What My New Year’s Resolution Means For You

The path that brought me to this moment started exactly 25 years ago today, when in my diary I wrote, “Before I turn 25, I want to write a book.”

25 years later, I’ve written 33 novels (plus one I did anonymously as work for hire), am working on a couple more, and intend to keep writing novels as long as I live.

I’ve also written 100,000+ words on writing on my website (a very fat nonfiction book), five Writing Clinics (“Scenes” is also a clinic) with a sixth, “World” in progress, one massive course on writing/creativity/career creation, and I’m working on the second massive course, “How To Revise Your Novel.” I’ve done some smaller writing projects, too, both fiction and nonfiction.

I built and ran the free writing community Forward Motion for years. Have a much smaller writing community growing now inside the ThinkSideways/HTRYN course umbrella.

So that writing thing turned out pretty well.

But in ten months I’ll be 50. And I have a resolution.

Before I turn fifty, I want to show people how to FIND their dreams, how to dream BETTER dreams, and how to turn those dreams into reality.

This is a resolution that, like “write a book”, entails much more than anyone can hope to accomplish in ten months, and I know that. I’ve been writing with intent to sell since I was about 23, and I still love the work. “Write a book” became a lifetime calling for me.

It’s also a resolution that, in many ways, I’ve been working toward my whole life. Some of the ways I hope to accomplish this are already in place—the writing courses and the writing community and my website help writers who already have their dream in place figure out how to make their dreams real.

But my daughter wants to create handcrafted jewelry. My father-in-law is a public-school science teacher looking for a different way to teach science. I have one son who wants to make movies, and another who currently wants to build robots.

I have friends who want to leave jobs they hate, but aren’t sure what they could do instead. I know hundreds of writers who are looking for a new way to break into publishing and get paid for their work.

And I know people who have no better dream than just to get through the day. And so do you.

Over the past three years, I’ve been quietly investing in training and education, learning how to create businesses, how to create products, how to reach the people who want those products. Most of my life, I’ve been learning to teach. I’m studying professional publishing.

And I have projects that have been pending while I work on other things, or on hold because they’re in software development. I offered an e-mail course for a while called Money To Write. I’ll be bringing that back with some serious bells and whistles—it will focus on letting writers create businesses that will free them from day jobs so they can write.

Margaret is making good progress writing the software we call “the seller piece,” the engine that will allow me to PAY writers for the Rebel Tales serialzine, and PAY product creators with the Money to Write program. When that’s done, we’ll get Rebel Tales and Money To Write going.

But it all starts with DREAMS

Our reality, both good and bad, begins as someone’s dream, someone’s vision, someone’s abstract idea that “this could be different.”

Some dreams are magnificent, some are terrible.

Grocery stores and skyscrapers, cars and computers, paintings and literature, music and movies, roads and silverware and dishwashers and clothes and shoes and agriculture and every other form of creation and production all started as someone’s dream.

Nursing and medicine, education and food service, telephones and the Internet all began as someone’s dream.

So did the genocides of Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Adolf Hitler, and other monsters. So does every murder, every molestation, every enslavement. Drug cartels, prostitution rings, and street gangs all arise from someone’s dream, too.

We live in the reality created by the people who act on their dreams, whether good or bad.

There is no way to force people to dream better dreams, to want better things. “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” (Alfred in “The Dark Knight).

There is no way to dream for others—anyone whose dream is to “make your life better” is imposing a his dream on you. And what is better for him will not be better for you.

You can only dream for yourself, you can only change yourself.

But you can provide the example of your own life, the tools and the teaching, the means, and the direction, to others who also want to dream better dreams, make them real, and in the process, live better lives.

This, then, is my dream. My resolution. To be the person who does that. To create ways to help you, if you choose to use them, live the life you dream.

Happy New Year.

May 2010 be your best year yet.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

28 comments… add one
  • Amy Laurens Oct 21, 2010 @ 6:02

    Here from your current post re Rebel Tales Submissions; just wanted to say thanks. I needed a reminder like this today. *cookies* πŸ™‚

  • Danzier Jan 13, 2010 @ 23:45

    …So crash. Burn. Don’t write. Don’t do anything. Forget about it.

