I hate new year resolutions because I always revert back to my limiting behavior by the end of the month. In the past I’ve made these grand plans, laying out illusive goals with little thought as to how to achieve them. 2016 proved to be the worst year to date. Therefore, this year my plan includes reviewing last year’s goals and commitments to see where I dropped the ball. It was highly depressing to see where I set my sights for the end of 2016 with little to show.
My excuses are long and complex, but they are excuses only. Yes, we did build a house, which took 14 months. That is a depressing thought in and of itself. But I’m now out of my camper and in said house, my office is somewhat organized and I’ve managed my first Christmas and first visitors. Okay, enough of the excuses for not writing.
I’ve let so many wonderful opportunities fall through my fingers, like low tide pulling the sand back to the sea. Why? I’m not really sure. Perhaps, it’s fear. I know I’ve used my volunteer commitments as a way to make me feel connected as a writer without doing the hard work of writing. Those commitments to my writing organizations took a lot of my time and were mentally draining in many ways. But did they help me achieve my goals as a writer? I used them and they used me.
I’m decluttering my commitment lists this year. I’m evaluating all of the organizations to which I belong in an effort to determine which ones are moving me forward and which ones are holding me back. In addition, I’m looking at conferences and retreats. Yes, they sound great in theory, but are they another way to give me the illusion of being a writer with little reality? And what about classes, online or in person? Am I getting the bang for my buck, or do they distract me from my work?
And where does social media play into this scenario? I’ve tried to tweet, but twitter just doesn’t make sense to me. And Facebook? I don’t know most of the “friends” I have. I began letting go by unfollowing political posts; I have two criteria for keeping them. Is it family and friends, for which I will put up with a lot, or is it demeaning, for which I have very little tolerance. The first I keep, the second I ditch. Mainly because I’m amazed at what people will say into cyberspace. I can’t imagine them ever making those comments to a person standing in front of them. This being said, I have fewer friends on Facebook now and I’m okay with that.
If you haven’t read Dr. Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work, I highly recommend it. This book
led me to the realization I have too many irons in the fire to write at the level I know of I can. Thank you, Dr. Steve Fox of my alma mater, IUPUI. You helped me believe in myself and push myself to learn more about my craft and use it to become a better writer, always reaching higher. I apologize for wasting the past two decades not writing.
I have read a lot of craft books in past 20 years, but I have very little finished projects to show for them. Learning about excellent writing was good, but now it’s time to put my knowledge to use. I will continue to read and study my craft, but only after I get my writing commitments finished now. In the past I would question something I wanted to do with my writing and then spend hours researching it. Now, I will write it down, mark it in my manuscript and research it at the end of the day.
Recently someone reminded me a writer’s life is a lonely life. I welcome the solitude of sitting in my office chair and being alone with my thoughts now without the distractions of my past crowding in on me. I’m stepping back and finding the writer in me again, and I encourage all of you to do the same. Put writer as your number 1 commitment this year. This doesn’t take a new year’s resolution, but it does take a daily commitment.
I wish everyone a happy new year. May you make your dreams a reality in 2017.