New Year Resolutions for Writers

by | Jan 2, 2020

‘Tis the season when we look forward to what we want this year to embody. As authors, scholars, and wordsmiths, we can set resolutions that are kind to our future writing selves and actually help us feel good about our writing projects. Here are some ideas to get you started.

I will celebrate when I write, not chastise myself for not writing

It’s so easy to focus on what we don’t like about our writing habits, whether that’s not hitting a desired word count, getting distracted by other things, or not liking the words we end up getting onto the page. But what if you resolved this year to celebrate when and what you DO write?

I will make time and space for writing in my life and let others know that time/space is mine

Making time and space in our lives for writing is crucial for actually doing it. This is not easy. Indeed, between kids, pets, department meetings, grading, and other life stuff, it is easy to let writing get pushed to the back burner.

So what are some ways you can carve out time and space for your writing this year? Maybe it means getting up a bit earlier, redesigning your syllabi to have better assignments that also save you grading time, or getting a writing accountability buddy.

I will use recursive outlines, freewriting, brainstorming, and zero drafts to get “imperfect” words onto the page

I can’t stress this enough: getting words out of your head onto the page is more important than the words being good. Indeed, those first words and first pages are never good. That’s okay! We need “bad” writing to get us to the good stuff. I always explain the writing process to clients as making a mess and then cleaning it up later.

You can’t skip the mess part. That’s where techniques like brainstorming, freewriting, recursive outlines, and zero drafts can help.

I will test multiple ways to find joy in my writing again, no matter how silly

Many of the writing projects we have in academia like writing a book or dissertation are very large and are spread out over long periods of time. It is totally normal to get tired of projects in the middle of them.

Check out our video on how to get re-inspired by an old project for help.

I will treat my writing with compassion rather than scorn, especially when revising

We are our own worst writing critics. The meanness with which we sometimes treat our writing is never something we would put in student grading comments (or it shouldn’t be at least!).

How might your writing change if you approached it with compassion and generosity rather than scorn? This is particularly important when revising old work, like a dissertation into a book. Harshly judging your past writing self gets you nowhere. Instead, think of ways you can thank that past self for providing such rich raw material for you to transform into something new now.

I will support other writers by neither judging nor romanticizing their writing habits

When we’re feeling frustrated at our writing, it can be really easy to look at colleagues and feel jealous or judgmental about their writing habits. How about we ditch that tendency this year?

Every author struggles with some aspect of the writing process and we don’t see behind the scenes in their lives. Sharing techniques, having honest discussions, and supporting each other are much better ways to approach the communal aspects of writing.

I will remember that all writers work at different paces; mine is allowed to be different

Related to the point above, it’s important to remember that it is colonial capitalism’s rat-race mentality that encourages us to value productivity above all else. And academia’s “publish or perish” ideology is part of that.

While we don’t all have the ability to completely eschew tenure requirements, we can practice compassion toward ourselves and our process. Disability justice activists have long foregrounded this point and offer some of the best strategies for finding and valuing your own pace.

I will seek out more writing I find beautiful and inspiring, no matter the genre

Remember reading for fun? Remember getting lost in gorgeous writing that lifted your spirits, sparked ideas, and made you excited to be an author?

Make this year the year you actively seek out more of that, regardless of genre. Even if it never ends up in your scholarship, reading great writing (whatever that means to you) can help your own writing soar.

I will remember that I am more than my word count

This is SO important! Especially when we’re coming up against deadlines or trying to finish a particularly challenging piece of work, it can be easy to slip into judging ourselves by what we have on the page.

But as I tell our clients, you are more than a brain on a stick. You are a whole person with skills, relationships, communities, and successes far beyond any CV line.

I will submit the damn thing rather than tinkering endlessly to no avail 🙂

Hit submit. Now. Just do it.

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