In Which I Fail (Most of) My Resolutions… But End 2012 on a Good Note (Really)

Fair warning: This post will be tinged with a sheen of failure—even though I do feel kind of hopeful right now, and I’ll explain why at the end.

How many of us made resolutions for 2012 that we didn’t keep? How many of us said we’d do things this year—write certain things, cease bad habits, start new ones?—and here we are, days from the end of the year, realizing how little we became the people we wanted to be?

I’m not alone in this, I’m sure. I always have high, lofty goals for myself and I rarely measure up to them.

So, hi. Want some honesty? Want to see into my pathetic little brain during one of its more idealistic tantrums? Well, here you go.

Readers of this blog may remember that at the end of 2011, I wrote myself seven (I like sevens) writing resolutions that I kept secret and said I would reveal at the end of 2012. And I photographed them, promising I’d open them up in a year and tell you if I met them?

1 closed res2 closed res3 closed res4 closed res5 closed res6 closed res7 closed res

If you were curious what writing resolutions I had for this past year, here they are… and their outcomes:

Resolution #1: A vow to not distract myself by the internet in the mornings…

2012 resolution 1

Did I meet resolution #1? Let’s be honest here. Let’s lay it bare. I did not follow this at all. Ever. I checked my email first thing in the morning—and my Twitter, and my Facebook—and though I occasionally walked out of my way to the writing café that doesn’t have wifi on purpose, I didn’t do that as often as I should have. I failed at this. I failed. And I have to say: I think most of my problems this year stem from not meeting this personal goal. If I want 2013 to be a better year, I think I should revisit this.

Resolution #2: Finish a draft of a new novel by, like, MONDAY????

2012 resolution 2

Resolution #2—are you kidding?? I am really upset and angry at myself for not meeting this. Imagine if I’d completed the draft of a new novel by the end of this year, which would technically be Monday! Maybe I’d have a new book deal by now, a new contract and chance to keep up this career, a new book coming out soon enough… I mean, yeah, it would have been all kinds of amazing if I’d been able to meet this. I didn’t. I didn’t at all. But, by the end of the year, I will have a new draft of some new proposal pages and synopsis ready for my agent to see… so that’s… well, it’s something. I need to be content with that something or else I’ll be too down on myself to even finish this post.

Resolution #3: Write short stories again!

2012 resolution 3

Resolution #3—how’d I do? Well, I kind of made some progress on this, halfway, anyway. Secretly, on the side, I revised and reworked some short stories, and realized how many I think are worthy of keeping and being made new. Short stories are what I started writing—they’re the reason I fell in love with writing fiction. And I may not have met this goal this year, but I am not done with this yet. Not done.

Resolution #4: Try for something big.

2012 resolution 4

Did I accomplish resolution #4? Surprisingly, I think I can say I did. I applied for some things this year. I got rejected. But the point is, I TRIED. And that’s all I can control when it comes to making a resolution: only what I can do, not how the world responds to me. So, yes, I did this, and I’m proud of myself.

(Edited to say: Now that I remember, I got a couple yeses, too!)

Resolution #5: Hahahahahahahah write every day ha.

2012 resolution 5

What, is the absurdity of resolution #5 showing? I didn’t write every day. Some days I had to work. Some days I was too depressed to write. Some days I made excuses. I kind of sucked at this, what more do you want me to say?

Resolution #6: Stop comparing yourself to other writers and being so negative!

2012 resolution 6 final

Is it humanly possible to really meet resolution #6? OK, this may shock you. But guess what? I think I have finally begun to tackle this issue in myself—this flaw of comparing myself to other writers and what they can do, what they’ve accomplished, what book deals and foreign sales and movie options and awards lists they’ve reached—really. I spent most of the year trying to get away from this squishy, icky part of myself, and here I am, sitting at the end of 2012, and I feel… okay. I’ve stopped searching out the negativity and dwelling on bad comparisons. I’m myself. I write what I write. This was the biggest war inside me during 2012, and I’ve come out of it stronger and more sure of myself. Maybe it doesn’t matter that I failed most of my other resolutions, if I made this one.

Resolution #7: Start the book I’m afraid to start.

2012 resolution 7

And the last resolution of them all, lucky #7, did I reach it? Well… no. I didn’t. I know exactly what book I mean when I say the book I’m afraid to write. It’s not a YA novel. And I didn’t allow myself to embrace working on it yet. But you know what? I did embrace working on a novel that does feel BIG in a different way. It’s unapologetic. It’s all me. And I want to write it first. So lucky #7, you’ll have to wait. I’ll write you someday.

How do I not feel like a big, old failure?

Here I am, revealing to you my goals and aspirations a whole year after I set them down on paper and photographed them for future shaming purposes, admitting I failed at most of them, and yet… I don’t feel all bad about this year, either. I am ending on a good note. I am writing something I love. And we writers know how delicious that feels. I am closing out 2012 on that high feeling.

…And maybe I’ll carry over some of these resolutions into 2013.

Tell me: Did you reach your 2012 writing resolutions? 

26 responses to “In Which I Fail (Most of) My Resolutions… But End 2012 on a Good Note (Really)”

  1. I want to steal this idea (with credit, of course!), I love it so much. There is magic in keeping a secret, and I think secret resolutions that are only for yourself are more powerful than the ones we all say aloud and are all okay with failing.

    About comparing yourself to other writers? It’s so hard, especially when you read something that is just… well, not as good as what you’ve written. But I think Julia Cameron said that anger and jealousy is a road map, that we can discover what we’re meant to do by looking at what bothers us the most.

