Twelve Benedictions for My New Year in Writing

As I mentioned a couple days ago, I am not making resolutions this year.  Instead I wanted to offer myself a theme for each month in the new year to reflect on and use to help keep me on track.

1.  Hope

The beginning of the year is the time to get stars in my eyes and look forward to what can be accomplished this year. I want to dream big and use the excitement of dreams to renew my energy toward creative output.  The year is young, and I can do anything with it!

2.  Commitment

Make a conscious choice of which project(s) to take on and with the understanding that I will stick with them.  Dreams are all well and good, but at some point you have to make a plan to make them come true.  This is the time to commit to a dream and the path to realizing it.

3.  Faith

I need to have faith in myself if I want to finish anything. If I don’t believe I can accomplish something–whether it’s finishing a novel, or writing a story that challenges me, or keeping on top of both writing and real life–I won’t be able to. I have to trust myself to be able to do what I dream of.

4.  Balance

I have to make sure I am spending time on the things that make me happy–all the things that make me happy. I don’t want to focus too much on writing to the detriment of my relationships, but neither do I want to get so focused on the world around me that I neglect my writing. That happy, Goldilocks medium is hard to find but worth the work.

5.  Ambition

Sometimes defining actual goals can help motivate me. I want to challenge myself to do something attainable but not easy.  I want something to aspire to; not something so warm and fuzzy as a dream but an actual trackable outcome. If I have no ambition to do more, push more, be more, how will I ever actually try to do it?

6.  Dedication

I will have to make sacrifices to achieve my hopes/dreams/goals/ambitions. Writing isn’t a game. It takes discipline and focus. It means early mornings or late nights, time spent working after I’ve already put in my 9 hours for the day instead of relaxing. This is a measure of how I value my dreams.

7. Openness

I never want to close my mind off to new possibilities and new paths. There is such a thing as being too open-minded, of course, but I don’t want to get tunnel-vision that blinds me to better ways and ideas.

8. Pride

Aristotle had it right: take pride in your work. Take pride to make it as good as you possibly can, for the sake of doing the best work you can. For a disintermediated writer this is a commitment to quality of presentation as well as quality of craft. This is the idea I would describe in Twitter-speak as #standards.

9.  Determination

Sometimes you have to keep pushing forward when you don’t want to, when it’s easier not to. I don’t care if I am DFL (dead frakking last) as long as I am not a DNF (did not finish).

10. Perspective

Take a step back and focus on what you have done, not what you haven’t.  Notice where your life is, not where it isn’t. Don’t get so wrapped up in casting judgments that you forget to feel pride in what you have accomplished.

11. Grit

Moxie. The bullheaded doggedness to just keep going even when it’s stupid, even when it hurts, even when you think you can’t. It’s not the same thing as determination; it’s more primal than that. It’s the logical proof of your own mind that rejects the conclusion of giving up when you make that decision…the part that rejects it and finds a way to keep going, after all.

12. Courage

I want to be unafraid of putting my work out into the world. I am writing it to share, and I can’t let a fear of what people will think get in the way of creating or polishing or publishing. If I took proper pride in my work when I created it, then I have no cause for fear in sharing it.

Happy 2013, everyone. Blessed Be.

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