By Ashley Austrew
It’s that time again. 2021 is winding to a close, and you may be starting to think about all the grand things you intend to accomplish in the new year ahead. If you’re a writer, your New Year’s resolutions probably include a few big goals related to writing, drafting, and maybe even getting published.
The start of a new year is a great time to set new goals with your writing. It represents a clean slate, and it’s a chance to align your progress with the changing of the dates on the calendar, which may feel motivating to some people. If you’re thinking about the things you’d like to accomplish this year, you might be considering a word count goal or finishing a specific project. Here are some other writing resolutions to try in 2022, and a few things to keep in mind as you dive into those brand new works in progress.
1. Finish what you start.
If you have the habit of starting new drafts and abandoning them, set a goal to challenge that this year. When you finish a piece of writing, even if it’s difficult or you don’t like the final product, you’ve accomplished multiple things at once:
- You have a finished piece of writing.
- You have a place to start revisions.
- You’ve learned about your own writing process.
- You can find the strengths and weaknesses in your own work.
- You’ve finished once, so you know you can do it again.
With every finish, you grow as a writer and get better for the next project. You don’t have to finish everything, but set a goal to finish one story, three poems, two articles, or whatever makes sense for your process and the type of work you do. The result will be leveling up in your work, and that’s always something to celebrate.
2. Experiment with your writing.
Stuck in a writing rut? Try something new. Just because you enjoy writing in one particular genre or style doesn’t mean the others are off-limits. In reality, trying something new may provide the challenge you need to become a better writer, find new ideas, or pull yourself from a tough bout of writer’s block. Try writing some fan fiction, or set a goal to try a daily or weekly writing prompt, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. The change can kickstart your brain and help you find even more things to love about being a writer.
3. Get rejected.
This may sound like the opposite of what your writing goals are, but hear us out. Rejection can actually be a good thing for writers because it means you are finishing the things you start and putting your work out there for the world to see. Believe it or not, some writers even set goals for how many times they can get rejected in a single year. If your ultimate goal is to be published and share your writing with the world, rejection is often the first step, so go forth and get turned down a few times. Before you know it, those losses will turn into wins.
Writing is a solo activity, but that doesn’t mean you can do it all on your own. Feedback is a major part of writing. It can help you determine whether or not your story is working, what messages and tone your writing is conveying, and whether or not you are succeeding in saying what you’re trying to say. Whether you’re hoping to get published or just writing for yourself, getting feedback can help you become a more effective writer and make the practice more enjoyable. This year, make it a goal to find a local or online peer group of other writers who can offer support and critique to help you accomplish your goals.
5. Read more.
Author Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” As a writer, one of your jobs is reading as much as possible. Reading helps you learn more about your craft, inspires you with new ideas, and challenges you to become a better writer. When you’re busy working on your own writing projects, it may not seem like you have time to stop and read. Try to squeeze in a few pages per day anyway. Seeing how the pros craft their stories and handle the many struggles of creating compelling writing can give you the boost you need to forge ahead on your own work in progress.
6. Create a writing practice.
Most successful writers have some kind of writing practice. There’s no “right way” to create a writing practice, and it will look different for each person, but establishing a routine around writing is a good way to make progress on your goals and ensure you always have time to practice your beloved craft. A writing practice may look like any of the following:
- A daily word count goal.
- A weekly word count goal.
- Writing at the same time every day.
- Writing every weekend.
- Writing a paragraph or chapter per day.
- Writing for a certain number of minutes or hours.
Not every writer writes daily or for the same amount of time in each session. Figure out what works for you, then set the intention to stick to it this year and see how productive it helps you become.
Social media can be a place to get inspired, but it can also be a huge distraction. Doomscrolling through the bad news or constantly being inundated with other people’s thoughts and opinions can have the tendency to drown out your own voice in your head. If you want to make progress on your writing, find time each week to unplug from social media, cut the Wi-Fi, and just be with your own thoughts. This could mean doing guided meditations, journaling, or just sitting quietly. Or, maybe you’d prefer to unplug while working on your draft. Either way, your writing and your idea arsenal can both benefit from having your undivided attention.
8. Set a realistic writing goal.
Writing goals are a great way to motivate yourself, but be realistic. It may not be possible to finish an entire manuscript in a month or commit to writing 1,000 words every single day. That’s okay! You’re still a writer, even if you need to take it slower than others. The key to reaching your writing goal is starting with one that is doable in the first place. For you, maybe that looks like writing for 20 minutes on your lunch break, or waking up at 8 am every Saturday to work. If you set a goal based on your schedule and your unique needs, then you’re sure to crush it.
9. Don’t be afraid to write “badly.”
We hate to break it to you, but the first step to good writing is often “bad” writing. We put “bad” in quotes because of course your writing isn’t bad! It’s just that everyone starts with an imperfect first draft, and that is totally normal. It’s tempting to stop writing just because your draft isn’t turning out how you thought it would, but remember that everyone’s first attempt is a little wonky, and the magic happens later on when you start revising your work. You have to write before you can edit, so don’t let perfectionism stop you. As author Shannon Hale once said, “When writing a first draft, I have to remind myself constantly that I’m only shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.”
10. Take breaks.
What? Stop writing? Actually, yes. While writing regularly is the way to make progress on your work, it’s also important to take time away for self care and relaxation. Take time this year to get enough sleep, eat good food, exercise, read, watch your favorite shows, and anything else that helps you recharge. While you’re setting your writing goals, be sure to also set a goal for how many days or hours you will spend on rest. It’s not lazy to take breaks. In fact, it helps you come back stronger. Remember: it’s hard to pull inspiration and beautiful art from an empty cup.
Ashley Austrew is a freelance journalist and writer from Omaha, Nebraska. Her work has been published at Cosmopolitan, Scary Mommy, Scholastic, and other outlets. For more by Ashley, read: 10 New Dating Slang Words To Know In 2021| Prepare To Finish The School Year Strong With These Tips | How To Create Atmosphere & Mood In Your Writing To Engage Your Readers | Let These 7 Perfectly Placed Words Be Your Muse For NaNoWriMo | 5 Crafty Ways To Get Your Kid (And You) Into Poetry