07 January 2013

resolved: creating “resolutions” for your writing life

I ♥ My Blog: Creating Resolutions for Your Writing Life
Those who know me know I tend to steer clear of “New Year Resolutions.” I don’t like the intense amount of pressure they put on people. But one of the things that has occurred to me about resolutions is that they are only negative or harmful if they are not properly developed.

Today’s task is all about creating proper resolutions for your writing life, and figuring out how to maintain your resolve with those resolutions.

Resolutions: defined

According to Dictionary.com, a resolution is:
 “a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature, a club, or other group.” 
One thing that strikes me as interesting in this definition is that a resolution demands group effort. So often when we make resolutions, we make them for ourselves. I will lose ten pounds. I will write more. I will do this, that, and the other thing. But a true resolution really demands teamwork. Many people come together to agree upon a course of action.

A second definition of resolution is “the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.” Here, we see that a resolution is more than just something we determine to do; a resolution is also something we are determined to do, or our determination itself. These are majorly significant factors to keep in mind before setting any resolutions. Why? Because without both factors, our resolutions usually won’t work!

Resolutions: resolved

Another interesting thing about the definition of resolution: it is often linked to that term “resolve.” I find this fascinating because resolve is, itself, a word with many implications. You might have resolve (determination, “firmness of purpose”). You might resolve a problem (fix, solve, etc.). Our resolve is both a means and an end; it is how we achieve our goals, and the result of our intent to achieve our goals.

It’s the same difference for me as when I was younger and the dishes needed to be done. Here’s a true confession: I loved doing dishes as a kid. I loved the time to myself and the sense of accomplishment and the surprise it gave my parents when I did them. But then came the time when dishes became “a chore”: My parents made me do the dishes. And suddenly, it was just that … a chore. I no longer wanted to do them; I had to do them. One thing I’m convinced keeps people—and for our purposes, writers—from achieving goals is that we look at them as obligations rather than desires. We say “I have to do this thing” instead of “I want to do this thing, and by golly I’m going to do it!” Maybe nobody should say “by golly” … but you see what I mean. So let us resolve (determine) to resolve (fix) the problem with our resolve (firmness of purpose) … by resolving (determining) not to set false resolutions (I must), but to set true resolves (I am determined).

Resolved: writing

As I said at the beginning of this post, today’s task is not to set resolutions, but to set proper resolutions for our writing lives. There are three steps to this task:
  1. Grab some paper (or your laptop) and a pen (or your fingers).
  2. Write “I am resolved to …” at the top of a fresh page.
  3. Fill in a list of your writing determinations.
Once you have created a list of a few (aim for at least three) determinations for your writing life, put your list where you will see it. Hang it above your writing desk or tape it to your front door so you see it every day. Decorate it; make a poster or a desktop background or screensaver with your new resolutions displayed boldly and proudly. Make it your mantra.

Need some ideas for your “Writing Resolve”? Here are some of mine. I am resolved to …
  • Embrace who I am as a writer
  • Make time for my writing
  • Allow my writing to “not be perfect” … and allow my writing to be perfected over time
These are my big three “resolves” for 2013. I want to accept that I have my own voice, and I have a style; I’m going to work with both to find my place in the writing world. I am determined to set aside “day fragments” for writing: to write during commercial breaks, to skip playing countless games of Farkle in exchange for writing, to jot down ideas on napkins and the inner hems of my clothes, etc. I resolve to allow that no piece is 100% finished as soon as it’s popped out of my head; I will let myself, and others, nitpick and slowly perfect what can be perfected and let be what can’t.

Resolved: strength

Here are some synonyms for you to keep in mind as you resolve to be resolved. To have resolution is to have determination. It is to persevere. It is to be tenacious. It is to have strength. It is your fortitude. You are strong. You are mighty. You are writer. And, just as importantly: you are not alone. We are writers. Together, we are strong and mighty. We stand with you.

Your Turn

What are your writing resolutions or resolves for 2013? What are the problems or obstacles standing in the way of your writing life? What can you do to resolve those problems?

Remember: Resolutions are group efforts. You can live your writing life “untied” (separate, weaker), or live it “united” (together, stronger)! Feel free to share your writing resolves here. Share a post with them on your blog. Let others in on the changes you’re looking to make, and let them (let us!) stand with you.


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  1. I do love word definitions and etymology. Whole poems come from my looking things up!

    1. I resolve to make time for my writing, therefore less time on the computer [ahem].
    2. I resolve to try something new, such as a form, or joining in something for National Poetry Month.
    3. I resolve to outline a chapbook.

    I'm not a resolution person, but you are right. The very act of saying I will, rather than I should, is a powerful psychological motivator. The act of writing down resolves, instead of just thinking them, helps.

  2. This is a great post, by golly. I like the way you've basically suggested that we need to quit worrying about picking the perfect pair of shoes we want to wear and just get in some pair of writer-shoes and take that first step.

    Am going to go grab pen and paper now!

  3. Thank you both. Margo, those are some great resolves; I especially like the determination to join in something for NPM, which always seems to come and go with far less celebration than it warrants!

    Ina, I love the shoe analogy; you're right, it's far more important to have the will than the wardrobe :)

  4. I've been working a lot with resolutions / goals / creative exercises to move me toward creative resolve.

    1. 4 pomodoros (The Pomodoro Technique before internet every day but Sunday and a few other rare exceptions -- at least thru April, then re-evaluate.

