It you, like most of the western world, jumped on the the New Year’s Resolution Bandwagon, you've had plenty of time already to tumble off and get a bump or two. You may be feeling some guilt and a sense of failure. And if you haven't failed at your resolutions yet, just wait a month or two.
We do that, the failing thing. Human beings are good at it. If we all made resolutions to fail at something this year, our chances of success would be 100%. I could offer up some feel good quote, here, along the lines of, “if you’re not failing you’re not trying hard enough.”
Or I could offer this:despair.com. They understand the evil of motivation)
Resolutions - in my not so humble opinion - don’t work.
Priorities and intention? Now that’s a different story. The single best predictor of what you’re going to actually do within the next few minutes, or any time today, is what you are actually planning to do. Sounds obvious, right?
But here’s what I see over and over on Facebook and Twitter and with my Real Life Friends.
“I’m going to write a book this year. Really. I’m finally just going to get to it.”
“Great! What are you doing today?”
“Clean the house, buy groceries, and go watch Sissy’s basketball game. Then I’m making lasagna for dinner and helping Sonnie with his Science project…”
“When are you going to write?”
“The book. When today are you going to write?”
“Oh, well, if I have time after…”
This, people, is the problem. This is why it took me ten years to write my first novel.
Everything this lovely latent writer is planning to do today is good and admirable. But if you truly want to be a writer at any serious level, you’re not after good and admirable. You’ve got to be evil and defy some social conventions. Skip the game, or get yourself a laptop and write during it. Feed the kids cereal for dinner, or do something healthier involving five minutes of prep time and a crock pot. Make Sonnie do his own damn Science project. He’s the one who is supposed to be learning something in Science class, anyway. Not you. You've already been there and done that.
This is not neglect. Everybody is sheltered, fed and loved and taught some independence along the way. You’ve just shifted your priorities from Super Mom to Writer.
Maybe it’s not the Super Mom thing that’s getting in your way. Might be your day job, might be taking care of a bunch of random strangers because you have a soft heart and that’s what you do. Maybe your time is all taken up with volunteering somewhere else, like the pet shelter, or raising money for starving children, or helping out at church. Or you’re spending all of your time holding a relationship together.
This is all awesome.
It makes you an admirable human, maybe even a saint, but not a writer.
Like I said, you’ve got to be a bit evil to make time with the words. Chances are good that nobody in your family, or at your job, or in your church or volunteer organization is going to say, “No, no, that’s all right, we don’t need your help (your time, your attention, whatever.) Your writing is more important.”
YOU have to make this decision. YOU have to decide that the writing is the priority. That of all the things on today’s to do list, it comes first. And once you really believe that for yourself it will get done.
No tricks, no gimmicks, no New Year’s resolutions.
Just the simple magic of priorities.