Thursday, January 17, 2019

Do You Know Where Your New Year's Resolutions Are?

Writers are no different from most people in that we, too, make New Year's Resolutions, oftentimes lots of them. However, instead of pledging to lose weight, stop spending so much online, or cut down on the buttered popcorn, etc., like normal people, we generally resolve to write more.

Sometimes the resolution is specific. We pledge to finally finish that novel, poem, screenplay, biography, etc. Or we might vow to write 500 words a day seven days a week no matter what, even if that much-heralded zombie apocalypse finally arrives.

Other writers' resolutions are more general...we promise ourselves we will write more words, more often. We staunchly swear to avoid temptation in the form of chocolate or its near relative, romance. We're not going to watch television or movies and plan to totally ignore the publication of new books by favorite authors.

We'll overlook family craziness in general, particularly that created by our children. We're so sure we're going to accomplish our goals we even write them down, perhaps believing that in committing vows to paper we're somehow assuring our compliance. We're going to get up a half hour earlier to have a precious block of time to write each morning. Only when we get up early, so do our spouses who assume the extra time is intended to provide him (or her) with a three-course, five-star breakfast. Or our kids come tumbling down the stairs wanting to know where their soccer shoes are, even though the day before you almost had to blast Reveille in their ears to get them out of bed in time to catch the school bus.

So then we move our sacred writing time to the half hour after everyone else has gone to bed and the next thing you know it's six o'clock in the morning and you wake up with a crick in your neck and realize you've been drooling into your keyboard all night long and the only thing you've written is, "Jane got into her car and puttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt..."

Well, you get the idea.

So, how are your writing resolutions coming along this year? Mine are great, but I confess I have a secret. I haven't broken my writing resolutions because I didn't make any. That's based on decades of experience with the inevitable failure of my resolutions to accomplish anything, much less help me tackle something as complex and demanding as finishing a book that seems to have no inclination to get itself across the finish line. Resolutions were an epic arm wrestle for me, one that I always lost, so I stopped making them.

Yes, I understand that you need to set goals to be productive, but that's tough for me. My Muse is stubborn and shy about putting in appearances when I am alert and ready to write. She apparently has a big problem with deadlines and also seems to enjoy torturing me. Just as my eyelids are drooping each night and I am seconds from sleep in my cozy, comfy bed, she'll whisper a brilliant idea in my ear, knowing full well I'll have completely forgotten everything except that I had a great idea by the time morning rolls around. And keeping a pad and pencil by my bed does no good either because I cannot make myself wiggle out of my warm cocoon long enough to grab them. I tried keeping them under the pillow and almost stabbed myself in the eye one night.

Besides, I always believe there's no way I could possibly forget such a brilliant idea in a mere matter of hours. I am sure it will still be sitting there, shimmering in my mind like a shining beacon of literary hope when my eyes pop open. But it's not. It's always irretrievably gone. There's only a blank white space inside my head where the idea briefly existed.

Worse yet, I end up wasting half the day trying to remember what the idea was. This happens every single day.

Maybe I should have been a veterinarian.

Patricia B. Smith is a journalist who is the author of 11 published books, including Idiot’s Guide: Flipping Houses, Alzheimer's For Dummies and Sleep Disorders for Dummies.

Pat is also an experienced professional developmental editor who serves as an Editorial Evaluation and Developmental Coordinator for Five Star Publishing. She works with private clients as well and has helped many authors land their first publishing contracts. Many of her clients have achieved notable success, including two winners of the Missouri Writers’ Guild Show-me Best Book of the Year Award.

Connect with Pat on Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In.


  1. Trust me, a veterinarian is definitely more lucrative. My son is one. But seriously, I don't make resolutions anymore either. I pat my back if I do anything on my WIP or the other WIP I didn't finish. Glad to see I'm not alone.

  2. Keeping resolutions has never been my strong point, so I conveniently forget to make them anymore. Like you, I don't have a stellar track record of following through with them. Come to think of it, don't believe I ever kept one. :-)

  3. I don't make a nice tidy list of resolutions, but I am resolving to keep 2019 a Depth Year...revisiting abandoned hobbies, clearing out stuff, learning to use the new things I bought and then neglected like my camera and the ukelele, avoiding new purchases unless I've cleared out or used up the old purchases. And either rewriting the manuscripts I gave up on years ago or feeding them to the shredder (this is years and years and years ago writing). :D

  4. I agree about these ideas popping into your head then saying, I'll remember them. This happens to me at night. I'll wake up and say, "hey that dream would make a good book. I'll have to write it down in the morning." Oh course, the next morning I can't remember it.

    Goals, are important. I used to write them down, but as I get older I don't any longer. My son (28yrs) Is an advocate of writing goals down and has been pressuring me to go back to doing that. Not a bad idea

  5. No resolutions for me. I just keep paddling...

  6. Just read the perfect meme today: A dream becomes a goal when you write it down. A Goal becomes a plan when you write down the steps. A dream is achieved when you complete the steps.

  7. I have long ago given up on resolutions or writing goals, knowing how bad I was at keeping or meeting them.

    What I have started doing, however, is something like what Diana mentioned in that meme. I am writing down things in a small notebook that I want to accomplish. No set time-frame, just stories I want to write, or some business-related activity I need to attend to. I used to try to keep that all in the memory-bank of my brain, but that bank isn't working so well anymore. And the upside of writing things down is that I am accomplishing more. Well, so far in 2019 anyway. :-)


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