The new year always brings to mind ambitious resolutions like exercising every day, eating healthier, quitting smoking/drinking, losing weight, etc. And while these are all noble goals, they are the kinds of resolutions that usually fail within the first month. Why? Because we’re HUMAN. We like food and drink, and exercise is boring! Seriously, though, this year I want to make some resolutions that I’ll actually keep, particularly resolutions that have to do with the writing life, as I find that writing can breed behavior that is compulsive, neurotic, self-absorbed, perfectionistic, and at times, even destructive.
So in an effort to be a healthier person and a saner writer this year, here are my top writing resolutions for 2012:
- Waste less time on the internet. There are certain internet tasks that are necessary and productive for a writer—building a fan base, supporting colleagues’ blogs, studying craft and industry news. But there comes a point at which it all seems too much. I find that after an hour or so, my eyes start to glaze, my shoulders begin to ache, and I become anxious and twitchy for no reason at all. There is the temptation to think if you’re not checking in multiple times a day that you’re going to miss something vital or that if you’re not blogging or tweeting daily no one is going to read your book. Reality check: you are not a tweeter or blogger or sales person; you are a writer. Note to self: stop obsessing.
- And on that note, stop checking Goodreads and Amazon reviews too. I read somewhere that a writer shouldn’t read any reviews, good or bad. The good ones leave you feeling complacent OR so eager to please your fan base that you might pander to them in your next book. And we all know the havoc bad reviews can wreak. So, how to stop reading them? It takes tremendous will power, but let’s face it: when you read reviews, are you hoping to find constructive criticism that will make you a better writer? No, you’re hoping to find some validation that what you wrote is good, that your story connected with someone. But didn’t you already get this validation from your publishing house? Your family and friends? Readers who took the time to email you personally? The main thing to remember about reviews is they are subjective and can be motivated by a host of factors that have nothing to do with you or the quality your book. As my husband keeps reminding me, there is no accounting for taste. I know I won’t always follow through on this resolution, but I’m going to keep reminding myself that reviews are meant for other readers, not for writers. Reading the good ones is self-indulgent and reading the bad ones, masochistic. Just walk away.
- Get out of the house. When I’m in the thick of drafting or even in an intense round of editing, I have a tendency to spend hours on end in front of my laptop drinking coffee, barely even breaking for meals or to say hi to my husband. What I’ve found these past few months is that this cannot go on forever without some repercussions to your relationships, health, sanity, or the size of your butt. My goal is not to start running five miles a day or to do yoga daily (although this might help my stress level), but just to rejoin the living by taking a walk, meeting a friend for coffee, or taking a weekend trip with my husband EVEN IF it means I’ll finish copyedits two days later. I’ll bet no one says on her deathbed, “I wish I had met more deadlines.”
What are your most practical resolutions for 2012?
Eve Marie Mont is the author of A Breath of Eyre (Kensington/KTeen, March 2012), the first in a trilogy about a girl who gets lost, literally, in her favorite books. Please stop by her website for more info, news, and updates.