Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Here We Go Again…

It’s time again for the last universal ritual of the holiday season – the making of New Year’s Resolutions.
Sometimes this is an exercise in futility. No matter how much we want to, no matter how much we mean to, somehow all our good intentions get lost in the daily swirl of duties and desires and we end up never losing weight or keeping the basement clean or whatever it is we wish to get accomplished.
Perhaps that’s the problem. What we resolve to do is what we want to be done, not something we want to do. Usually it’s something that has to be done over time, something life changing (like losing weight), something that can’t be done in the one to three week period most resolutions stay in our head. The very grandiosity of these resolutions, though, is usually their downfall. To use the universally understood resolution of losing weight as an example, during the first few weeks of the new year we are painfully punctilious about following the new and usually much too extreme diet. Then the ‘it can’t hurts’ sneak in… just one cupcake, or it’s Jane’s birthday cake, or Mexican food is good for you… And poof! Suddenly you’re eating just like you always have and the well-meant New Year’s Resolution is nothing but dust in your rearview mirror.
However, New Year’s Resolutions do have a purpose – they make us focus however briefly on what we want. And make us see what is truly important to us. I think the main failure point of resolutions is that we make them too big and too draconian. Instead of resolving ‘I’m going to lose thirty pounds by April 1’ or ‘I’m going to write two 100,000 mainstream novels this year, and have a contract on at least one of them,’ (either one of which is a guaranteed setup for failure) think smaller.
For example, do like a friend of mine did and resolve that you are going to write for a minimum of thirty minutes a day. Every day. Without fail.
Resolution junkies would probably sneer at that. It’s not life changing enough, they say. It’s not profound. You can’t get anything worthwhile done in thirty minutes.
It is doable, though, and that’s better.
If you need further proof, my friend is a single career woman with a thriving business as well as a large and demanding family. She said she was going to write every day for at least thirty minutes and she has – for well over 500 days. She has written while waiting for business appointments, waiting for her car at the garage, in the emergency room even. Sometimes she gets it done early in the morning, sometimes she barely makes it before midnight hits. A lot of days she writes more, but she does her thirty minutes every single day. Every. Single. Day.
Except one.
The one day she missed I think even Scrooge would forgive her – she was under heavy sedation for twenty-four hours following emergency surgery. The next day, though, she called somewhat groggily for pad and pen and made up the missed time.
Using this system she has written the first two books of a series which is now under consideration by a major publisher.
All from a simple resolution to write thirty minutes a day.
So you see, a viable New Year’s Resolution doesn’t have to be overwhelming or grandiose to be good, and large books can come from small snippets of time.
What’s going to be your New Year’s Resolution?

Janis Susan May Patterson is a 7th-generation Texan and a 3rd-generation wordsmith who writes in mystery, romance, and horror. Once an actress and a singer Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. Janis’ husband even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.


Sandra Gardner said...

Hi Janis,
Last New Year's Day (2012), my resolution was to block out time 5 days a week to work on my next mystery novel. By the beginning of December, it was done. This New Year's, I'm making the same resolution. Of course, being a little OCD helps!
Sandy Gardner

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Congratulations, Sandy! Hope you get a simply splendiferous contract on it!

Janis (Susan is my other name)

Randy Rawls said...

New Year's Resolutions? I prefer to look backward and create resolutions based on accomplishments. That way I am never disappointed in myself. For example, my resolution for 2012 is to get HOT ROCKS, my Beth Bowman, S FL P.I. book published. Yep, met it. Don't I feel good? :-)

Morgan Mandel said...

Resolutions seem to be a hot topic lately. I'm thinking we really should be mindful of goals all year round, but for those who don't, like me, the New Year is a good reminder!

Morgan Mandel

Susan said...

Randy, I like the way you think!

Morgan, I agree that we need to keep our goals in mind all year long (hence the blizzard of Post-Its on my bulletin board) but sometimes it's good to get a kick in the pants. Maybe we should start doing quarterly resolutions...?

Thanks to you both for commenting!

Janis, AKA Susan