Reluctant Resolutions for a Writer

I can't believe it's been a year since I didn't become a better person
Someecards, created by jonnywanq

This week, we’re talking about resolutions, and I had to give a big sigh, because lately, I haven’t been much for them. For many years, I was go-getter, out to conquer the world, and I regularly made new year’s resolutions. I was an optimistic young thing who thought that if I voiced my ambitions to the universe that I would feel accountable and therefore achieve my goals.

I dutifully wrote them down and saved them for posterity. As such, I have my honest-to-goodness resolutions from years past, stored in the recesses of the “personal” folder of my computer (note: clean out computer probably should have been a resolution, but thank goodness for this post, it never has been). I give you:

2002 New Year’s Resolutions

In January of 2002, I was not only young(er), but for a few months more, a single woman, and these are the resolutions of a woman ready to take on the world.

  1. By 12/31/02, I want to be able to do three pull-ups in a row (currently, I can only do this with a 76-pound assist).
  2. Revise my novel.
  3. Learn to box.
  4. Submit a piece a month to a journal.
  5. Eat more fiber.
  6. Write down ideas as they come to me. No more assuming I’ll remember that great story idea that comes to me in the middle of the night or during a meeting. I’ll keep a notebook on me to jot things down.
  7. Start taking better care of my face (wash and moisturize it daily).
  8. No alcohol Sunday through Thursday (except for special occasions such as holidays, our wedding, etc.)

Look at that! Athleticism! Worried about the state of my colon! Writing AND submitting! Ready to curb alcohol intake and prevent wrinkles! I am a lean-mean writing-and-boxing machine!

2004 New Year’s Resolutions

In 2004, I had one child and the misguided notion that if I wrote super concrete goals, I’d have more luck obtaining them.

  1. Write every month. By the end of this year, have at least one of the following accomplished:
      • Two completed articles
      • Fifty pages of solid revisions on one of my novels (pick one to work on and stick with it)
      • Five short-shorts completed to the point they can be submitted
      • Two full short stories
      • The nonfiction book proposal completed and sent out to at least six agents.
  2. Submit at least six pieces this year.
  3. Run a marathon.
  4. Running my first marathon
    Running my first marathon. Me, at Mile 6, somewhere in Brooklyn, before the pain kicked in.
  5. No desserts/sweets Sunday night through Friday afternoon (except for holidays).
  6. Put together son’s baby book and keep it relatively updated (no more than two months behind).
  7. Remember people’s birthdays.
  8. Less TV. I know that’s a little vague, but really, it’s the best I can do.
  9. Be more budget conscious. Stop spending indiscriminately.
  10. Be nicer. Can’t put it any simpler. Just be a nicer person.


Shall we review this list? What did I accomplish of these resolutions? I ran a marathon! And I…. hmmm. Well, I ran that marathon. I may have been a little overambitious on the rest. (And sorry I forgot your birthday… again. What can I say? I’m not very nice.)

2006 New Year’s Resolutions

Ah, 2006, by which time, I not only had a toddler and a baby, but my ambitions were pulled waaaaayyyyy back. Suddenly, realism was bitch-slapping me in the face and telling me to wake up and smell the coffee (or at least to try not to smell the dirty diapers).

        1. Understand that this is not a one-time deal. If the novel isn’t finished this year, it will still be possible to finish it. If I don’t make a lot of money this year and put away a lot, there will still be time in the future. At some point, the kids will be in school and I’ll be able to work more hours in a week and put money away. This year is not the be-all end-all.
        2. That said, try to finish second draft of novel and ask three friends to critique it.
        3. Submit novel to agents
        4. Include at least four vegetables in our diet each day.
        10. Review these resolutions regularly. Remind myself to stop, take deep breaths, and not worry about having everything perfect.

First off, let’s notice that there are five items, but the last item is number 10. Was I trying to fool myself into thinking I was aiming higher? Did I have more items I meant to put down but never got to? Or was I simply so sleep deprived, I was sure that the number after 4 must be 10?

More importantly, 2006 was the year I realized I just needed to plug away. Suddenly, with two kids, I realized I wasn’t going to get it all done. I wasn’t going to submit monthly, write short stories, and work on my novel. And that was okay. This was the year I realized that I had to stop beating myself up for the things I wasn’t doing. That was also the last year I made resolutions for myself. Because making goals and not achieving them wasn’t doing anything for my self-confidence. It wasn’t making me a better writer. It was an empty list of ideas. For a few years, resolutions motivated me, gave me something to aim for. And then they merely became a burden, things that were unachievable given my current state of affairs.

Now, though, I’ve come full circle. It’s 2016. My kids are tweens. I have time to write. I have time make concrete goals and actually stick to them. I have time to wash (and moisturize!) my face. So in the spirit of motivating myself, I give you my list of resolutions for 2016, ones that are realistic and that I hope will push me.

2016 New Year’s Resolutions

1. Write.
2. Eat more fiber.
3. Write some more.

May all your resolutions be productive and motivating. Or may you have the strength to say that maybe this isn’t the year to make resolutions. Either way, I wish you a happy, healthy, and writerly 2016!

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Jennifer S. Brown is the author of MODERN GIRLS (NAL/Penguin). The novel, set in 1935 in the Lower East Side of New York, is about a Russian-born Jewish mother and her American-born unmarried daughter. Each discovers that she is expecting, although the pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, in this story about women’s roles, standards, and choices, set against the backdrop of the impending war. Learn more at

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