Five Resolutions For A Productive Year Of Writing

To have a productive 2016, embrace these five writing resolutions.

The holidays are a wonderful time to decompress with friends and family and to take a break from the daily grind. But as we all know, kickstarting yourself after January 1st can take some discipline.

Whether you’re a freelance writer or a full-time author, getting back in the groove means making a plan and sticking to it. Here are five resolutions that can help you stay on track.

1. Update your portfolio.

If you’re a freelancer, some parts of your portfolio might be out of date. Look back at the best work you did in 2015 and make sure to update your website, blog, or physical portfolio to reflect your latest projects. Customers like to see recent work to know that you’re still on top of your game, and if all of your work is from 2014 or earlier, you’re likely to undersell yourself.

2. Write something (almost) every single day.

The easiest way to fall off the wagon is to give yourself too many days away from your pen, pencil, or keyboard. Writing is a habit, and like any habit, it gets easier with practice and consistency. You don’t have to pound out 10,000 words every day, but make sure you spend at least 30 minutes spinning up prose — even if that means writing a short story or a blog post to be used at a later date.

3. Pace yourself.

Resolution #2 notwithstanding, be sure to know yourself and your writing stamina. If you need a day off after every three working days, set your schedule accordingly. If you work better in two-hour chunks, then make sure to take breaks regularly to go for a walk or grab a meal. It’s easy to try and push yourself to make up for lost time, but being realistic about your capacity for writing will let you prevent yourself from burning out.

4. Seek new sources of inspiration.

Whether you’re a ghostwriter or a novelist, you need to continually give yourself new material to get your creative juices flowing. Read a new book or subscribe to a new publication to get exposure to different voices and vocabulary. If your budget allows for it, travel somewhere you haven’t been before and engage with the locals. And yes, even watching a new series on Netflix might do the trick. Just be sure not to lose yourself entirely to the perils of binge-watching!

5. Know where your next paycheck is coming from.

Yes, we all put pen to paper because of our love of writing — but it’s important to ensure you’re getting paid for your work, too. Make a plan for the projects you already have lined up for the next three months and estimate your expected income. If it’s going to fall short of what you need to pay your bills, explore other prospects or consider signing up for freelance writing gigs through platforms like Scripted.

All too often, New Year’s resolutions are broken just as quickly as they are made. But by sticking to these reasonable but meaningful promises to yourself, you can make sure that your 2016 is productive and fruitful.