So, 2016 is the year you’ve resolved to finally start writing that novel or blow the dust off that half written script. Great! But when research shows that 92% of all new year’s resolutions rarely make it past January, how can you make sure your writing resolution sticks?
Put a name to it
Making a new year’s resolution is like having a dream – and we all need to dream. However the problem with big dreams is that whilst they’re exciting, they’re also pretty daunting. Where to start? How do you make your dream real?
The first step is to make that resolution – or dream – as tangible as possible and this means naming your dream and thinking through each of the steps involved in achieving it. Let’s take a dream of writing a novel and turn it into smaller steps. Ask yourself what you need to do to write a long piece of fiction. You need an idea for the plot and some characters, a plan of what might happen, you need to write the first chapter, write the first draft. All these steps are achievable and within your control.
It’s important at this stage not to over face yourself or be too ambitious – think tiny steps. To get into the habit of writing, novelist Dorothea Brande recommends setting aside just 15 minutes a day to write. For Brande, the quantity of time spent writing isn’t as important as how regularly you write. 15 minutes might not sound very long but committing to it gets you into the habit of writing regularly and means that it becomes a normal part of your day. If your resolution is to write a novel in 2015 then why set a goal not to write a small amount at the end or beginning of every day?
Don’t over commit
New year, fresh start! It’s tempting to be ambitious at the beginning of the year but it’s also worth being realistic about what you can fit into your busy life. Rather than focus on the whole year, think what you can achieve in January. Set a small writing goal for the remaining days left in the month.
Share your resolution
Okay, so you’ve named your dream and committed to writing something achievable in January. Now comes the tough bit – you need to go public with both with your project and your deadline. Yes you can make a commitment to yourself but you’ll never hold yourself to account in the way that friends and family will. Tell people – you might be surprised at how supportive others are and how accountable you feel.
Resolutions aren’t set in stone
You don’t always know which of your writing goals will work so key to developing a habit is playing around with your goals. Nothing is set in stone so adjust the goal or change the deadline if it’s not working for you. This isn’t about giving yourself an easy ride, but rather, experimenting to find out what really works. Tracking your progress is also vital in achieving this as it gives you the evidence to reset and refine the goal.
Whilst it might seem a bit early for another party at the end of January it’s vital that you treat yourself when you achieve your writing goal – celebrate your success to keep motivated! It doesn’t matter whether it’s a series of small treats each day or week you’ve worked on your project or a bigger celebration for every creative goal you achieve. Well done – you deserve it!