We’re now a few weeks into the new year and it’s a good time to check in on those writing goals or resolutions. I don’t know about you, but I like having a checklist and it can feel frustrating if I’m not completing tasks as quickly or efficiently as I would like. This frustration—spoiler alert—doesn’t fuel improved productivity; instead, it breeds more negativity. I’ll never accomplish what I’ve set out to. I’m a failure.

There are many different personality types, of course, and it makes sense to take stock of your personal preferences and your typical trajectory. I’ve found it helpful to transform negative self-talk into positive affirmation. Perhaps the short story I’m working on hasn’t been accepted yet. I can tell myself that I’m not a good story writer. That’s a heavy burden to carry the next time I approach the blank page.

Consider switching up the narrative. For days I’ve been getting up before sunrise to revise that short story. My effort is worth a little pat on the shoulder, isn’t it? Doesn’t that positivity, a modest dose of self-affirmation, make it more likely that I’ll feel up to trying again tomorrow?

Much of life is out of our control. Our writing practice can get de-railed by job frustrations, a loved one in the hospital, house repairs, you name it. Giving ourselves grace can keep us coming back to the page. Let’s take this moment to re-assess where we are with our writing goals. And let’s affirm what we are doing right.