Sunday, November 1, 2009

A New Month's Resolution

Last New Year’s Day, I made a resolution to floss my teeth every day, and I’m happy to say that, ten months into 2009, I haven’t missed a single day. This marks the first time in my entire life that I’ve actually kept a New Year’s resolution, and I’m pretty excited about that.

For 2010, I’ve been thinking that I need to resolve to do more reading and writing—I’d like to vow to do some of both every single day—and wondering how I can be as successful at keeping next year’s resolutions. I thought maybe a trial run would help, and since today is the first day of a new month, it seems like a good time to start. What with my annual confusion over the end of Daylight Savings Time and a night of odd dreams (quite possibly brought on by the consumption of too much of the Halloween candy we didn’t give out to trick-or-treaters--because we didn’t have any trick-or-treaters), I forgot to say “Rabbit rabbit” when I woke up this morning, but perhaps making a New Month Resolution will bring me good luck, as well as be good practice for the coming New Year.

I’m thinking I should start small: at least 15 minutes a day of each, with some fairly lenient rules about what actually constitutes reading and writing. While I’d like to spend several hours every day working on the Great American Novel, and several more reading books to improve my mind/my writing/my soul, I think that if I want to have a shot at success, I’d better work up to that in stages.

Since I already read nearly every night at bedtime, I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble keeping that resolution. (Whether or not my usual reading is the sort of stuff that’s going to improve my mind/writing/soul is open for debate, but, as I said, I’m starting small.)

The writing, however, is more of a problem. It’s far too easy for me to talk myself out of sitting down at the computer (or sitting down with a notebook) unless I have an uninterrupted stretch of, say, two to four hours ahead of me. And since that happens…oh, maybe once a month if I’m lucky, I’m going to start with a resolution to write at least 15 minutes a day in a journal.

Since I type a lot faster than I write longhand, and since I’m eternally hopeful that, when I sit down to write about whatever pops into my head, I might accidentally produce something brilliant that I will then want to save, post, or publish, I’m going to do my writing on the computer whenever possible.

It has occurred to me that possibly the best way to ensure that I keep my resolution would be to post everything I write, every day, on my blog, thereby creating Lofty Expectations among my faithful readers that I might feel compelled to meet. However, it has also occurred to me that it’s very likely that most of what I write in a 15-minute burst of emptying my head onto the screen, usually at the end of the day when I’m tired and quite possible cranky, won’t be worth reading. Since I’m reluctant to risk losing readers (or having anyone use phrases like “verbal vomit” in connection with my blog) I’ll wait and see how these daily entries turn out before deciding whether or not to post them.

My main intention, now that I’m no longer writing every day at work, is to keep the writer in my brain functioning fairly smoothly, so that when I do have some bigger blocks of time, I’ll be able to sit down at the computer and just start writing. Otherwise, every time I get ready to write, I’m apt to find myself having to slog my way back through all the other parts of my brain—those parts that would rather check email and Facebook, search for recipes, or browse instead of getting down to business.

I should also confess that I’ve just finished reading the introductory chapters of a book called No Plot? No Problem!, written by Chris Baty, who created National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as it’s now known. During NaNoWriMo, which happens to begin today, aspiring novelists take on the challenge of producing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. NaNoWriMo began in 1999 with 21 writers, and last year had over 120,000 participants.

I don’t have time to write a novel in November, not this year, and probably not ever. This year, I’ve just started a new job, I’ve just checked three interesting-looking books out of the library, and I’ve just vowed to get my house clean (or at least cleaner) by the end of this month. Next year, I’ll probably have another bunch of good excuses, and, anyway, with Thanksgiving and Christmas looming, November just doesn’t seem like a good time to take hundreds of hours away from everything else in my life.

February, however, is looking promising. I won’t say that I am going to try to write a 50,000-word novel in February; I’ll just say that, after reading Baty’s book, I’m intrigued, and, well…I might. The weather in February doesn’t have much to recommend it, as far as I’m concerned, and I do have a week off during that month. So, as my mother was fond of saying, “We’ll see.”

In the meantime,

Resolved: I will spend at least 15 minutes a day writing in this journal, and if what I produce happens to strike me as creative, amusing, pithy, or brilliant, I’ll post it here. Don’t hold your breath.

PS: It took me way longer than 15 minutes to write this—almost an hour—but it’s about a thousand words. Does that mean I could write a 50,000-word novel in 50 hours? Probably not, since novels require a measure of planning and cohesiveness that journal entries (and blog posts) don’t, but it’s an interesting thought.

No comments:

Post a Comment