Friday, January 5, 2018

Three Ways to Help Your New Year's Writing Resolutions Actually Happen

I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions, especially when it comes to my writing goals.  But I do appreciate making time for a pause to review what I've accomplished in the past year and imagine what I'd like to bring into the new one.  It's more of a visioning moment than setting firm goals, because I know (oh so well!) how my goals can morph as the year goes forward.  And I only know what I can see from this moment.  But I've used three methods to help myself create realistic goals for my new writing year, based on what I learned from the previous twelve months.   
Here' s a short writing exercise to try this week, if you want to reflect and plan intelligently, in a way that acknowledges your particular creativity.
1.  Thinking back on 2017, write down three highlights in your writing life.  These could be new ideas you explored, insights about your writing, a new skill, an exceptional community experience (like a great class or writing group).  Describe them in a few sentences.
For me, they would be:
* I received excellent feedback from my writing coach and mentor.
* I finally understand the deeper motivation of one of my trickier characters.
* Through a writing friend, I found a next step for 2018 that looks promising.    
These highlights should make you feel great, as you review them.  They can be large or small, specific or general.   
2.  What big obstacle or challenge happened in your 2017 writing life that turned out to bring you an unexpected new direction or insight?   
For me, this would be:
* A friend referred me to a coach (someone whose books I love) and I signed up for a phone consult.  Although I got great information, the coach's teaching style was very hard on my spirits.  The call left me depressed for a week.  I remember feeling this same way when I signed up for riding lessons with a teacher I now think of as the "horse Nazi."  The call taught me that just because a teacher has great information, their teaching style might not be what I need.  It also led to an unexpected new direction:  another publisher writer, who also knew this coach, told me about a different teacher whose information is just as good but teaches in an affirming style that fits for me, keeping my spirits up.  So far, the new exchange has benefited me enormously.  I wouldn't have gotten there without the bad experience.
3.  Looking ahead, write three things you know you need next.  Rather than focusing on achievements or successes, which are the outer elements of a writing life, look for specific qualities that could improve your writing life this year.  For example, a certain area that needs skill-building, a system for getting regular feedback, someone who can support you through your next learning curve (coach, class, teacher), an opportunity for and courage to take a new risk (especially helpful if you're bored with what you're creating right now).

For me, this would be:
*  Going back to my favorite rhythm of writing first for an hour each day, before I start my work day.
*  Taking the risk to sketch out the synopsis for my next novel and get feedback on it.
*  Joining an online class. 

Happy new year!  All good wishes for your writing life in 2018.