Even as the holiday season is in full swing, I'm thinking ahead to the new year and what I want to accomplish. After all, as I receive the January issues of magazines I subscribe to, I'm reading the articles filled with inspirational tips for sticking to New Year's resolutions—as well as sobering statistics for how quickly we break them!
Of course, in looking to 2010, I'm not alone. Martha blogged here earlier this week about her writing goals for the past year and the next one, and contributing editor Chuck Leddy was kind enough to share with me Ann Patchett's essay, "Resolved: Writing is a job," published in The Washington Post. In it, Patchett, author of the bestseller Bel Canto and other books, talks about her 2009 resolution to work on her novel just one hour a day for the first 32 days of the year. Doesn't that sound so much more manageable than making a resolution for a whole year? With a manageable goal to get her through those first days, Patchett turned her schedule into a habit she kept for the rest of the year. I'm going to try keeping a similar schedule myself, and I recommend reading Patchett's inspiring piece before you set your own writing goals.
I came across another couple of smart tips for writers in Lesley Alderman's "Nine secrets of motivated people" for Real Simple. Alderman interviewed Michelle Tillis Lederman, who resolved to check her e-mail only after writing for two hours. Plus, as Lederman finished each chapter of her book, she passed it on to an editor she hired to give her feedback, which helped her stay on track. And these techniques worked: Lederman's book is due out next year.
Finally, in case you missed it, Kelly James-Enger, a contributing editor for The Writer, wrote a terrific piece, "Gear up with writing goals," for our December issue. Kelly suggests setting specific goals (e.g., defining a schedule instead of resolving to "write more this year") and keeping track of your progress so that you can make adjustments if you need to—rather than abandoning your resolutions completely.
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