New Year’s resolutions ooze out of every publication on the planet in December and January. Still, I’m a fanatic about having a writing resolution each year. So far, knock on my wooden desk, I’ve successfully achieved nearly every resolution I’ve ever made. The secret is in setting and achieving clear goals along the way.
Making resolutions is easy: eat less, exercise more, write a novel, write everyday and so on. It’s establishing benchmarks, however, that make your resolutions meaningful-and achievable. Once you’ve set your New Year’s goals, hold them at arms’ length, pick up a calendar and decide how you will track and measure your performance along the way.
Three years in a row, I vowed to double my writing income. I succeeded. Sound easy? That resolution wouldn’t have been so simple to achieve if I hadn’t established measurements along the way. I set up a spreadsheet to track submissions, follow-up dates and my income.
At the end of each month, I calculated my average monthly income and an end-of-year income projection. If I’d waited until August to tally the numbers, I might have discovered I was way behind. The monthly benchmark kept me on target. If income was lagging behind my projections, I could quickly maneuver to pick up the slack before it was too late.
To keep on top of your self-imposed deadlines, purchase a week-at-a-glance calendar. My favorite is Bylines (www.bylinescalendar.com). Editor Sylvia Forbes devotes a writer’s picture and his or her 300 words of wisdom to each week of the year. I was lucky enough to be selected for a page in February 2007 and will be in 2008 as well. Bylines motivates me to keep up with my benchmarks, reminds me there are other ambitious writers like me and helps me maintain records for income tax time by offering a place to record mileage, meetings, chats and deadlines.
Making resolutions is a grand start. Defining clear performance, publication and income benchmarks along the way is better. Recording your progress is best. Add a dose of diligence to these efforts and you’ll have it made for 2008.
C. Hope Clark is founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com, annually recognized by Writer’s Digest in its poll of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers. She delivers four newsletters each week to thousands with her specialty being grants and income opportunities for writers of all sizes. She’s published over 200 articles on paper and online. Those reluctant to promote their writing cherish her trade paperback The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. Find more hope for your writing career at www.fundsforwriters.com & www.theshywriter.com.