New year writing resolutions

I've always liked rituals. I know any day of the year is a good time for a new beginning, but I like using the new year as an opportunity to readjust and make some changes. Some of my resolutions are more in the form of to-do lists (i.e. projects I'd like to get done around the house in 2014) while some are more abstract goals.

One of the big ones, of course, is writing. Since I've finished my degree, I haven't been terribly productive at writing. I've had all sorts of excuses -- planning a wedding, starting a full-time job, difficulty managing time, wanting to hang out with my new husband -- but they're all excuses and I know that. One of my writer friends said that she's heard a lot of people don't do much writing for the first six months post-MFA because graduate work is so exhausting. Well, I don't know if that's true, but that sounded like another great legitimate excuse to add to the pile. Except now I'm definitely six months out of school, so time to get back to work.

I know one of the most successful ways to keep a goal is to be specific, but right now the goal is simply "find a writing
schedule." I'm hesitant to be more specific than that because I want to wiggle room to figure out what that means to me. I don't want to commit to a number of pages per day or week or whatever when really I work better with a set amount of time, for example. I do, however, have a few specific methods to try.

The first combats some of my previous excuses. I do think it's valid to say that, while I'm home, I'd rather spend time with my husband -- we are newlyweds, after all, and now is the time to lay a quality foundation. I also complain about how unproductive I can be at home; while I've intended to create a writing space in our home (perhaps a secondary goal?), I haven't done so yet, not to mention I do often get distracted at home (although, with access to the internet, I can get distracted anywhere). However... I do have an office. While I wouldn't feel right writing on the job (at least not yet -- Thomas Lee seems to have no qualms about this), there's no rule that says I can't come in early and use the space to get some writing done before I'm officially on the clock. Alternatively, I could come in early, leave early, and get some writing in at home before my husband comes home from work. Or, as a third option, I could take a suggestion from Eric Weinstein and write over my lunch break. I often eat lunch at my desk, but I often mentally distance myself from work during lunchtime.

A second method is setting a time minimum. I know I said earlier that I'm hesitant to pick something specific, but there's a movement to dedicate just ten minutes to writing a day. Ten minutes is so short that it's hard to put it off -- even a sitcom episode is longer than that (my favorite method of time-wasting when I'm at home). I can easily set a timer for ten minutes, scribble until it goes off, and then stop. It might just be enough to start a daily writing habit. And if after ten minutes, I'm not ready to stop... so much the better.

My final method is one I'm borrowing from Cheryl Strayed. I had the enjoyment of seeing her at George Mason University this past fall during the Fall for the Book festival (which meant I also went home with two more books that night). She said that every six weeks, she stays in a hotel for the weekend and writes. She's found that she's more productive in that weekend than she is the whole previous six weeks. While this method takes money, it appeals to me. I would often leave town for the weekend at the end of the semester and dedicate the time to revising my portfolio for my workshop class. Leaving home meant I was mentally prepared to focus on just writing for that span of time. I don't have to go very far: there are plenty of hotels in the area and I can find one that's cheap. But one way to show that I'm serious about my writing is to dedicate my resources to it. A regular weekend writing getaway might be enough to remind myself how serious I am.

These are goals about just the act of writing itself. I do have other goals on the business side of publications. That's a topic for another post, however.

1 comment:

  1. Those sound like good goals! It is nice to know that others are also still navigating what a writing life means without the constraints of grad school. My goals this year are to do a full revision pass over the novel I wrote last November during Andrew's and my trip, and to figure out a submission schedule when we return.