New Year’s Resolutions

Tools to make achieving them easier. by Tawny Weber This article first ran in Dec 07 Words from the Heart newsletter

It’s that time again, the shocked realization that yet ANOTHER year has passed. As you’re winding down 2007, have you stopped and asked yourself what’d you accomplish over the past year?

Do you have a lot to show for it? Did you write the book you intended, make the submissions you wanted? In other words, did you meet last year’s writing resolutions?

Ahhh, resolutions. I love them & they are a goal setter’s dream. January first is the perfect time to sit down and mull over the possibilities for the upcoming year. Obviously, since the New Year’s Resolution thing is so popular.

Of course, it’s a little depressing to realize that, on average, 75% of these New Years goal setters only succeed in keeping their resolutions for a couple weeks. By Feb 1, more than half have stopped trying altogether.

Not very good odds, are they? Can we, being proactive, successful writers, beat those odds? Of course we can! To help, I’ll share my top three tried and true goal setting tools. Small steps – eat that elephant one bite at a time. Sell a book or reach a bestseller list are fabulous goals. But they aren’t one step goals. Big picture goals like these are like standing at the base of a huge mountain, knowing you have to climb all the way to the top. Intimidating! But when they are broken down into easier, smaller steps, they are much more comfortable to tackle.

For instance the goal of sell a book could be broken down into 3 simple steps. Write the book. Gather critiques, contest feedback, etc to polish and hone the story. Submit the story and start the process all over again.

Organize your progress. It’s so easy to feel like we’re spinning our wheels, not moving forward in this business. Part of it is the nature of the beast. We writers are subject to the whims of the market and to the timeframes of editors and agents. As an impatient writer, it was really important to me to be able to see that I was making progress, even if it didn’t feel like I was getting any further up the publishing ladder. So I use tracking systems. I track my writing progress, noting how many pages I write each day. I track my submission progress, not only who I submit which story to, but the dates and responses. Not only does this let me see what I’ve got going on… it lets me see where I’m falling down on the job. If my writing spreadsheet has a lot of zero days on it, it’s no wonder I haven’t finished that book yet.

Support System.This particular tool is, in my opinion, the most important. Your support system is everyone from the people you live with to the people you write with. Get your family on your side in the writing gig. Not only by letting them know your dreams and goals, but making them a part of them. Celebrate those submissions with your family, go out for dinner when you get a request. Not only do we celebrate together, but my family helps me with promotion. Right down to my 8 year-old-daughter who counts and bundles bookmarks, they are involved and invested. Friends, writing and otherwise, are just as important. Your writing network is made up of people who really get you, who understand what you’re doing and why. Critique partners, writing groups and chapters, they are all fabulous support not just for the act of writing itself, but for feedback, understanding the market and helping you promote your books. And non-writing friends? Who better to help you balance the crazy writing times?

Of course, like anything it takes hard work to turn those resolutions into reality. But having the right tools makes the work a little easier. So be one of those people who, come December 2008 is looking back over your January resolutions and patting yourself on the back for your incredible progress.

Tawny Weber’s avid goal setting obsession is evident in her January 2008 Harlequin Blaze release, DOES SHE DARE? when her heroine uses goal setting tools to snag herself her hot fantasy guy. Tawny’s so into goal setting, she’s even giving a workshop on it for From the Heart in January. And you can check out more goal setting tips at www.TawnyWeber.com/goals