By Kasie Whitener
The top resolution every year is to lose weight. It’s not a coincidence that most of us feel like we’re carrying a little extra baggage.
For writers, losing weight means something a little different. The baggage we carry around is often unrealized goals. As we move into another year, we again plan to be more productive, give more time to our writing, and make actual progress toward publication.
Rather than renewing the same resolutions and hoping for the best, try these three strategies to ensure satisfaction.
First, review your goals from last year and determine how well you did against them.
For example, my biggest goal was to publish a manuscript. In March, I entered my completed novel in the First Novel Prize contest, the award for which was publication. I didn’t win. Rather than see that as missing a goal, I recognized the work done getting the manuscript ready. That work represents serious effort and progress.
What goals did you have for 2014? How did you do?
Set Realizable Goals
Be honest with yourself about what you want to achieve and how you plan to do it. Rely upon your knowledge of your own limitations to curb your most ambitious goals into achievable milestones. Set a goal that’s just beyond the work you’ve already done.
For example, my goal for 2015 is: Earn the interest of an agent willing to promote my work.
Earning an agent takes a modicum of work: I have written a query letter and had it critiqued and revised; I revised the first ten pages of the novel; I researched agents that represent the kind of work I’m offering and made a list of those I plan to approach.
How much have you already done toward the goal you’re setting?
Other people are not necessarily planning to help us with our goals. For example, agents are not likely to respond immediately to the query and the work I send. Therefore, waiting for a response from one before sending another query could slow me down.
A periodic check-in can remind me how long it’s been since I sent the last query and determine if it’s time to send another to a new agent. I don’t want to get to December and find I only sent one query that was passively rejected (no response after some time is a passive rejection).
Are you moving closer to your goals?
I have a sign on my desk that says, “Is what you’re doing right now moving you closer to your goals?” The sign reminds me, every time I read it, to refocus, stop procrastinating, redirect when something’s not working, and be purposeful about the actions I take.
Begin with the end in mind and be prepared to seize the opportunity of a new year. You’ll find that even if you haven’t lost weight, you’ve managed not to gain any more in 2015.