Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Slippery Slope of New Year's Resolutions

By Suzanne Y. Cordatos

January is a slippery slope for those who set the new resolution bar too high. Writers are great dreamers who like to think, "My book will spawn the next super franchise" or "When my website gets off the ground, my Amazon ranking will zoom to the top." Pressuring yourself to accomplish the near-impossible within one calendar year is setting yourself up to fail. (The dreamer in me had to add "near," Never impossible.)

When my first pair of skis arrived under the tree in fourth grade I raced to the local ski center, which boasted a bunny slope, a lumpy black diamond and some intermediate runs. The chair lift whisked me thirty feet off the ground in seconds. On the way to the summit, I tapped my skis together to shake off snow when the boots sprang out of the brand new but poorly adjusted bindings. As this happened in the 1970's, both skis remained attached to the boots by "safety" straps. I struggled to shove the boots back onto the skis, but I couldn't fix them in mid-air. I waved wildly to the operator in the hut at the top as I approached with both skis dangling, but to no avail. I rolled off the high-speed chair praying my legs wouldn't break in the tangle and that the people coming off the next chair wouldn't ski over my face.

Big goals start with successful baby steps. Before tackling the black diamond in new skis, a test run on the bunny hill—with its two-feet-on-the-ground rope-tow—would have set me on a better course that day. Set achievable goals, and the summit will be in sight. 

What are your goals for 2013?

I plan to end sloppy habits and get my novel to a publisher. Baby steps will carry me closer to big goals. Here's how:

Big Goal: Be a prolific writer. 
BABY STEPS: Produce more, procrastinate less.

I CAN and PROMISE to use those ten minute gaps in my schedule to write more often.
A sentence at a time. A paragraph at a time. A page at a time.
I CAN and PROMISE to complete my works in progress, one at a time.
I CAN and PROMISE to power through the muddles in the middle. Set deadlines, or use contests as a goal. 

Big Goal: Get my writing off slush piles, onto bestseller lists.
BABY STEPS: Improve my chances by improving my craft. 

I CAN and PROMISE to seek out appropriate beta readers and critique partners.
I CAN and PROMISE to trust my instincts more. And READ more.
I CAN and PROMISE to devote one workshop to my own development per year.

I CAN and PROMISE to develop a business and marketing strategy.
I CAN and PROMISE to write tighter. Find and delete repeated words—here's a link for a great list of overused words:

Big Goal: Get my work known by a great editor or agent.
BABY STEPS: Improve my chances by improving my network. 

I CAN and PROMISE to comment on other people's websites and blogs.
I CAN and PROMISE to keep in touch with new writing friends.
I CAN and PROMISE to submit work to editors who attend those conferences.


  1. Suzanne,
    I love the addition of I CAN and PROMISE. Thanks for sharing your strategies.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Linda! For me, writing is like trying to lose weight. If I say, "This is the year I will lose weight," the goal stays in the far off future, never becoming a reality...but if I say, "I am losing weight now because I am choosing not to eat this particular cookie," it brings the goal into the current moment, one I can accomplish. Good luck with your writing resolutions!!

  3. I need to spend more time on my writing, but I find I spend my time and efforts on other people's.

  4. Inspirational and helpful post to start 2013, Suzanne!

    I love your suggestions and have adopted a few of your goals into my 2013 plan.

    I CAN and PROMISE to read more of your amazing posts!

    Kristi Rhodes