2019 Writing Resolutions You'll Actually Stick To (+ My Goals for the New Year)
A year ago I resolved to make cooking a regular part of my life. I’ve always loved food, fortunate to have a mother who loves to cook, but felt that I was really behind on what I should know about cooking for my age.
So, last January I told myself I could spend an extra $100 on groceries per month if it meant I didn’t go out to eat that entire month. I knew that while that extra $100 would feel like a lot, it would yield far more meals than dining out would, so I felt motivated to try new foods.
Looking back I’ve now cooked over 200 recipes in the past year.
I didn’t set a goal to cook this many recipes, I just wanted to introduce cooking into my life as a regular habit, the way I introduced skincare as a habit a few years prior. I also didn’t want to feel fatigued by the end of the year. I wanted to love cooking and have it be something that was part of my day-to-day like taking a shower or feeding my cats. And lo and behold, in introducing this as a habit (instead of a goal), I’ve now cooked more in one year than the rest of my life combined and truly enjoyed it.
That’s my goal for 2019 with writing. If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll know there was a time I was writing two screenplays and a novel at the same time and knocked them all out in three months. While that was amazing and taught me that I actually could achieve something I never thought possible (writing + finishing several large bodies of work) it was a goal, not a habit I had introduced, and my writing life suffered as a result.
Just like with dieting or fitness plans, after I finished this writing, I would go on a long break, then return to the work, repeating the cycle and executing it occasionally without ever making it a part of my life. It was something I would get headstrong about, but by the end since it was a goal—not a habit—it always felt like a chore I was dreading to get over with and finish. This year, I don’t want this for my writing life. I want to ease into the process, and I want to enjoy every second of it.
They say it takes 30 days to develop a habit, but 90 days to develop a lifestyle, and my interest and dedication to cooking today is a testament to this. While SMART goals are important to achieving success, they can often feel daunting and not always make a lasting change to your life. That’s why this year I want to help fellow writers set up goals to not only achieve their writing dreams, but actually make writing a part of their life, not just a goal they work towards.
2019 Writing Resolutions
A common new year resolution I see for writers is to “write a novel.” There’s nothing inherently wrong about this, and it can often be the kick in the butt every writer needs to finally finish the draft they’ve been ignoring for years. But as someone who has set that goal many times and not achieved it, I wanted to suggest a few other types of goals that can help you still achieve your writing dreams without letting yourself down.
Make Creativity a Part of Your Everyday Life.
It doesn’t have to be writing to help you work on your craft. Oftentimes doing something with your hands like painting or cooking can spark inspiration and fuel your creative drive! This is something I want to work towards in the new year so that even when I’m not writing, I still feel fulfilled.
Read or Watch New Stories in a Genre You’re Unfamiliar With.
Often as writers we can get comfortable with a favorite genre or type of writing, and not branch out. A few years ago I combatted this by setting out to read more foreign/translated lit and it was completely eye-opening. I found some of the most amazing stories that felt like hidden gems to me, and still think about these stories as I write my own. Branching out this year and reading or watching something you’d typically shoot down is an easy way to stretch your creative muscles without taking on a new project completely.
Learn to Enjoy the Writing Process—not Just the End Product.
So often our goals as writers is to “finish” something, and as a result we rarely enjoy the full process of drafting and editing because we’re so focused on saying we finished our novel. This sentiment comes with good intent, since often many storytellers focus so much on perfecting work they never get the first draft finished. That said, if you’re someone way too focused on the finished product, 2019 may be the year for you to step back and learn to love every phase of writing again.
Try a New Style of Writing.
Experimentation can be the best thing for your craft and for writer’s block. And while I will always point to writing in different mediums, even just writing your prose in a different style than you usually would can help flex this creative muscle. This, coupled with the reading or watching stories in a new genre, can often be the most easiest sources of inspiration a writer can find!
Share Your Work With Others More.
