I've never been one for New Year's resolutions. I just don't understand the point of waiting until the start of a new year to make changes in my life. I understand the whole new-year-new-leaf concept, but I would rather turn over that new leaf when it needs to be turned rather than wait for the new year.
So, this post is not going to contain a list of writing resolutions. Mostly because I already have an ongoing list of resolutions, which I started years ago. And it has done wonders for helping me become a better writer.
Instead, this post is going to focus on goals (which are directly linked to those ongoing resolutions): goals I set last year, and goals I want to set for this year.
One year ago, I set myself a pretty aggressive goal to get an agent before 2010. I met that goal, but I didn't do it by crossing my fingers and submitting to everyone I could find. I could have done that, and maybe I still would have found my agent. But I would have been relying heavily on luck. Plus, 'maybe' has never been good enough for me. I wanted to sign with an agent, and luck isn't often my friend. So I had to find a method that would keep my progress moving forward, getting me closer and closer to my goal.
The only method I knew of was to make my writing so good that no one would be able to say no. And the best way I know of to improve my writing is to constantly re-evaluate my work, my writing process, my viewpoints, my short-term goals, and what I think I know.
Let me say that last bit again. The best way to improve my writing was to re-evaluate what I thought I knew.
Almost two years ago, I started this blog as a means to test my knowledge on writing. I felt that if I could explain what I knew to other people, that meant I had a firm grasp of the concepts. I still hold to that philosophy. But, last year, I took it a step further. Did I really understand as much as I thought I did? And, how could I expand that knowledge and understanding? I challenged myself with these questions again and again, determined to learn as much as physically possible...and then learn more.
So, I read over a hundred books last year, breaking down each one and analyzing the story. What worked for me? What didn't? Why? I recorded these thoughts in a journal, and applied what I'd learned to my own work. And, yes, I always learned something, even if it was so small it was almost insignificant.
I also read author, agent, and editor blogs to get more insight into the publishing process. I interviewed authors to learn about their writing processes, as well as how they got their books on the shelves.
Everything I did last year had a purpose. Every. Single. Thing. And everything I do this year will have a purpose. Everything, no matter how small it is. And I will constantly evaluate each action, assessing whether or not it is bringing me closer to my goals.
So, if you are feeling energized by what the new year might bring you, harness that energy and set yourself some goals that will keep your energy stoked. But don't stop there. Evaluate those goals constantly, and make sure you are taking steps toward them. If you need to change a goal, don't consider it a failure. You are simply moving in a different, and likely better, direction.
When next year rolls around, you might be surprised at how far you've come. :)