Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I Resolve...

I've never been big on New Year's Resolutions -- making or keeping -- but was inspired by Molly's great list and decided writing my own down might be a good idea.

First, I did suggest to our critique group at one point last year, that we shouldn't make things outside our control "goals" or "resolutions". Not sure I still 100% agree with myself, or rather, I feel like my suggestion about only setting controllable goals needs clarification.

Debbie Macomber does this great talk on setting big goals. She suggests writing them down on an index card, putting them in a drawer and then revisiting them annually, or whatever, to see which, if any, you've met. I do believe in this kind of goal setting (for the same reasons I like reading my horoscope) and that index card (or scrap of paper) is the place I put the things I can't control.

The theory/idea of those "big goal" lists is that if you write them down, admit they're what you want, the goals becomes real, more attainable and you become more committed to attaining them. Once written down, the list of goals seeps into your subconscious, affects everything you do, and maybe, just maybe, there's some magic involved, too. I do have an index card list. The goals are big and hairy and audacious and totally outside my direct control.

Getting an agent was on my list last year and I did that. But so was getting my first contract and I didn't get that.

So, back to the point I was making about being able to control your resolutions. What I meant was you can't beat yourself up, or feel like a failure or a slacker, for not acheiving something you can't control, like finalling in a particular contest or getting a particular book contract or hitting a bestseller list.

And back to resolutions... ("Finally!" the reader says.)

1. Although I desperately want 2007 to be the year I get my first book contract, I won't make that a resolution. (see above) Rather, copying from Molly's list, I resolve to get (gasp) two more publishable books into my agent's hands this year, so that the probability of getting what I really want, (a contract) but can't control, will go up.

2. I resolve to treat myself better this year. To curb the self destructive things I do -- the things which may seem hedonistic, but are really more like masochism, perpetuating my subconscious self's idea that I'm not worthy. (And no, Molly, I'm won't necessarily start refusing that last drink. I mean bigger things than that.)

3. I resolve to start each day with writing. Not e-mail. Not reading blogs. Not playing computer games or otherwise wasting time. I used to tell myself that it was okay to do e-mail etc. while having my morning porridge and coffee... But lately, the morning coffee e-mails stretch into the afternoon and when I stop to write (if I do) I'm already sick of sitting at the computer, or I'm in this weird ADD head space, where I can't concentrate on my work for more than five minutes at a time. I always get more done on the days I start out writing. (Julia Cameron is smart.)

4. I resolve to plan/plot my next book more than I did the one I'm currently revising. Revising this book is making me a little crazy and I usually love this part. I still don't know exactly where I fall on the plot/pants spectrum... But I do know, the more I learn about storytelling and pacing and tension, the more I want to have at least some idea for where a scene's going before I sit down to write it -- even if that scene wanders off in an even more interesting direction once I do write it.

So, those are my resolutions....

7 comments:

Christine said...

These are some awesome resolutions, Maureen. I do the same thing with my email. I get up extra early in the morning to write and waste the first ten minutes some days checking my email. I'm going to turn off my Internet connection from now on so I'm not tempted.

Kimber said...

When I had to grind out the last novel, I stuck to my write first, reward myself with e-mail, blogging, surfing later rule. It was painful but worked.

What is most important to you should be your first priority of the day. Get 'er done.

Molly O'Keefe said...

That must be why the first thing I do is make coffee...priority number one.

I think those self-defeating behaviors are things all of us need to work on. And I'm not just talking about the ice cream sundeas I'm eating every night. It's why am I staying up so late watching bad tv when I'm going to pay for it in the morning and instead of writing during naps -- I nap. I think this year we all need to channel a little more suzanne brockman -- who is the most discplined writer in the world. She has to be.

good list -- though it seemed all those properly placed commas were laughing at me.

Sinead M said...

I agree, good list Maureen...I am going to try and surf the internet less. It takes up too damn much of my time.
I'm OK with watching good TV, it gives me a ton to think about, but how many old episodes of Friends does a person need to see...

Enough already... No more repeat Tv programmes for me.

Wylie Kinson said...

I'm somehow relieved that I'm not the only one who procrastinates, get's sidetracked, email, blog, etc... before writing. I shall endeavor to join you in your #3 goal. As soon as I finish reading my list of blogs
;)

Sara Hantz said...

Debbie came to the RWNZ conference last year and spoke about the index card. I have mine in my purse, as we speak!

Amy Ruttan said...

# 3 sounds great. I am turning into a blogoholic and emailoholic. I need to write first, have fun later.

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