I’m aiming for a SMART start to 2022. First, though, let me wish you a Happy New Year!
People – not just writers – fall into two camps.
- Those who write New Year Resolutions
- Those who don’t
I’m with the first crowd, even though I know and accept the argument of those who don’t: it’s never long before you break those resolutions. So what’s the point? Good question!
What’s the point of a New Year Resolution?
The end of one year, heralding the beginning of the next, provides an ideal opportunity to put aside what happened in 2021 and hope/pray for a better 2022. And I would suggest there are three good reasons for at least considering making New Year Resolutions.
Reason 1: Starting afresh
For many, January is the best time to start afresh: we promise ourselves a new diet (to lose all the weight we put on over Christmas), a new exercise regime (ditto!), to write every day – the list goes on. By February … we might begin to wonder why we bothered. But maybe we fail because we set ourselves up to fail? Maybe if we were more realistic, there would be a better outcome? Progress, a sense of achievement, a job well done, a feeling that we have been successful.
At least January provides us with a clean sheet.
Reason 2: Making ourselves accountable
Sharing our plans – call them resolutions or goals or objectives – with others usually results in those others pointing out when we’re lagging behind. Or, better still, congratulating us on our successes. Witness the jubilation on 1 December each year when so many complete NaNoWriMo.
Rather than telling the whole world (like I do further down this post), you might have a writing friend who acts as your accountability buddy – and you do the same for them. When I joined SPS (Self-Publishing School) many years ago, I paired up with another writer and her support and encouragement has served me well to this day.
Or you might belong to a writing circle and trust the others in the group to keep you on the straight and narrow. (Check out my Nine-Online writers group starting on 19 January – limited to 9 writers.)
If you prefer to keep your goals to yourself, you could still have Scrivener as your nag buddy. Set up targets – for your scenes, your chapters, your whole novel, or your daily writing sessions.
Reason 3: Taking control of our destiny!
If we never reflect on the past and consider how we might want the future to look – the same, different, more, or less – how can we possibly be in control of our destiny?
It can be illuminating to do a SWOT test (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Or depressing if you reveal gaps in your profile …
However, those weaknesses are the clue to what makes an excellent resolution. For myself, as perfect as I am, I do have a number of weaknesses!
- I’m a greater starter but a poor finisher.
- I love learning and sharing my knowledge with others – but can be over generous with my time which is fast running out.
- I’m always looking out for others – eyes in the back of my head! – but I can forget to look after myself, fail to nurture the artist in me.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? Share in the comments if you dare!
I’ve addressed mine in my NY resolutions (far below in this post).
What makes for good New Year Resolutions?
The age-old measure for goal setting is to make sure they are SMART.
There are slight variations on what each letter denotes.
- S = specific
- M = measurable
- A = attainable / achievable
- R = relevant / realistic
- T = time-bound / timely
Here are some resolutions you might like to adopt.
SMART EXAMPLE 1: Learn more about Scrivener
As it stands, this is not SMART! It’s not specific enough, not measurable, etc etc.
Instead, these would pass muster.
- Read Anne’s tips on Scrivener every day of 2022. Click here and like the ScrivenerVirgin page.
- Sign up for Anne’s 14-day Scrivener course. Do that soon as it won’t be free forever. Click here.
- Book a Simply Scrivener Special session with Anne. Click here for details.
You could also check out the classes on offer with Scrivener expert, Gwen Herndandez.
SMART EXAMPLE 2: Improve my editing skills
Again, this is too vague. Admirable, but not smart enough. Instead:
- Join the RedPen Editing Facebook group to read Anne’s daily editing tips . Click here to join.
- Join RedPen and take Anne’s free 5-day editing course. Click here to apply.
- Take one of Anne’s 6 RedPen Editing courses. Click here to see what’s on offer.
You could also check out Joan Dempsey’s classes through her Gutsy Great Novelist site.
SMART EXAMPLE 3: Nurture my artist
Too broad … let’s focus!
- Sign up for some creative writing workshops. The Wednesday Writers Online workshops hosted by me and featuring the amazing Kerry Hadley-Price will inspire you and stretch you. More details here.
- Join a writing group. If you’re quick, you might secure one of the 9 places in my Nine Online group for 2022. More details here.
- Sign up for a writers’ retreat. I’m hosting one 10-14 March 2022 at the Cottage Hotel, Hope Cove. Limited to 12 writers. More details here.
You could also check out Julia Cameron’s philosophy on unlocking creativity through Artist Dates.
My SMART New Year Resolutions
2021 proved to be the year I had to accept my own mortality. I had not one but too many health blips: burst appendix, heart attack, angina attacks, shingles, kidney stones, AF episodes, to name but a few!
This led to several stays in hospital and the curbing of my activities. My New Year Resolutions take these factors into account. My strategy this year will be to do less, and to focus on quality rather than quantity. I’m also taking into account aspects of my nature which let me down. I am not perfect!
1: Finish at least one novel (ideally 6!)
I love doing NaNoWriMo. The excitement of a new idea for a novel and the buzz during those manic 30 days. Magical.
Trouble is there are only 11 months before the next NaNo comes around. Net result? Lots of half finished novels! At the last count, it was ten …
Four of these could make a great tetralogy or quadrilogy – if only I could finish writing them. Not to mention editing …
Right now, I’m focusing on DeadWood and aiming to complete it this month.
2: Limit the hours spent on teaching
My teaching/mentoring time in 2022 needs to be limited so I don’t run out of steam. I’m continuing to blog every 4 weeks, and to post tips daily to my RedPen Editing group and the ScrivenerVirgin page. On top of that, I’ve pared down my offerings to these core services.
- 19 half-day workshops: 10 sessions of Wednesday Writers Online (details here) and 9 sessions of Nine Online writers group (details here)
- One-on-one sessions for Simply Scrivener Specials (details here) and RedPen Mentoring (details here): limited to 12 hours per month
- Writers retreats at the Cottage Hotel, Hope Cove: one in March (details here) and another in November
That’s a total of 198 teaching hours, which, spaced over 52 weeks is only 3.8 hours a week. Not too much for a ha-ha retiree?
3: Nurture my artist
To nurture the artist in me, I love to attend writing/editing courses, and to visit theatres and art galleries. I’ve already signed up for a number of courses:
- WRAP (write a play in a month) for January 2022 with London Playwrights. Details here.
- The Spring term of CityLit’s ‘Develop Your Playwriting’ course with Brian Mullin. A weekly Zoom on Tuesdays. Details here.
- An 8-week course starting 12 January with Nancy Strauss of Creative Writing Now: Through Your Character’s Eyes. Details here.
I’ve also booked several outings to theatres – Covid willing! – starting with Snake in the Grass at the The Little Theatre on 20 January.
I stick with three resolutions. It’s a good number. Any fewer and it’s not a challenge; any more and it becomes impossible. I use the same principle in my book Editing the RedPen Way: 10 steps to successful self editing.
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