I think New Years resolutions are kind of dumb. If you want to make changes in your life, don’t waste any time. Do it as soon as you recognize the need, whether that happens to be on January 1st or April 29th. Let’s all give the gym regulars a break so they don’t have to put up with unusually high traffic for about a month while they share exercise machines with Chubby Charlie’s guilt.
Since tomorrow is the day when a lot of people think about their goals (after the champagne headaches subside), and put them into action, I’ve decided to compile a list. This list is a personal one for myself and my goals, and I’ve already begun to incorporate some of these practices as I’ve picked them up over the last year. Other writers might also find these productivity tips useful.
Good writers write every day.
In his book The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell proposes that success comes from the ability to practice your craft for a total of about 10,000 hours. Many authors credit the completion of their books to committing to a certain amount of hours of undistracted writing daily. But how do you do that when you’ve got five different social media profiles to maintain and your attention span is slowly being whittled away by the highly fragmented nature of online communication?!
Ommwriter is a really neat word processing program that shuts out all other distractions from your computer screen, including your dashboard menu icons, and allows you to type away without computer based distractions such as the internet and other program windows. You can also choose the sound your typing makes (an old school typewriter for example) and your soothing background music.
Try setting aside an hour or more each day to write anything at all either using a program like Ommwriter or your own highly-coveted powers of focus. Work on one of your current projects, or just write whatever comes to your mind. And don’t forget about writing contests, which can be great for a little extra cash and a little boost to your ego. Practice makes perfect. Use it or lose it. Any other cliches I’m missing here?
Volunteer your writing skills, but not too much.
This year I found myself with a bit of extra time on my hands and wanted to do something meaningful with it for a cause that I believed in. I went full steam ahead into volunteering for a couple of different community media initiatives and helped my friend organize a huge charity event. I felt great about what I was doing, but also realized that my volunteering had slowly begun to take up ALL of my time.
Volunteering is a great way to give back, improve your skills, learn new things, and meet new people, but it shouldn’t get in the way of moving your career forward with things like ‘paying jobs’. So, 2010 is going to be more about ME, with some good deeds sprinkled throughout, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Blog more, dammit!
Ironically, I recently ghost wrote an article on the benefits of blogging, and now it’s time for me to practice what I preach. I’m often contributing to other people’s blogs, and now it’s time to do more with mine.
Re-evaluate my online presence regularly.
There are a lot of great tools out there to measure the effectiveness of your online presence. One of my favourite resources comes from a fellow copywriter Red Head Writing, who has a list of useful evaluation links on her site. Run your website and even your twitter account through these tools to find out if there’s anything you could improve.
Keep up with industry developments.
Over the past year I’ve started to pay more attention to experts in my field by following them on Twitter and subscribing to their newsletters. Here are some great ones:
Here’s to more amazing writing contracts, manuscripts, articles, blog posts, or whatever it is that you love to write throughout 2010 and beyond.