On Resolutions and Resolve


I have traditionally been very cynical about the idea of making new year’s resolutions. Yes, we all have good intentions, and often get off to a strong start, but it’s hard to maintain the momentum of going to the gym every day, or committing to a frugal lifestyle, or whatever vow we’ve chosen that will (we hope) help us live our best lives. If it was something we found difficult to do on December 31, I don’t see why it should suddenly become easier on January 1.

But as 2015 wound down, I looked back at the previous 12 months in my life and felt dissatisfied. Not entirely—there were many things that went well last year. But there were plenty of other things that didn’t. Namely, pretty much everything related to writing, deadlines, and following through on my promises related to said writing and deadlines. I think I met zero writing deadlines the entire year. (Well, maybe one?) Missing deadlines sent me into a spiral: as days passed and writing didn’t get done, and I fell further and further behind on what I’d said I’d do, I just felt more and more incapable of catching up, and less and less sure of where to even start.

Now, I’ve admittedly never been good with deadlines. I am a terrible procrastinator—a trait that I dislike in myself and always swear I’ll change … someday. (Haha, bad procrastination joke.) But this was procrastination mixed with something else, something I had basically never encountered before: an inflexible schedule.

Two thousand fifteen was the year I truly realized what it means to be a writer with a full-time job. It was the first full year since … 1986? … when I wasn’t in school, or writing my dissertation, or freelancing, and I was completely unprepared for what that would be like. I had gone through long stretches of graduate school when I would go to bed at a “normal” time, wake up at 3am, write until 8 or 9 in the morning, then read/research/watch TV/knit/take a nap during the rest of the day. If left to my own devices, that’s my preferred schedule.

Now? I have to be at work at 9am, and there’s no naptime built into my afternoon. I can’t just do whatever I want to do in whatever order I want to do it. (#firstworldproblems) I no longer have five or six hours at a stretch to sit at my computer and write, and sometimes, when I do have that kind of time—a day off, or a weekend—I don’t want to. I want to spend my free time time with people, have fun, and be lazy.

So in 2015, I made excuses. I regularly told myself that 15 minutes, or 30 minutes, or an hour—whatever free time I had—wasn’t enough time to really focus and do the writing I wanted to, so it wasn’t even worth starting. And then I fell behind and was at even more of a loss about how to get myself back on track.

That needs to change.

My new year’s resolution isn’t just to write more. No, my new year’s resolution is to commit to writing, to finding a way to be a writer even (or especially!) when it’s difficult. To stop whining about not having huge chunks of time to wait for my muse (or, more accurately, mess around on the internet while pretending to think about what I’ll write) and take the moments I do have to open my laptop and put words on the screen. To stop focusing on what I can’t do and focus on how much I can.

Because I can write, just not in the way I had grown used to. I wrote this blog post in three chunks of time: one day before starting work, one evening on the bus ride home, and the next night after the workday ended while I waited to meet up with a friend. Maybe that broken-up schedule isn’t exactly how I’d have chosen to write if I had the option, but it’s how I choose to write now. Because I spent 2015 upset with myself for missing deadlines, but even more upset with myself for not knowing how to sit down and write. I missed writing. I need to write. I choose to write—wherever, whenever, however I can manage it.

That’s my new year’s resolution.

Image via Wikimedia and used under a Creative Commons license.

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