The approach to New Year’s Day sees a lot of people writing — lists of resolutions for the new year, that is. Maybe list includes resolutions to maintain a writing routine this year, or to get that book finished or that article published, etc. Me? I’ve given up on New Year’s Resolutions — not because I don’t want to change my life for the better, but for the opposite reason.
You see, I’ve figured out that grand resolutions are a recipe for failure. I actually get a lot more done by setting short-term goals that will inch me toward my larger goals. So I set daily and weekly goals — very specific ones — and I keep track of my progress so that I’m accountable to myself, if no one else. Since I began this practice a year or so ago, I find that I really am more successful than I was when I aimed at larger, more distant targets.
Goals You Can Reach — Every Day
I was first inspired to do this by Pope St. John XXIII’s “Daily Decalogue,” which outlines ten goals toward personal reform that each of us can try “just for today.” Although each of the ten intentions is modest, none of them is out of anyone’s grasp, which is kind of the point. There will certainly be days when we don’t accomplish all of them, but at least we will have failed “just for today.” Tomorrow is a new day, with a new opportunity to try again.
Since I have many writing aspirations for this new year, the Year of Our Lord 2017, I thought I would adapt some of the items in the Daily Decalogue to help me achieve my writing goals. Maybe they will help you, too.
New Day’s Resolutions for Writers
- Just for today, I will write something — anything — that will help me progress toward my writing goal. I will not seek to write my grand opus all at once.
- Just for today, I will spend 10 minutes planning the next phase of my writing project, secure in the knowledge that plans can be adapted to changing circumstances in my life.
- Just for today, I will do some reading that will help me grow in my craft as a writer — whether that is an article about the craft, or a book or short story that will feed my writer’s imagination and soothe my soul.
- Just for today, I will let myself write freely, without letting my inner critic hobble my imagination and enthusiasm. Tomorrow I can revise, but today I simply write.
- Just for today, I will firmly believe that my writing can enlighten, encourage, or instruct readers who will benefit from my efforts. My writing may not change the world, but I will be better for having written, and my readers will be better for reading my work.
That’s enough to start with, don’t you think? For some, it may even seem too much. If that’s the case, pick just one or two of these New Day’s Resolutions, and stick to it — just for today. If you fail, tomorrow you can try again. If you keep trying — just for a day! — eventually you’ll realize that you have a new and productive writing habit.
Another way to create a writing habit is to meet regularly with other writers for mutual support and encouragement. If you live in the greater Dallas area, why not join us for one of our First Tuesday meetings? This Tuesday, Jan. 3, we’ll be meeting at Sacred Heart Books and Gifts in far north Dallas, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (find details here). We would love to have you join us!
If you want to make sure you never miss a meeting, contact Nancy Ward to get on the email list. You can also sign up to receive all blog posts by email. Just fill in the form in the right-hand sidebar.
This post originally appeared on the DFW Catholic Writers Group blog.