Tuesday, January 03, 2012

On the subject of making writing-specific New Year's resolutions

As this is the first official working day of 2012, I spent the morning procrastinating instead of writing. But some writers would argue that setting resolutions for the New Year is in fact work, or at the very least, a form of non-fiction writing.

For the record, I side with "those" writers.

The benefits of setting writing goals are many.

First, you are accountable.  To yourself, to your writers' group members, and to the world at large. You have made a contract between yourself and the page to meet certain benchmarks. And most writers will tell you that having a contract-based deadline is one powerful motivator to get the job done.

A secondary benefit of writing resolutions is the exercise itself. I spend a half-day cataloguing a year's worth of effort and most times, this activity leads to a certain sense of personal accomplishment. After all, I work for myself and I'm not about to give myself a performance evaluation nor do I have the power (I wish!) to give myself a raise. Nope, my writing work doesn't follow the same prescribed pattern of the traditional worker in the traditional job with a traditional manager and set of prescribed compensations. Thus, I need to set resolutions as a way to ensure that I'm coloring inside the lines, so to speak.

Third, I challenge myself to delve into new segments of the writing market. Resolutions can also act as prodders, giving me the freedom to branch out in different directions. For the second year in a row, the word "poetry" appears on my resolution list, a subsidiary of prose that I approach each year with caution and a shot of awe.

If you are on the brink of taking writing more seriously, if one of your personal resolutions is to write down those ideas you've been dabbling with for decades, then I highly recommend you make resolutions for your writing.

Keep in mind a few guidelines:

1)      Make moderate goals that are achievable so that you don't get crushed in a month when you realize how impossible the goals truly were.

2)      Include value-based, measurable goals (500 words a day, 10 submissions for the year, etc) rather than vague goals (write a comfortable number of words a day).

3)      Consider a consequence if you don't meet a goal (I will wear pyjamas to the January writers' group meeting if I submit less than 5 times this year).

4)      Revisit the goals quarterly, to make necessary course corrections.

Don't wait any longer. Make yourself some writing resolutions, then put those fingers to the keyboard and soar.

To read Suzanne's resolutions, go to http://canadiansuzanne.livejournal.com/291704.html

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