Being Resolute on Your New Year’s Writing Resolution

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They resurface in lost pockets every so often, covered in lint, scrawled on Post-it notes. I analyze them like an archaeologist, studying their messages—some successful, others negotiable, others well, less than so.

Go Europe. Quit Smoking. Sell book. Fried food: No. Take more photos; take photos of anything other than [delightful pet basset hound] Abner.

New Year’s Resolutions.

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As I prepare to make another batch, the new February issue of WD sits on my desk. Focused on getting creative in 2010, it features a great piece by Fred White on the topic of inspiration. On my bookshelf, I have White’s Daily Writer, which includes the following bit on resolutions. While it may seem obvious, it’s something I’d like to brand (in so many words) on my arm for 2010.

“It’s easy to make resolutions but tough to follow through on them. Before you make yours, think about the psychology behind wanting to do so in the first place. We look upon the beginning of a new year as a chance to renew our lives. …

“For writers, New Year’s resolutions are motivational prods that actually can work, if you set up a means of fulfilling the resolution along with the resolution itself. For this new year, resolve not only to succeed at writing, but to write every day. To make that resolution stick, get into a routine; make writing a habit. This means carving out a set time for writing and adhering to it.

“Resolutions are best enforced through a daily routine. Eventually, the routine becomes habitual; writing will become an integral part of your life, no different from sitting down to dinner or shopping for groceries—except, of course, that writing involves uninterrupted concentration. It’s a good idea, before committing to a writing routine, to ‘test the waters’ for a few days just to see how well you can handle four or five hours of writing at one sitting. You may discover that spending only two hours a day would work best for you.

“To ensure that you write every day, set aside a realistic chunk of time relative to the demands on your workday. Approach your writing time as you do eating: As something you must do. Decide ahead of time what kind of writing you’re going to do (work on an outline for a novel, profile a character, describe a setting, and so forth) and do it.”

My latest haul of Post-its: Get personal website revamped and back up, finish editing novel, submit pieces every other weekend. Which means getting home from work and getting back into the routine. Which can be the hardest part. (Well, that, and ditching the fried food.)

What’s on your list? See you Monday in the new year!

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WRITING PROMPT: The Power of Suggestion
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional around-the-office swag drawings.

Ask a friend for a number between 100 and 2,000, and without any further explanation, ask her to say the first word that comes to mind. Write a story of the given number of words exactly, and make the random word the title as well as the final utterance in your story. A possible first sentence: “Do you trust me?”

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