    I sometimes compare great writers to other writers, and I’m bothered by the public response. Fangirling: I am *shocked* that IMAGINARY GIRLS has not received more recognition. It makes me question the reading public, the point of excellent writing, the idea that YA is not a pandering market genre. A lot of YA authors say it isn’t, that the writing isn’t dumbed down, but so much of what I read that gets a lot of attention is exactly that. IG is, to date, the BEST book I’ve read in the YA genre. End fangirling.

    Good luck in 2013! And I can’t WAIT to read 17 & GONE 😀


  2. I also want to steal this idea! It’s a lovely way to set goals and I love how high you aimed and that you weren’t afraid to fail… I think actually that is going to be my first resolution for next year because my problem is that when I do set a big goal and fail to meet it, I beat myself up, depressions ensues, etc. I loved how honest you were with yourself and us here, taking stock of how you felt at the end of it all. The fact that you ended up in a good place and are willing to take some of these goals forward is what really matters even if it was a difficult year… at least that is what I tell myself! Have a great 2013, Nova and I can’t wait for 17& Gone either. IG is one of my all time fave YAs as well 🙂


  3. I believe part of the creative process is a balance between making goals to strive for and revising them as we go…perhaps taking a smaller step towards a larger goal. The best in 2013!


  4. Wow, thank you for this honest look at your resolutions and the outcomes. Maybe you didn’t meet all your goals, but you did get through a sticky patch and have a plan for something new in the works. That’s pretty amazing all on its own.

    I wanted to submit in 2012 — submit more short stories, essays, articles, etc. But I barely submitted at all. It was the year my first book came out, which came with all sorts of promotional/authory things to do, plus conferences and events. And while I am writing new stories and a new novel, very little feels ready to submit yet. This year, at least, I learned what kind of writer I am: I produce produce produce a whole lot, then I sit on it and revise, and at last, only when I have a lot of polished material, do I feel ready to submit. And I’m okay with that — I’d rather take my time and stockpile my material (which is what happened with my debut short story collection) rather than submit too early.

    Here’s to 2013!


  5. I stopped making resolutions ages ago, and when I stopped I started reaching some of my goals. Fro me New Year’s RESOLUTIONS were like dieting; if you break one the rest collapse like a house of cards.
    But this hasn’t kept me from enjoying your post. Really riotously fun read. Go Nova!


  6. I totally forgot about that post of yours, Nova! I’d love to try this for 2013. All things considered, I’d say you did all right. Books always take longer to write than we think they will, you know? On the other hand, the not checking email until you reach your daily productivity goal is something I think we can all shoot for–it’s doable as long as you don’t allow yourself the excuses.

    Happy Almost New Year, my friend! xoxox


  7. This is so great of you to share. It is wonderful to see that you experience the same ups and downs, doubts and short comings as those of us still struggling to break into the industry. It’s wonderful to see I’m not the only writer guilty of the crippling #6 and the dreaded inability to tackle #7. Share time: On a piece of paper in my writing desk is a not that says, “Will be published before the ball drops on 2013, or die trying.” Gulp. I guess Monday’s it…


  8. I think that as long as you end your year with more proud thoughts than regrets, you’ve come out on top. Not to mention I’ve come to find lately that just making goals and striving for something is much better than not going after anything at all.

    Ditto on what everyone else said. This is a great idea for year long goal setting. You’re so FULL of great ideas!


  9. I really didn’t get started writing till this year, so had no goals in mind. Thinking seriously about goals for this year though. I can say for 2012 I did accomplish several things : wrote a book, started blogging, and had my first ever poem published.


  10. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions any more, but I try to make a little resolution each day. When I’m luckly, nothing interferes with what I resolve to do, but there are days when stuff happens. 🙂


  11. First of all, let me just say I think this is a wonderful way to keep yourself accountable for all the things you said you wanted to do and honestly evaluate your progress. As far as my writing resolutions, I kept a big one: focusing on one major project. Another big one I kept was contacting someone about a book proposal/publication. I never received a response, but at least I did it. All of the others, I failed miserably, but at least I made some progress.

    Here’s to keeping more of your resolutions in 2013!


  12. Those were some great resolutions, even if you didn’t make them all. I didn’t really make any for 2012, but for 2013, I want to get my first novel completely edited and perhaps even self-published.

    Have a happy and productive 2013!


  13. Those are some great resolution, but they are also hard. I can totally understand how you might not have gotten them all achieved. This post has inspired me to make resolutions for 2013 that are as specific and big as yours! Good luck with the new year!


  14. This idea was truly awesome and I hope you won’t mind me borrowing it, with supercred to you ofcourse! Good luck in 2013!


  15. Thank you so much for this post! I hadn’t been following you for very long when you first posted your secret resolutions and I remember writing up mine–and I, too, have not achieved most of them. Thank you for your honesty in sharing; it made me realize I am too hard on myself at times, and that I need to look at what I did and keep going.


  16. I loved your post — and shared it with girlfriends when I was out yesterday. Life is messy! Setting goals keeps you stretching in the right direction, but doesn’t keep any of us moving perfectly forward on a track. Part of the mess is getting frustrated when we get it wrong (yes, I’m on social media, not working on revisions now — so we all relate to breaking that “write before email” rule!), but your next post also makes it clear how much success still manages to rise out of the mess! So congrats for that. Your post has me thinking through how many successes I had, as well as missed marks, in 2012 — and whether I feel like writing resolutions for 2013. Hmm. Happy new year, and look forward to your new proposal and the release of 17 & Gone. Lots of good to celebrate!


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