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Monday, January 20, 2014

Four Tips For Keeping Those New Year's (Writer's) Resolutions

I admit it, I am a bad writer. Or is it a poor writer? Actually I am a poorly disciplined writer.  I know I  should get my "butt in chair," but most of the time I don't.  So back on January 5 when the New York Times came and I should have been writing (New Year's resolutions and all), I was not writing, but reading an article about how to keep your resolutions.  One particular phrase caught my attention,
     "To improve your chances of keeping New Year's resolutions, we offer four tips inspired by recent
        research on behavioral economics and health."
Further, the article was written by a doctor and a professor. They had to know what they were talking about, right?  Here's what they had to say:

"First, make a concrete plan.  When you do so, you both embed your intentions firmly in memory and make it harder to to postpone good behavior, since doing so requires breaking and explicit commitment to yourself."  So scientifically speaking you write on your calendar or in your date book or on any electronic devices that each morning you will set the alarm at 5? 6? 7? and write for an hour, or that you will write for two hours every Saturday and Sunday morning starting at 9.  Make it a real event.

"Second, put something you value on the line." If you don't keep to your new writing schedule, put a dollar in a penalty jar, or cancel your plan to go to the movies, or don't eat that brownie.  Or make plans to write with a friend because you are much less likely to cancel on a friend than on yourself.

"Third, bundle your temptations."  This is a bit harder to understand, but goes something like this: You want to write regularly but struggle to set up a time.  You also love having a decadent coffee house drink but know you shouldn't waste the money.  The solution is to go to Starbucks and write for an hour, while enjoying your Fudgie Wudgie Cocoa Creme Brulee Peppermint Grande.

"Fourth, seek social support.  You can achieve more by pursuing goals with the help of a mentor."
If you are not already a member of a writing critique group, join one as soon as possible.  There are plenty of ways to join online if you live in an area without a group that meets regularly.  Check out the SCBWI website or contact your local library for help.  One summer several years ago I joined a group in the area where I was vacationing by simply using the SCBWI contact information I found online.  I am still on their email list and as a result have learned of a few picture book submission opportunities I would not normally have been aware of.

So if you are still procrastinating, get moving!  It's already January 20 - what are you waiting for?

Submitted by Andrea Perry

Excerpted from How to Keep Your Resolutions by Katherine L. Milkman and Kevin G. Volpp, New York Times Sunday Review, January 5, 2014

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