    At some point your muse will crawl up your throat and choke you until you’r back at the board. Then, you will rise like a phoenix.

    Between now and then, just tell yourself you’re on vacation and you don’t want to think about it. That’s my experience, anyway.

    Good luck, and remember the air gets thin at about 10,000 feet.

  • Elegy Jan 4, 2010 @ 21:44

    That’s a nice dream, but I’m afraid mine will probably crash and burn. I’m rejected at every turn and I don’t have much hope left that I’m a good enough writer for publication.

    Oh well.

    I haven’t written in a while, so I guess my resolution is to actually write another first draft this year at the very least. Feels like a waste of time.

    • Holly Lisle Jan 5, 2010 @ 1:52

      Do you have a hundred rejection slips yet?

      Have you written more than a million total words yet?

      Have you stopped writing long enough to revise everything you’ve written?

      If you answer “no” to any of those three questions, and you’re considering giving up…you can, of course. But if you do, know that you’re doing so when you haven’t yet tried hard enough.

    • Dean H Jan 5, 2010 @ 16:03

      Don’t go giving up!!!!

      If I don’t get to make it I won’t stop I know I won’t because I want my family to see me giving it everything i’ve got it may inspire my kids or someone that knows me to reach for their dreams whatever they may be? If not they will be left with a whole cupboard full of midnight reading when I’m long gone.

      Keep going.

  • Dean H Jan 4, 2010 @ 15:56

    Good luck with the resolution Holly I hope you achieve it but I’m sure you will from what I’ve seen so far.

    I’ve made a resolution; I’ve been working hard every evening with my writing since November but before Christmas the owner of the company I work for as ‘Operations Manager’ gave me a big put down as there is a training course for MD’s and owners of businesses our MD who is 68 said I should go. The owner said I hadn’t got the correct education to attend now in my world that makes me want to show him about ‘education’, I can make him money, I can steer us through a recession but i can’t change the fact that some people are born with a plum in their mouth they are born to money and get their Oxford or Cambridge education. Some are born to poverty and suffer throughout their lives and some people are born to watch illness in their family stop them from doing as well as they should! I’m fortunate that I tended for my mother from the age of 5 until I was 17 when she died at the age of 37. Now some people can’t understand why I was fortunate but I had the best education believe me.

    2010 is going to be a good year for me and my family I hope it is for everyone else as well ‘Happy New Year to you all’ and sorry for the rant.

    Dean H (UK)

  • stephanie Jan 4, 2010 @ 4:38

    Wow, that is some big dream! Especially since you have helped so many people already with your clinics and classes. But if anyone can suceed at making such a big dream a goal and a reality…It is you. I look forward to watching just how you make this happen, as it will certainly entail some surprises…and unexpected turns. Good luck and hope 2010 is a wonderful year for you.

  • mikesmish@rocketmail.com Jan 4, 2010 @ 2:04

    hello Holly you really have some standard in your body. it is also a kinds of spirit out of your writting work and encourage many peoples here.i am very glad to read something here now and then. god bless you . good luck to you

  • Rahma Jan 3, 2010 @ 4:45

    Holly: I am taking your Create a Character Clinic and want to let you know how much I love it. It is hard to imagine how you keep this good stuff coming, but I’ve been following you for a while now and know that we won’t be disappointed.

    You are that little voice that whispers encouragement to drown out the one that keeps us down.

    I especially would like to say to EliseinAZ, I am also 62 and only recently took myself seriously as a writer. If you want to write, I hope you won’t let those discouraging voices stop you in your tracks. There are ways to do it even with a full time job. I know because I’m there too. But I am spurred on by my age since I know I don’t have time to waste. And the best part is that writing actually makes me feel younger.

