Distractions and a NOT-New Year’s Resolution

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There is something I need to change. I’ve been resisting this change, not because I don’t want to do it but because the realization has come to me at just at this time of year. It feels like a New Year’s resolution…but I hate those things.  They’re stupid and useless. They’re so widely broken within days or weeks that they’re a societal joke.

The obstinate, childish part of me wants to wait a month so the change isn’t connected to January 1st…but forcing myself not to be tied to a date is just as stupid as being tied to the date, right? And this change is seriously needed.

The holidays are big at our house. We have kids, we have extended family, we have pets, we have lots and lots of traditions…maybe too many traditions. We have movies we watch, places we go, songs we listen to, games we play, food we make, gifts we buy, stockings we fill, about 5,000 decorations we put up both inside and outside and 20+ years of ornaments to put on a tree that we must go out to purchase each year because fake trees are evil (that last one comes from my husband). Even the smallest member of our household has a stocking that must be put up and duly filled with ferret-loot.

The holidays are awesome and we love them…but all that we do adds up to a huge, almost insurmountable, month-and-a-half-long DISTRACTION. Paying work competes with book writing on a daily basis at the slowest of times, but during the holidays…ugh.

I hung in there for a while, but around mid-December actual fiction writing gave way to holiday prep and mental masturbation (my tacky term for stories that are written only in my head). It must be said that mental masturbation isn’t a total waste of time. I use these mental tales to create back stories for my characters. How they got where they are, how they grew up, etc. I’m sure it helps the writing overall and I often have little epiphanies — “Right, so that’s why she does that thing that’s in the actual book later!” But as far as advancing the word count of the book I’m trying to write, nada. I did get a couple of little blog posts in, and I finished a paying freelance job, but my book…nope. I even missed the last installment of Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction exercise and that bummed me out. So what went wrong? Why did that happen so easily?

As always at times like this, I turn to my wise UAMs (Unwitting Author Mentors) to guide me. The advice I found – write every day. Every day. Even if it’s just a few hundred words written in a spare moment…do it. Not having this requirement for myself made it all too easy for the writing I love to get shuttled to the back of the line. So my NOT New Year’s Resolution is to write fiction every day.

While I’ve seen some authors who count blog posts, non-fiction, and even emails in their daily word count, that’s not going to work for me since I write non-fiction for a living. It would be too easy to say “yeah, I wrote 2,000 words every day last week…uh, but not one word in my book.”

I started this not-resolution late last night. Instead of allowing myself to fall into bed for sleep, I brought my trusty laptop with me so I could bang out maybe 300 words. That turned into 900+ in a heartbeat and I had that wonderful, “yeah, there it is” feeling again.

Other writers…how about you? Does this happen to you each year? What do you do about it? Do tell in the Comments…and Happy New Year, all!

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