Not Exactly Resolutions, More Like Broad Goals for Writers

Sunday, January 01, 2017
Happy New Year, writers! I hope you had a great NYE and you’re easing into the day.

Many writers take time today for reflecting on the past year while thinking about writing goals, hopes, and dreams for the year ahead. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably blown it with some overly enthusiastic resolutions in the past.

One solution is to skip the writing resolutions and goals and focus on one word as a theme for the year. Last year, WOW editor Margo L. Dill picked “organization,” and I picked, “belief,” as in “believe in yourself.” I think her word was stronger than mine. This technique worked to a certain extent, but maybe not enough for me because my word was too vague. On the other hand, I know that if I make my goals too specific—like finish a novel in three months—it would be self-defeating.

In the comments section of Margo’s post, Robyn Chausse said, “One of the wisest suggestions I’ve received in regards to goals was from creativity coach Marney Makridakis; she told me that instead of trying to narrow in on a goal, to step back and look more broadly—this offers more freedom and choices. It points a direction without being constrictive.”

I like this approach and it makes sense to me. So this year, I’m keeping things fairly simple and stepping back with four broad goals:

Write What Scares You:
There are some topics I’ve been avoiding for years: my mother’s suicide, my relationship with my father, my physically abusive ex-boyfriend, my drug abuse/overdose years ago, my depression, why I fled to Mexico for a year, and more. I’ve written about these topics in journals and disguised parts of these stories as fiction, but I’ve never really written about them in essay/memoir form and I’ve certainly never put them out there for the world to read. I’ve been afraid what might spill out, and where these dark tunnels of my mind will take me. I’ve been afraid of what people will think of me. But here’s the thing, if you aren’t bleeding on the page, you’re not giving it your all. If you don’t write about what scares you, you’re not being true to yourself, and you won’t write your best work. So, I’m resolving to tell the truth. I’ve also enrolled in Chelsey Clammer’s course, Face Your Fears: Women Writers Anonymous.

Measure Activity, Not Results:
This is the opposite of S.M.A.R.T. goals, which say, “Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.” Not in my goals! Instead, I’m going to focus on the simple act of doing the work: the act of writing, the act of researching, the act of reading, the act of networking, and the act of submitting. I’m not going to focus how many page views I get on a post or how many people take action on my email campaign. I will focus on the act of doing.

Meet Other Writers in Person:
We all need the help of others—whether it’s for moral support, a critique partner, accountability, mentoring, or simply hanging with someone who likes to attend writerly events. I’ve also made it a priority to attend art openings, life drawing sessions, and other artistic events because I’m both an artist and a writer and I think they complement each other. You might try it, too!

Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously:
I’m guilty of this, and often forget to infuse humor in what I’m writing. I also think that with all the writing and publishing advice out there, it’s easy to forget that writing is fun! It’s why we got into it in the first place. Not everything you write has to be immaculate.

This post, for instance, was written in about fifteen minutes. As I was getting ready to go out to dinner for New Year’s Eve, I happened to look at WOW’s Google calendar; and the way it’s set up, December ends at the end of the page and I hadn’t looked to January until just now. So, noticing that I was scheduled on New Year’s Day, I scrambled to get something written. When I have an important day such as this one, I usually plan to write an inspiring and motivational post at least a week in advance, so I have time for research or rewrites, but that’s okay. I don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be either. When we think we’re supposed to be a certain way it gets in the way of finding out who we really are.

Do you have any resolutions, broad goals, or anything you’re doing differently this year? We’d love to hear them!


Angela Mackintosh is publisher of WOW! Women On Writing. When it's her day to blog, she’d love to answer any questions you may have about anything related to writing/publishing. Please email your question to mailbox[at] and you may see it here!


Sioux Roslawski said...


First of all, I have to say I now officially dislike you. You wrote this last night, while you were getting ready to go out to dinner? Kind of like Eric Clapton's song "Beautiful Tonight" which he wrote while waiting for his wife/girlfriend to get dressed and ready to go out? With little time, you came up with this inspiring and impromptu post? I dislike you. ;)

I know, I know. You didn't ask for the above, but I'm a giver that way. I'm always willing to give, especially when it's unsolicited.

And now, what you DID ask for.

I don't make resolutions because I break resolutions. Every time. However, I (especially) love your first two goals. My novel WIP (for grown-ups) might inspire me to write a memoir, since the "stuff" that darkens the story line is real-life stuff that happened to me... stuff that I gave a happier ending to in my manuscript. However, healing took place during while I was writing. Perhaps there's a story in how I found some peace...

And in focusing in on the work? Well, if we concentrate and keep what's important in mind, we can all do that. Sometimes writing work involves thinking and reflecting and socializing and vegging out, so when we're not doing the work in obvious ways, we don't have to beat ourselves over it. Sometimes the ideas come to us at surprising times.

And if you ever are coming through St. Louis, there's a bunch of writers who would love to get together for some writing critique, some dinner and some laughter.

Angela, everybody has "stuff" in their life. (And since this is a "G" rated blog, I will leave it to you to put in the word I REALLY mean.) It's just that some of us choose to keep it under the surface. However, that "stuff" has a way of bubbling up/spewing out/creating fissures in our existence. Write it. You're not alone, and your writing will remind the rest of us that we are not alone...

Margo Dill said...

I, for one, would love to read your essays/memoir because all of that stuff that happened made you the wonderful, beautiful, giving, inspirational person you are today! :)

I am doing word of the year again--I am keeping organization (which I did have great success with and am going to write about soon on my blog) and adding either. . .peace, practical, or patience. I haven't decided yet. . .:) I have goals in my mind but I just don't write them down on paper because then it seems I am doomed to fail.

Happy New Year!


Mary Horner said...

Angela, I have a love/hate relationship with resolutions, with an emphasis on hate. I have made many, but can't say I've followed through on most of them. I like Margo's idea about using a word of the year, and may try that. I think my word(s) will be follow-through because I write, but then don't follow through and send it out!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I'm with Sioux. Fifteen minutes? Ugh.

I too have a love/hate relationship with resolutions. I think it is my general "you can't tell me what to do" personality. Yep, I'm even that way with myself.

Hugs to you and your bravery for taking on all that you do. You, my friend, are an amazing person. Truly. Even if Sioux and I are just a little bit green.


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