However, I already came up with my six-word resolution before reading all these terrific ideas. Here it is:
"Match my activities to my priorities."This resolution came from being frustrated with my own behavior. I've been working on two projects for a LONG time: a historical novel set in 18th-century Europe and a nonfiction biography of one of the women who inspired the novel. Despite the fact that I'd really like to finish these projects, I would often find myself spending my designated writing time checking email, surfing the Net, and reading my friends' Facebook posts. With the start of the New Year, I was ready for a change.
I like this resolution because it's general enough to apply to my personal life as well as my career as a teacher and a writer. However, it is rather vague, which could make it hard to carry out (and measure). Lucky for me, an article in the January 3, 2010 issue of Parade magazine provided specific suggestions for how to turn vague resolutions into lasting changes. The article's number one tip:
Give yourself crystal-clear directions.
So I translated my general resolution, "Match my activities to my priorites," into three steps:
- Create a daily plan or to-do list
- On that plan, block out the first two hours for writing/revising. (This means NO blogging, email, Internet surfing, or Facebook until AFTER I've put in my two hours.)
- Also use the plan to set aside specific, limited, times for email, Facebook, etc.
I wish I could say I've been as consistent with limiting my email/Facebook time. But I'm definitely doing better, and I hope to keep improving.
I'll share another suggestion from the Parade article in today's Writing Workout. If you'd like additional tips on how to turn your resolutions and goals into lasting changes, I encourage you to read "Make Changes That Last" by Chip and Dan Heath for yourself.
Before I present today's Writing Workout, I want to share some news that has all the TeachingAuthors jumping for joy. Yesterday, Kathleen M. Bloomfield announced the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners on her blog forwordsbooks, and the winner of the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers is New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story by our own April Halprin Wayland! Hurray for you, April! You really are "on fire"!
And hurray for you, our readers! If you posted a new or revised resolution here per the guidelines April announced on January 1, you have been entered for a chance to win your very own autographed copy of New Year at the Pier. If you haven't shared your six-word resolution yet, don't worry, there's still time. (U.S. residents only, please.). Don't forget:
- Entries must be posted by 11 p.m. today, January 13, 2010 (Central Standard Time).
- Provide your e-mail address or a link to your blog in your comment so we can contact you.
Finally, before I leave you with today's Writing Workout, I want to extend a special welcome to all the new readers who found us through the 2010 Kidlit Comment Challenge. We're pleased to have so many of you participate in our New Year contest and we hope you'll keep coming back. I also hope you enjoy our first Writing Workout of 2010. It's rather unusual, as it may require a bit of drawing instead of writing. Or, if you're like me and feel uncomfortable drawing, you can use your computer to copy and paste appropriate images.
Writing Workout: Create Your "Destination Postcard"In "Make Changes That Last," Chip and Dan Heath recommend creating a “destination postcard” to help you stay focused on your goals. They describe a "destination postcard" as follows. It's a:
". . . vivid image from the near future to show you what’s possible. If your goal is to work out three days a week, find a picture of yourself from a year or two ago in which you look fantastic, and use it as your screensaver. Or hang up the dress or suit you’d love to wear if it weren’t so tight. Just keep the destination reasonable. You’ll be setting yourself up for frustration if you tape up a photo of an Olympic athlete or display jeans you last wore in college."I created two "destination postcards" for each of my two writing projects. One is a black and white representation of what the cover page of each manuscript will look like when it's complete. The second is a full-color simulation of the cover of each of the books after they're published. I look at both postcards right before I sit down to work. The images remind me of my short-term and long-term goals.
For your Writing Workout, come up with your own "destination postcard" to represent your writing goal(s). If you're a teacher, have your students do the same. When you're done, be sure to report back here with a description of your "destination postcard."
Happy New Year, and happy writing!