It’s the first month of a new year. Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? I’m not usually a big resolution setter. Really, I have plans and goals, especially when it comes to work, but I don’t necessarily use January 1 as a date to set those. They’re more ongoing. But once in a while I will come up with a New Year’s resolution. For about 10 years, my resolution was to make a will. It’s something Bill and I kept putting off, and I can proudly say we finally did that last year. Better late than never.

Last year I also made a resolution to write more. Granted, I write almost every day for work, but that’s writing that’s assigned to me. Articles about LED lighting in merchandising cases, news about the latest innovations in fish food, interviews with psychologists about how to have meaningful conversations with your kids when you’re divorced and they’re at the other parents’ house, and many other topics. They’re all interesting and I love the opportunity to meet new people and learn new things, but I wanted more.

I’ve always had a dream of writing a romance novel. And I began to think, I’ll never get a romance novel written if I don’t start doing some sort of creative writing. So for 2015 I set a goal to write creatively at least three days a week for an hour each morning. And I did it, thanks to writing prompts, for two whole weeks, one in January, and another week in September. I didn’t really meet my initial goals, and decided it was worthwhile enough to make it a resolution for 2016.

Only this time, I’m taking a different spin on it. After talking with my friend Carin Siegfried about my writing, and her hearing me say over and over how I wanted to do it, but then never having anything to show for it, she said maybe I should just forget about personal writing goals. And I did think about it, but realized I don’t want to cross it off my list.

The problem is, writing creatively is hard. Coming up with stories and characters after years of writing articles full of facts and quotes is something very foreign to me. So Carin suggested I keep my goal of personal writing time, but change what I’m writing. Write what’s familiar. Non-fiction, essays, and articles. And you know what? Her advice has been great! I’ve spent some time writing an essay about my experiences with post-partum pre-eclampsia, and I’ve really enjoyed figuring out a way to get my thoughts and feelings in writing that’s hopefully interesting for other people to read.

Another thing that’s helped with my writing goal is giving myself a deadline. I guess after 15 years in the publishing business, I’m more deadline oriented that I thought. The vague goal of “writing for myself” really didn’t give me anything to work for. So I searched out a writing contest that accepts non-fiction, and used that entry date as a deadline for my essay.

wnbalogoThis Friday is the deadline for a relatively new but national and noteworthy writing contest, the Women’s National Book Assocation Writing Contest. They accept poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. And I am excited to be submitting my first “personal” writing. We’re only 15 days into the new year, and I already feel a sense of accomplishment for working on my New Year’s resolution!