Over the last several years, celebrating the passage of time — whether via birthdays or New Years Eve — provoked nostalgia and a tinge of sadness. I was leaving behind fantastic years: the year I graduated college. The year I first went to London, leaving the US for the first time. The year I got engaged and started a job at a company I loved. The year I got married, and went to Paris and Rome. The year I went to ten different countries and wrote my first novel. I was lucky to have such fantastic years to bid farewell to.
2014 is the first year I am truly thankful to leave behind. It was fraught with difficult decisions, heartbreaking regret, and waiting around for things to happen. And when I thought things couldn’t emotionally get any worse, my husband was struck with a bad case of meningitis for which he needed to be hospitalized, reminding me of what truly matters in life. (He’s doing well now!) While I know 2014 could have been much worse, I’m extremely excited for the fresh start 2015 will bring.
Most years, New Years resolutions are things I’d make and break within a couple months. I’ll go to the gym every day! I won’t eat any more chocolate! I’ll only watch 1/2 hour of TV each day! I’ll wake up at 5am every day!
This year, I still want to set lofty goals. But if I’m going to turn things around from 2014, I need to set more than the usual superficial goals. But mostly, I need to make my goals realistic so I don’t set myself up for failure.
1. Write, edit, or outline five days per week
2014 got off to a productive start. I got a literary agent, which is a monumental feat, and made some great revisions to my first novel, STEALING PARIS. And then I did nothing for seven months.
Nothing. Nada. Zip. This must never happen again.
Sure, everyone needs a break sometimes. But each day I didn’t write, I felt an overwhelming guilt for my lack of creative output. In October, I got back on the horse and started writing my next novel, a YA thriller called AUXILIUM. I spit out the first draft in a month, but it was a little rushed, so I’m basically rewriting it now. But the reason it was rushed is because I felt pressure to make up for all that lost time.
The key for me is to write consistently, but to give myself a couple days off each week. Otherwise I burn out. And when I burn out, I don’t write for long stretches. Realistic daily output goals might be:
- If outlining: five chapters per day. (Outline will be complete in one week)
- If drafting: 1,500 words per day. (Draft will be complete in about 2-3 months)
- If revising: one chapter per day. (Each revision will take one month)
That’s a pretty good schedule for churning out a book every year, with a couple months to spare for research, brainstorming, etc.
2. Vlog once per month
I did three vlogs in 2014. It was a lot of fun, I got some great comments/feedback, and it helped me get more comfortable with being in front of a camera, public speaking, etc. However, it was really time-consuming to do each video, even though they were only 4-5 minutes long.
I want to get into the habit of vlogging, but while I’m deep in the throes of revision #1 for AUXILIUM, vlogging every single week isn’t realistic (because, you know, I have a full-time job, too). However, once I finish AUXILIUM and I have a good writing pace according to goal #1, I’d like to increase vlogging to once per week.
3. Blog once per week
I have two blogs — this one, and my internet marketing blog U Stand Out — which kinda sucks because whenever I have a few free minutes to blog, I have to choose one or the other. U Stand Out is the one that makes me a bit of side income from my ebooks, and the one that gets 60-70 thousand visits per month, so I always feel obligated to prioritize it.
The thing is, U Stand Out is all about marketing, which is what I do ALL DAY at my day job. So it feels like an extension of work. And while marketing’s great and all, becoming a fiction author has given me a hobby and creative outlet that’s entirely separate from my job, which I LOVE. When U Stand Out was my only hobby, it felt like I was constantly at work, which, well, stinks.
Still, blogging twice per week on top of 5x per week of fiction writing simply isn’t sustainable (as I’ve learned the hard way). So I’ll have to settle for bi-weekly posts on each.
4. Stop obsessing over things out of my control
This really should be #1, but it’s so vague and hard to measure that I pushed it down. There are certain things I can’t talk here about that put such a tremendous damper on 2014 because I obsessed about it every single day. It got me absolutely nowhere. Because I can’t talk about this thing, I can’t really discuss strategy here. Sorry for being cryptic.
But what I can say is this: the best way to stop obsessing is to keep busy with #1, #2, and #3. If I can keep being productive and moving forward, everything should work out in the end. Eventually.
And that’s it. I think four is a good, reasonable number of resolutions to set.
Of course, I have some sub-goals that will make 1-4 more possible:
- Work out for 1/2 hour 3x per week. Totally doable, and not at all for weight reasons. Not exercising makes me feel sluggish and tired, so I really have to do this one.
- Only watch 1 hour of TV per day, except for weekends when I can watch a movie. (Oops, there’s one of those superficial goals that will be really hard to keep, especially in a world where The Bachelor producers still think it’s a good idea to have 2-hour episodes.)
- Only check Twitter/Tweetdeck 3x per day. (HAHAHA right. No, but really, Twitter has become such a time suck.)
Wish me luck!
Er, this is usually where I include ready-made tweets, but since this is a personal post, you’re probably not thinking, “OMG this will be SO useful for my followers.” But I can always use some encouragement, so here’s one!
Click to tweet: .@DianaUrban good luck on the New Year’s resolutions you posted!
What are your New Years resolutions? Do you have any advice for how I can stick to mine? Let me know in the comments below! And Happy New Year!