Thursday, December 31, 2009

Writing Resolutions

by Laura Caldwell

It seems a lazy move to write at the end of the year about New Year's resolutions. I usually don't make them. I always figured if I cared enough about something I'd address that thing during the year itself.

But now it's the end of a decade, which seems more momentous. And it's the end of a year that wasn't so pretty for many - not so pretty financially, not so pretty culturally, certainly not so pretty for the publishing world. So my fingers are itching to lay down a few mandates for myself and my writing for the new year, the new decade.

Number 1 - drop the fear. I used to believe (and still sort of do, I'm working on it) that personal fear is a personal motivator. If I didn't fear the ability to hit a deadline, I figured, then I wouldn't make it. If I didn't fear poor quality of writing, then I wouldn't be able to produce good writing. But lately, I've wondered if that fear, that panic, really helps, or is it a crutch or a curse? I touched on this a few months ago on this blog. I haven't come to any additional conclusions since then. So my Number 1 resolution is, at least to make a good faith effort, to drop the fear.

Number 2 - write six pages a day, five days a week. This is minutiae, certainly. Sort of like a goal to brush your teeth four times a day. But a goal like that helps create discipline, and if there's one thing I've learned from the law it's that discipline is about the only thing that gets the work done. And because I'm trying to kick fear to the curb, I need those type of goals. So six pages a day, five days a week it is.

Number 3 - use Jott more often. If you haven't discovered, I heartily encourage it, especially if you're a writer. It combines voice recognition software with actual humans, so that you dial a number from your cellphone, speak into it, and minutes later you find your words typed out and in your email box. Sure, the punctuation is often skewed, the spelling at times hilariously wrong, but as a former litigator who used to dictate all my written work, this system works well for me. (Despite my enthusiastic overtures, has passed on my offer to be a spokesperson).

Number 4 - love it. For a while, my deadlines in the writing biz were so intense (at least for me) that some of the pleasure began to seep away. Lately, I've had time to breathe. Lately, I've been reading books just because I want to, and I've been finding myself wildly inspired by the absolute gifts of other writers. All of this makes me love my job. Let's correct that. The word 'job' and 'work' don't fit so well with what I do. That's why I promise to use those words less often. And to love it all the more.


Ann Elle Altman said...

These are great tips. I never heard of jott before but I will look it up.


Jamie Freveletti said...

I love the thoughts on fear. I, too, used to think it was a motivator (perhaps that's a lawyer thing?), but now I think you have a point. And I'll look into Jott. Thanks for the tips!

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it.

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