Only one month has passed and I’m already having a serious problem with one of my resolutions. Before you comment, no, I have not eaten any chocolate. That resolution, rather shockingly, has been going terrifically. I remain focused on succeeding at it and even if I were to succumb to the slightest temptation, my two kids have proven themselves remarkably effective guardian angels of this resolution. Apparently they are all too aware of their daddy’s affection for brown crack.
Oh my, that attempt at colloquial humour didn’t turn out so well, did it? I mean, chocolate is brown and crack is highly addictive so I was thinking, hey, chocolate is a highly addictive brown narcotic; brown crack. But when I write that it’s just … wow. Like, really … wow.
Anyway, I’ve been doing fantastic with all my resolutions so far. I haven’t failed any yet. I’m losing weight, I’m writing every day, I haven’t touched chocolate, I’m whittling down my grocery bill, and I’m playing with the kids more. I’m feeling great about this early success and the resulting happy mojo is boosting both my willpower and my momentum. I’m already brainstorming ideas for additional resolutions for later this year or, certainly, next year. Huh, maybe I’m replacing my chocolate addiction with a resolution addiction?
Trouble is Mounting
That being said, one of my resolutions is starting to cause me an increasing amount of grief and I’m starting to wonder if I will truly be able to maintain it over the entire year. The problem arises from my first resolution, especially part A of it, where I resolved to write a minimum 1000 words each day for the entire year.
I have been doing exactly that but it hasn’t been easy I can assure you. Already a couple of nights due to brain lock and/or scheduled commitments have found me on the couch at eleven in the evening desperately finishing up my 1000 words quota. It’s been a solid test of my resolve and I’m happy to be triumphing thus far, but there is trouble brewing. I’m concerned that this resolution may not have been adequately thought out and as a result it is inadvertently affecting its whole purpose in a negative manner.
Resolution 1 was designed to help me with my writing and determine once and for all if writing was a viable career of sorts for me. It certainly has already if only from a dedication standpoint. I’m writing every day which is far more serious an effort than I’ve ever endeavoured previously. The problem I’m having is that my 1000 word resolution made no provisions for actually editing my writing.
I spend as much time as necessary to reach my daily quota, sometimes less than our other times several hours, but when do I edit what I wrote? When do I make it pretty and publishable? I don’t wish to spend my entire day on writing. I do have a life to live full of other commitments, be it volunteering at school, coaching hockey, maintaining the house, or myriad other projects I have on the go. Exploring my writing is absolutely one of those projects, but it is not the only one. And as each day passes I am accumulating a backlog of unedited 1000 word writing pieces that need to be “finished”.
Additionally, having this 1000 word goal each day is encouraging poor writing habits like being too verbose. I have a target to reach and if I can write five words where one will suffice, guess which I choose? This is not a good thing. If there is one piece of advice all published authors readily agree upon, it’s the requisite of being concise. You have no idea how often I read an author saying something of the sort that once you’ve finished a draft, go back and cut 25% or 30% of it. Yikes! So for every 1000 I’m writing, approximately 270 of them are unneeded.
Oh and there’s more. The pressure to produce 1000 words each day is forcing me to write about stuff that not only would I never have written about, but also doing so in a dreadfully dull way. I’m losing my sense of humour in my writing. You might argue that my sense of humour was lacking, or outright missing, to begin with but I was sincerely trying to write humorously most of the time. Cynicism and sarcasm may not be the most noble of traits a person can have, but they’re ones with which I have great skill. Writing boring, unfunny, witless, whiny drivel because of a lack of preparation and imagination time is quite disconcerting to me. If part of the purpose of this resolution was to make me a better writer, then this seems counterproductive or even destructive.
It also highlights a simmering problem with my writing career. Authors often boast about how they are compelled to write by some mysterious inner muse. I don’t seem to have that. They love to tell stories and can seemingly sit down and write stories at will. Ray Bradbury, according to his text on writing, had a list of nouns which he used as inspiration. He chose a word from the list and wrote a short story based on it and sent it off to a publication EACH WEEK. I fear I have no such ability or desire to engage myself in writing stories at will like that. And considering the second part of my resolution is to send off a story for publication by October, I really do need such a thing.
I suppose I could simply write blog posts about an every expanding list of derivative topics for twelve people to read for the remainder of the year, but that won’t be rewarding. I need to start writing actual stories. Fictional stories with imagined characters and concocted plots. I need to be able to sit down and write those dreaded 1000 words on such a story and each consecutive day pick up where I left off and move the story forward. That is real writing. The blog stuff is just public journaling and it’s obviously not garnering the public’s attention.
This ballooning dilemma has also left me pondering how I calculate my 1000 words per day. I kind of made it clear that I would write a minimum of 1000 words each and every day, but what if I have a very good day, get on a roll, and write 2000 words? Am I allowed to carry over say 800 of those words to the next day or do I have to write a full 1000 words that day regardless? What if I have a very productive morning and rip off 1000 words in forty minutes and then that evening get inspired to write a bit more before bed. Do I add those evening words to my morning total or do I push them forward to the next day? More simply, can I bank words?
So I’m left to wonder if I must suffer through this poorly constructed resolution for the entire year or could I grant myself the leeway to revise it now. This internal debate is not about making the resolution easier but making it better in the context of improving my writing. Could I perhaps alter it to state I will write 1000 words every weekday and allow myself weekends for editing? After all, I did say I wanted this to be more like a job. Well jobs don’t require one to work all seven days a week, 365 days a year. At least the normal ones don’t. If yours does, I recommend making unionization inquiries.
I’d rather alter than abandon a resolution and frankly, over the course of an entire year, I’m unsure I will be able to make this work. Unless… I push forward writing three hundred and sixty-five 1000 word pieces and then in 2017 resolve to edit one each and every day for an entire year. Ah, then in 2018 I could resolve to publish one piece each and every day for the entire year. That would be … a disaster.
So tell me, keepers of the sacred resolutions, what should I do?