    2. Finish the first draft of my book by the end of April.

    3. A book proposal and queries to agents about it by the end of the summer.

  5. My writing resolutions are fairly simple this year:
    1) work on book at least once a week (at this stage in the game that will mean revising the manuscript to aim for self-pub)
    2) work on submitting to magazines at least once a week.

    Thanks for clarity, Khara!!

  6. Thank you, Joy and Anne. What I like about your resolves/resolutions is that they point toward larger goals (publication, submissions, etc.) -- which shows that we can have goals on all levels and aim for both the big stars and the smaller ones that lead us to where the big ones burn.

  7. Khara :)
    Love the etymological analysis, you wordly woman!
    Here's my take on the whole resolution thing:
    See, you're in there!
    Other updates: The revision is done and the MS sent to my CAA contact for content editing (!) EEEEE!
    Up to 87 followers now ... getting closer to the newsletter ...
    And I'm gearing up on new writing projects this week.
    So I'm making progress already!
    For those of you in mid project, or even at the beginning of one, I started with the goal of one page a day. When I made that, I aimed for two ... build slowly and be kind to yourself. Take the time where you can find it, and rock on! If I can do it, ANYONE can. Seriously. Even one word, well-written, can make all the difference, 'cause they're like Lays potato chips--you can't stop at just one!
    Love to the blog-lorn :)
    Remember why you fell in love with your blog at the beginning? Time to reignite the flame!
    Thanks, Khara, for this wonderful month of gentle guidance and witty wisdom :)

    1. What great inspiration Melanie! Thanks!

  8. I promise to step out of my comfort zone of revolving door revisions and invest in a manuscript critique for MS#1.
    I promise to return to my MS#2 and set up a timeline for that revision, so it can get on deck for an MS critique like MS #1.
    I promise to continue reading books and enjoy finding new authors to follow.
    And I hereby promise to take rest stops along the writing journey and eat more ice cream (okay, low sugar and 1/2 the fat kind).

    1. Oops, I forgot to change over to my other account. One Latina Pen used to be the name of my blog before AlvaradoFrazier. Thanks, Mona AlvaradoFrazier.

  9. Thanks, Melanie, for your comment and the look into your process and method! It reminds me much of the idea that "a mountain can be built from just one small stone a day" type of ideal (or "a mountain can be climbed one rock at a time"); we don't have to tackle the whole thing at once ... just take it bit by bit, bird by bird, stone by stone, etc.

    Monica, I love the inclusion of "rest stops" in your goals! That's something that often gets overlooked (I'll admit it; I overlooked it!) but is so very important! Thanks for the reminder ... and the reminder that life always needs more ice cream!

  10. Khara, I like your emphasis on *fortitude*! We all need that. As for concrete resolutions, 1) I will query SPIRIT LAMP. I think it's as good as I can make it, but it's scary to take the step and approach agents. 2) I will continue the blog, which was a new adventure for me in 2012. 3) I'll work on stories and send them out. 4) I will say no sometimes! Here are my musings on resolve for 2013 (sparked in part by you): http://gerrygwilson.com/2013/01/03/stones-in-my-pockets-resolve-for-2013/

    1. Thank you, Gerry. I just reread your post and was stricken anew by the phrase "I will be involved in a miraculous act of making." What a beautiful way to look at the strength we're all leaning on: the ultimate goal of being a maker (which, I think, is so much of what we mean when we call ourselves "writers").

  11. I am resolved to find the balance between writing for me (so writing gives me pleasure) and treating writing as an activity with professionalism, so that I don't give up. Although I think this pertains more to my fiction than my blog, cause I'm still trying to figure out how to mash them together. But I think I'm getting closer.

    1. This is a great resolve, Heather! I wish you the best of luck as you continue to seek that balance, both between writing for self and profession and between fiction and blog work.

  12. gotta think on it. i know i want to keep up all 3 of my blogs. we shall see.

    1. Best of luck to you, Bolton, as you figure things out! I'm sure you will :)

  13. Khara, I, the word nerd, love your play on words in this post! Especially the untied and united. Well done. I put my resolutions in Evernote, but I like the idea of them on my desk.
    I resolve to:
    Allow myself time to write more often.
    Finish my WIP and find beta readers
    Edit and start querying agents for that WIP by the middle of the year.
    Write and submit at least two pieces of short fiction.
    Double my blog following.

    The first one feeds all the rest. Thanks Khara!

    1. These are great resolves, Julia! I especially like how you have established that they feed on each other, pointing to larger goals/intents behind and beyond what they represent on their own. Thanks for sharing!

  14. I am resolved.


    1. Thanks for sharing, Rebecca; I left you a note on your site, but want to reiterate here that your resolve has a ton of power behind it. I hope you continue to feel and feed on that strength throughout this year!

  15. This is a great post, Khara...I wish I were more on track these last two week. There're some things I must do and there're lots of things I want to do and I'm stretched thin with many colds this season. I don't feel I've had the best start in the way of writing resolve...I guess I just need to literally make a list of all the things I want to accomplish and then prioritize...do them in an order of do-ability. Rambling...glad for the nudge though, thank you! :)'s

    1. Thank you, Hannah. I hope you feel better--and I think you raise another really smart point about the "order of do-ability." There's nothing saying a grand resolve can't be a relatively "small" thing--whether it's "I am resolved to get better so I can get back to what I want and need to do" or that resolve to organize and prioritize: We can be on track even when we're off it!


Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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