It’s a new year, a new start. First question: how did you do with fulfilling last year’s resolutions? “What resolutions?” I hear you cry. Yes, I know. Last January is now just a distant, fading memory and who knows what you resolved to do in 2015? In any case, it’s now that time of year again and it behooves us to straighten the spine, stiffen the upper lip and seize the day. And after that little work out how about coming up with some resolutions for 2016?
If you are a writer of any kind, you will want to include some literary goals in your general ones. Here are a few suggestions to bear in mind when drawing up your short list of candidates for inclusion in your New Year’s honors list.
1) Choose realistic goals.
One thing that is guaranteed to scupper your chances of reaching the goals you set is if you set your sights too high or don’t take into account external factors. So, for example a reasonable goal might be to write a novel during 2016. An unreasonable goal might well be getting it published. For a start, the publishing process is notoriously slow and even if a publisher were to accept your manuscript you might not see your book in print until well into the following year. That side of it is outside your control. So choosing targets that are within your grasp is a much more sensible solution.
2) Come up with a plan for achieving your goals.
It is one thing to establish a set of goals. What matters and, in the end, what ensures success or guarantees failure is how you plan to achieve those goals. That means:
- setting realistic deadlines;
- taking steps to rearrange your life to facilitate the achievement of those goals;
- it might even involve rearranging the layout of your home to make it easier for you to write; and
- it might involve looking at your schedule and shuffling things around a bit to facilitate your writing time.
3) Choose how you are going to reward yourself for achieving your goals.
We all need incentives, so how are you going to reward yourself for hitting the targets you have set for yourself? A bottle of champagne? A night out with some friends? A brand new Ferrari? (Okay, back to point no. 1 about realistic goals.) Incentives, give you some impetus to finish the task at hand. However, they can’t be the only reason you write. If you’re not writing for the sheer joy of it and for the satisfaction you get from creating something new, then maybe writing isn’t your thing after all.
4) If, during the year, it looks like you’re not going to achieve some of your goals, adjust your objectives so you achieve at least something.
This eradicates the demoralizing effects of failure. If you adjust your goals as you go through the year, you might find that, although you didn’t achieve the initial goal, you still achieved several secondary goals. Similarly, though, if you find you are not going to achieve what you set out to in your New Year’s resolutions, you might also want to examine what is stopping you from achieving each goal and take steps to sidestep it.
5) Do what you can to eliminate obstacles in the way of achieving your goals.
In some ways, this involves looking ahead. There is no point in ending up in the middle of a problem and then choosing to act. Look ahead constantly and assess how close you are to achieving what you set out to do and anticipate any obstacles that are looming in the distance. That way, with some deft sleight of hand you might, in fact, avoid the problem altogether.
6) Enlist the help of others in achieving your goals.
It is a fact that no man is an island (although, after having consumed huge quantities of festive food at this time of year, you might feel like one). Don’t just write down your list, make it public, share it on social media if necessary. Get the backing of your family and friends. Ask them to help you achieve your goals. And if it looks as if, during the year, you’re going to be way off track, ask them what they can do to help.
7) Break your list down into minor goals.
For example, “Write a novel by December 31, 2016” is fine as an overall goal. But “Write the first three chapters by the end of February” is easier to achieve. So if you break up your goals into minor objectives, not only does it give you a better sense of progress and achievement, but it makes it much more likely that you will, bit by bit, achieve the overall goal.
This is a time that comes round only once a year, and another chance to set goals and achieve them. If you want to be successful as a writer choose your goals wisely and get started straight away. Happy New Year and good luck for 2016!