Last December, my primary New Year’s Resolution was to spend more time writing. The baby was nine months old, and sometimes I’d go days without getting to the keyboard. But I wanted to write more.
And if by “more” one means “greater than zero” — well, I certainly succeeded.
I wrote a few decent essays, a picture book, and I started blogging at skirt!. One essay I wrote was supposed to be published in a literary magazine, but the magazine folded a few weeks before it was to be printed. I could never find an agent for the picture book, but I’m going to try to look for a publisher on my own. I haven’t been consistent at blogging for skirt!, but I am still writing for them and hope to for a long time. I tried and failed to finish NaNoWriMo.
I also took some practical steps. I participated in a critique of my work, attended several writers club meetings, workshops, and my first writer’s conference. I probably didn’t go to half the stuff I wanted to go to, but since I was still so sleep deprived for most of this year, I think I did fairly well.
I wanted to write more in 2009, and I definitely did.
Melissa at Making Things Up has linked to a really great essay, particularly for writers, from The Washington Post. Author Ann Patchett talks about the importance of treating writing as a job. She proposes taking the first 32 days of the year, and creating a real work day from which to write. And her advice makes plenty of sense. In fact, while I can’t spend a whole “work day” writing, I did take steps back in January to make it (though a much shorter time span) happen: When the baby was ten months old, I hired a baby-sitter for 4 hours a week. When the baby got older, I made it 6-hours a week. On the occasional weekend day, I’d take my laptop on a date to a place with free wireless internet.
But Patchett has two things that I lack: success and legitimacy. She is an accomplished writer, with five novels under her belt. Writing a novel, I’m sure, is incredibly difficult for anyone. But if you’ve had five published in the past, I’m sure sitting down to carve out time to write the next one is not nearly as daunting as for a person who can’t get even get an agent. Or who can’t even get a short-story published in a magazine with a tiny circulation. The hardest thing for me about writing, is often not the actual task of writing. It is the knowledge that what I write might not ever see the light of day. The hardest part, is legitimizing the time that writing takes away from my family or household chores, when the time I spend writing often swiftly ends in rejection.
So, here’s my variation on Patchett’s New Year’s Resolution.
Make Your Dream, Your Job.
Do what you need to do to raise your children, earn money to support yourself, and take care of the house. But then do what you need to do to make your dream happen. Carve whatever time you have or don’t have, out of your day. Stay up too late. Get up too early. Do what you love, whether or not your dream will ever lead to success or recognition or legitimacy. Make your dream a part of your daily work day, whatever that entails. Don’t think of your day as complete until you’ve spent at least a few minutes cultivating and nourishing that dream every single day.
Spend 2010 being that cheesy Disney princess who wishes upon a star and thinks her prince charming is going to make her dreams come true. Instead, you be the person who does that. And if your dream doesn’t come true?
Say to hell with it, and get back to the work of dreaming.