A Guide to New Year’s Resolutions for Spoken Word Artists

There’s nothing wrong with starting the new year with some extra motivation in your step, taking on the “new year, new me” mantra and seeing what it can do to help you achieve something with your spoken word or poetry, whether it’s just performing on the open mic more, finally releasing that chapbook you keep saying you’ll do or something major like going on tour or starting a new gig.

Whether that means you follow through, or only get half way there, new year’s resolutions shouldn’t be about berating yourself for the ones you abandoned last year or not trying because you know you won’t get there.

If you do choose to make some resolutions for 2019, here’s a handy guide to making the most of them.

  • Make them public – post them on Facebook, blog about them, do a Facebook Live video, something to declare to your friends and the world that this is what you want to do. At the very least, your friends can cheer you on and support you, and if you want, you can choose to use this to be held accountable. Give your friends permission to give you that extra push if they haven’t heard you say anything about the progress of your next book.
  • Break them up into smaller goals – some goals look too big it’s hard to see what the next step is, so breaking them up into smaller goals, maybe things to do each month, or certain obstacles you might face might make it seem less daunting. It makes sure you can make incremental progress over the year, rather than leave it to the last minute when it’s too late.
  • Make resolutions you have control over – whether it’s winning an award, getting published, getting booked, there’s plenty of things you want to achieve that might be outside of your control so if they’re things you’re aiming for, make resolutions for the parts you have control over whether that’s memorising a poem each month to win the slam, making a website, media kit or video to help you get booked, or just submitting and applying for more opportunities, at least you’ll know you did all you can to achieve that.

What are you going to make resolutions about? I generally break them up into things that are about creating new work, presenting your work, curation of work, or more abstract or concept based resolutions.

  • Creating New Work – that might mean setting challenges for writing a new poem a week, starting on a manuscript, or writing a suite of poems around a certain theme or concept, might mean creating a new Fringe show, or a collaboration. Steer clear of daily challenges for this one as it might become overwhelming to keep up for a whole year and if you miss a day or two, it’ll become undone.
  • Presenting Work – publishing a chapbook or album is a favourite and we’ve already seen a number of poets say they want to do this this year. Whether it’s pledging to submit a book for publication or self-publishing. This one needs to be broken up into steps. Other options are to go on tour, or do more features, or apply for more festivals and opportunities.
  • Curation – If you’re thinking of starting a new gig, or perhaps running a one-off event, this resolution can be good if you’ve seen something that’s missing. With Melbourne already hosting a lot of events, spotting gaps or different angles can key to carrying this one out. Perhaps there’s an area of Melbourne that have few or no gigs, or you’d love to see more kinds of poetry or poets in line-ups, or there’s a theme you want to work around. Asking for help an advice can be key to this one.
  • Conceptual Resolutions – Lastly, there’s some more unconventional resolutions, for instance I tried to read a poem a day last year, but you could decide to read a new collection a month, or go to gigs you’ve never been to before. Last year we challenged you to stop apologising for your poetry before reading them on stage or to go up to a poet and tell them you liked their work. I’ve seen people pledge to not perform at venues aren’t 100% accessible. Maybe you can pledge to make your gig wheelchair accessible or to try and make it more inclusive, to pay poets more, or apply for funding.

Whatever you decide to do, we hope you choose something you’re passionate about, that you can carry on during the year, and not something you feel obligated to or just because it’s the next step in the stereotypical poetry career. Let us know what you want to do in 2019!

Annie Solah