• Erin Swan

Setting Writing-Related Resolutions for the New Year


Happy New Year, everyone! Obviously, like many people, I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s resolutions over the last couple weeks. I’m not a big resolution person, so I tend to keep my goals relatively simple. But as I’ve been trying to treat my writing as more of a job, I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of goals I can set for my writing, and I thought some of my fellow writers might benefit from some of the things I’ve learned.


Make Sure It’s Manageable

This is true of any goal: If you set that bar too high, you’re going to fall short, be disappointed, and give up. So, above all, make sure that your resolutions is manageable—more specifically, make sure it’s manageable for you. Other writers’ goals do not need to be your goals, nor should they be.


What makes a manageable writing goal? First, look at what you’re accomplishing right now. This should always be your starting place when deciding what your goal will be. Build on your current habits and accomplishments and set a goal to simply improve upon what you’re already doing. Even improving a small amount is a huge win.


Avoid Things beyond Your Control

Again, this is a commonly taught thing when it comes to goal-setting, but I think we as writers are especially prone to overlooking this. We set goals like “find an agent,” “get a publishing contract,” and “sell X number of books.” While these are great things to hope for, they are not good resolutions. Why? Because, ultimately, they’re not in your control.


You can send a thousand queries, but ultimately, getting an agent is up to the agents you’re submitting to, and getting published is up to the publishers. You can market your self-published book until the cows come home, but there’s still only so much you can do to up those sale numbers. If your dream (not your resolution) for this year is something beyond your control, set goals that could make that dream a reality instead of setting a goal that you don’t control.


For example, set a goal to send a certain number of queries or to complete your query letter and synopsis for your book. If you’re self-published, you can set goals about how much time you’re going to spend on marketing your book. Those things are in your control—and they just might help you reach that thing that’s beyond your control.


Set “Stepping Stone” Resolutions

Another important thing to remember is that your end goal for your resolution doesn’t have to be something you do right now. Oftentimes, we jump into a goal that’s a bit over our heads right now, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not something we could achieve by the end of the year. Remember, your resolutions are for the entire year, not just the first month or two.


So, depending on your writing goal, it can be a good idea to give yourself “stepping stones” to help you along the way to your end goal. Want to set a resolution to write 50,000 words a month? Why not make your goal 15,000 this month? Up your goal every single month, and you just might find that 50,000 is much more achievable towards the end of the year—just in time for NaNoWriMo!


Remember, just because a goal isn’t manageable for you right now doesn’t mean that it won’t be achievable at some point this year. You just need to keep yourself motivated long enough to work your way up to it!


Don’t Just Set Quantity-Related Goals

In case you haven’t noticed, we writers tend to get completely obsessed with numbers. We count every word we write, every page we edit, every query we send. But, more often than not, writing isn’t really a numbers game. It’s more about the time you spend on your writing, the TLC you give your WIP, and improving the quality of your craft.


So, don’t make all your writing-related resolutions about the numbers. A few quantity-related goals are fine. But don’t forget to set quality-related goals as well. As yourself what you can do to improve the quality of what you produce instead of just focusing on churning out a higher quantity. For example, one of my resolutions this year is to read several instructional books on writing. (I’ll be starting with “Save the Cat,” by the way, in case you’re looking for a book to help you with your craft too.)


Your writing deserves more than just to be churned out at a frantic pace. It deserves you to pour time, attention, and care into it, so don’t forget to set resolutions that allow you to do just that.


Well, those are my thoughts on those writing-related goals for 2020. I hope at least a few of my fellow writers find it helpful. Feel free to let me know what your writing resolutions are this year! Happy New Year, everyone, and may 2020 bring you much writing success!

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© 2018 by Erin Swan