New Year Resolutions for Writers - The Best Kind to Make and How to Keep Them

On the first day of a bright and shiny new year, stretching out ahead of us full of possibilities, it's so easy to feel a sense of determination. ("This year I'm DOING it! I'm going to write a book / lose weight / take more time for myself... etc etc.)

But as the first month of the new year gives way to the second, what happens? The old, comfortable routines are still there. The problems from the previous year haven't magically disappeared.So what do you do?

You ease into it. A new year resolution is, after all, just another name for a goal. Goals become difficult to attain when you set your sights too high. (Am I saying "Don't aim high"? No, not at all. Read on.)

Here's a step by step method of setting goals (or, if you like, making new year resolutions) that work.

1. Make A Resolution That Is Impossible Not To Keep

This one has to be ridiculously easy. Like "Write a polished first chapter by the last day of December." That gives you 365 days to plan, write and polish just that first chapter.

Or: "Join an online critique group."

Or: "Find 5 websites for writers and print out some good advice from those sites."

Your resolution may be entirely different. Whatever it is, make it so simple you'd have to be comatose not to achieve it.

2. Make A Resolution That Involves Your Family/Friends.

To be able to write effectively, most of us need cooperation from people who are important to us. Think about what you need.3. Make A Resolution That Keeps You Healthy.

Writers spend a lot of time sitting and staring at a computer. They get cramps from crouching over a desk editing drafts. In order to squeeze in as much writing time as possible around other commitments, good health goes out the window.

It is essential to look after your health if you want a long-lasting career as a writer.

Here are some simple, easy-to-keep resolutions to keep you healthy. Well, at least a little healthier!4. Make Stepped Resolutions About Your Writing.

We've already talked about the really easy resolution - the one you would have to be comatose not to achieve! That can be the bottom step of an imaginary staircase.

Let's say you have ten steps. The lowest step is your "easy" goal. Now you need to decide on the next nine. We're going to do the tenth and highest step first. (This is where you have to aim high!)

Goal number 10 should not be something out of reach. It should be something you feel you can attain with some hard work (and maybe a little bit of luck). A goal where you stretch yourself a bit.Once you have your very easy goal and your stretch-yourself goal, it's time to fill in the eight middle steps. These should be relatively easy - just ask yourself how you can move steadily from Goal 1 to Goal 10.

Here's an example:Step 1: Find 5 internet sites for writers and print out useful articles.

Step 2: Decide on the project you most want to work on. Outline it.

Step 3: Look for other writers to give you support. (An online critique group, a local group that meets in each others' homes, a writing buddy in the same town.)

Step 4: Keep working on the project decided on in Step 2.

Step 5. Look around for a writer's workshop or seminar or festival. Commit to going.

Step 6. Keep working on main project. (If it's not working, solve the problems or start again. Don't give up.)

Step 7. Decide on what you need to learn. (To develop characters? Write dialogue? Improve grammar? Write a proposal? Build a website? Create an e-book?) Take action to build your skills. Enrol in a short course, download information from the Internet, work with a friend to overcome problems.)

Step 8. Keep working on main project. Review your ten-step "new year resolution" program. What's working? What's not working? What needs to change? Be adaptable. Nobody knows what life is going to throw at them. You could have a dream year - or everything could fall apart. The important thing is to be flexible, call on supportive friends and family, and set some new goals if necessary. Just don't give up.

Step 9. The end is in sight. Keep working on your main project or projects. Are you close to your 'stretch yourself' goal? If so, that's great - you've had a good year. If not, analyse what went wrong. Rather than getting angry or frustrated, move into damage control. There's a solution for everything. Learn from roadblocks; see if you can turn obstacles into opportunities.

Step 10. Have a completed, polished manuscript in your hand/get an agent. If everything's gone according to plan, you're either one of the lucky ones (life didn't intervene!) or you're very well organized. If you didn't achieve what you'd hoped, go back over your ten steps and see what you did get done.Many writers, frustrated at their apparent lack of success, overlook how much they actually have achieved. You're sure to have moved ahead in your skills, your achievements and your career generally.

