Sunday, 29 December 2013

How to Set Writing Resolutions that Work

The old year is drawing to a close and the new year stretches out before us - as clean and fresh as a new Word doc.

And writers everywhere are resolving that this will be the year.

The year the novel finally gets written.

The year the poetry collection finally comes together.

The year the screenplay makes it from scribbled index cards to properly formatted script.

The year the short story gets published.

The year the blog gets launched.

And for some writers, all of the above and more may apply.

Some writers have so many goals, their list of writing resolutions is practically a novel in itself.

And while this might initially fire them up with enthusiasm, February tends to find them face down in a bottle of gin, suffering from a chronic case of Resolution Overwhelm.

I know this because there was a time when my own writing resolutions had a higher word count than War and Peace.

There were so many things I wanted to write; so many genres and age groups and mediums I wanted to write for.

So I'd list them all.

And then, in January, I'd make a start on them all.

And I'd end up spreading my writing so thinly that I'd lose heart.

Nothing seemed to get done.

So I'd give up doing it at all.

Then I discovered the joy that is The Writing Resolutions League.

This is where you divide your resolutions up, just like in a football league. And, dear Dare to Writers, it has revolutionised my life.

Let me show you how:

First, write a list of every single writing goal you have.

Then, on a separate page, write the heading, Premier League.

Look at your list of writing goals and pick the one that makes your heart sing the most; the one which you absolutely have to write before the new year is out.

Put this goal in your Premier League.

And nothing else.

Next, write the heading, Division One.

Go back through your list of goals and pick the one that almost made it to your Premier League; the goal that you would really like to achieve before 2014 is out.

Put this goal in your Division One.

And nothing else.

Then, write the heading, Division Two.

Into this division put up to two goals that you would like to make a start on by the end of the new year - but you won't be heart-broken if you don't.

If you have any other goals left, write them under the heading, Division Three

Division Three is for the writing goals you would like to achieve in the next five years but you will not be focusing on in 2014.

For the whole of January do nothing but focus on your Premier League writing goal.

Repeat for February.

And repeat as necessary, until this goal is achieved.

Know that your other writing goals are still important.

You haven't abandoned them.

Like Wolverhampton Wanderers, they are just awaiting promotion.

And they will be promoted, once you've achieved your Premier League goal. 

Because then everything else can shift up through the ranks.

When it comes to your writing resolutions, prioritising = clarity.

And clarity = success.

Wishing you all a very happy, writing-filled new year.

One of my writing resolutions for the new year is to run more writing workshops. I will be running a fortnightly group in Berkhamsted, Herts and monthly workshops in London. So be sure to keep checking the Workshops page on this site for more details. . .