  • Shaun Jan 3, 2010 @ 2:02

    Thanks for wanting to be that kind of person, Holly. Me, I want to be freed from the shackles of a writing rut, one that I did not intend to fall in when I started freelance ghostwriting four years go. I wanted to be a creative writer. I wrote a novel that sits waiting to see the light of day. It’s great you’ve do so well, that you working on so many projects geared to help fellow writers and those that aspire to join the ranks.

  • EliseInAZ Jan 2, 2010 @ 16:32

    Holly,
    I don’t know what I expected as your goal, but it certainly wasn’t this. Some days it’s hard to believe that you are as selfless as all your hard work and examples portray.

    You really hit a nerve with this one. I’ll be 62 at the end of this month and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how I’ve never had the courage to pursue my dream. From the time I was a senior in high school who told my mother that I wanted to be a writer to just recently when I lost my job–again–I’ve pushed my dream into the background by being “practical”. My mother’s response was, “You can be a teacher. That way you can write on summer vacations.” Since I had no desire to be a teacher and I equated her words to mean that if I couldn’t be a teacher, I also couldn’t be a writer, I did something else. This year, instead of giving myself three months on unemployment and severance to write full time, I snatched up the first job that came my way.

    I’m with Hannabelle. I’m looking forward to Money for Writing and whatever insight you can give toward realizing my dream. A full time career leaves little time and energy for writing. I’ve been trying to train myself lately to go to my computer at night instead of turning on the TV, but it’s hard to keep up the momentum. I’m also starting HtTS over again and dedicating this year to finishing a novel worthy of submission.

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    • hannabelle Jan 3, 2010 @ 8:02

      We have a lot in common. Different stories, same impact. I am 50-something, wanted to be a writer since I could scribble with crayons. But didn’t …

      I am active on the Forum for HTTS. Same username as here. Let’s chat over there.

  • hannabelle Jan 2, 2010 @ 11:25

    These are great resolutions, and I suspect you will accomplish them, as planned, with suprising tweaks along the way.

    You have already inspired me to catch that dream, since I am writing now, more than ever. I am re-starting HTTS this week, and already got 20 minutes of great new work done. My resolution is to follow your process, to the letter. And to continue to move writing up on my priority list, next to breathing and eating. So, I should have words starting again soon, too.

    I am REALLY looking forward to the Money for Writing project. I need that, since a full time job does take up to much of my energy.

    Happy New Year.

  • Phil Jan 2, 2010 @ 10:32

    Great resolution Holly! You’ve already done so much, and now you’re pushing yourself further. You have inspired me to begin writing again and I have kept my 500 word per day pace going pretty well. I am still on track to have my first draft by April.
    I’m looking forward to HTTS coming up this year, and I’m excited about your new projects.

    Happy New Year,

    Phil

  • JW Jan 2, 2010 @ 10:14

    Thank God I found this site! May God bless you Holly as you have truly helped believe more in myself. You inspired me greatly when I had doubts about becoming a writer. I will be tenacious and strive to write a novel before my 18th birthday, thanks to you. Thank you so much and I wish you a lovely start to this decade. xD

  • Debora Jan 2, 2010 @ 7:58

    Your dreams are awesome, Holly! I look forward to watching them unfold. Your tenacity is a constant inspiration to me. Some people talk the talk, but you always deliver!

    Happy New Year!

  • Kristi Jan 2, 2010 @ 7:54

    I spent most of the night exploring your website (which I googled as I was looking for help with writing). My resolution is to finish my novel by the end of the year. Your testimony helped me realize that I can do it. I would love to write 33 novels in the next 25 years (I will be 60 then!), and you have inspired me to do so. Your resolution is already in play. Thanks Holly.

  • Nancy Jan 1, 2010 @ 23:41

    Holly — you never cease to amaze me. What a soul-defining resolution! Thank you for all you’ve already done. I won’t say I couldn’t make my dream come true without you, but you’ve made it finally ‘feel’ achievable. Can’t wait to see what your next twenty five years bring! You are an awe-inspiring woman and though I certainly don’t need to wish you success (you make your own), I will anyway!

    Happy 2010!

  • Michelle Jan 1, 2010 @ 22:47

    Lovely post. Thank you, Holly.

