Every year I go there. I make a list-sometimes in my head, sometimes scratched in a journal. I make resolutions, resolve to change. Every year they are pretty much the same. Eat better, exercise more, write a book, improve my posture, learn another language, get a better handle on finances, stop hating myself.
This year I would prefer a revolution. I need things to happen more quickly. Let’s face it. I just need something to happen. For once I would really like to win a battle, if not the war.
So I pick writing.
It’s not that I don’t want the other things. I do. But I need focus. I need a more singular purpose. If along the way a few other things fall in place, well that’s icing on the cake. But this year, damn it, I’m writing.
So here’s what I want to do:
1) Keep track of what I’m reading. Make notes on things that inspire or teach me. Read books that will help me be a better writer. Keep it all in one notebook-what I read, what I want to read, what I think about what I’m reading-and review it from time to time.
2) Write 4 times a week no matter what. Blogging does not count. Try and blog twice a week but do not use blogging to keep me from writing. Use blogging to motivate, to learn from others, to confess or yearn or laugh.
3) Focus on the novel. Do not decide one day, I should really clean up these short stories and send them out because maybe I’ll get one published and that will motivate me. Sounds nice. You’ve tossed it around a bit. But the truth is, it takes just as much focus to work on the short stories and I want to finish a novel. I want to send out and get rejected for a novel. I want to publish a novel. I want a few people to read my novel.
4) Take at least one workshop and go to at least one conference. Jump into “the life” in whatever way you can. Go to readings, find good blogs, listen, learn. Treat this like you are studying to become a brain surgeon. Why would you skip the class on the occipital lobe?
5) Block out the novel. Start giving it more shape. Use index cards or files or whatever tricks there are to give it a beginning, middle and end. This will not appear to you in a dream. Work at it.
6) Stop being stingy with what you write. It’s ok if I write 30 pages about a character that never makes it into the book. It will help get me where I need to go.
7) Stop buying office supplies. You have enough cute folders and spiral notebooks and cool pens to write 3 novels.
8) Finish a complete draft of the novel by the end of this year so you can go back to the other resolutions. Pray that by then I don’t weigh a million pounds and look like a hunchback.
That’s my revolution. Did I leave anything critical out?
Do you have a New Year’s revolution? We all want to change the world.