top of page
  • Writer's pictureStuart Wakefield

Embracing Progress: A Writer's Guide to a Productive New Year

As a writer—or indeed any creative—feelings of stagnation are common, particularly when reflecting on a year that didn't align with your expectations. Last year might have been challenging, with your writing goals appearing just beyond your grasp, but the dawn of a new year offers a fresh opportunity to redefine your approach. Embrace this chance to reset your objectives, realign your strategies, and reignite your passion for writing. With renewed focus and determination, let's transform these obstacles into stepping stones for success and make this year a testament to your resilience and creativity as a writer.

Reflect on the Past Year

Begin with a 'Year in Review' writing exercise, reflecting on every achievement and challenge you faced—big or small—with a spirit of learning. Remember, every experience, joyful or tough, has been a stepping stone in your growth as a writer. This exercise isn't just about looking back; it's a process that helps you understand your unique journey and sets a positive foundation for the exciting progress you're yet to make. Cherish these experiences and use them to fuel your future writing adventures.

Cultivate a Grateful Writing Mindset

I'll be honest, my first attempts at gratitude journalling weren't successful—writing a daily list of people who haven't annoyed me yet was a waste of time (and not particularly helpful), as was scrawling 'Better luck tomorrow' at the bottom of every page—but I soon learned that cultivating a grateful writing mindset is about much more than just listing the positives in your day-to-day experiences. It's an enriching practice of recognising and valuing every small win and joy along your writing journey. By actively documenting what you're thankful for in your craft, you'll find that your morale and creativity are significantly enhanced. This habit of gratitude journaling offers a fresh and inspiring perspective on your work, nurturing a more positive and productive approach to your writing practice. This positive mindset shift is not only rewarding, but also fosters a deeper connection and appreciation for your writing journey.

Chart Your Growth Journey

Explore specific areas of personal improvement in your writing life in an essay. You might want to reflect on how your writing style has grown.

Here are some areas to consider, but explore your own, too:

  1. Enhanced clarity and coherence in writing.

  2. Increased creativity and originality in storytelling or content creation.

  3. Improved discipline in maintaining a regular writing schedule.

  4. More effective in handling and incorporating feedback.

  5. Expanded vocabulary and better use of language.

  6. Greater ability in building complex characters and plots.

  7. Enhanced research skills, leading to more accurate and in-depth writing.

  8. Improved editing and proofreading skills.

  9. Increased confidence in writing and sharing work with others.

  10. Broader exploration of different genres and writing styles.

Documenting these improvements is crucial for fostering self-awareness and celebrating your evolution as a writer, no matter how small these steps may seem. This practice isn’t just about acknowledging growth; it’s a powerful tool for recognising your strengths and areas for further development, leading to a more fulfilling writing career.

Dream Big

Dreaming big is essential, and my friend, Jaz Ampaw-Farr, a master at setting SWAG (Serious Wild Audacious Goals), exemplifies this by dreaming without limits. As a project manager in a past life, I understand the importance of getting your SWAG on, but it's the milestones that truly make a difference if you're going to deliver. That's why I've coined DREAM (Daring, Remarkable, Exceptional, Ambitious Milestones).

Let's see it in action:

  • Daring: Commit to a unique, genre-blending concept that challenges conventional storytelling norms, e.g., Vampire Cats from Outer Space vs. the Litter Box of Doom.

  • Remarkable: Aim to write a certain number of words daily, e.g., 437 (not 12), resulting in a complete first draft within six months.

  • Exceptional: Seek feedback from a variety of sources, especially an Author Accelerator Certified book coach (did I happen to mention I'm one of those?) to refine the manuscript.

  • Ambitious: Plan to submit the polished manuscript to at least five top literary agents or publishing houses within the year.

This approach encourages you to push your boundaries and imagine what you could accomplish with nothing getting in the way, including yourself. These aren't just goals; they're significant milestones that serve as powerful motivators and markers of progress throughout the year, helping you achieve those seemingly unreachable dreams.

Commit to Your Craft

Writing a commitment letter to yourself is a deeply personal and significant step in your journey as a writer. It goes beyond merely setting goals; it's about forging a personal pact with yourself. This act of commitment serves as a powerful tool in establishing accountability for your ambitions. It helps you create a clear and structured roadmap, outlining what you aspire to achieve in your writing career. By committing your goals to paper, you're not just planning; you're also reinforcing your dedication and passion for your craft, laying a firm foundation for future success and fulfilment.

Wow, that was a lot of Fs.

Find Your Guiding Word

Selecting a guiding word for the year is a practice that brings focus and direction. This chosen word should encapsulate your aspirations, serving as a beacon in your decision-making processes. It's a tool to keep you aligned with your goals, ensuring every choice and action contributes towards your desired path. This simple yet profound exercise is more than just picking a word; it's about setting a theme that resonates with your ambitions and values, guiding you throughout the year in your personal and professional endeavours.

If you write 'Caffeinated', 'Panicked', or 'Confused' as your guiding word, you're probably on the wrong track...

Regularly Assess and Adapt

Regularly assessing and adapting your goals is a fundamental part of your writing journey. This process is more than just a mere checkpoint; it’s a vital opportunity for you to fine-tune and realign your strategies in response to the changes and growth in your writing career. Frequent reviews allow you to stay on track, recognise new opportunities, and make necessary adjustments to your goals and methods. This adaptive approach ensures that your writing path remains dynamic and responsive to your developing needs and aspirations as a writer.

Just don't do it every day, okay? Ain't nobody got time for analysis paralysis.

Final Thoughts

Remember that the path to becoming a better writer is ongoing and dynamic. Embrace the exercises and ideas we've explored, from SWAG to DREAM, and regularly adapting your strategies. Each step is designed to enhance your skills, broaden your creative horizons, and deepen your connection to your craft. Keep writing, refining, and shining, and watch as your words transform not only on the page but in the hearts of your readers.

If you need professional help (I mean, other than an actual therapist), check out my packages for one that serves you, or if you're looking for a self-paced, online course then check out 'Emotional Echoes: The Art of Character Backstory' here.

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page