On Resolutions, or Why I Make Plans Instead

Happy New Year!

I hope your festive seasons went / are going well! I’ve been completely MIA for the past couple of weeks (no twitter / FB / blogging), but I’ve noticed a lot of people are blogging about their New Year Resolutions (NYR), or about why they don’t make them. They’re also taking stock of the last twelve months and planning ahead for the next. So this is me, doing that. Sort of.

First up – confession time: I have not been writing non-stop for the past twelve days. It was what I wanted to do. It was what I’d planned to do, but I didn’t. Mostly, this is because I was tired. Coming off the slog-fest that was the ERoE (Epic Rewrite of Epicness), which resulted in 72,000 words (nowhere near enough but pretty darn good, really) and a particularly stressful project at the Office (thankfully, I met my deadline for this, at least), all I wanted to do was relax. So I did, and it was great. I’ve played video games, read comic books, watched movies, caught up with the family, and got together with friends (to play video games). It’s been awesome, like a real holiday. Not the sort where you go away, but the kind where you take time off. Oh! Did you hear that? That was me taking a long, deep breath. In fact, if you ignore the writer guilts that have been plaguing me for the past twelve days, I’ve had an absolutely wonderful time. Ah, the writer guilts. Where would I be without that constant OMG it’s Sunday night and I haven’t even started my homework yet buzz? But that’s a theme for another blog.

Next – taking stock: I had a book published last year. No, wait, that needs an exclamation point. Writers tend to look at the next thing, the book they haven’t yet written, the one that’s giving them the guilts, the project they should be working on right now. It’s all too easy to lose sight of the completed ones, to, as I do, nod to acknowledge their existence and then move on to the next thing. So, I’m going to take some time today to just be totally, immeasurably, and insurmountably happy that Beast Child was published in September 2011. Is it self-indulgent to wallow in my own success? Yes. Yes it is. I do it so infrequently, though, that I don’t think I’m in any serious danger of descending into pomposity.

Then comes – resolutioning: I will . . . I promise . . . I vow . . . Okay, here’s the thing about NYRs. They don’t work for me. I’ve joined (and quit) enough gyms to know this is the case. I hope they work for you, though, because I think they’re wonderful things. What better time to assess the ups and downs of the past twelve months and look to what you can do better over the next than the start of a new year? It’s almost mythic. As the old kingdom falls to decay a new hero (played here by the NYR) arrives to set things right for another year, until he or she also fades, only to be reborn the following year, and so on it goes. I’ve been studying heroes too long to ignore the importance of this renewal cycle, but I know from experience my heroes usually pack up and go home a couple of days (in some cases hours) later. So I stopped making them. I have enough (writer) guilt to deal with without worrying about the fact that I’ve strayed from my diet or spent too much time playing video games, which, let’s face it, will be true in both cases before long.

Finally – the Plan: You can call this a NYR all you want, but I’m not going to. I think the problem with the NYR is that we expect too much. We’re going to completely turn our whole lives around, or something equally unachievable, so I’m going with the Plan instead (outlined below). The Plan is particularly important for me this year because it requires me to actually completely turn my whole life around. Okay, not really, but I am a creature of habit, and there’s one big habit I need to change this year, and it’s to do with my writing. Up until now, I’ve written in huge chunks. A break from uni? Write! A weekend off? Write! Holidays? You guessed it – WRITE! I was never the sort of writer who could write every day. I’d save it up, and plan, and ponder, and then, when I had a block of days to myself, I’d power through. I fell into this habit because I was working and studying and, later, teaching so much that I completely overwhelmed myself. I worked hard to save money to take time off to write. This was my cycle, and it worked for me.

But life changed. First, I got a grant from Arts SA and wrote full time for 6 months, and it was just absolute goodness. Then, I made the decision to don the Suit. No more part time gigs. No more balancing (who am I kidding? There was very little balance involved) half a dozen jobs all at once with a goal to save, save, save so I could take time off to write, write, write. At the end of last year, I broke that cycle, which had always worked for me (if you don’t count the spiralling stress and the ever-present fear of not making enough this week to cover the rent, not to mention the toll of working up to three different jobs in a single day). So, full time work and, as if that wasn’t enough of a shock to the system, the need to write. Every. Day.

And I did it! Well, almost, but at least the ERoE taught me that I could write this way. I could hold down a full time job and still write at the same time! So, without further ado and to finish this lengthy New Year’s blog post, my Plan for 2012:

1) Rearrange brain so that it approaches writing as a daily activity. This may require chocolate and coffee.

2) Write productively every day. Definitely more coffee.

3) Write at least 5,000 words a week, every week. For those without a calculator handy, that’s just over 250k words in 2012, which equates to about three and a half books, give or take, in the year (see following).

4) Finish rewrite of Abe.

5) Finish Ebb & Flow: Volume Three of the Voyages of the Flying Dragon.

6) Blog more often. Blog entries don’t count towards weekly word targets, but they come with extra chocolate.

7) Draft the following: Untitled Project A, Untitled Project B, and Untitled Project C. These are two new, independent YA projects I’ve been planning for quite some time now and one totally new project I came up with over the least twelve days (okay, so I did some writing work on my holiday).

8) Finally, just chill. The best part about having a Plan and not a NYR is that there’s no twelve month countdown timer ticking way in the background.

9) Oh, and I should probably add something about getting a life . . .

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One Response to On Resolutions, or Why I Make Plans Instead

  1. Well that has to be the best look at the YNR’s i have read. I too have not resolved anything this time. Just decided to calm down! the bouncing ball is getting deflated this year. Maybe a little less coffee! See ya soon bro.

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