Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Resolutions for Writers--What Do You Want for Your Creativity This Year?

Traditionally, at this time of year, I like to set some goals for my writing. Winter, when things are stripped bare, makes it easier to see what I really want from my creative life.

I found inspiration this week from teacher and writer Emily Hanlon, creator of The Fiction Writer's Journey and Creative Soul Works. Visit her website at Emily sent out these wonderful new year's resolutions for writers. They also fueled this week's writing exercise.

Emily's resolutions are very inspiring because they locate the adventure and joy of writing rather than the production of pages or books or published articles. Her resolutions include (and as she notes, these are in no particular order):

1. I write for the passion and adventure of the journey.
2. Writing comes from my heart and the fire in the belly.
3. Writing is a craft. Craft supports writing, it does not define it.
4. I love my first draft writing for its fertility and uncovered gems.
5. I welcome the unexpected in my writing.
6. I will not think about being published until the piece is finished.
7. I go where my imagination takes me.
8. I will set up a writing schedule that supports, not defeats, my writing. Discipline is a necessary part of being a writer, but I will not use failure to keep to my schedule as a reason to give up.
9. I will write the story that is gestating within me – even if it scares me or makes me think I am losing my mind.
10. When I begin a new piece, I will begin without thinking, without planning.

How often do New Year's resolutions focus on the qualities of the writing experience, not the results? It's very refreshing. And accurate to my own experience. Goals set as qualities are much more likely to manifest. They make it easier to enjoy your writing journey.

They also tend to create better writing. Why?

Goals That Loosen Us Up--Rather Than Put Us in a Box--Work Best
When writers put all of their attention on publishing rather than the creation of something unique that expresses their truths and journey, they tighten inside. It's a great road to writer's block. But when writers put attention on the qualities of their journey, what they want as an experience, it opens them up creatively. Magic happens.

This week's exercise helps you loosen up your writing goals. You'll be crafting a few New Year's resolutions for your creativity. The exercise can be done over a series of days, as you think of something to add to your goal list, or in one session of about 20 minutes. Have pen and paper or your writer's notebook or computer at hand.

This Week's Writing Exercise
Close your eyes, relax, and imagine yourself a year from now. Project yourself into the future.

Focusing on your creative life as a writer, ask yourself:
What qualities are in place with my writing that have come about during 2010?

Maybe you trust the process more, maybe you created good writing habits, maybe you manifested a supportive writing group or partner. Begin to list these qualities, as if you are at the end of the year looking back. List anything that comes to mind, using Emily's ideas above, thinking about what's lacking in your writing life, dreaming some writing dreams, or even polling your writing friends about their goals to get some ideas.

Here are some questions to get you started:
What would you like to feel by the end of 2010 about your writing journey?
What changed with your creativity?
What did you learn--new skills, new habits, new ideas?
What manifested for you?

This exercise is fun, if you let yourself travel forward in time and use the visualization to create a new experience for yourself. It may bring you an unexpectedly fertile new year--your most creative, fulfilling one ever!


  1. Thanks Mary for this new twist on goal setting for writing focusing on qualities. I've been thinking about my writing goals for the upcoming year. A writer friend and I are going to make some collages and this will be a perfect exercise to use with it.

  2. Thanks for writing, Lynn! I'd love to see your collage when you're done. What a great idea--a new year's collage!

  3. Thank so much for this post! It's exactly what I needed to hear as I seem to have lost my way in writing and many other areas in my life. This way of looking for the adventure and joy in the journey feels so much better than trying to write so many words a day or week or having a deadline to complete the draft as the focus. I think deadlines are still good to shoot for but as Emily said, they shouldn't be so strict that they cause you to feel like a failure and quit if you don't meet them.

  4. I agree, Maery Rose, there's much more momentum in qualities of the writing experience than number of pages. Some days I can write like a crazy person because there's fire in the heart, but others not so much. To pay attention to this natural flow--as long as it's not just avoiding the writing--works for me. Thanks for sharing your ideas!