Six years ago I wrote a blog post that garnered quite a bit of attention. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. I skipped 2013, but got back on track in 2014 and have stuck with the tradition. Now it’s time to reveal successes from 2017, and I’ve asked participants in my 12 Days of Christmas for Writers program to do the same.

Here is an excerpt from the original post:

It is so tempting to start listing all the things one wants to accomplish at the start of a New Year, but in my experience, the process (and thus the result) is flawed.

I believe the reason resolutions often don’t work is because they start from a place of lack, of negativity, of failure.  We think about all the things we weren’t happy with in the previous year and set out to “fix” them in the new one…  Lose weight = I weigh too much…  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Write more often = I don’t write enough

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals, and achieving them is even better.  However, the goals need to be set on a strong foundation… Let’s first celebrate success and then determine how to carry that forward into the New Year rather than berating ourselves for what did not get done

It is CRITICAL to reflect on what you DID accomplish in the previous year. How else can you build from the base you already have? If you don’t take the time to tally up and celebrate what you’ve already accomplished, your resolutions will crumble. You’ll be starting from scratch in every category, and starting from scratch feels scary.

Here is what GOALS (vs. resolutions) look like when crafted this way. Lose weight = What did I do last year to improve my health, and what can I do to continue that progress? Make more money = How much money did I make last year, from which sources, and how can I increase output from those sources and add new ones? Write more often = What did I write this year and how am I going to use that writing in the new year while also writing new stories/articles/books, etc.?

Because I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself, I’ve invited 12 Days of Christmas for Writers participants to post their successes on their blogs and websites too. Feel free to share links to your posts in the comments here!

Allow me to be real for a moment and say that every year that goes by without a new book release or book deal initially feels like a failure (and it’s been three years, people!). However, in past years, that sense of failure has caused me to enter a state of paralysis where I couldn’t write at all. Not this year! I have three books on submission right now, and although I’ve stacked up quite a few rejections, I’ve been about as prolific as I could possibly be with my writing. I’ll save it for my list, but for once, my angst about not getting a book contract didn’t prevent me from accessing my creativity. If anything, it made me MORE motivated. That, my friends, is what we like to call a HUGE win. It means I’m placing myself in a position to receive success the minute it comes, and that I recognize it’s inevitable. No wallowing for this cowgirl. Not this year. I have too much to contribute.

When times are tough, when you start feeling as if your dreams are eluding you, it becomes MORE IMPORTANT to reflect on your accomplishments and give yourself credit for all that you DID achieve. 2017 held a great deal of contrast for me. I had more books than ever on submission, but no offers. My personal life ascended in big ways, but I also faced some of my most difficult challenges thus far as a parent. I sometimes felt unbearable despair at the political landscape, and yet it inspired me to write more than I ever have in years prior. And so on.

I offer you my list this year as proof of nothing other than my conviction that the only way to truly fail is to give up altogether.

Here is my list of my major professional accomplishments for 2017.

  1. I wrote seven new picture book drafts this year, which is a personal best for me.
  2. My agent saw fit to put three of my manuscripts on submission. They are still waiting to find homes, but I am keeping the faith.
  3. One of my manuscripts got close to selling a couple of times. No cigar, but I enter 2018 with a renewed purpose around revising it (AGAIN) so it will find its home.
  4. I found a way “back in” to an old manuscript I thought was on permanent retirement. I got an encouraging critique from an editor and believe it will be back on submission in 2018.
  5. I was accepted in the Denver Children’s Festival of Stories, to be held in March.
  6. I presented at the North Texas SCBWI conference in September.
  7. I presented as part of the Boulder Public Library’s Once Upon a Time: Children’s Book Writer’s & Illustrators of Colorado exhibition.
  8. Emma Walton Hamilton and I fully updated, rebranded, and re-launched our Complete Picture Book Submissions System course.
  9. I once again shepherded the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge participants through a year of writing, revising, submitting, and SUPPORTING. With a record 950+ members in 2017, I take pride in the fact that the community becomes MORE of a family each year even it as it grows. We celebrated a staggering number of success stories this year, and for the first time, ALL of our featured authors were published 12 x 12 members.
  10. Once again, hosted 12 fantastic and inspirational webinars during the 12 x 12 challenge.
  11. Officially launched my Teachable website to offer past webinars for purchase to non-members.
  12. With my partners Emma Walton Hamilton, Katie Davis, Jon Bard, and Laura Backes, hosted the third annual Picture Book Summit online conference.
  13. I developed what I think is a groundbreaking presentation (for the Picture Book Summit) on layers in picture books. I will be working in 2018 to make that content available to more writers.
  14. Thanks to the generosity of 12 x 12 members, we are able to provide six scholarships to 12 x 12 in 2018.
  15. I tried a few new (to me) and unconventional story structures for picture books. I don’t know if they’ll go anywhere, but it is fun to experiment.
  16. I treated myself to two magical, inspirational, and creatively rejuvenating writing retreats. One to St. Andrews, Scotland, where I got to stay in none other than my mentor/hero Jane Yolen’s house! The second was to The Writing Barn in Austin, TX for a picture book intensive. I recommitted to “nurture and honor” my muse by taking her places and giving her room to breathe outside the pressures of ordinary life.
  17. Perhaps most importantly, I didn’t let my disappointment over rejections put me into a major funk like it has in years past. If anything, I used the disappointment to strengthen my resolve to write more books, better books, and books from MY heart.

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list! Share in the comments if you’d like! 🙂

Categories: 12 x 12, Goals, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing



  1. I love this list Julie! Way to go. That last one #17 is definitely the sign of a person growing in their professional writing career. Wishing you all the best in 2018. 🙂


  2. What a wonderful list, Julie!


  3. You have the right mind set Julie. No matter what happens, you persevered especially getting back to your writing. This list is filled with passion, creativity, long hours of work, teamwork , new experiences, all which provide you with more momentum to make the next year even better. Those contracts will come!!


  4. Looks like you’ve been creatively busy this year, Julie. . .congrats! I’m missing our 12×12 group, but plugging along on my own in uncharted territory. It’s all good.😊


  5. Congratulations on all these accomplishments, Julie. Wow, 950+ members in 12×12!


  6. Julie, your list inspires me – I came close to giving up on this “new” for me career (late in life, I might add), and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the concept of the anti-resolution revolution! THANK YOU!!


  7. If you never publish another pb, Julie, you are a real winner and a major success in the industry!


  8. You’ve had such an important year! You may receive MS rejections. But more important, you have had a profound impact on the lives of thousands of writers with your vision, creativity and resourceful and supportive community.


  9. What a wonderful and inspiring post Julie. I wish you all the best for 2018!


  10. This is so very inspiring Julie. This has been my first year with 12X12 and I feel it has taken the fear away for me. We are all in this together. We’re not lonely writers struggling to make it, we’re a huge “family”- with supportive, encouraging and inspiring members. Thank you for your generous heart Julie. This year has been my best writing year ever!


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