It’s hard to believe the year is almost over! The new year is often a time to take stock, re-evaluate, and look forward to the year ahead. It’s also a time that many of us set resolutions. Here’s a few tips for making the most of this time and setting yourself up for success in the new year.
1) Take Time to Celebrate
Before you begin setting goals for next year, be sure to set aside time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished this year—and also what you’d hoped to accomplish. Did you keep the goals you set? What outside forces complicated things? What were some of your biggest highs this year? What about lows? Taking stock of the bad and the good will help you approach the new year with confidence, but also with clear eyes.
2) Focus on What You Can Control
It can be tempting to set goals like, “Sign with an agent” or “sell my book” or “sell X amount of copies of my book” but those are all goals where the outcome is dependent on forces outside our control. It’s hard to work toward a goal in that way, and it can be discouraging if things don’t work out. That doesn’t at all mean we shouldn’t set big, ambitious goals—just that we should center them on things that are in our power to accomplish. For example, if your ultimate goal is to sign with an agent, consider resolving to send out a certain amount of queries or attend a pitch fest.
3) Break Down Big Goals
One technique I’ve found to be especially helpful in goal-setting is to break goals down into small, achievable increments. Setting goals and keeping them is motivating; small successes along the way will help you reach larger success down the road. So, if your plan is to send out a certain amount of queries, a few smaller goals might include writing a query, getting it critiqued, making a list of agents to send it to, and then sending the queries out. And iterate along the way!
4) Carve the Year into Quadrants
One of the biggest obstacles to New Year’s Resolutions is that things are bound to change in ways we can’t predict. An opportunity might come up that puts other goals on the back burner. A job may get super busy. But just because life changes doesn’t mean that our resolutions need to go out the window! One way that I’ve found super helpful for keeping resolutions through change is to break the year into four three-month seasons, and set specific goals for the upcoming seasons, and more preliminary goals for the later ones. This builds in time to take stock throughout the year, and also allows us to change goals along the way. For example, if you set out to query fifty agents, but get an offer after two queries, you’ll probably be setting some new goals for the rest of year!
5) Build in Celebrations
This is the fun part 🙂 By breaking down goals into smaller steps and seasons, you create many, many little successes along the way. As writers, we spend a lot of time alone, and a lot of time working on the same things. It can start to feel like we’re doing a ton of work, and getting nowhere. But by building in smaller goals, we ensure that we have times to stop and celebrate how far we’ve come. So while writing down your goals, write down how you’re going to celebrate achieving them! Even if it’s something as small as buying a new candle for your writing desk, or opting for a latte instead of a regular coffee, little writing rewards can serve as an incentive to keep up the good work.
How do you set writing resolutions? Let me know in the comments or on social media, using the hashtag #5OnFri!
Bess Cozby writes epic stories in expansive worlds from her tiny apartment in New York City. By day, she’s an Editor at Tor Books, and Web Editor for DIY MFA. Her work is represented by Brooks Sherman of the Bent Agency. Tweet her at @besscozby, contact her at email@example.com, or visit her website at www.besscozby.com.