Thoughts and Inspiration for Creative Writers

-from Chrysalis Editorial

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION (For Writers Only!)

Posted on | December 31, 2009 | 6 Comments

It’s that time of year again. Specifically, the end of it. And it’s the time when we are supposed to reflect on all the things we haven’t accomplished (how depressing!), and resolve to accomplish in the forthcoming year.

I have discovered a way to make this process easy and painless. Hence, I encourage you to do two, and only two, things. Well, one really, but the first one relates to the second one, so here goes:

1.) Keep your resolutions manageable. How often have you heard that? And, of course, easier said than done. In my opinion, this adage applies mainly to things like dieting and exercise. For example, don’t say you’ll cut out all sweets when that’s your favorite food; instead say you’ll cut out chocolate on Tuesdays and Thursdays (to be replaced with sugar-free jello), and no cupcakes or cookies on Mondays and Wednesdays. Manageable right? Likewise don’t resolve to go to the gym every day, resolve to go three times a week. Unless of course there’s additional motivation, like the more often you go, the more likely you’ll meet that cute buff guy or girl of your dreams. Yes, 2010 is that year.

Okay, now, we’re getting closer to the nub of the matter, to the proverbial heart of this blog posting: (after all this is supposed to be about writing and being creative, not dieting and exercising). So forget everything I just said about dieting and exercise. I don’t care about that. I care about writing (and supposedly so do you).

2.) To keep your resolutions manageable, make only one New Year’s resolution. Only one. I know I said this was for writers only, but actually this is only for those writers who want to be successful, published, and gloriously wealthy. So if that’s not you, then stop right here. Read no further. I mean it. Don’t even peek.

As for the rest of you, repeat after me: I resolve to write for 15 minutes every day. That’s it. (And no, you can’t write for 30 minutes one day and skip the next.) For the most part you’ll be able to stick to this resolution, (No problem), but for those annoying hectic days, here are a few tips to help you squeeze 15 minutes of writing into your schedule: 1) Get up a little earlier (yawn, yawn) or go to bed a little later, 2) take a little extra time in the shower (great place to get ideas, first lines, last lines, etc), but then don’t forget to write them down, 3) take a little less time eating lunch and more time writing (that’s a two-fer: writing + weight reduction), 4) use a tape recorder (do they still exist?) or text yourself to record ideas while driving, (obviously don’t have an accident!) 5) eliminate coffee breaks. (That’s all I can think of right now. Add your tips, please!)

If you need additional motivation, here’s a surefire way to stick to your New Year’s resolution: deny yourself chocolate, sex, wine, etc until you’ve finished writing. It heightens the pleasure factor exponentially. I swear. My husband hates it, but my computer loves it.

The really great thing about this New Year’s resolution (well, besides getting huge satisfaction from all the writing you’re getting done) is: you will relieve yourself of guilt! Well, at least one. You won’t have to go to sleep, then wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “I can’t believe I didn’t write for 15 minutes today. I promised myself. God, I am such a loser. How can I expect to ever get published? Herta was right.” And so on. How much self-flagellation you do depends on how neurotic and guilt-ridden you tend to be. If you’re a writer, you fall into the top 10% of the world’s neurotic population. Did you know that? So, actually, if you’re thinking, heck I’m not that neurotic…I don’t feel that guilty…well then maybe you’re not really a writer after all, and you don’t have to write for 15 minutes, and you can just skip this blog altogether. In which case I say, Lucky YOU!

Happy New Year!

p.s. If you follow this advice, and by the end of 2010, those 15 minutes of writing each day added up to a novel, or 10 short stories, or a memoir, or a chapbook and the thing gets published, you owe me $100. Make check payable to: Herta Feely. My address is on my website.

Comments

6 Responses to “NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION (For Writers Only!)”

  1. Herta
    December 31st, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

    another way to squeeze in 15 minutes of writing: take a train, subway, or bus. It’s also eco friendly.

  2. jeff
    January 3rd, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

    Great advice… the #1 commandment for any writer should be write a lot read a lot.

    15 minutes minimum a day is a good goal, because normally once you get started you’ll pump out more that 15 minutes for sure. Just settling yourself down and writing is the key. Let time take care of itself…

    Love your blog, hopefully one day I’ll have a book to send you. Thx

  3. Herta
    January 6th, 2010 @ 11:37 am

    hey jeff,
    you are so right! i wish you all the best. if you want to send me an e-mail about your current work, i’d love to hear about it. So here’s to 15 minutes a day, maybe even more, as you say!

    One more tip to all you writers: sometimes to get yourself into the writing mode, simply pick up one of your favorite books, and begin typing a paragraph from that book. That was something James Jones (author of Thin Red Line, From Here to Eternity, etc) did when he was just starting out.

  4. Carollyne
    January 7th, 2010 @ 10:45 am

    Hi Herta,

    What a great blog! Please keep it going. I like this resolution, but to make it even more painless, I suggest going even simplier:

    commit to writing FIVE minutes per day. Who doesn’t have FIVE minutes? I read this works for exercising. Once you start, you go longer than the five minutes. The real issue is starting.

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