The custom of making New Year's resolutions has never appealed to me.  In my past experience, it has started out as an expression of hope, but ended up as a set-up for failure and the resulting loss of self-esteem.

Health clubs and diet subscription plans no doubt count on January as one of their best sales months of the year.  A lot of people make optimistic plans this time of year.  That's fine, and maybe it works for others, but it doesn't for me.

What's my point?  I'm here to say to everyone whose experience has been like mine that it's OK not to make resolutions.  Just like it's OK not to write from an outline, if that's not your style.

That isn't to say I disapprove of goals.  They're necessary and important to the working writer.  Ours is a goal-oriented profession, based on deadlines.  The happy writer is one who can develop sound habits for reaching the necessary goals, and still retain the spontaneity that feeds creation.

Habits take time and focused effort to develop.  Maybe that's why I haven't succeeded with resolutions; they declare a goal without allowing for developing the behavior to reach the goal.  Wishful thinking rather than practical planning.

So, for example, rather than resolving to lose twenty pounds this year, I'd prefer to plan on improving my eating and exercise habits.  That one's not a pass/fail situation.  If I keep focused on this objective, I might well succeed and even lose five or ten pounds, which would be a win.

And rather than resolving to sell a novel this year, which ultimately is beyond my control, I'd prefer to work toward and hope for a sale this year, but without the absolute deadline.

Here's a gift from me to help with your planning for the coming year:  for a free 2009 year-at-a-glance calendar, visit