Just keep moving forward. After all, resolutions are not made to be either broken or rigidly adhered to. They're made to give you direction. Use them to cast a light on the path - and especially keep looking up to that bright, shining light on Step No. 10!

(c) Copyright Marg McAlister

Marg McAlister has published magazine articles, short stories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales letters and web content. She has written 5 distance education courses on writing, and her online help for writers is popular all over the world. Sign up for her regular writers' tipsheet at

A Checklist For Drafting Business Letters And Emails
Write Right - You have an all important business letter or email drafted, proof read and waiting to be sent. Before you dash it off, use this self questionnaire to ensure that you have written to Express and not to Impress.
A Simple Contest with a Strong Message: Wake Up Your Writing Spirit
The Blogfest 2005 Writing Contest has only been running for two weeks and already the results are overwhelming. And not because we're getting far more entries than we expected.
Friendly Critiques
When a writer is working on their next literary masterpiece the first opinions to be asked for are usually those of the writer's family and friends. But often when we ask for a friendly critique we get more than we anticipated.
You Can Be An Author
"You should write a book." For years, I had been hearing this comment.
Making The Time To Write That Novel
Finding the time to write a novel is one of the major issues confronting writers, particularly those who haven't been published yet. How does one justify to themselves, or to their loved ones, that they need time to write if they have demands on their time, like a job, or a house to be cleaned, a family to be fed, or shopping to do? They make the time.
The Arrogant Writer: Five Ways To Nurture and Defend Your Muse
Arrogance has a bad rap. We think of arrogant people as unpleasant to be around, full of themselves, and incapable of taking an interest in anyone else.
Want to start a publishing revolution?
Calling all publishers, editors, journalists and freelance writers. It's time to breathe more life into your copy.
You Dont Need Inspiration!
Or do you?Writers write. You shouldn't wait around for inspiration to come.
Why We Dont Write Our Books
In the ten years that I've taught people how to get on with their books, I've noticed a phenomenon that I'll call "Author's Block." Would-be writers can, indeed, sit down and work when pressed to it.
Tips For Better Writing
It is certainly true that we don't get a second chance to make a first impression. As the impression we make on the Internet is almost always with the written word, is it unfortunate that there is so much poor writing bouncing around in cyberspace.
The Work Flow Cycle of the Editorial Industry
As an editorial professional, I'm sure you're aware of the market slump right now. What you may not be aware of is that this is due to more than just the economy.
Top Ten Writing Mistakes Made By New Childrens Writers
Okay. So I'm not David Letterman.
Who Said That? Making Dialogue Crystal Clear
Recently, I was hunting for a book that would simply entertain me. I didn't want to have to ponder about 'who dun it'.
How To Write for the Web
The Scanning ReaderWriting for the Web is different than writing for print. The differences are slight but significant.
Turning Your Journal Into An Idea Bank
A few magazines refer to their written idea sources in assigning articles to reliable, experienced writers, or even allow those writers to peruse them for topics to write about.And for awhile, I kept an idea book that was similar to a writer's journal.
Be Your Own Literary Agent and Get Published
So you're one of 20 million Americans who want to write a book. If you've already written a manuscript, chances are you're looking for agent representation.
Eight Ways To Write Your Novel Faster
I asked several writers how long it took them to write a novel they wanted published. One woman writer made a frustrated face at me, a couple others just stared at me (their novel wasn't finished yet), and a few just stared.
A Series of Articles on Autobiography
ESSAYS ON AUTOBIOGRAPHY: NUMBER 1Preamble:Nearly seven years ago I wrote my first essay on the nature of autobiography. It was some two years after completing my initial draft, the first edition of my own autobiography.
9 More Writing Tips for Successful Email Marketing
A few months ago, I wrote a guide entitled: 101 Writing Tips for Successful Email Marketing. In fact, many COPY TIPS subscribers have a copy.
Writing Made Them Rich #4: Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho was born on August 24th 1947 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.At age 17 he announced his intention to be a writer.