I always feel a bit like a sheep during the first week of January. You know how it is. Everywhere people are talking about resolutions and I can’t help following along. I have resolutions too. The problem is I don’t like to call them that because the one thing we know about resolutions is that some huge number of them, certainly the majority, are broken within the first weeks of their declaration. Even calling them resolutions sets them up for failure somehow. What about goals instead? Well, goals seem pretty soft, something off in the distance. If you squint and it’s a clear day, you may be able to see it. It’s not certain you can get there. How about targets? I like targets! Targets conjure up in my head bows and arrows shot through the air with determination. Something about a target feels more about the shooting part, the setting up with a keen eye, always keeping the mark in sight, reaching back for as much strength as possible and then letting it fly. Hitting the bull’s eye may be the goal, but there’s more beauty in the action of the arrow flying towards it. Now that I’ve cleared up the semantics of resolutions v. goals v. targets in my own mind, I might be able to move on to the more concrete targets I’m shooting for this year except that some of those targets seem elusive.
For example, I want to write better and with more joy in 2015. Better and joy are amorphous terms I know, but I also know that I can shoot for these targets by taking specific steps. The first is simply routine – funny how I said “simply” because no routine is simple when you’re just starting out. Common wisdom is that it takes twenty-one days to develop a habit. After writing that last sentence, I decided to Google it to find out where that common wisdom came from. Turns out, it’s originally from the findings of a plastic surgeon, who observed the behavior of his patients after they had a nose job or got an artificial limb. No. I am not making this up. But according to an article in the Huffington Post, new research shows that the amount of time it takes to develop a habit is fluid – from two weeks to over ten months, depending on the person and the circumstances. Well, that sounds about right. Read more about this topic here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clear/forming-new-habits_b_5104807.html) Just like my target suggestion, it’s the getting there, the journey, which makes achieving the habit worthwhile.
I’ve been getting up in the dark early mornings and descending to my writing room for just a few days now after the chaos of holiday activities. It seems that sometime at the end of this month or in some month to come, this will be a habit again. Presumably, I’ll be writing better because I’ll be getting more practice. And there’s the joy I experience in the solitude of my office, with the SAD light and the candle and the faux sheepskin throw I snuggle up in while facing the computer screen in the deep, dark, quiet mornings. This is Seattle in winter. And this is the way I make it enjoyable.
Which reminds me of the more concrete writing opportunities we have in Seattle coming up, targets to shoot for in expanding our writing lives. Here’s a list of events and opportunities I’m looking forward to in the next couple of months:
- Classes at Hugo House begin next week and are so varied and fabulous you need to read about them here: http://hugohouse.org/classes/course-catalog/
- Events at Hugo house are also looking good to me. Check out the musical event here http://hugohouse.org/event/bushwick-book-club-three-three/ with Garth Stein, Nancy Horan and Tim Egan, along with several local songwriters, to benefit the Bushwick Book Clubs STYLE program (Songwriting Through Youth Literature Education)
- Seattle7Writers once again hosts Write Here Write Now, an all day intensive writing conference featuring mini lessons and lots of writing time, on February 7, in Fremont. Find information here: http://www.seattle7writers.org/write-here-write-now.html
And now I’m going to raise my bow and shoot at my personal and concrete targets
for 2015, which include: writing every morning for two hours; sending out five queries a week in January for second mystery novel; writing a blog post once a week; promoting Leap of Faith, especially on Goodreads and Bookbub; attend Write Here Write Now on Feb. 7; meet with my blogging partner weekly; meet with my writing group monthly and finish the first draft of third Ann Dexter mystery. I know I can do it!
Good luck with your own personal writing resolutions, goals and targets for 2015!