How to Keep Your New Year's Screenwriting Resolutions (Updated for 2023)

It's time to make (and keep) those screenwriting goals for the year!
by Derek Silvers - updated on January 3, 2023

Forget "New year, new you." It's 2023, and you're exactly who you need to be. But that doesn't mean we can't make minor improvements to better ourselves and our craft! As is customary in January, it's time to reflect on the past year and plan for the next. For screenwriters, typical New Year's Resolutions often involves starting, building out, or finishing a script, so here are some proven methods to help you reach your goals this year.

Set Small, S.M.A.R.T. Goals

According to the American Psychological Association, setting small, attainable goals throughout the year is better than one massive goal on January 1. If, for example, your goal is to write every day, you might start by writing three days a week, then work your way up. If you resolve to finish a script, set attainable page number goals instead of trying to finish the whole thing in one crazy writing session.

The key to goal setting is making it S.M.A.R.T.; 

  • Specific (ex.: I'm going to write five days a week.)
  • Measurable (ex.: I'm going to write at least three pages every time I sit down to write.)
  • Achievable (ex.: I know I can accomplish three pages per writing day. I cannot write 40 pages a day.)
  • Realistic (ex.: "I'm going to write five days a week, and at least three pages every day I write" versus "I'm going to finish this screenplay in one sitting, no matter how long it takes.")
  • Timely (ex.: "By the end of the month, I'll have 60 pages" versus "My entire screenplay will be complete tomorrow, so help me god.")

Avoid Previous Resolutions

A study by Quirkology found that only 12% of people keep their New Year's resolutions. One predictor of failure was a person's tendency to choose a past resolution. Recycling a resolution can lead to guilt over failing to meet your goals the previous year. If your goal was to finish a script last year, try starting a new screenplay this year.

Other reasons resolutions fail include low self-monitoring, lack of planning, not fully understanding what needs to be sacrificed to achieve the resolution, and overconfidence (which can lead to procrastination). (HINT: The S.M.A.R.T. goals will help you avoid the above pratfalls!)

Talk about Your Plans with Friends and Family

You've probably heard this before, but that's because it works. Numerous studies collected by Psychology Today show that social support is a crucial predictor of attaining one's goals. Many people often find it easier to accomplish their goals when they have a support network around them, and this is no different for the New Year. You could join a writing group if you don't have one or tell a close friend about your resolution. 

And lastly,

Don't Take January 1st Too Seriously

The Pennsylvania Psychological Association reminds us that there is nothing magical about New Year's Day. Sure, it's the start of a new year, but if you don't look at your calendar, it's just another day. If you're caught up in work or family, a different starting point makes more sense for your goals.

Following the above steps will make it more likely that you will successfully stick to your 2023 New Year's Resolutions. If you have any other tips, remember to leave them in the comments or on Twitter.

Happy new year, everyone!

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