After all, they might not work. You won’t be able to stick with them anyway. Waste of time, right? You can’t guarantee that they’ll change anything, and besides, you couldn’t face the disappointment if it all came to nothing. Like taking medicine when you’re ill – why would you take medicine when it may make no difference. No point even trying, regardless what the doctor says, surely.
Fine! I’m being devil’s advocate, because New Year resolutions have served me incredibly well in the past.
Don’t get me wrong, there has been no shortage of failure over the years: mainly the lose weight and exercise more type of failure. But in writing terms, it’s been the kick-start I needed more than once. Of course you are going to take the medicine if the doctor says it may help. You’re no worse off, and it might just make a difference. My very first novel was completed on the back of a New Year resolution. I began blogging a couple of years after, again as a direct result of a New Year. A year ago in January, I signed up to Twitter so that I could participate in Twitter Pitch opportunities, a step that has inadvertently led to the publication of Fir for Luck in September 2016.
This time round, I have realised: I hardly submitted or entered competitions this past year and I’d like to challenge myself with shorter fiction, picture book texts, articles… as well as persisting with children’s novels. I have finished or near-finished manuscripts on file that I need to send out with much more conviction. I need to actively seek opportunities to promote Fir for Luck, now that it’s been out there for a few months. Plenty fodder for resolutions. My friend Aoife made the excellent suggestion to aim for 100 rejections a year. Ambitious, but – regrettably – realistic and utterly achievable!
Which brings me to my five TOP TIPS for New Year resolutions:
- Aim for things YOU can deliver. If you state ‘this year I am going to pen a No1 bestseller‘ or ‘this year I will get published’, you are promising what only others can do. Tricky, that!
- Make resolutions that go with the type of person you are, not against it. I find that I can stick to my writing resolutions because I already love it. I fail in my exercise resolutions because I’m going against type.
- Make more than one, and keep at least some of them small and achievable. Last year, signing up to Twitter took me mere minutes, and I could already tick off one of my aims for the year.
- Go for something that will enrich your life in some way, or the lives of others. One of my resolutions this year is to write to people more. Although I write for many hours a week, I only got to the letter B in my address book for Christmas cards. I know, failure indeed! I have resolved to write a postcard to somebody every day in January. I will buy and address all the postcards and put stamps on them (that way I’ll have to write them, right?). Postcards don’t take long to write, and it’ll be a small gesture, keeping in touch with people I care about.
- Be brave and don’t overthink it all. But DO tell someone about your resolutions and give them the right to ask how you’re getting on.
We may all need to trick ourselves into taking the next step. That is all. And it may just work.