They’re more a cultural joke than anything else: New Year’s Resolutions, those lists of detailed self-improvements we assemble in good faith to help guide our actions in future. If you compare resolutions among most people, these well-meaning lists usually include promises we make to ourselves to become physically, spiritually, and emotionally healthier to one degree or another, and are typically forgotten or broken well before the end of January (hence the joke).
But a writer’s New Year’s Resolutions are usually a bit different. Whereas the average person might resolve to eat healthier or quit smoking, the writer promises to increase their daily word-count and use less adverbs. For regular people, spending more time with the family is a goal, while the writer proposes the opposite in exchange for more quiet time to put pen to paper. Many look to pay down debt or find a better job, but writers focus on achieving or retaining a profession notorious for its low financial compensation. For the average resolution to get to the gym more, the writer replaces Exercise with Revision. Both will propose to stop being late, but in the case of the writer the deadlines are self-imposed.
What it all comes down to is that most people assemble their list of resolutions with the goal of aspiring to become a better person. Writer’s, however, aren’t overly concerned with being a better people. They want to be better Writers. So, the writer’s New Year’s Resolutions are usually geared towards correcting poor writing habits, self-motivation, and dedicating more time and effort to perfecting their craft. Unfortunately, as with most others, the writer’s resolutions are susceptible to human weakness and the inability to shake old routines. The fact that I’m writing about all of this a week after New Year’s Eve should indicate how well I’m faring in this regard. so much for not missing deadlines.
So what does a writer do when New Year’s Resolutions dedicated to higher quality and Output fall to old habits and the eventualities of life intervening? I guess we do the same thing that non-writers do in that situation: we ignore the list, but remain dedicated to the notion of improvement, of making this year better than the last.
So here’s to hoping that we are all meet our writing goals this year, in one way or another. Odds are, very few of us will be able to fulfill the one about making the New York Times Bestsellers List, but any step forward is a step in the right direction. Good luck to all.