Monday, January 11, 2016

New Year, New Writing: Resolutions and Declarations

In 2010 (a | b), 2011, 2013, and 2015, we at BRP wrote posts on writing resolutions. I even wrote a piece in 2010 on envisioning your writing career by making resolutions.

Parts of Happy New Year 2016 image by IceHawk33 at Free Digital Photos used

’Tis the season to make resolutions, yes? A new year often begets new goals, new resolutions. Unfortunately, by the end of January, many of those resolutions are left in the far, dark recesses of our mind.

One reason resolutions often fail is we resolve to do something, but we don’t set out a strategy to actually complete the task.

Whether you use the term “resolution” or “declaration,” it’s important for you to understand what you are resolving or declaring in your writing goals, and developing the structure to bring your goals to fruition.

Let’s think about resolutions for a minute.

Merriam-Webster defines “resolution” in the following ways:
  1. the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something
  2. an answer or solution to something
  3. ability of a device to show an image clearly and with a lot of detail
In these definitions, we see “finding an answer or solution.” So, this means there is a problem that needs a solution. And in your resolve, you find the answer to the problem, solve it, and fix the issue.

The top resolution of every new year is “I will lose weight.” The problem with that resolution is there is no ACTION to it. The real problem is the person more than likely feels fat and doesn't like it, so the obvious answer/solution is to lose weight. But what does “lose weight” look like? It would be better to say the problem is losing weight, and then the resolution would include the ACTION to actually lose the weight (i.e., eating certain amount of calories a day, exercising X amount of times a week, etc.).

The same goes for our writing resolutions. Yes, you want to write, but that’s too broad. Yes, you might want to write two novels and half a dozen short stories, but again, that’s too broad. The HOW of getting this writing done should be a part of your resolution. Doing this allows you to activate your goals in words, and then ultimately, in your actions.

Years ago, I stopped making resolutions—not because resolutions were bad but because (at the time) I didn’t realize that I was making the wrong resolutions. My resolutions were actually the problems I needed solutions to.

I moved from resolutions to declarations because, for me, a declaration hits me in a way that sticks to my mind and my spirit and my desire to want to complete the task. defines “declare” in the following ways:
  1. make known or state clearly, esp. in explicit or formal terms
  2. announce officially; proclaim: to declare a state of emergency
  3. state emphatically: He declared that the allegation was a lie
  4. manifest; reveal; show
There is an urgency to a declaration. There is this feeling that once you make it known, it is OUT THERE, and people know, and now you need to show up and show out. Once we make something “official,” there is a legitimacy to it. It matters. And because it is stated clearly in explicit or formal terms, there is a sense of structure, as if by declaring, you are thinking beyond “the declaration” to the actual progression to completion.

Now, what does all of this have to do with writing?

Simply this, it doesn’t matter if you make writing resolutions or writing declarations, but whichever you choose, you want to make sure you think about the following things:
  1. Be specific with your resolution/declaration. What will you actually DO?
  2. Envision the HOW. It’s nice to have a list of to-dos, but if you don’t have a plan as to HOW you will complete the list, you will fail at resolving and declaring.
  3. Set goals. So, you know what you will DO, and you know HOW you will do these things. Now, set goals, that is set deadlines along the way that confirm your progress and your forward march toward completion.
  4. Reward self. Yes, you deserve pats on the back for completing tasks. These pats allow us to feel good about ourselves and keep on, keeping’ on.
  5. Repeat.
Resolution. Declaration. Pota(y)to. Pota(h)to. Don’t call the writing goals off.

Just envision your goals, the paths to completing your goals, and the rewards for the progress.

What resolutions/declarations are you making for 2016? Do you have a plan set up to complete them?

Creative Passionista Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator whose biggest joys are writing and helping others develop their craft. She has published both creatively and academically and interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her author website.


  1. We should change resolutions to action plans for the year: I am going to diet this year versus I am going to cut out the following foods (easier to do than reach a weight goal). Instead of: I am going to write a book, say I am going to write 5 pages every day.

  2. I saw the Revenant yesterday and made a resolution that I'll make every effort to keep: Do not ... I repeat ... DO NOT ... get between a Grizzly bear and her cubs.

    1. That is probably the best resolution ever. Make sure there's an action plan involved--as Diana suggested. LOL

  3. Resolution: Easily put on the back burner until it dissipates into thin air.

    Declaration: Sounds like "legalese" to me.

    Proclamation (as in proclaim - #2 on your first list): now here's one I can sink my teeth into (forgive the cliché).

    "Hear ye! Hear ye! L.S. Lane will be reissuing her first novel with a brilliant new cover and an updated interior as soon as it is returned from the final proofreaders. Watch for the announcement of its release!"

    Bottom line: For me, proclamation works best. Great post, Shon! :)

  4. Good advice. Unfortunately, I resolved to finished two specific books in 2015, and did another one instead. I still aim to finish them! I must exert discipline!

  5. When you first started posting declarations it caught my attention. I need to declare more too!

  6. No matter how many times I set a course, something always gets in the way of my keeping on it. For me, best not to make any resolutions. It's one sure way for me to fail, and I'd rather not be a failure right at the beginning of the year.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. If a glitch is preventing you from commenting, visit our Facebook page and drop your wise words there: Blood-Red Pencil on Facebook