan sitting above your head so you can see it whenever you look up. It should be motivating, and you should try and give yourself wins along the way. These constant reminders aren’t intended to stress you out – they will motivate you to hit the targets you yourself set above.
I hope the above helps! If you have any alternative ways to set resolutions, do let me know in the comments below. Am I being to harsh with the progress tracking? I think it’s a great way to track progress, but I know that not everyone works in the same way.