As I took my son for a walk through the neighborhood recently – the winter weather temporarily rising from the 20s to the 60s – there must have been a hundred discarded Christmas trees lining the curbs. Possibly enough to heat the entire city for a day! It made me realize something: the holidays are definitely over. (What did you expect, an environmental theme?)
The holidays are over, and that means it’s time to get serious about getting back into the work of writing. Time to dust off last year’s New Years Resolutions, see how we did, and craft a new set of reachable goals and resolutions.
The important thing to remember when it comes to New Years Resolutions is to keep them within your control. I don’t mean to limit yourself to what you can accomplish – we should all strive to go beyond, to reach further, and to break barriers so that we can achieve our goals. What I mean is that we should define our goals and then resolve to do all that we can within our power to make them come true. We should avoid setting goals and resolutions that are outside of our own immediate control.
Here’s an example: for several years one of my top New Years resolutions was to get a novel published by one of the major publishers or an independent publishing house. In an industry where only about one out of every 30,000 (yes, that’s thirty thousand!) submissions is accepted for publication, I’m as likely to be hit by lightning or win the lottery. So when the end of the year would come each year and I hadn’t published a novel, I’d failed at my resolution despite my strong resolve to do everything in my power to make it happen.
Now I frame my resolution in a way that I can accomplish it. I instead resolve to do everything I can to polish my work, submit it professionally, and to keep my manuscripts from ‘sleeping at home’ by always having my work in the hands of an agent, editor, or publisher. I resolve to have another query in the mail as soon as I get a “no thanks.” And I resolve to keep at it.
Consider reframing your writing resolutions. Rather than “get published,” resolve to send a polished story, consistently, to one literary journal or magazine after another. Instead of “finish that novel once and for all,” resolve to spend a set number of hours each week working on the novel. Instead of an elusive “go to more literary events,” resolve to go to at least one event per month – even if you have to travel to do so.
Concrete resolutions make the abstract goals obtainable.
Having said that, here are some of my resolutions for 2011: to actively promote my novel, TRACKS, which is being published by Atticus Books this summer; to actively promote my children’s book, Flightless Goose, which is in stores now; to allow myself a couple writing retreats during which my main focus is writing fiction; to send out at least one short fiction submission each month.
What are your New Years Resolutions worth writing about?
Eric D. Goodman is a full time writer and editor. TRACKS, his novel in stories, is being published by Atticus Books in Summer 2011. Eric has been published in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Review, The Potomac, Arabesques Review, The Baltimore Sun, Slow Trains, JMWW, Freshly Squeezed, and New Lines from the Old Line State: An Anthology of Maryland Writers, among others. He regularly reads his fiction on WYPR, Baltimore’s NPR station. His children’s book, Flightless Goose, is available in bookstores and at . Visit Eric at his literary blog, http://www.Writeful.blogspot.com, or on Facebook.