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  • [BREAKFAST WITH THE MUSE] Seven New Year's Resolutions All Writers Should Make
[BREAKFAST WITH THE MUSE] Seven New Year's Resolutions All Writers Should Make
Written by
Jill Jepson
December 2015
Written by
Jill Jepson
December 2015

I made New Year’s resolutions for many years. Time and again, I resolved to get more work done, keep my house cleaner, eat better, exercise regularly. Of course, many of my resolutions were about writing. I always had plans to improve my productivity and hone my skill.

 My resolutions were ambitious. I believed that the loftier I set my sites, the more I would accomplish.Why resolve to write an hour every day when you can resolve to write three? Why plan to complete a story a month when you can up the ante to a story a week? Surely, if I  intended to do more, I would do more, right?


Nothing much came of my resolutions. They didn’t fill me with motivation. I already had that. They didn’t make me work more. They didn’t provide the extra push I expected. This isn’t surprising. A solid body of research shows New Year’s resolutions and goal-setting in general aren't all they're cracked up to be and can even backfire on us.

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So several years ago, I decided to stop making resolutions. They were, I decided, a waste of time.

Surprisingly, I missed them. I thought freeing myself of my elaborate goal-setting each year would be liberating. Instead, I found that I missed the planning aspect of resolutions. My resolutions didn’t help me get more done, but they did help me sort through things, organize, and prioritize. The end of the year, when the weather is cold and the days dark, is an introspective time. At this time of year, I enjoy contemplating how I can make my life better, and to put down on the page intentions for the coming year.

So, once again I am making resolutions for the New Year—but the nature of those resolutions has changed. Instead pushing myself to work more, I now make resolutions to fill my life with joy. I focus not on how much I can accomplish, but on how present I can be. I resolve to be most fully alive.

Here are my New Year’s Resolutions for the coming year. Join me in making similar ones.

Let’s resolve to be kind to ourselves. To pat ourselves on the back every day. To say to ourselves, We are doing a good job! Even if a particular story isn’t coming together or we’ve had an unproductive day, we’re still doing fine over all. Yes, we are  imperfect. We are perfect in our imperfection.

Let’s resolve to grieve when we need to. The writing life is not easy. Allowing ourselves to grieve when we are hurting is essential. Let’s refuse to give into the voices telling us we shouldn’t be “negative.” Let’s give ourselves permission to have a good cry—or  an afternoon of sulking—if that’s what we need. Let’s acknowledge our disappointments and feel our sadness. It’s the only way we can truly heal.

Let’s resolve to rest when we need to. To give ourselves time to think, to sit, to breathe.

Let’s resolve to have fun. If you’re like me, you often write with your shoulders hunched and your jaw set in determination. Instead, let’s write the way children play—with abandon and whimsy—at least some of the time. 

Let’s resolve to take time for joy. For me, this means listening to music every day. Savoring a cup of tea in the afternoon. Taking walks. Dancing.

Let’s resolve to celebrate. We should raise a toast to ourselves for every success—when we finish a story or get an acceptance or simply write a particularly charming poem. Let’s throw confetti in the air and do our happy dance.

Let’s resolve to be grateful. Imagine the people whose voices have been silenced, who have been told they have nothing of value to say, who have no access even to paper and pen, who have never learned to read. People whose words will never find their way to the page. If we have even a little time and a small space in which to write, we have a wonderful gift. In the New Year, let us all be grateful for the gift of writing.

What are your resolutions for the coming year? How will you make your life fuller, richer, and more joyful?

I'm Jill Jepson, author of Writing as a Sacred PathGet my free strategies here and check out my upcoming Review & Renew Writing Challenge 2016





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