Every year, do you resolve that this is going to be it? The year you’ll finally sign with an agent, or land a book deal, or hit the bestsellers list?
Sigh. If only, right?
There’s just one problem with that approach: Those things are ultimately, largely, frustratingly outside of your control.
What they are is hopes. And hopes are essential motivators, life changing and fueled by passion. But, alas, they’re not resolutions.
This can be your year. Believing in yourself is key. But to make it happen?
What you need are goals.
Here are five new year’s resolutions worth making.
I will stop judging myself in comparison to other writers.
It can be really, really hard to keep the green-eyed monster at bay in publishing. Because we do need to pay attention to what other authors are doing for their careers. We do need to learn by example. But when that example can seem to dwarf our own… Well, we’re also only human.
My agent, Barbara Poelle, is big on telling writers to “keep your eyes on your own paper.” In her Writer’s Digest advice column-turned-book, Funny You Should Ask, she offers this wisdom in fielding a question from a writer who can’t help but feel jealous of a successful author friend:
“Every story is different, right? And careers themselves are stories. So why would any career be the same. Every single one of my authors has these days—Every. Single. One.—where someone is getting more of something, whether it is an advance or a marketing placement or a publicity angle. Sometimes I get angry emails. Sometimes I get weepy phone calls. Sometimes both.
The world teaches us at a young age that there is only one first place in whatever we are competing in. However, that is just not the case in publishing. Someone can get an advance of $40K, earn it out in the first six months, and get five-figure royalty checks for the next four years, while someone else got a six-figure advance and then… that was it.
Who is first place there?
Someone could hit the Times list first week of publication with 2,300 copies sold and then drop off to … 75 copies a week for the rest of the year, then vanish, while someone else could never hit the list, but sell 52,000 copies in their first year.
Who is first place there?”
Not only is comparison infamously “the thief of joy,” but in publishing, things are rarely as they seem.
Resolve to keep your eyes on your own paper, and you might find yourself happier, less distracted, and more productive.
I will not force daily metrics that don’t work for me.
Does your 1,000 words/day goal stress you out when you taper off at 750—even if those words are super strong, and you know your next 250 will likely be mush? Consider a weekly word count goal instead, freeing yourself to run short some days and long on others. Or commit to a dedicated hour a day instead, and make peace with whatever happens (or doesn’t) during that time.
Most writers would gladly take a brilliant 3,000-word week over 7,500 words of rambling mess. So why stick with metrics that don’t measure your most important progress, anyway? This is about not setting yourself up for failure and making slow, steady momentum on things that really matter.
I will try something new.
Pick up that bestseller in a genre you don’t usually read—you might learn something you can apply to your own. Write a guest post for a friend’s off-topic blog, just for fun—writing begets writing. Offer your writing skills to a local nonprofit with no budget—it feels good to do good. See for yourself what the fuss is all about: that hot podcast, or self-help audiobook, or TikTok.
Why? Two words: growth mindset.
I will introduce myself.
If you’re not actively participating in the writing community as much as you’d like, there’s one easy way to change that—and no, you don’t need to join a critique group, or pay an official association an annual membership fee. I’m talking about attending other writers’ events.
One of our best-received posts this year was our “5 Reasons Why You Should Attend Other Authors’ Events.” The start of a new year = the perfect time to reread it.
I will invest in goals that are important to me.
I said earlier that our writing goals should be things we can control—but that doesn’t mean we have to pursue them alone, without any help. Our “5 Smart Ways to Invest in Your Writing This Year” is full of evergreen advice on how to get the most bang for your time, energy, and hard-earned bucks.
What’s on your mind as you look ahead to the new year? Join our discussion on Facebook.