Friday, January 6, 2017

How to Succeed at Your New Year's Writing Resolutions--Two Ideas That Actually Work

I like playing with resolutions but I don't have much faith that I'll stick with them.  I usually get a "glory ride" on the new year's enthusiasm for about 30 days.  Then life takes over and crashes my makeover plans.  So I've adopted a different approach, and it seems to work pretty well. 

This week, to welcome in the new year, I wanted to share two ideas I borrowed from other writers.  
They are working quite well to keep my goals moving forward.  Maybe one or both will work for you! 

Borrowed idea #1

Gretchen Rubin, author of many happiness and habit books, has made a study of why we stick to habits and why we break them, so I thought she'd be a good person to consult first.  
She has a cool idea a recent newsletter. Choose a one-word theme to describe your year ahead instead of a long list of things you're going to do better and never do.  For example, her one word is re-purpose, because she wants to focus this year on using what she already has. 

I liked this idea of theme.  Theme can have layers of meaning (subtext).  
I'm toying with discover as my one-word theme. With a focus on discover, I can be a beginner and let myself learn stuff, not have to be the expert.  I can allow myself to explore which new skills could best upgrade my writing.  I can acknowledge that I am having problems with one character's story and rather than feeling stuck, like I should know it, I can begin to ask questions and let myself not know.  I can admit to myself that there's always new tricks to learn in the ever-changing world of publishing and look for experts to help with that.
In other words, I get to let myself off the hook.  Enjoy the discovery process.  Maybe even more than the result!   

Borrowed idea #2

A writing colleague invited me to join a private group for thirty days.  Each day she posted a question for the group to respond to.  We looked at our lives, our goals.  
It didn't take much time.  I got ideas from others' posts.  I liked looking at my own goals in a new way.  I knew it was only for thirty days, so I could engage freely without feeling like I was saying yes to a long-term commitment.  

What I took away:  by limiting my engagement to just one month, it helped me stay connected.  
We're all so busy, and this seemed doable.  
Besides, I know something about myself:  If I see an end ahead, a time of closure, I really try to enjoy a particular experience.  If we're only going to be at the beach for a weekend, I pay attention to the moments even more.  
I began to think about using this idea for short-commitment goals.  Could I choose a three-week challenge for January and pick something I wanted to accomplish with my writing?  Yes!  I chose completing my storyboard for a new novel.  
If this bombs, I'll start a new short-commitment goal in three weeks.  Or try the same one again.  It feels free and fun.  But I think I'll also get something accomplished!   

Resolutions that drag on (a whole year!) are losing propositions to many writers.  But maybe try the theme and the short-commitment goal, see if you can stick with either.  The theme can give you a way to sift your choices this year.  The short-commitment goals can give you a way to apply what you choose.
Either way, you win!  Try one or both this week, for your weekly writing exercise.