The New Year is in, and people are touting their relief across the internet, in the newspapers and on the streets. People are glad to be rid of 2016, which saw the passing of many beloved celebrities and the rise of several particularly unpopular world leaders, most notably perhaps in the United States.
Another notable enough feature of a new year is the prevalence of New Year Resolutions. People want to get fit, become more intelligent, more cultured, better traveled, and generally be someone other than they have been in the past. Many of these resolutions inevitably fail. That spark of motivation doesn’t last forever, and it takes true commitment to be able to continue on with those resolutions.
As a writer, having problems with commitment is bad, simply put. Discipline in both writing regularly and often is very important, if not central to becoming a published and prolific author.
Therefore it is more than a little bit of a problem that I am neither disciplined nor as committed as I would like, and I would of course want to change all of that. Motivation is always a problem though. It should be simple enough to say that you want something and then do what you can to grab it for yourself. That can be good or bad, depending on what you want.
In reality, though, motivation is difficult to control so easily. It comes in different forms, and is stronger or weaker depending on a range of circumstances. For me, my motivation depends a lot on my emotional and mental state. It also depends on what we’re talking about.
It’s no secret that many people who devote themselves to creative endeavours have a bad habit of hating their own work. It will never be good enough. It is always imperfect, always somehow not quite right. We see the flaws that others often don’t notice. Sometimes they see the flaws but appreciate them as good attributes.
I’m much the same in this regard. I struggle at times to continue with my own work because it can be difficult to see it as being useful, or high quality, or even enjoyable. I sometimes tell myself that once I get my foot in the door, I’ll be more committed, but it doesn’t work that way.
Commitment comes before success. So that is why, despite all the stories that we so often hear about things going wrong, about how useless New Year resolutions can be, I am making a resolution of my own.
In my writing, I will commit to:
- Journal once a week
- Finish the second draft of my first novel before my birthday in late March
- Finish a short story to upload to this website before the end of February
- Have my first novel completely finished by the end of 2017
- Enter not one, but two writing competitions before the end of the year, the first of which should be entered before July.
- Finish a second short story to upload to this website before the beginning of NaNoWriMo in November.
So this is a lot of work, I’ll admit, but I want so badly to be a committed, disciplined writer. Commitment in and of itself takes a lot of work, which is something else that I want to talk about here, too.
Commitment is not as simple as making a promise, or even making a bold statement. It starts with a desire, for better or for worse. First you have to identify where it is you want to go. A commitment is rarely something that can be achieved within a short period of time. Many are lifelong (at least in the ideal case), such as marriage.
A commitment is something that has to be worked towards over time. You don’t one day go from being a total amateur to suddenly being a successful writer, or baker, or sportsperson, or anything that you want to do. It takes incremental achievements to bring you to that place of triumph. So I have to make sure that I work every day to ensure that my commitments, which are a part of my overall goal to have my work published, will be achieved.
So think to yourself… what can I do for my commitments today?