I look at New Year’s resolutions the way I view goals. The fewer in number and more realistic in nature, the better are the odds that I will fulfill my resolutions. Last year’s list of resolutions was long: publish a novel, blog at least weekly, read 25 books, attend a writer’s conference, and read three craft of fiction books. I achieved all but the biggest one: I did not publish a novel in 2013.
I had good reasons for not meeting this resolution. I went through a divorce in 2013, we sold our house and I had to move. Some people can write through such adversity; I found it difficult. Another factor was a promotion at work, which increased my responsibilities. All of this took time from my writing.
I should resolve in 2014 to master time management. Instead I set forth the following goals:
• Revise one of my works-in-progress so it is publication-ready.
• Blog at least weekly.
• Read 25 books.
• Attend a writer’s conference.
There, that wasn’t so bad. Now comes the hard part. It’s easy to make resolutions. Keeping them involves hard work and the “c” word: commitment. Stephen Pressfield makes this point in his classic, The War of Art, when he addresses Resistance (capital R to emphasize its importance). “Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable,” he writes. “Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.”
In both The War of Art and his later book, Turning Pro, Pressfield outlines the attributes of a professional. What stuck with me from both books was Pressfield’s defining quality in a professional—his habits. A professional shows up for work every day. A professional is prepared. A professional masters the job. A professional makes a commitment—not just for the first month of the year—but to work for success over the long haul.
As I pondered my New Year’s resolutions, I thought about Pressfield. It’s not the resolution, but the habit, which turns into commitment, which is essential for success. All the best to my fellow writers for a successful 2014.