by Erica Vetsch, @EricaVetsch
The New Year has arrived, and with it, a slough (sic) of resolutions for the coming days. Lose weight, quit smoking, join a gym, clean out your closets. The list is endless, and while well-meaning, they often don’t come to fruition.
If you’re like me, you have also been known to make a resolution or two when it comes to your writing, only to find somewhere around February 1st (or sooner!) you’ve cut all ties with those pesky, idealistic resolutions and have relaxed back into your old ways like sliding into a pair of comfy slippers. And then, when I look back on all I hoped to accomplish and didn’t, I’m frustrated and discouraged.
I suspect, I am not alone in this. So, how can we make resolutions that stick, set goals that we can actually attain? Here are three ways I’ve found to be more successful in making and keeping resolutions. (For the record, I don’t care for the term ‘resolutions.’ I much prefer ‘goals,’ so I will use that instead. It’s a mind-game thing for me…my brain and heart just respond better to reaching for a goal rather than fulfilling a resolution. But you use whatever you need to in order to get you across the line.)
- Make them quantifiable
It’s all well and good to say, “I’m going to write more this year.” But what constitutes ‘more’? A few words more? A few minutes more? Set a goal you can track. Such as: Write 15 minutes per day, M-F. Write at least 500 words per day. Write one page per day. All of those things are quantifiable. Whatever your threshold is, whatever you need to stay on track and be able to say yes or no that it was accomplished that day, set that goal, then go get it!.
What if your want to sign with an agent? “Sign with an agent” is quasi-quantifiable, in that by the end of December of 2018 you will be able to check yes or no to whether you did, in fact, sign with an agent, but so much of that process is out of your control and therefore un-quantifiable. A better goa;, and one that you are better able to keep is to say, “Query X number of agents this year.” Even better if you can break it down further. “Query two agents each month.” Make a chart, keep track of whom you have queried and when, and their responses. You will know each time you re-evaluate whether you’ve kept up on your goal or not.
Perhaps you have a goal of “Making my writing better this year.” Yet, how can you quantify that? Instead, perhaps set a goal of reading a writing-craft book each month. Enter a writing contest to get feedback (and then apply that feedback.) Find a critique partner to exchange work with. Do quantifiable things that will make your writing better.
Are you starting a new book?
Get the mini e-book on how to hook your reader with the first line!
- Make them realistic.
“This year, I’m going to write a New York Times Bestseller.”
“This year, I’m going to sell four million copies.”
“This year, I’m going to quit my job, retire to an island in the Pacific, and write a classic novel that will be used in literature classes for the next five hundred years.”
Those are awesome goals. And if you know exactly how to go about making those things happen, please, shoot me an email! But they’re not realistic…at least not for the majority of writers.
Just as unrealistic is to say “This year, I’m going to write 5K per day, seven days a week, holidays included.” Or, “I’m going to finish seven novels this year.” Who knows, maybe 35K words per week is realistic for you, or seven completed novels in a calendar year is a cake-walk, but for most of us, that just can’t happen. It’s important when goal-setting to make sure that you are being realistic, or else you’ll wind up chucking the entire enterprise. What’s realistic for you? How much do you normally write in a day/week/month? Are you only able to write on weekends, or after the kids are in bed? Take that into account. Set goals that will stretch you a bit, but ones that are attainable. Do you usually write 1000 words per day? Can you push yourself to write 1200?
Don’t forget to include a bit of downtime in your goals. Nobody can (or should!) pursue their writing career to the exclusion of all else. Plan for some time away from writing when setting your goals. Plan for some family time, some vacation, some wiggle room for unexpected events like illness or a new job or a new puppy. J
Make yourself accountable.
Accountability can take several forms. I used to publish my monthly goals on my blog on the first day of the month. I would evaluate how I had done with my previous month’s goals and set new ones for the current one. That bit of accountability to my blog readers kept me working on my stated goals.
Some people have accountability partners, and those partners don’t have to be writers. A critique or local writer’s group is good for this, but so are spouses and friends and moms. Tell someone what you want to accomplish, get them on your team, and give them permission to ask you how you’re doing on your goals.
I know of one writer who made a pact with a fellow author, setting a goal for a daily word count, and if he didn’t meet it, he had to pay his fellow author cold, hard cash! This might be a little extreme for you, but if that’s what it takes to get you writing, it’s always an option. J
Accountability doesn’t always have to mean something negative, either. Work in a reward system. If you accomplish such and such a writing goal this month, you will reward yourself with: __________. Post it on the fridge. Get yourself a cheering squad, a spouse, a roommate, your kids, whoever. A little positive peer pressure can go a long way.
This year, I challenge you to be deliberate about your goals by making them quantifiable, making them realistic, and making yourself accountable. Get your plan and your team in place and make 2017 the year you take a step forward in your writing career!
Fashion artist Priscilla Hutchens has a grudge against the army that has ruined her family and taken the people she holds most dear. When her twin niece and nephew are left orphaned at Fort Bliss, Texas, she swoops down on Fort Bliss to gain custody of them immediately.
There is just one thing standing in the way—Post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who is also the twins uncle, also claims the children and thinks he knows what is best for them.
Priscilla and Elliot will cross swords, but each will have to lay down arms if they are to find a lasting peace on which to form the family both are longing for. Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family?
ERICA VETSCH can’t get enough of history, whether it’s reading, writing, or visiting historical sites. She’s currently writing another historical romance and plotting which history museum to conquer next! You can find her online at www.ericavetsch.com and on her Facebook Page where she spends WAY TOO MUCH TIME! www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/