New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

I’m not a fan of “New Year’s Resolutions.” There’s almost a kind of implied mockery in the phrase, like – oh, sure, try to make some changes and see what happens. Meanwhile, every day is actually the start of a new year. So, if habits are holding you back, and there are things you wish you were doing, but are not – now is the time.  It doesn’t matter if it is January 1, 2019, or today. A proverb from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu always helps me when I’m daunted by the idea of making a big change: The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.

That said, January is a great time for writers to set some intentions for the year ahead. Maybe you’re working on your novel or screenplay, a collection of short stories, or poetry. Maybe you’re not a writer at all, but a painter or a photographer. The truth is that this busy-addicted world doesn’t provide much space or permission for the time and intention it requires to create. I’ve talked about this in a previous blog, about how you have to create the time and space to create, then give yourself the permission to do the thing you want to do.

Here are a few resolutions to consider as 2019 gets started:

Schedule the time and honor the schedule.

There’s no magic or short cut to finishing your novel. If you’re waiting for the muse, or inspiration to strike, or a month where there’s nothing else going on in your life, you will not write your book. It’s that simple. Like anything else that’s important to you, you have to make a date and time, and keep it as if you’ve made a commitment to a friend. You wouldn’t let your friend down, would you? Then why would you let yourself down? Even if it’s just an hour a week, schedule it and keep the date. You’ll be amazed at how much progress you’ll make, and how inspiration will meet you during the allotted time.

Don’t let life derail you – forever.

I had hoped to write this blog last week. But the holidays! And parents visiting! And my daughter and husband both sick with a sinus infection and bronchitis respectively. And. And. And. So, it didn’t happen. But now, school is back in session, the holidays are over and my daughter and hubby are both well. The point is: If you miss a day, or a week, because life body slams you – and it will – don’t let that turn into a month or longer. Just get back to your creative goals as soon as possible, no judgements.

Just write. (Or paint. Or photograph. Or sing.)

All you need to do to be a writer is to put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) and write. Don’t get hung up on external validation. That may come in time. Connect with the joy of your craft – and if there isn’t joy you might need to unpack that – and do what you do purely for the love of it. Will you publish? Will you see your screenplay come to life? Maybe! But that’s not why we create. We create because it’s a well-spring within us, something that flows, that connects us to our deepest passion. Do it just for that. That is a powerful energy to follow. See where it takes you.

Read this article by Jerry Saltz.

I read this article in New York Magazine a few weeks ago, and it made me laugh, made me think, inspired me, and comforted me. The entire truth of how to be and live as an artist is contained here. I’m not kidding. Whether you are a complete amateur or a creative professional, I promise that there’s something for you here.

Love boredom.

Seriously. Step away from the smart phone, from social media, from mindless web surfing (no, this doesn’t count!), from video games, from time sucking apps. Allow yourself to do nothing, to be nothing, to look at nothing, consume nothing. The blank space is the seat of all creative thought. The most brilliant, beautiful, world-changing ideas came from the empty space of boredom where a unique mind worked to entertain itself and fill the universe with ideas that were original and authentic. But if you fill every blank or awkward or boring moment with some piece of garbage, then you will create absolutely nothing. Ever. And the world will be a lesser place because of it.

Thanks for reading. And, hey, get to work on that novel! I believe in you.