New Year’s writing resolutions can feel like furry, hyperactive beasts. They aren’t easy to identify and they always seem to scurry away rather quickly into the busy fog of the emerging year. 

So instead of making one or two big new year’s writing resolutions this year – and in the spirit of TheRightMargin’s philosophy of breaking down large goals into achievable milestones and tasks – I’ve decided to start the new year with a writing goal… just for January. 

So, for January, let’s resolve to…

#1: Start a new project

TheRightMargin has been working on a feature called “smart projects”, and one smart project type is for short story writers (stay tuned for details or give us a shout!). I’m interested in trying my hand at short story writing in the new year, and because the smart project comes with a ton of guidance and how-tos, I expect I shall learn how to write a short story as I make my way through the milestones and tasks.

But then what comes next? I plan to set another goal that’s achievable in a month for February for getting feedback and editing the draft, and then when February is almost done, for submitting it in March, and so on. But what are some good new year’s writing resolutions I can choose from for my writing as a whole? What will keep me coming back to the page?

Here’s a list of my team’s recommended new year’s writing (monthly) resolutions that may be a bit easier to wrap one’s mind around and have a definitive “I did it!” moment.

#2. Write regularly by making time for writing

Sounds pretty simple, right? Whether it’s every Saturday morning, twice during the week or every night, I know and you know that making writing a habit and part of our routine will make writing easier.  Also, we are writers. We must write. So add time to your calendar each week and block it off so you and others know it’s your special time to focus on building your writing routine. Something that helps me follow through with this is knowing when the time is over, I can feel free to stop — I usually avoid word count goals, and rather set time-based goals.

#3. Set a reading goal 

Reading is one of the biggest reasons why writers become writers, and one of the biggest sources of inspiration and rest. But these days, with all that’s coming at us from different directions, it can be really hard to read! Decide to read 1, 2, 3+ books in a month and have them readily available on your digital devices in case you can’t carry around the hard-copy.

#4. Finish a writing project this year

Set a realistic deadline. Break down the work you want to get done on your way to the deadline using TheRightMargin’s new in-project project planning feature. Find a writing buddy to keep yourself accountable. I’m thinking in terms of what’s possible within one month, so I’ll likely be trying to finish a short story and once I’ve sent it to my family to read, count this goal as achieved!

#5. Think positively about writing

Ok, this one is more like a life-long process than a month’s goal, but it’s important. We can easily get down ourselves; writing can be lonesome, and it’s hard work, and we can become discouraged and lose our momentum and moral. Our friend and author Erin Judge wrote about this in a way that resonated with me: 

“The people who love you don’t necessarily share your taste, and therefore they might not like what you create. One of the greatest motivators for creativity that I’ve ever heard is to make the art that you wish you’d encountered yourself at some point along your journey. Instead of worrying about what your rebellious cousin or devout father might think, turn your focus to your own experiences as a reader. Trust that creating something for the Audience Of You will ultimately resonate with others. “

Also, in the words of my teammate Art, “You are a unique snowflake!” Remember there is beautiful growth from the process and recall the books from your childhood and beyond that impacted you and stayed with you until this day. What you have inside is important and could be much more influential on someone than you know.

#6. Re-read a book that was important to you before you became a writer

There was a distinct moment in my teenage years when I decided I wanted to write about my family history and Korean-American upbringing, and it happened two chapters into the first Korean-American novel I had ever read: Free Food for Millionaires. Until I read that book, I had never thought twice about the types of cultures and POVs I was consuming through books; so the recognition, resonance, and connection I felt with the characters, challenges and plot was like a lightning bolt through my brain. Remember what book(s) inspired you to start writing in the first place and write down why. It’ll help you remember why you’re doing it in the first place.

#7. Take a break from social media

This one is likely very difficult to do but it can do the soul some good. Detoxing from TMI being blasted at us calms the mind and brings clarity and rest. Decide to repurpose some of your social media time, in the evenings or on the weekends, to reading or writing instead. Try just 10-15 minute a day and see what happens. 

#8. Start a blog 

A lot of writers I’ve spoken with started to love words and writing because they journaled. In my opinion, blogging is like one step up from there and helps you hone skills you can apply to many other types of writing endeavors. It helps you practice in public, find your voice, and potentially a writing community. For a step-by-step tutorial on how to get a blog started, use our upcoming blog smart project!

#9. Go to one in-person event and meet other writers

I’m regularly inspired and energized by hearing the stories and projects writers around me are working on. Without our awesome Slack group for writers, and various writing meetups around San Francisco (such as the growing and awesome Shut Up & Write), I know I would be lonely and not nearly as excited about writing and craft. Try something new and visit a writing event in your neighborhood!

#10. Remember to reward yourself when you’ve hit a milestone 

Self-care can seem like a buzz phrase, but attending to your needs, and recognizing when you’ve achieved a goal you’ve set is crucial to continuing down the path of achievement. You are not a robot, set in a routine of checking off rote tasks. You’re a human (and as a writer, probably a slightly complex human), and you need to remember to take care of yourself. It will help your writing, sure, but it will also just make life more enjoyable, which has a way of throwing good mojo back into the creative process.

So, fellow wordsmiths, what are your new year’s writing resolutions? Share them here, or, better yet – come on over to our Slack group for writers, WriterHangout, and join our #writing_goals channel.