This can be hard as a writer, so setting a goal to hand your friend your story can help push you out of your comfort zone and get your work out there. It may mean opening yourself up to criticism if you’re not used to this, or getting your name out there online to develop your authorial brand!
You’ll notice many of these goals aren’t concrete and therefore following the “SMART” protocol. However, I still think they’re valuable and can help you visualize what lifestyle you want in the next year. You may build out SMART goals to go with these resolutions, and that’s great. Use these resolutions as a starting point to create a long term lifestyle, then break down the goals from there if that’s of help.
My Resolutions and Goals for 2019
While I want to achieve all of the above goals, I know for 2019 my main focus needs to be making lifestyle changes so I enjoy writing again. I don’t care whether I finish anything, I just want to get to a place where I feel healthy and happy and eager to write again, whether it’s writing 300 words or 30,000.
Introduce Stories Into My Weekly Life Again.
I used to consume stories like crazy! But as I’ve been in my full-time job, I find I read less and less, see less and less movies, and overall enjoy stories less often than I used to.
I don’t want to pressure myself with reading every night or reading X amount of books, because I think that takes away the joy for me. Just like with cooking, I don’t care so much about the number, I just want to sit back and enjoy stories again like I used to.
For a few specific goals, I’ve listed them out below:
Create a storytelling diary that works like GoodReads + Letterboxd combined, and add video games to this.
Read 15 books in 2019.
Create a list of all the movies I want to see.
Spend an evening playing video games once a month or so.
I know I literally just said I didn’t want to write a goal of “read X amount of books” but this number is so low and with work something I’ve not been hitting, so I set something that feels doable if I ever return to my old reading pace.
(For the record I only read 10 books in 2018! This was a total shock to me since I used to knock out a minimum of 40 per year in college, so I really do need a low goal that I feel I can achieve without being discouraged, but still motivates me to read more than usual.)
Write One Story I’m Proud Of
I usually advice people against setting goals like this that aren’t super concrete. After all, what does it mean to be “proud of” a goal? How will I know when I’ve achieved that? However, despite this, this is a goal that’s really important to me because it involves me loving a work so much that finishing it is easy.
Yes, I could set my goal as “finish” a story again, but that sucks all the excitement from the work for me. “Finishing” removes the passion I could have my work, which is why I really want to instead focus on just writing a story I really love and enjoy creating, even if I don’t finish it in 2019, I still want to be happy with where I’m at with it.
(I guess you could say this goal is also about my enjoying the full process again!)
Learn to Enjoy Fitness and Working Out (and Maybe Find Something I Look Forward to Doing)
If you read one of my first posts on how to stay healthy as a writer when the nature of our work is sitting down all day, you’ll know this is something I struggle with. And while it may not seem tied to writing, it really is because when I feel good about myself physically, I often feel good about myself mentally and emotionally. It also can help clear my mind and generate new ideas!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been fortunate in that I grew up being very active, however this makes it hard when regular tennis practice isn’t a part of my day-to-day anymore to stay healthy. Though some months I can be healthy and at a weight I’m comfortable with, as a short person it can get out of hand quickly, so I want to get to a place where I’m happy with my weight regularly because I have systems in place that maintain my physique. This means changing my lifestyle so that I have allotted time for this and writing without feeling stressed about either!
Return to This Blog!
It’s no secret that for the past six months I’ve been quiet here. In fact, if you emailed me this past year, I more than likely didn’t reply, and I’m sorry for that. While I want to get better at responding to people again, I also want to take this new year to re-brand the blog and my content outside of it. I love focusing on storytelling, and still will, but felt I’ve lost the passion here since so many blog posts feel like they’ve been done before by other talented bloggers, and I hate just repeating what’s out there.
My goal for this new year is to take this blog to a fresh place that excites me again. I have a few ideas up my sleeve, but who knows how it will turn out!
So, with all of that said, what are your writing resolutions for 2019?