Friday, August 21, 2009

Wake Me Up When September Comes

DSC_1260 September always feels like the start of a new year to me – far more than January does. And the start of a new year means announcing those well-intentioned resolutions. I will <insert your resolution here>.

Yes, we mean well, but how many of us actually keep our promises to exercise more, eat more vegetables, check in with friends more often or, in the case of writers, write every day?

Here are three tips to keep your September resolutions on track:

1. Introduce a buddy system.

When my writing group felt its daily “joywriting” quotient slipping down, down down, we agreed to report to each other every day with a quick email that simply said “Done.” That meant that my email inbox received five messages with “Done” in the subject line. There wasn’t a message, necessarily, just that indication that my colleagues had reached their goal for the day – and a reminder that it was my turn to reach my “Done” goal.

2. Set realistic expectations

Take a look at your daily life and decide just how your resolution is going to fit. If you have a full-time job, a family, and volunteer or recreational activities, don’t promise yourself that you’re going to write a novel between September and December. Why? Because you’re setting yourself up for failure. But promising to spend ten minutes a day with your manuscript – writing, revising, editing, planning – is a more-than-reasonable goal. Set realistic expectations and you may very well find yourself exceeding them.

3. Be kind to yourself

So you don’t meet your daily or even your weekly goal: should you just give up? No, your energies are obviously being directed elsewhere. Life happens, and that means people get sick, deadlines get shortened, unexpected tasks show up on your To Do list. Don’t beat yourself up. Move on and try to meet your goal today, or tomorrow or the day after.

September is here. Let those resolutions fly and remember to find a buddy, keep it real, and let your resolution be a guide, not a dictator!

(Photo by Tristan J.R.M.)