Tips for YA Lit: Don't make writing New Year's resolutions

Every year, on this particular day, people make New Years' resolutions. A lot of writers do it too. I used to, but now I don't. Well, I do something a little different.

Just like any other resolution people make that fall to the wayside because of life's complications and struggles--dieting, exercise, cutting back on vices, etc.--whatever writing resolutions you make will most likely fall to the wayside as well. The only possible way to fulfill a resolution is to permanently change your life for at least the entire upcoming year. Daunting prospect.

I'm not trying to be negative, but realistic. If you could write more, brush up on grammar, get published, go to conferences--whatever your goal may be--you could've done it by now. We're creatures of habit and habits are hard to break. Life is busy. Life is hard. This is why we probably have forgone resolutions in the past. For example, saying you want to write more is pointless, unless you instead alter your life to leave more room for writing: putting a kid in preschool, cut off your cable to not watch TV--something drastic.


Every year on this day, I would toast to my goal of getting published. "This will be my year" was my motto. Every year, things would come up to prevent me from getting it together and sending queries out. Every year I was distracted by the art of creating and dreaded the art of selling my work. For only a couple years of the last decade, I tried very hard, stuck to my 52 queries in a year resolution, but no leads panned out into representation. It made me depressed, hopeless. I thought I must be a terrible writer. "This will be my year" turned into "It's never gonna happen." Time and time again, I am too hard on myself and set unrealistic and difficult goals that end in disappointment.

This last year, I made no resolutions. I hoped as always I would finally get that book published, but I made no plans at all to make it happen. And here's how my year went. I wanted to write something shorter for fun. I found a novella contest, entered, won a spot in an anthology. Then I queried these publishers, got my debut novel published. Queried another publisher, getting my second novel published next summer. Both these novels were picked up on Twitter pitch parties that I entered on a whim, only having found out about them the morning of.

My point (no, it's not to endlessly brag) is I had no plans, no self-imposed resolutions or goals. Without that stress and obsession with trying to query (I think I sent out 8 altogether the entire year), my year was relaxing. I had things ready, but I put no pressure on myself to try to reach goals that might never be attainable. With this subjective industry, things sometimes just need to be the right place at the right time. Setting up resolutions or lofty goals sets people up for disappointment and, for me, intense stress and anxiety. Being prepared for everything and then throwing your all into chances that pop up is much more rewarding. If you gain anything, it's a bonus; if nothing comes of it, it's okay. There was no pressure, no goal.

Of course, some people have that magical ability to see their resolutions through. If you are one, you're freakin' amazing! And I myself can't help but to have goals, but I make them easy and realistic. I want to publish 2 books in 2019, but I already have one coming out, so halfway there. I want to write a sequel to that book so it will be ready to publish in 2020. I want to get 2 of the many manuscripts I have revised into a querying position. If these don't happen, that's fine. I'll continue these into 2020, like a phone with rollover data. But the point is, I'm not resolving to do anything. I'm not setting myself up for stress and disappointment. I'm going to be ready, for sure, but I'm not hinging my year's happiness on attaining these resolutions.

Have a happy New Year and be kind to yourself by ditching resolutions and creating soft goals. You never know what can happen if you relax and just let things happen instead of intensely focusing on them. Here's to 2019 being a year to remember, not to stress over.

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