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Out with the Old

What are your writing-related resolutions? As we enter a New Year, it's important to take some time to reflect and to set intentions for our professional lives as well.

But, I ALWAYS caution clients against dramatic (and self-punishing) resolutions when it comes to their writing projects. This can sound like, "I will write every single day for 2 hours!" or "I will finish my book chapter in two months (never mind the lack of even an outline for that chapter)!"

Resolutions can be limiting, when they are all-or-nothing. And they can be downright ineffective if we are making them from a place of lack rather than one of abundance.

So, here are my top 3 tips for setting intentions for your writing practice in the New Year.

  1. START SMALL. It is wonderful to aspire to a writing practice that encompasses four-hour writing blocks and/or generating 500 words of prose per day. However, for those of us that have struggled to have a consistent writing practice it is always better to start small. Set an intention to devote 20 minutes per day for low-stakes writing tasks. This can be brainstorming with pencil and paper, making a list of books you need to read, or even creating a visual map of the main themes of your book chapter. Once you develop a positive and consistent writing practice then you can level up. Be wary of starting of 2023 with binge-writing sessions that will only leave your burned out eventually.

  2. BE SPECIFIC. It's all too easy to set an intention to "finish my book proposal." But, the problem is that the book proposal is a project not a specific task. A resolution like this can leave you feeling overwhelmed about where to start or confused about how long this will take. And, perhaps even worse, you have no way of celebrating your intermediate wins. Instead of setting resolutions around your project, set them instead around specific tasks. For example, " I will complete the outline and source the bibliography for this article by the end of January." This way you can track your progress toward your goal more accurately.

  3. MAKE ROOM FOR ADJUSTMENTS. When setting any goal it's important to anticipate your obstacles to achieving it. Expect that there will be days where you are unable to follow your plan. Maybe this is a sick kid, or an unplanned trip to the DMV, or a spontaneous visit from a family member. When planning any writing schedule, it's important to make room for adjustments. In my weekly calendar I schedule "flex time" to catch up on any tasks. But it's just as crucial to adjust our goals regularly. If you set a goal to "write every day for 20 minutes" and you miss a day. Just pick up again the next day (and don't say "I will write for 40 minutes tomorrow!") Repeat after me: anticipate and adjust.

And remember some writing is better than no writing. Be kind to yourself and celebrate your wins. And if you need more help setting writing goals, I am just a call away.

Happy New Year!

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