Maureen Kauzlarich

Children's Author

Why New Year's Resolutions for Writers Should Start Sooner

As writers our New Year’s resolutions are usually about writing: we want to write more words, write daily, or publish what we wrote. New Year’s resolutions of all kinds fall through a lot, but what if we started them sooner? As in, December instead of January 1st? Here’s why it’s better to start your goals before you really start them. Learn to plan for resolutions, so that when the new year comes along, you’re ready to be consistent each day. (And if the new year has already come along, you ask?) No problem! Use this guide to start your writing goals on any date.

Testing the Waters

Let’s say you want to write 1,000 words a day. You’ve done the math on how much faster your book will get written, and you’ll feel better about your writing if you get that many words down. You sit down and try it on New Year’s Day, and you do good. You meet the goal.

But then the next day comes and something comes up. Your cat swallowed a nail and now you got to take it to the vet. Because of this hiccup, you don’t meet your goal and the next day you don’t want to write because you feel behind. (Just an example. Your cat is fine.)

Anyways, things keep coming up in life. Your day job is more work than you remembered before the holidays or you swore all your kids were in school. Your either writing way shorter than your word count or not at all. This is one good reason to start in December (or before any intended date) to “test the waters.” Dipping your toe into the sea before going all the way in.

If you try it out even one day before the start date you will see what is better for your lifestyle. You can feel the brainwork a thousand words will take and decide if it’s a reasonable goal. Maybe after you try it you realize you’re much more of a 500-wordsmith kind of guy or a few sentences throughout the day sorta gal. Either way, try before you commit so you can be consistent. Your surrounding life will thank you as well.



When Sharks Surround Your Work

Picture three shark fins circling around you and your manuscript (waterproof paper of course). They’re stopping you from meeting your goal of 1,000 words a day with their needs and wants: “The house needs cleaning! That re-made movie is out! You are broke, get a real job!” Their incessant nagging in your mind’s eye keeps making you procrastinate. Before you get into deep waters and meet these sharks, ask yourself, what needs to get done before writing that absolutely has to get done?

By starting goals sooner you’ll be able to ask yourself, will this fit into my work schedule? Are you able to complete the thousand words in one go? Time yourself. How much time will you need? Do you have to break it up throughout the day? Better get a good writing phone app or carry around a notebook. Again, don’t fall prey to those sharks! Have something with you when you want to procrastinate.

If you start writing earlier than your intended goal (e.g., December) you can be mindful of these sharks and take care of them before the scheduled date (e.g., January 1st). At least, identify that there are sharks in the water and stay on a boat whenever you write, telling the sharks to back off your writing time. “I can pet you later!” said the writer to its mind shark.



Fish are Friends NOT Food

Did you know that sharks are opportunistic feeders? They will eat whatever is available. What does this mean for you and your mind sharks? Don’t be available. In other words, don’t be their prey.

In other other words, fight procrastination by forming habits and routines. Heck, fight procrastination by doing the opposite and trying something new. As long as you’re writing or doing something toward the act of writing. Things like outlining, listing ideas, or writing something opposite from what you intended like a random recipe or a poem about sharks. Keeping the creative juices flowing will keep the habit. Even if you don’t exactly have a routine, like writing every morning at 5 a.m. (who does that? *cough, cough*) forming a habit of intending to write each day will tell those sharks you’re unavailable. Intentions are still your friends, just like fish are friends (*cough, cough*).


Ride the Waves of Uncertainty

In the end, go ahead and write even if you’re unsure of what to write or how many words. The only goal I have is to fill a blank page . . . who said it had to be with letters? I kid. But on a serious note, the key to any resolution is consistency and mindfulness. Be mindful of the sharks that try to get you to procrastinate. Be mindful of your surrounding life. Be mindful of what you can and cannot do. Above all, once you figure all this out, pick a date. Whether it be New Year’s Day or the first day of a month or your birthday, stay consistent after that day. This is why writers should try out their goal before they really start, so they know what to be mindful of and can be consistent in their intentions. Hopefully, it's not too late in the new year to save your writing resolutions. (Psst, your mind shark says it's not!)





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