Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Writer's Wednesday: Creating Goals and Resolutions

Michelle Styles looks at creating achievable goals and resolutions.
It is that time of the year again. And it has been happening since...well time immemorial. When the new year starts, people resolve to do certain things, only to find that they get sidetracked or that the goal becomes less important somehow.
Most resolutions are best achieved if you make them concrete and give yourself makers. For example: a nebulous I want to write a novel can be harder to achieve than I want to write a category Historical romance and send off the first three chapters by March 2o10. Or I want to submit three different completed novels this year.
Making resolutions positive rather than negative can help you focus on what you want to achieve rather than what you are giving up.
And know why you are making the resolution. It is because it seems to be a good idea or is it something that you actually want to achieve.
Also make sure your resolutions depend on you rather than on somebody else. It is a matter of control. A resolution to be published by Harlequin is going to depend on the editors. A resolution to submit the best possible story to Harlequin, a story so good that it cannot be ignored depends only on you. In this business the only thing you can control is your writing.
You need to decide if the resolution is aspirational or if you want to be able to knock it out of the ballpark. In other words, is it something to aim for or to surpass. Some people find rewards work. Other people like sanctions. But really, it is down to the determination of the individual and how your mind works.
Resolutions succeed when you give them a chance to succeed. In other words, persistence pays. Little and often. If you fail once, does that mean the whole resolution fails? Or have you created wriggle room? Have you given the time required for success? For example, having a weekly goal of pages written rather than a daily one can mean that you have time to visit the doctor.
Remember it takes six weeks to form a habit. So if you resolve to write every morning before switching on the Internet, know it will be six weeks before it becomes automatic. Sometimes you have to work at resolutions.
Go back and revisit your resolutions. See if they are working or do they need to be tweaked. Are they still as important or do you have other priorities?
Dedication, desire, determination, discipline and persistance are generally the key ingriedients to successful resolutions.

So does anyone else have tips for keeping the resolutions beyond say 2 January?
Michelle Styles writes historical romance novels for Harlequin Mills & Boon. The Viking's Captive Princess was a December retail release. Sold & Seduced makes its North American debut as a February Direct which means it is available from Eharlequin in January and E-book stores in February.


  1. Great post, Michelle. I've already got a few writing goals crafted, but this post was timely because I've been thinking about why I haven't achieved my goals in previous years.

    Thanks for the tips :)

  2. My tip for keeping the resolutions is reviews! Gotta have a regular time, weekly, monthly, whatever, where you look at your list of goals and resolutions and ask yourself what you've done towards them since your last review. Then make short term goals and tasks to do before your next review that will contribute towards the year's goals.

  3. Great post. I'm working my resolutions out at the moment, too. It's always such a fun, optimistic time of year!

  4. oh good, it is great to wake up to comments.
    Angie -- I do think figuring out why resolutions have not worked in the past is a good way to try and ensure success in the future.

    Junk Food Monkey -- I think you are right. reviewing resolutions at a specific time is a great way to stay on track.

    Harper -- good luck working out your resolutions!

  5. Great blog Michelle - and very wise words as usual. I have taken on board the "write before you switch on the internet." As a self-confessed internet junkie I really really have to cut down on the time I spend surfing and blogging. So my N Y R's is to write before I blog. If I can do this then the "reward" will be switching on the internet and catching up with cyper pals and sites such as the PHS!

    Have a great New Year. Take care. Caroline x