My five New Year’s writing resolutions

Joyce Butler injects some realism into her writing goals for 2023

As the word ‘resolution’ is everywhere these weeks, I looked up the meaning to see what all the fuss was about and this is what I found – ‘a firm decision to do or not to do something’. Sounds a bit Shakespearean to me. And also – ‘the act of solving a problem or finding a way to improve a difficult situation’. That sounds a bit more like it.

The difficult situation being the idea of coming up with some writing resolutions for the new year that I will actually stick to and not get bored of within a week.

Resolution No. 1 – Get out of your comfort zone. I’m planning on self-publishing a second World War novel this year and have just started writing another one but it requires me to enter a completely new field of research, so I am starting from scratch and writing a couple of paragraphs based on each new piece of information I find. While you would think this is probably terrifying, and it is, it’s also completely fascinating, which makes it highly enjoyable and quite addictive. So, find an area you’re interested in but haven’t written about before and go for it.

Resolution No. 2 – I suppose I could lead on from this with the age-old wisdom of writing every day. But what with work and family commitments, I have no hope of sticking to this. A more realistic piece of advice might be to write when you can fit it in. To be honest, that could mean only two hours at the weekend, but I’m not going to beat myself up about that and neither should you.

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Resolution No. 3 – Again I could easily say, find your writing path – but who has the time to do this? At the moment, I feel like I’m on about five different ones. So, would it be better to say - embrace all of your writing paths? I’ve recently joined a writers’ group and a poetry group. I’m also planning to self-publish my novel and have started my third historical fiction novel. So that’s four writing paths already. Now the thing to do here is ask myself, which is the most important at the moment? During the Christmas holidays, it has been working on my new novel, as I’ve had a bit of time for research and some writing. But now that I’ve returned to work, that will change. So, accept the fact that your writing path can change, depending on what week it is sounds better to me.

Resolution No. 4 – Be positive about where you are in your writing life on any given day – OK, this is Impossible! I am hardly ever in a positive frame of mind about my writing. Of course, I do celebrate the successes and have become a lot more thick-skinned about the rejections. But how can I even begin to continuously pat myself on the back about what a great writer I am? Does such a person even exist? With my usual upbeat frame of mind, I say no, there never was and there never will be such a thing as a positive writer. Amen.

Resolution No. 5 – Always believe in your writing dreams – Again, no. To me this feels like reaching for the elusive pie in the sky when you’re stuck in a balloon full of hot air. I need to take it down a few notches until I’m sitting on my bed in my room with my trusted little writers’ notebook, copiously making notes from an online writers’ workshop held by one of my favourite authors. In other words, what I’m saying is try and attend a few writers’ workshops, online or in person during the year. One of the good things that came out of the pandemic for me was the fact I attended several online writers workshops and this is where my eyes were truly opened wide and I actually began to feel a sense of collective wonder, that when you write, anything is possible and that writing really is the gift that keeps on giving. Because it’s also ok to fail and it’s ok to have a bad day where you hate it. In the end, it all just makes you a better writer.