Wednesday, January 2, 2008
New Year's Resolutions? I don't make 'em
New Year's resolutions set me up for failure. I'm a little vulnerable at that time of the year - I'm still recovering from Christmas and some unrealistic expectations I sometimes have for the holidays. I am putting away decorations and restoring the house to its previous condition. I'm a little overwhelmed about getting my life organized again. OK, I'm more than a little bit vulnerable this time of year, and grand and noble resolutions are doomed for failure.
As an alternative, I've realized that making a resolution or goal in the moment is more effective for me. This kind of resolution occurs when I'm deeply involved in the creative process, such as:
I will finish this manuscript and submit it to_______. A realistic date is added.
I have an appointment with an editor in March at a writers conference. This provides me with an incentive to work very hard on that manuscript, to write a coherent and compelling synopsis, and to present myself with confidence as I make my pitch. The first three chapters, at least, will be strong and polished, so I can submit them knowing they're my best work. I also need to summarize the novel in one, two, or three sentences (try it, that's very hard!) and blurbs of 100, 200, and 300 words. Sometimes that's all an editor has in hand (and all the time they are given)to pitch a book to a publisher or book buyer, so each word in those little blurbs is essential. They will be written and rewritten many times.
I note calls for submission and periodically submit articles, short stories, essays, etc. to various publications and put them on a calendar. That way, I have ongoing submissions and rejections to track, and I find more submission sources along the way. There's never really a blank on my calendar. I'm always trying to move forward. And I'm always on the alert to new possibilities. Realistically, what have I got to lose? is the question I ask myself. Something is always out there, under consideration by somebody.
A few months ago, as I thought about my writing as a business as well as a creative enterprise, I determined how many workshops I will attend per year, keeping in mind what I want to accomplish by attending them. They are already blocked out on my calendar.
This new year, I have entered a BIAM (book in a month) activity at Tristi's blog. I suppose that's something of a resolution. A big one, in fact. It may help me to finish the rough draft of the work in progress, which is always on my mind, but needs to be on paper, or at least on the computer screen. It will be interesting to see how I do with this challenge. Today is January 2, though, so theoretically I'm already behind. If I don't complete the rough draft by the end of January, at least I'll have made progress.
I'm not one of those "so many thousands of words a day" authors, anyway. I'm more of a "write this scene" author. Also, in this work, a goal is to "include colors" as my main character, an artistic woman, thinks of others in terms of colors. That has led to some interesting research on colors and how they affect our moods and thinking.
Unfortunately, I've not been able to silence that little nagging editor on my shoulder, so I can't write freely and with abandon, to crank out those thousands of words per day. Yet. I know that's the goal of BIAM so I'll try. Good things may happen as I apply myself. But I won't kick myself if the rough draft isn't complete by the end of January. It will be much further along than it is today, though. And that's progress.
As I look at what's there already in the rough draft, specific goals will be written in the margins, which will lead to other creative improvements. It will put me in the moment, where I need to be. Where I love to be. So I'm going to give the BIAM my best shot, Tristi.
Back to resolutions. One resolution I make every year,:
No overdue library books.
Oops, I just checked my online library account and . . . you guessed it. I'm going to receive a polite notice from the library. Now my goal is to put library due dates on my calendar, so Outlook will nag - -- er, remind me.
OK, OK, I just made a resolution. One that's obviously easy to break.