Columns > Published on December 27th, 2018

7 Ways to Turn Your Writing Resolutions into Realities

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I became an ATI certified personal trainer and thought everything I knew about diet and exercise was going to help me get people to achieve their goals. I was wrong. I ran my own personal training studio for almost three years, and what I learned during that time is every fitness goal depends on a person's mentality. Without the mental aspect under control, your diet and exercise plans will probably fail. The same goes for writing. In order to get shit done, you have to hustle. In order to get shit done, you have to work. In order to get words on paper, you have to quit the bullshit excuses. Here are some tips to get you where you want to be. And some of them sound like tough love, but I'm not here to argue with you about how you can watch seventeen episodes of your favorite show every weekend and still get it done, or how you have a job (I have three) and only get five hours of sleep per night (I get less than that), thus you can't hustle as hard as you'd like to. Ready? Let's get to it.

Manifest that fucking destiny

At the beginning of 2018 I said I wanted to accomplish something. Then it happened. I haven't announced it yet, but I'm sitting on some awesome news. The point is I talked to author David Joy about it on the phone and he said, "Remember when you said you wanted to do that on Twitter? Way to manifest that fucking destiny, man!" Going about life with a defeatist attitude won't get you anything. What you need is a positive/realist combo: hustle as if hustle will get you results and don't cry if it doesn't; just hustle harder and try again.

Stop it with the excuses

Resolutions without work are just bullshit promises whispered into an empty room.

I don't have time. I have writers block. Writing is hard. I'm so tired by the time I come home from work. No one cares anyway. I keep getting rejections. I don't have an agent. No one wants to publish me anyway. Blah blah blah. Yeah, writing is hard, but if it only brings you pain, quit. I'm serious. Don't get angry. I'm not saying you're not allowed to complain once in a while, but if all you can find are excuses and complaints, then this gig isn't for you. Why? Because all of those are part of the game, just like awful reviews and cruel editors and little money and editing pains. If writing brings you pain and anguish and no pleasure at all, go do something else. If it makes you happy, then fuck excuses. Find the time. Write on your phone in the toilet. Write when you watch television. Write when you should be sleeping. Write at work. Write while eating. Ignore that editor that "hurt your feelings" and send that story elsewhere. Forget the hundred agents that said "Pass!" and keep sending those query letters. No one should care about your writing more than you, so treat it like a priority in your life.

Say no to negativity

See what I did there? Hah. Anyway, fuck negativity. The world is a dark place. A lot of people are assholes. Focus on you. Stay positive until it's time to destroy someone. Don't engage with people who don't deserve your time and attention. Learn how to ignore and learn how to block. Why waste a thousand words arguing with someone online when you know you won't change their mind about things? Just move on. It's hard. Trust me, I know, but you can do it.

Read like your life depended on it

Reading inspires you. Reading challenges you. Reading gets the creative juices flowing. Reading helps you escape reality. Reading gives you tools and shows you new ways of approaching themes. Reading allows you to support others who are in the same boat as you. Read and then read some more and you'll see how great reading usually leads to better writing.

Set smalls goals and tackle them one at a time

Tell someone they need to lose a hundred pounds and they will freak out. Tell them they have to drop two pounds and they will do it without a problem. Then say three and watch them do it again. That's the beauty of small goals: they add up. Can't produce 5k words a day? Hell, I sure can't. Well, try fifty. Maybe you get them and maybe you don't, but it's an attainable goal. Then say sixty. get the point. The novel is killing you? Write a flash piece. The novel is done and editing is a pain? Go back to the agent thing or submit a few short stories. Stay active and do one thing at a time. At the end of 2019, you'll see how those little accomplishments add up to big things.

Self-sabotage is all on you

Yeah, self kinda implies that, but people tend to forget. You control at least some of your time. You control your mood at least some of the time. You control how you spend your time, what you focus on, how you handle the everyday grind, and how you let others affect your emotional and psychological state. Take care of yourself. Remember that you don't have to write every day, but if you say that every day for a year, then you end up accomplishing nothing. Find a balance between self-care and kicking your own ass when you need to. Again, you can tell me that you need to watch your series because of rest and whatever other fucking excuse you have, but know that a bunch of us won't be watching any series and will be writing instead. It comes down to who wants it most. Get to it. 

Be kind and support others

This isn't about karma or anything. Nah, what I'm saying is this: writing is a tough gig, so be a positive influence in it whenever you can. Support others. Celebrate the accomplishments of your peers. Help others out when you can. It'll make you feel better about life in general. Maybe I'm wrong, but it has worked for me.

Resolutions without work are just bullshit promises whispered into an empty room. Work for what you want. Get it done however you can. They are your words, your stories. The things you want are out there and your career is in your hands. You either want it bad enough or you don't. The amount of work you put in will make the difference between resolutions and a plan of action. Good luck with yours, lovely creatures.

About the author

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbicide, and many other print and online venues. Y

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