Happy New Year! It’s incredible to think about how far we’ve come in the last twelve months! I’ve had ups and downs with publishing, met and worked with amazing authors, had a press close and a new book release. I’ve finished some projects, started others and read some truly wonderful books.
And now we’re onto 2020! I’m excited to read, write and do more in the new year and I want to approach my reading and writing goals with optimism and realism. Here are a few trips to making author and reader resolutions you may actually hit.
I set my reading goals for 150 books last year and I did 200 for 2020 this morning! I didn’t hit them, but I did end up reading 87 books, which I’m very pleased with, especially with everything else going on! You’ve heard the phrase Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. Even if you don’t achieve those massive goals–finish a book, sell a thousand copies, read 200 books, you’ll still achieve some pretty incredible things.
Divide and Conquer
Dreaming big is great, but the best way to meet those goals is to break them down into more manageable pieces. For working on a new story, it might be weekly or monthly goals you’re trying to hit. For reading a lot, consider adding a chapter or two to your nighttime ritual. There’s a reason National Novel Writing Month is so effective–there are concrete goals and the drive to complete them in time.
And a Community
One of the best ways to stay on top of your New Year’s resolutions for reading or writing is to find people striving to meet their own similar goals. Writing groups are great for inspiring you to finish a project and providing the accountability we don’t have as adults working on our own schedule and timelines. There are so many reasons a good writing community will help you as an author, and they’re super effective for those 2020 goals.
I’m totally type A and with a startup company, two pen names, four freelance jobs and everything else that goes into living my life, it can be challenging to keep up. When I have information floating around my head like deadlines and projects, I’m too distracted to get the work done. A calendar, planner, bulletin board or whatever works for you, can take the pressure off to remember the details and make it easier to focus on the big picture.
Give Yourself a Break
Big goals and resolutions are great–for writing, reading or anything else, but there are so many things we can’t expect or prepare for. We didn’t know how quickly we’d be moving to Nashville and that took a huge chunk of time and energy. We get sick, family members need help, work is demanding. There are things that happen to us in our lives and we need to find a way to work around them. Don’t let yourself off the hook entirely, but don’t punish yourself for not reaching every goal either. Remember 87 books is still 87 books.
Consider Just Finishing a Project
I’m so bad about this, but I always have one to five too many projects going on at one time. Now, some of these are the real-life paying projects I can’t put down, but I can certainly stand to finish one series before moving onto the next. Some stories or to-dos linger, and just getting them off your desk can make all the difference.
Or Put it Down
You don’t have to finish everything right now. There is no shame in putting the book down and walking away–whether reading or writing.
Try a Different Approach
When it comes to writing or reading, you have options. If you’re struggling to place a book with an agency, consider going indie for publishing. If you want more control, start the self-pub process. Can’t focus on your book before bed, try audiobooks when you’re cooking dinner. Want to untangle a plot point, write a different scene and then come back. Sometimes the door is stuck but the window is open.
See the Big Bad World
So much of being a creative is simply being in the world. I know I have workaholic tendencies and I do take pride in how much I’m capable of managing at once. But that said, it’s still important for me to try out new restaurants, to go to shows, to visit museums. This is how we get the inspiration for our stories and how we become better artists.
Your creative goals and dreams will change. It may be a small change–trying out a new subgenre. It may be a big change–going back to college. If you’re true to yourself but open to opportunity, great things are possible.
Remember Why You Started
It’s easy to get bogged down in the idea of deadlines and goals and due dates. They’re helpful for giving us a roadmap in a challenging, undefined field. But you’re not beholden to them. It’s important to remember why you started a book, why you’re following a story idea, why you’re building a brand. Goals and resolutions aren’t shackles, they’re a way to realize your dreams. Use them as such.
I hope you have a wonderful day, week, month, year of creative fulfillment and success that fits your goals, resolutions, and plans. Happy reading and writing!