As the new year looms, we often find ourselves making resolutions for it. Lose some weight, travel more, keep better touch with friends, spend less, save more, climb a mountain, etc. Personally, I make at least 5 and keep probably 1. A year is a long time that goes by faster than we plan (life, in general, does this to us) and I find myself--as most of you do, I'm sure--making the same resolutions, promising I'll keep them this cycle. In 2014, I plan to change my 80% failure rate by changing the way I make and keep resolutions.
Like with homework, people tend to put it off until time is running out. If we have a WHOLE YEAR to succeed in something, many times, we'll find ourselves occupied in ways that keep our old habits alive and prevent us from following through with ridding them. Or we'll start out hell bent on succeeding and actually keep our promises at first, only to burn and fizzle out a couple months in (this is especially true for smoking, money and weight loss/diet resolutions, I've seen). So instead of giving ourselves this massive timeframe that will be done in a blink, let's tighten things up, really challenge our willpower.
I have a higher success rate when I set goals without such a broad time line. My resolutions for 2014 won't be just for the entire year. No, I'll be doing it by quarter, by tier. So to start, by March 31, I must complete the tiers of my resolutions to move on to the next phase. The plan is to be reminded regularly, and rewarded quarterly, with progress and ultimately, success. And with each quarterly success, the reward will not only be the self-congratulatory pat on the back; I'll treat myself to something, because what's effort without a little reward?? If I succeed in keeping my resolutions and make it to 2015 without needing to repeat the years prior, I'll give myself a big reward and follow the same game plan for that year.
Obviously there are resolutions that harder than others. I give everyone who does what they've set out to do on New Year's Eve/Day a huge high five because it's not easy. We shouldn't judge ourselves--or others, for that matter--too harshly when we don't follow through. But I will tell you this: The only person capable of changing you and your ways, is you. No amount of affirmations, positivity chants, meditation, etc., is going to make the changes needed if you're not willing to put the work in to succeed. Invest in yourself, because you're worth it, and no one else will know just how valuable and amazing you are if you don't believe that. I promise. It's hard to believe in someone who doesn't believe in themselves. Change is hard, I can't say that enough, but I believe failure to believe in ourselves and what we're capable of is harder to deal with, because with it comes regret and lost opportunities. We live once, and if there is only one thing to remind of why you need to keep whatever your resolutions are, let that be it. Today is a gift, so live in the present. I love that saying. :)
And my little lecture is more for me and my self-deprecating alter-ego than it is for anyone else. So without further adieu, here are my writing resolutions for quarter 1 of 2014 (I'll save you my personal ones because, well, they're personal, haha):
1.) Find a mentor
2.) Perfect the query that haunts me
3.) Submit said query to at least 5 agents
4.) Write every day for at least 60 minutes (this is something I used to do, but stopped once things turned sour).
5.) Blog more
And there you have it. Number 1 is kind of a doozy, but I think it's a reasonable one to start the year with. On March 31, I'll post my quarter 2 resolutions and my successes/failures from the first batch. I'll also tell you what I reward myself with, because it'll be completely dependent on my rate of success.
What are your resolutions? Got any pointers for success? Post them in the comments!!
One more thing that I'll be changing in 2014... Critique rounds. As much as I love hosting them (I truly, truly do), I may start shying away from those for a bit. I've spent a lot of time helping other writers get the feedback they've needed to grow and polish their work, and over a dozen of the participants have gone on to sign with agents and/or publishers. I've personally critiqued countless writers, and I'm honored to have done so. I've been a cheerleader, a councilor, a friend. I'm proud to be a part of your journeys, proud of these rounds and all the writers who've joined in and shared. I'm also humbled by it all. But in turn, I haven't been helping myself when I'm busy focusing on helping others succeed. It's just another one of the many ways I've lost sight of my own writing journey. Like I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I need to focus on me and my characters more, at least until I get to a place where I can give more of myself to helping fellow writers without it causing my own writing to feel neglected. It's partly why I want a mentor; after all I've been through and all I've given, I think I need someone to guide me back on course and help to keep me there, keep me accountable and level.
It's in my nature to help others, it's something that gives me great joy, but I have a tendency to give more of myself than I can afford, and little-to-none to myself. I can't help it, helping others is something I love to do. I'm very motherly haha. And like a true mother, I am riddled with guilt because no matter how much I give, I never feel like it's enough. But I want to celebrate a writing success of my own soon, outside of NaNoWriMo. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling a tad left behind by my writing pals who've "made it". I'm so happy for them, but sad, too, because I'm not there yet (which is entirely my own fault for falling behind). Time for me to catch up!
This decrease in rounds may also help those who enter, though. The number of entrants have started to slide, so I'm hoping that by spreading out the rounds a little, it might increase the traffic when I do host them. Because the more traffic, the more feedback for your work.
I hope you guys understand--it feels like a punishment to lessen the opportunities to get valuable feedback on your work because I know how rare these chances can be, but to me because I'm the one stepping back, if that even makes sense. Maternal guilt, I guess, haha.
Just know I love and adore you guys and will always be here to offer my support in anyway I can afford. We're all in this writing adventure together. It's time for me to really shine. 2014 has got to be my year. I hope it is for you, as well.
Happy New Year! <3