As I probably said this time last year, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. They always fail by February. But I do try to promise myself a few things. The trick is not to make my promises impossible.
For example, I might promise to write every day. But then one day I’m tired, or I have to do a massive amount of shopping, or I just have had a terrible day at work, and I just can’t write. Then I feel guilty I didn’t live up to my promise, and then I end up not writing another day, and I feel even more guilty and then I end not writing at all because just the act of it now makes me feel guilty. (The same thing happened when deciding to go to the gym every day). Anyway, the promise is to write 5 days out of 7. That way, if I miss one, for any reason, it’s fine. It’s just one of my days off that week. I can just relax, and rest, and write without guilt the next day.
Or I might promise to write 1000 words a day. But what with my colitis, and an exhausting day job and housework and so on, I’m too tired for 1000 words, and I can’t face it. But if I say just a page a day – well I can manage that. And often, the one page turns into five, even if I thought I was too tired.
But the best promise was one I made about a year and a half ago, not at New Year, not at any specific moment, but just because I thought it was time. I promised myself I’d try.
If I had an idea for a story, I’d write it. And when I wrote it, I wouldn’t just keep it to myself, I’d send it out to publishers and agents. I would try to get myself published.
Lots of people don’t try. I didn’t, for ages. They, and I, thought it wasn’t worth it. I wasn’t good enough. I’d fail.
But then I realised, what’s so bad about failure? It wouldn’t kill me. It wouldn’t hurt me. There might be sadness, and humiliation, but I’d get over that, and try again, and keep trying. Failure isn’t bad. Not trying is bad. I was determined that I wouldn’t go another moment just dreaming of being a writer, I would everything I damn well could to become a writer. No-one was going to magically appear and offer me a writing career on a plate. I was just going to have to sort it out myself.
So, that was my best sort of resolution. You and I could promise to write everyday, or write so much, or join a writing club or whatever you need, and all power to us. They’re all good. But the best thing I ever did was promise myself I’d try.