New Year's Resolutions For Poets, Writers, & Artist: How To Start & Keep a Habit:

As a Capricorn, I love to make lists. I also love to set goals or make resolutions or find ways to exist in the world better. I am nowhere perfect at it, but I see every day as a new beginning and I forget to do something 5 days in a row, I realize picking it back up on the 6th day is better than letting whatever habit or goal I was trying to achieve slip off into the universe to burn out behind some forgotten constellation called New Year's Resolutions.

For me, if I'm serious about a new habit (or resolution), I track it.

How I Start a Habit or Keep a Resolution. There are two ways I do this:

1) Literally mark it down in my journal (I'm starting a bullet journal this year, so more on that if it works out). But basically January 1: Monday ✓, January 2: Tuesday ✓, January 3: Wednesday ✓,....

While I am comfortable in a techy world, I love low-tech. Index cards, journals, post-it notes, let me live in a world of paper. You may want to keep your habit online, maybe through a habit-tracking/goal setting app. For me, a nice chart works perfectly, it's like I'm 5 years old and getting gold stars for picking up my toys. I have the personality where seeing a long row of checked boxes gives me more satisfaction than it should. 

2) Have a group of people or one person I check in with on a certain day of a week.

Such as my Friday Submission Club. Every Friday I have to email a group of poets one place I submitted to during the week. While I wrote a viral post about submitting (Submit Like a Man: How Women Writers Can Be More Successful about the trends I noticed with women when I was the editor of a literary journal), I tend not to submit much. 

Have a group I need to check in with and state where I've submitted, has helped. Plus I get inspiration from them as well as learn new places to submit.


So what are my New Year's Resolutions this year?

1) Read first thing in the morning (before checking email or going online)

2) Realize that when I post on Facebook, I am giving myself a small project-- decide if that is how I am going to use my time

3) Keep more lists 

4) Focus on creative work first 

5) Blog once a week

6) Write daily

7) Find new ways to be generous in the world

8) Share a poem a day (in person or online)

9) Take a daily walk (even if short)

10) Start a journal

****I think the key to all these resolutions is I control them.

I did not write, "Get published in 5 journals this year!" -- because I can't control that. 

If I wanted to get published in 5 journals I'd first write, "Submit to 20 journals." 
Then I'd revise that (because seeing the number "20" feels overwhelming to me) to: "Submit to 1 journal every 2 weeks." Now that seems doable. 

While it make look as if I have a lot of resolutions, they all can actually be done in a short amount of time. If I sit down and write for 10 minutes, that counts as writing. Even 5 minutes.

I am a big believer in small actions add up over time. So while you may not be writing every day, writing once a week for 20 minutes gives you 1040 minutes of writing over the year. Now divide that by 60 minutes, that's 17.33 hours of writing you would have done in a year. That's quite a bit of time. If you stretch yourself and write 30 minutes a week, you'll have 26 hours of dedicated writing in a year, that's over a full-day.

So don't discount the small stuff, whether in kind acts, in writing, in health, it all adds up.

And here's a short list of Resolutions I wrote for poets and writers, but it also works for artists of all genres. Just change that first line to:

1. Make time for your art and your artistic/creative life.

Whatever you are working on, may you continue to stay on track and know that if you get off track, you do not need to wait until January 1 to begin again, you get 365 days of fresh pages every single year. Just wake up and begin again.

Wishing you a creative 2018! xo

~ Kells 


  1. I made myself a spreadsheet to track and account for my writing goals this's hoping it all works!

  2. I'm a listy-person too. So many lists. Though the last couple of years have been me trying to figure out which sorts of lists work best for me! Still working on that.

    My goals are not qualified this year, other than doing MORE. And I'll know more by the feel of it (and by the numbers in the end too.) I've had a poem tossing about in my head since the 1st, but kept telling myself 'later'. A very, very bad habit of mine. Often later turns into two weeks or a month or never and then the idea and feeling are lost. Last night I made myself break out the journal in bed and write it all out. Editing is for later. And I went to bed with a clearer head and heart. This is the sort of thing I want to keep doing this year. Write more. Create more. Stop telling myself 'later'.

  3. I do find that lists help, and an actual paper calendar, and index cards (especially for submissions). And I have been keeping a journal since I was ten years old.

    But I am beginning to feel that "goals" per se don't help me all that much. I really like your idea of having a check-in group about submitting work, though. I'll bet that helps you all a lot!

  4. I just started a bullet journal, as well, and so far I'm enjoying the process. I've been trying to use my phone to keep track of things for a long time now, but as work I use paper lists for everything I need to do on a daily or weekly basis. So, it just makes more sense for me to keep track of things in a physical space. The bullet journal format helps keep it from devolving into a jumbled mess — or at least that's what I'm hoping it will achieve. Will have to see how it works out in the long run, since there's also so much maintenance involved.

  5. I made a commitment during my "Year of Poetry" not to turn the computer on until after I had done about 4 hours creative work. I found I enjoyed writing with a dip pen (although now I have switched to refillable fountain pens) and that I didn't miss the internet (and it didn't miss me :D ).

    I can't echo your point two (in the tweet) enough. I define(d) my success as sitting down writing.


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