  • You’re already well on your way. Between HTTS and a series of posts I’ve been reading by Dean Wesley Smith, my goals for 2010 (which I posted just today) are far more ambitious and far more concrete than they’ve ever been. Part of this, however, was also the result of what happened to me in 2009. From Jan 1 – Jul 31 I was just plain damned lazy. Didn’t write a word. On Aug 1, I got back up and started writing again. My goal was modest. Five hundred words per day was all I was looking to write. I take off one day per week from my writing, so that gave me 131 working days to produce 65,500 words. At first, I struggled. I’d write a couple of days, then not write for a week. On and off, on and off. On Nov 12, I really hit my stride. I’ve missed only 3 days since then, and when Dec 31 rolled around, I finished the year having written 131,170 words.

    On January 1, 2009, I’d set a goal of 150,000 words. Out of those 131 working days I had from Aug 1 to Dec 31, I missed 41. So, I finished the year having written 131,170 words in 90 days. I learned a valuable lesson: I’ve been selling myself short. Seeing that, I’ve decided to be ambitious with my goals for 2010. Long story short, I’m now aiming for 250,000 words and I’ve come up with a structure whereby, even if I miss a lot of days next year, I should still be able to reach my goal.

    Included in my goal is to finish my current novel (I’ve another 38,000 words to go, and I anticipate finishing it on January 23), to write two more 90,000 word novels, and to write five short stories (25,000 words, assuming an average of 5000 each). Those are my writing goals, in summary, and I intend to not only accomplish them, I intend to exceed them… thanks to things I’ve learned from you and from Dean Wesley Smith.

    Thanks, Holly! I hope you have a fabulous 2010!

    • Larkk Jan 4, 2010 @ 19:55

      Thanks for sharing your goals and directing me to Dean Wesley Smith’s blog-as I was kind of at a loss about what direction to take next. His motivational tips helped me set my course for the upcoming year, and reinforced what my heart was already telling me to do:
      Keep writing, new words, every day.

      So I’ll be back at WABWM as soon as its up and running again πŸ˜€

  • Leah Jan 1, 2010 @ 21:38

    Nice resolution. I chose some goals for myself this year, dreams that I want to see bear fruit. I hope that yours bears joyful rewards and more blessings that you can yet imagine. Thank you for your inspiration. It is nice to know someone who became what they wanted through hard work–action. But then, dreams only become reality through action, right?

  • Lisa R Jan 1, 2010 @ 20:58

    What an intriguing idea. This morning I posted on facebook that my decade project was to work at getting something published. While I was typing, I almost challenged everyone to remember back to a dream and go for it this year.

    • Lisa R Jan 4, 2010 @ 17:17

      I actually inspired my aunt to do a 365 day blog of pictures she takes daily to work on her photography more. All I did was mention the progress of my dream. Just think of all you can do by trying. Too cool!

  • Brian Cansler Jan 1, 2010 @ 17:31

    This is a very inspiring post, Holly! I’ve been waiting for it for weeks, and this definitely didn’t let me down!

    Your success story with resolutions has inspired me to start making them, as well, and I’ve been pondering for a few weeks about them. They’ll be posted on my blog (in a bit of a copycat fashion) in a few hours πŸ˜‰

    I can say this, though. One of the things I’ve noticed about you throughout years of looking up to you is that you’ve done the following very well:

    “But you can provide the example of your own life, the tools and the teaching, the means, and the direction, to others who also want to dream better dreams, make them real, and in the process, live better lives.”

    For everyone creative, you’ve done that in a huge way already. I’m so excited to see how you deepen this process.

    Brian

  • Bonne Friesen Jan 1, 2010 @ 16:32

    I look forward to watching the dream unfold…

  • Jeffrey Allan Boman Jan 1, 2010 @ 16:16

    Good luck with your resolution! Generally I don’t make any, because they tend to get broken. πŸ™‚ I just do things instead.

  • Zora Jan 1, 2010 @ 16:12

    I can’t wait to see what you can do, Holly. πŸ™‚ May 2010 be fantastic for you as well.

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