For 2019, it might be worthwhile to hold the principle of keeping balance in our lives at the top of the resolution list. The new year offers us a time to reflect on the previous year’s achievements, assess our shortcomings, and consider how to plan productive next steps as we move forward.
It’s easy to look at the new year as a clean slate, and that’s honestly how it feels to me. But, in our enthusiasm to set goals, make to-do lists, and implement change, we may lose our sense of what’s really achievable and sustainable. We may be tempted to over-schedule and make sweeping changes, but that could set us up for frustration and failure. To that end, here are a few things to think about as you plan the new year:
Set Achievable Goals
If you are a new writer, you may not know what an achievable goal looks like. Can you finish one novel draft in a year or three? Can you post one new blog per week or per month? Is your daily word count 200 or 2000? Are you able to write every day or on weekends only? If you are new to this, maybe think about the first few months of the year as a time to experiment, with the goal of determining your best habits and practices. By second quarter, you can settle into a routine and better define your goals.
If you’re more experienced and have an established writing routine, you know what a realistic goal looks like. Remember to look at your obligations in total, and then be honest about how much content you can put out this year.
Recognize Things You Can’t Control
As a writer, I’ve learned the only thing I can really control about my career is my content. I can improve my craft. I can set goals and complete writing projects. I can work with talented people. As mostly an indie author, I can set my deadlines and timelines, design my marketing and promotional plans, and send my work into the world. I can’t control negative reviews, disappointing sales numbers, or bestseller lists.
Focus your energy on the things you can control. As a writer, produce your best content, keep yourself updated on the industry, finish what you start, hold yourself accountable, and behave professionally.
Make Sustainable Changes
Have you had the experience of going to the gym the first week of January and not being able to use the equipment you like because the place is overrun? Then, by the end of the month, it’s back to normal, with the regulars breathing sigh of relief? When we try to implement changes that aren’t realistic or too radical, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. This is true in our writing life as well.
Maybe this is a good year to challenge yourself a little. But remember, the idea isn’t to create more stress, but rather to feel successful and productive. If you normally finish a draft in nine months, maybe aim for six. If you want to push your word count, how about just 50 more words per day? Create a goal that you’ll be able to sustain.
The bottom line is we want to look back at 2019 and feel like we accomplished what we set out to without feeling wrung out and exhausted. So, really think about your well-being when you set your writing goals, or any other personal goals for that matter. Happy new year and happy writing!