Around the first of the New Year, I thought a lot about the goals I had for 2018, both personally and professionally. They were of the standard variety, you know: be more organized, take my yoga practice up a notch, go to bed at a “human” hour, FINISH WRITING THAT BOOK! All these are well and good, and if I’m honest I’ll likely be successful at doing them for the first few months of the year before my enthusiasm will wane and I’ll half-a– the rest of the year. Willpower can only take you so far! (The Frog and Toad story “Cookies” comes to mind when I hear the word willpower).
This year, the 1st came and went and I didn’t buckle down, as they say, and write a list of goals. In truth the one goal I want to achieve for 2018 is becoming an actual writer, one on the track to having my novel published. Which I realize is entirely dependent on me. I have to polish my book and make the effort to seek an agent. No one else can do that for me. And what that also requires, at least for me, is a continuation of the habit I started over winter break when my days where lazy and I could write from 5a.m. til my kids woke at 8a.m. On those days, when I didn’t have to get up and teach, I was able to believe myself a bonafide writer. And that is what I needed in that moment, more so than a list of goals. I needed a belief, or maybe even an acknowledgement that despite my day job, I am a writer.
For those of us who write this blog and for many of you who read it, we are not in a position yet where we can write all day, everyday. We have jobs and families, or don’t yet have a book deal and an editor demanding revisions.
If you make a point to squeeze writing time into your busy day. You are a writer.
If you cannot read a book without breaking down the elements of the story. You are a writer.
If you daydream about your characters and have epiphanies while driving in traffic, or in the shower, or any other time that is seriously inconvenient to get that idea on a piece of paper! You are a writer.
If you feel an amazing surge of energy after crafting a perfectly honed sentence. You, my friend, are a writer.
If you’ve already chucked that list of resolutions, at least do this: stop thinking of yourself as a writer and acknowledge that you are in fact one.
But don’t stop there. First believe, then do.
I think it’s important to remember that believing and acknowledging is only the beginning. To follow through I need–we all need–self-control. (Or if you’d prefer, self-discipline, which sounds more palatable. In fact there is an excellent article in the NYT on the subject.)
What self-control will look like for each of us is different. It turns out for me that going to bed at a “human” hour is essential if I am to get up at 5a.m. Regardless of my desires to wind down after a long day, I must have enough self-control not to stay up until 11p.m. reading, or watching T.V., or anything else that will keep me from getting the rest I need. This is just one example; my list is long.
So first things first, acknowledge that you are a writer and then uncover the areas in your life that need self-control. Once uncovered, what are you going to do to be more disciplined?
There are few people in the world that solely get to write everyday. For me that is my endgame. Until then, I will think of myself as such, I will have self-control/discipline and I will find ways to write even in the wee hours of the morning, even if those hours are slightly shorter because I have a day job to get to.
Happy New Year and Happy Writing!