What would you like to make happen in your writing life in 2015? Would you like to trade your low-paying client for a better paying one? Would you like to finish that novel — or start it? Would you like to re-work your writer’s website, update your Hire Me page, or get a better handle on your social media and email marketing?
Sometimes, all you have to do is make the resolution, and you’ll take the first step towards getting it done. By setting a goal and committing to it, you can start to prioritize the goal in your daily writing schedule. Make a list of actions you need to take to complete the goal, and check them off as you get closer. Suddenly, your goal will go from being a far-off dream to a resolution within reach.
But what will you resolve to do? With the new year approaching, let’s take a look at some resolutions that will help your writing career grow in the months ahead.
1. Get better rates and better clients
Writing isn’t like other careers; you can’t expect an annual performance review and raise every year. If you want to earn more money, you need to ask for it.If you want to earn more money, you need to ask for it, says @HelloTheFuture Click To Tweet
That’s why one of my New Year’s writing resolutions is to renegotiate my rates with my best clients. I just finished a negotiation — look at me getting ahead on my resolutions! — and it was much less scary than I thought it would be.
Negotiating can be hard, so if you’re looking for tips to help you navigate the process, check out Tom Ewer’s low-risk, three-step plan to negotiate and raise your rates.
Sometimes you can’t negotiate a client up to the rate that you deserve. That means it might be time to seek out a new client willing to pay the rate you consider corresponds to your increased experience. My other big New Year’s writing resolution is to find a new high-paying client and consider letting go of one of my lower-paying clients.
2. Start your dream project
We all begin our writing careers with big dreams of what we hope to accomplish, right? Why not turn those dreams into resolutions?
Here’s a 2015 resolution from Sara Brady, a writer, copywriter and editor who’s written for Time Out New York and The Hollywood Reporter:
I’ve had an idea for a novel kicking about in my head for several years, resurfacing occasionally. I have a skeleton of an outline. But that’s it. So in 2015 I’m going to write it down. If only to get it out of my head.
What about you? Is this year going to be the year you write your novel, or your screenplay, or try to get a piece in The New Yorker? Make the resolution, and you’re one step closer to making it happen.
3. Improve your workflow
A lot of us know we don’t work as effectively as we could. If you spend more time answering emails than writing, or if you find yourself procrastinating on your writing gigs and then losing sleep to complete them, it’s time to resolve to improve your workflow.
Meaghan O’Connell, former associate editor of The Billfold and current contributor to The Cut, writes:
I have long-harbored this fantasy of doing an hour of intense writing before I even open my email in the morning. I have yet to do it. Nothing in my life is so pressing that it can’t wait an hour, and I know I’d do better work without thinking about all of the little admin tasks I need to get to.
It’s so easy to avoid diving into the hard work of making things up. I am avoiding it right now!! Next year, I vow to get rid of this stupid, self-punishing tic. You’ll know I did it when you see a dozen novels, written by me, shoot to the top of the bestseller list.”
The way to make this type of resolution successful is to be specific. Don’t resolve to “procrastinate less;” resolve to set a timer for 20 minutes and work until the timer stops. Or borrow Meaghan’s resolution and spend the first hour of your workday writing. The more specific and realistic you can make your resolution, the more likely you’ll keep it.
4. Become a marketing master
For some of us, promoting ourselves and our writing is the hardest part. So why not resolve to spend 2015 learning how to become a marketing master?
Likewise, if your Twitter avatar is still an egg or if you haven’t yet set up a professional Facebook page, now’s the time to get better at social media. As with all New Year’s resolutions, make it specific. Say you’ll send out 20 tweets per day, or that you’ll post every piece you publish to Facebook. Then watch your engagement and marketing abilities grow.
5. Make some art
Let’s end this list of resolutions with the now-famous New Year’s Wish from Neil Gaiman:
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
I hope we all make great art, get great clients, start our dream projects, find our audience and surprise ourselves in 2015.
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Remember: making the resolution is the first step to completing it.