Making New Year’s resolutions has always been a bit of an oddity to me.
You come out of the festive season in a blur. Too many late nights, too many lunchtime drinks, too many handfuls of peanuts on the way to the fridge to get more cheese. You eat, drink and be merry, you forget about your troubles, your work, your diet, and yes, even your writing.
Then the clock strikes midnight on December the 31st and suddenly, like a bunch of pork-pie laden Cinderella’s we are supposed to scuttle off to bed and wake up in the morning full of motivation, determination, and inspiration to make this year the greatest one yet.
It’s a pretty big ask.
That’s not to say that New Year’s resolutions don’t have their place. Particularly for writers who need goals and structure and something to keep them on the right track. However, expecting to suddenly be a whole new person just because the date changed is unrealistic, and that’s why so many people fail at their New Year’s resolutions before they’ve even got started.
You wanted to go vegetarian, not drink alcohol and write at least 500 words every day but on the first of January when you find yourself clutching a bacon sandwich, drinking a Bloody Mary and snoozing in front of Disney films all day while scoffing the last of the mince pies it feels as though you’ve started the new year on something of a back foot.
Setting New Year’s resolutions should be fun. They should be positive and motivational and make you want to do them. Too restrictive, too painful, too sudden and you are just setting yourself up for failure.
With that in mind here are some 2019 New Year’s writing resolutions that might tick those boxes:
To learn about writing in better ways
Writers are often told that writing is a skill. It can be studied; it is something you can get better at. However, there is nothing worse than forcing yourself to learn about something that doesn’t interest you.
We’re all grownups, we’ve left our school days behind, so studying only works if you do it right. Writers already find it challenging enough to fit in getting words on the page let alone giving themselves lessons in the art of writing on top of this.
However, learning can be fun, and there are ways to trick yourself into studying the craft without making it feel like studying at all. Reading, for a start, is an excellent way to learn about writing and is one of the most pleasurable, relaxing, exciting and inspiring hobbies imaginable.
Talking of hobbies, why don’t you get out there and learn some cool new stuff? Experiences make writer’s writing better. Life is a brilliant and utterly insane source of inspiration – so if you don’t want to spend your days scowling over a textbook trying to perfect your grammar then don’t. Make your writing brilliant because you’ve lived an adventurous life. Get Grammarly to correct your work, or hire an editor, or just don’t bother because life is too short.
To be more specific and goal-orientated when you write
Writers often get nowhere with their goals because they make them too damn hard, or too damn large not to feel massively overwhelmed by them.
Goals aren’t supposed to make you feel depressed or swamped or panicky. They are meant to be exciting and energising and realistic and achievable. So don’t make your writing goal to ‘finish your book.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Instead, try something else. ‘To get a short story published in the New Yorker by 2020.’ Then work out the steps that are necessary to make it happen, and go for it hell-for-leather.
To write while wearing a cape!
Have you heard of the power pose? Well, it’s been proven (mostly) that if you stand or sit in a power pose for as little as two minutes, you could feel more powerful, more motivated and generally do better in life (I might be paraphrasing here). The study conducted by Amy Cuddy suggested that those who took on high-power poses showed an increase in testosterone (the sexy power hormone) and a decrease in cortisol (the horrible stressy hormone).
OK so you don’t actually have to write while wearing a cape, but adopting your own version of the power pose (or just doing it) means you are looking inward to find your own superhero.
Writers should be proud of themselves for the example they are setting – to their kids, their friends, the world. The stuff it takes to be a writer, whether a massively celebrated and successful one or a struggling but determined slightly crappy one is remarkable and it’s well worth remembering that.
To be a kinder writer
Kindness is rarely talked about in writing, but being a kinder writer can bring with it lots of benefits. For a start, make a promise to be kinder to yourself. Be strong and healthy, be courageous and determined, go easy on yourself when things don’t go your way. Allow yourself time to grieve and heal and rest. Allow yourself time to do other things. Reevaluate regularly and make sure that whatever you are doing – writing or otherwise – is making you happy. Because there is nothing more important than that.
But kindness can also be extended beyond the realm of your writing room. Why not make a promise to be kinder to your fellow writers too? Make some writing friends (be that virtual or fleshy), be encouraging, share your work, get feedback, buy their books, leave positive reviews, start discussions, have fun.
You know how great it is when someone bothers to get in touch with you, when they buy your book or when they leave you a helpful review. If you want that to happen for you why not start the ball rolling? Pay it forward.
Buy one book a month from an unknown author – that’s a writing resolution we all could do with sticking to.
To talk about your writing more
Don’t be afraid to talk about your writing. It’s all too easy to feel like we are hassling people (even our nearest and dearest) when we ask them to read what we have written, to buy our book, even just to tell them about our day. But this year, let’s make an effort to talk about our and others writing as often and as eagerly and as passionately as we can.
If you truly love writing then share that enthusiasm with everyone – writing, creativity, reading, imagination – they are all gifts, and so let’s celebrate them accordingly.
These writing resolutions are ones that every writer can stick to.
Do you have any you’d like to add? I’d love to hear from you!