Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Four New Years Promises

Joyce B. Hicks
Since New Years I’ve spent time at coffee shops attending to my resolution of writing a sequel to my first novel. I counted on the industry of others clacking away and high-octane coffee to bring inspiration. However, about $25 has yielded a paltry dozen pages. How can one keep up enthusiasm for a commitment to writing in the face of such meager output?
The blog Changing Aging provides four resolutions that can help immensely with staying committed. Let me thank Jeanette Leardi for providing her thoughtful essay at  She writes of her New Years resolutions: “I promised to try, as often as possible, to 1) create something, 2) maintain something, 3) repair something, and 4) let go of something.” I’d like to propose that these promises may be more effective than caffeine in making 2015 a good writing year. 
Create something—Sure, that’s what I was trying to do at my laptop! But for a writer maybe this doesn’t have to mean a poem, story, or chapter; in fact, Leardi includes writing a letter to a friend as an example of creating, among others non-literary. Perhaps one could include any activities that result in the same kind of satisfaction or exhilaration felt when words do flow. Like writing, the activity ought to require concentration and be a visible step to a completed project.
Maintaining something definitely applies to the writing life if the goal is publication. A website, facebook page, or author entries on Goodreads and Amazon require a lot of maintenance. And what about keeping up with blogs in one’s genre or interest area? Or scoping out deadlines, contests, and new publications—this is definitely writing-life maintenance. In fact, maintenance can take up all one’s writing time and energy. So don’t get too carried away about this resolution, although performing maintaining first could be so satisfying that it gets the juices going for create something.
Repairing something could mean fixing a broken link on one’s website, but really the writer should use this resolution for editing and polishing. These activities are fun for me. Spotting a shifted point-of-view may bring a story in line and suggest a more developed plot, an area I struggle with. Even fixing a dangling modifier makes me feel sanctified! A feeling that may return me to step one.
Letting go of something can be pretty tough or exhilarating. I’m sure that doesn’t mean, “Be realistic. You’ll never write something publishable.” It might mean letting go of a favorite character or plot line; or one might let go of discouragement over another Glimmer Train rejection. Or a writer might have to get over an attitude that is standing in the way of success.
Publications about writing are not the only place to seek inspiration for commitment to the writing life. In fact for me sometimes they have a repressive effect since I feel overwhelmed by good advice other writers are following. For 2015 I’m trying to include these four resolutions each day, rather than have “get busy writing” as my only mantra. Please consider reading the full essay on the blog Changing Aging since Leardi provides many thoughtful examples of the resolutions. 
Joyce B. Hicks is the author of Escape from Assisted Living and a member of Blank Slate Writers, Valparaiso, IN. She’s in her second year of retirement from Valparaiso University where she worked with student writers in a help center. You can find her on the web at

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