Resolutions, goals and writing

By Sally Carpenter

Happy New Year! Did you make any resolutions on January 1? How many are you still keeping?

A few years ago I quit making New Year’s resolutions because my good intentions always faded in a few weeks.

Recently I replaced “resolutions” with “goals.” That seemed more manageable. “Resolutions” are too vague: “I will eat better.” “I will exercise.” “I will write more.” I have the personality type that craves closure, so such ongoing aims just wandered around aimlessly.

But goals are result oriented with measurable outcomes. “I will eat two more servings of vegetables each day.” “I will take a 30-minute walk three times a week.” “I will finish writing a novel by Dec. 31.” Now I have targets clearly in view and I can gauge now close or far I am from hitting the bull’s-eye.

I started 2015 with the goal of writing two cozies. As the year started, I became involved in other activities and fell into a writing slump. I’d just released my third book but sales were weak and I couldn’t get motivated to start the new cozy. After 50 pages the story wasn’t working. I wanted to dump the book and quit writing altogether.

My gallant publisher encouraged me to finish the book and told me to take my time (she doesn’t set deadlines for new releases). With no author events scheduled for the year, I had no compelling reason to shoot out another book right away. I could work like a dog and drive myself crazy or relax and enjoy writing. I could relish the Christmas season without the stress of doing promotion for a new book.

So I revised my goal. I’m looking at an early 2016 release for this book. I’m also setting a goal of one book a year and no short stories or other pieces unless someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse. Since I work a full-time day job, this seems a reasonable goal that won’t leave me exhausted and cranky.

I did complete one goal I set in 2015: read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon by Doyle. I did it, but don’t ask me to remember every story. A reading goal for 2016 is to keep chugging through the 15 Nancy Drew and 23 Hardy Boys books I bought some time ago at a library bookstore.

Another goal for 2016 is to start work on a presentation I hope to give in 2017 (more on this as it develops).

Also for this year, my local library asked me to participate in two events-the city’s annual arts festival and the library’s author panel. I said yes, of course. I’ll consider other author events if I feel the exposure and sales will justify the travel and effort.

On top of this, I have three ongoing monthly writing projects: my faith column in a newspaper and two group blogs including Ladies of Mystery. And there’s the cats to feed. This is plenty enough for my plate.

So 2016 looks like a busy year ahead. Let’s get going!

What are your goals/resolutions for the new year?

11 thoughts on “Resolutions, goals and writing

  1. I also do goals rather than resolutions. As you say, they are more immediate. It sounds like you’ll have a good writing year. My goal this year is three more books in the Shandra Higheagle series.


    1. I write a once-a-month column, Roots of Faith, for the Acorn Newspapers (you can read my previous articles at I started it last year and am getting positive feedback on it. It’s a nice balance to writing mysteries. Personally, I like the Hardy Boys more than Nancy but they’re both fun reads.


  2. I like the word ‘goal’ in place of ‘resolution.’ I never set resolutions and I have learned, over time, that my tendency to fulfill goals constantly is out of control; therefore, my real goal is lessen up on myself and try to live mindfully in the moment. I do have goals I would love to accomplish, but having said that, I also run the risk of adding another strain on my shoulders. Things I would like to do is read more books that I enjoy and write like a gypsy dancing on the sand.


    1. Hi, Marilyn. I find setting deadlines helps and also breaking goals into bite-size pieces. If I say, “I’ll write a book,” it’s too overwhelming. But if I say, “I’ll write one chapter today,” it’s easier to do.


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