1. It can take a long time to figure out when and how you accomplish your best work. So it’s not completely your fault if you struggled to figure out how to fit writing into your schedule on a regular basis this year. This is majorly about trial and error. You have to do what you think might work, and re-evaluate if it doesn’t. This is the way of the writer.
2. Sometimes life does you dirty and there’s no way to undo that. While you can’t always have your mind hovering over the worst possible outcome of everything, you do have to have realistic expectations when it comes to the way life sometimes just … happens. There will be times you have to shift your priorities and writing won’t get to rest comfortably at the top. Speaking of which …
3. Writing won’t always get to be your number one priority. We would all love if this were the case, but the real world screams otherwise. The fact that you can’t write all day every day means you know that there are more important things in life than both work and play. Sometimes, responsibility trumps desire.
4. Many goals are not technically set in stone; they can change. Maybe you aimed a little high this year with a particular writing ambition — who hasn’t? You can still work toward a similar goal in the coming year while setting the bar a little lower. It’s not cheating. It’s just looking at what you want to accomplish and being a little more realistic about what you are physically and psychologically capable of right now.
5. Every writer has weaknesses and strengths. We learn what these weaknesses and strengths are only through active and consistent writing practice. Even if you did not meet your writing goals this year, putting the practice time in means you are even more equipped to meet your goals in the future than you were when this year began.
6. It’s never too early or too late to learn not to tie your worth wholly to your work. If you do that, then every time you don’t meet a writing goal, you will end up directing far too many negative thoughts toward yourself. You deserve better than that, even if you don’t believe you do.
7. You are more important than your ambitions. Your health and your happiness matter, and meeting a writing goal is not worth sacrificing either of these things — or anything else, for that matter. If you have to choose self-care over writing another 1,000 words, that’s not wrong. That’s smart. That’s important.
8. There is something to learn from every non-success in your career. (I avoid using the word “failure” in this case because most of the time, it carries the wrong kind of weight in this context.) If you didn’t reach a writing goal this year, you can look back on what you could have done differently and plan to make changes in your process moving forward.
9. Just because it didn’t happen your way does not mean you “failed.” It often happens that when we set a goal, we have in mind exactly how we want to reach that goal. Sometimes, life has things to teach you along the way that require a very different path. A detour does not mean you will never end up at your destination. There may just be something else you need to see before you get there.
10. You should never forget to celebrate your small victories, even if they aren’t the victories you wish you could be celebrating by now. Okay fine, so you didn’t finish that first draft of your novel or launch that blog or even start on a handful of other writing goals. What DID you write? Be proud of that accomplishment, even if it seems small. And if you didn’t write anything, this is a great time to start planning goals for the year ahead.
11. Don’t give up when you feel like you can’t take one more step forward. I can’t speak for everyone who has ever tried to write anything meaningful, but in my experience, it always seems to be when I have seemingly reached the end of my limit that it all starts paying off. Just when you think it has all been for nothing, life has a funny way of surprising you.
12. It’s not too late to try again. When we don’t succeed, we always seem to think that means our one chance is over. But it isn’t. If what you tried didn’t work this time around, but your overall goal remains the same, try something else, and keep pushing yourself as hard as you need to in order to get closer to where you want to go. If there is a way, you will find it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.