A new year offers a fresh start with infinite possibilities
Before moving full-steam through the year ahead, I want to pause and reflect on the past year. Did I achieve my writing goals? And if not, why? What do I need to change to be more productive in the New Year? My pondering led to five writing resolutions.
1) Spend more time doing what I love – writing.
Here's the simple truth: to meet my writing goals for 2011, I need to write more. And the only way to produce more writing is to spend more time with my butt in the chair. (Unless of course I buy a standing desk.) So how do I create more writing time? The answer is in my next resolution:
2) Make writing my first priority.
I find that if I don’t write within an hour or two of waking, I often don’t write at all. The day fills with so many other tasks. There’s emails to return; listservs, e-zines and emails to read; facebook to scan; tweets to write; calls to make; bills to pay, emails to return, errands to run. Suddenly the sun is setting and I haven’t written a word on any of my writing projects.
From this day forward, writing comes first – right after coffee, a quick glance at my emails and twenty minutes of meditation. When it’s writing time, I shut off the cell phone, close my email program, and don’t answer the door. Avoiding distractions is part of my next resolution:
3) Stop the distractions and focus only on projects and tasks that serve my higher purpose.
If you’re like me and have a lot of interests and enjoy writing everything from greeting cards to plays, it can be easy to lose focus. This can lead to a wasted afternoon down a bunny trail on some topic of writing I’m not currently doing.
From now on, if the information doesn’t forward the course of my top goals for the year, I’ll bookmark it, file it, or delete it. Every email subscription, listserv, and blog I follow must serve my main goals for the year or I’m unsubscribing.
BTW: I sure hope this blog is serving you. If so, please join the mailing list (see the subscribe form in upper right of this page).
4) Set achievable short- and long-term goals.
I love to set writing goals – lots of them. I believe in dreaming big. But along with the goal of being a best-selling author, this year I’ll set more short-term, achievable goals that will lead me to my ultimate goal. Such as, I’ll spend four hours a day working on my novel; I’ll send out ten queries a month. I will also make my goals realistic and compatible with all the other personal and professional demands in my life. Putting too much on my plate at one time only leads to frustration.
Reaching a short-term goal makes me feel productive and gives me a sense of accomplishment. This year I’m going to throw in a little reward for each significant short-term goal I achieve, such as a Friday afternoon at the movies or a hot bubble-bath with a good book.
As writers it’s up to us to give ourselves the strokes and that’s what my final resolution is all about:
5) Be good to myself no matter what.
I will remember that there are only twenty four hours in a day and in addition to writing there is invoicing, bill paying, marketing, researching, blogging, tweeting, querying, emailing, reading, reading, and more reading. And did I mention that there are only twenty four hours in each day?
My best-laid writing plans can go awry when a friend needs a shoulder to cry on, I catch the flu, or the toilet backs up. Shit happens, sometimes literally. I will not beat myself up about not achieving a goal when an unexpected emergency arises or when a more important deadline has taken precedence.
No matter how many rejection letters and emails I receive, no matter how few pages I’ve written – no matter what – I will be good to myself. I will treat myself with the same love and compassion I give to others. I will take good care of my mind, body, and spirit by eating well, exercising, going for a walk, meditating every day, and making time for friends and family.
If I may sneak one more resolution in, it is this: To feel grateful every day that I get to do something I love and which brings me joy. BTW -- I'm talking about writing, not eating chocolate.
Whatever your goals and aspirations are in the New Year, I wish you good health, good writing, and good tidings – from agents and editors, of course.
Love and light,