New Year's Resolutions.

I don't like them. I don't make them. Sometimes I tell a (bad/obvious) joke that years ago I made a New Year's resolution to not make any resolutions, and I failed. I do make goals, what I want to achieve on both a measurable and a subjective level. Last year I made a handful of goals. I achieved almost all of them, at least the objective ones.

But there is always room for self-improvement. Every year around this time, people across the country... nay, people around the world, will begin to make critical self-assessments, lists of what they believe they can improve, how they want to look, how the new year is going to be different for them, how everything is finally going to change, with a capital C. They'll include things like "lose 15 pounds", "start reading more", "call my parents more often", "exercise more often and maybe run a 5K or a marathon."

I'm calling bullshit.
Everyone making New Year's Resolutions now and waiting until the New Year to start them is going to fail.

I'm not trying to be negative. I'm just trying to slap you all across your self-defeating faces (via this little read blog). If you wait until the New Year to start the things you want to change about yourself now, you're going to fail. And here's why: you don't really mean it. You're going through the motions. If you really wanted to change these things about yourself, you wouldn't wait a few weeks. You'd start now.

It's a simple dictum: if you want to do something, if you want something to change, do it now! By putting it all off until a specified date, you aren't fully engaging in your goals or yourself. You're setting yourself up for failure. For example: "I know I really want to know what all the constellations are and I know it's mid-November and I have a high-speed internet access and I live in the countryside where the city lights don't ruin the night sky and that I'm sitting here watching youtube videos of people getting hit in the nuts or walking into poles, but I think that should be my New Year's Resolution. To learn the constellations." This person (and I've been this person before) is stupid. They could easily achieve this: go online to see which stars are prominent in their hemisphere at that time of year, then go outside to see if they can spot them. Are they going to do this? No, or they would have done so already.

We make resolutions so we can have other people hold us accountable, because we're afraid of holding ourselves accountable. We think that our friends are going to reinforce our lack of will and discipline. They aren't. That doesn't make our friends bad people or that they aren't emotionally invested or excited in seeing you reach your goals. It means that they have their own shit going on and will always (and rightfully so, I may add) take care of their stuff first.

I have created new goals, some measurable, some not. Some are below.

- Qualify for the Boston marathon.
- Get two more long stories (over 3000 words) published.
- Read Virginia Woolf (I've always meant to) and Gravity's Rainbow. (I didn't say understand Gravity's Rainbow; just to read it.)
- Be more honest and direct with people.
- Stop making lists.

What are some of your goals?

As always, thank you.

Fans, friends, and those people who opted not to flee after stumbling across this blog (and seeing what this monkey with a typewriter has to say): It's been a few weeks since I last wrote. And, perhaps I could use the forthcoming paragraphs as a means to get me to blog more often.

A few weeks back I attended the Salem Literary Festival. Among the workshops I attended was one hosted by Maine writer Jefferson Navicky on the prose poem and flash fiction. (Some of his work can be found here and here. Oh, and here, too. And a cool interview in Smokelong Quarterly, the holy grail of flash fiction magazines.)

(Wow, that's a whole lot of links.)

During this discussion, we were given a few writing exercises. Before a couple of the writing exercises, we practiced a technique that can be used before one sits down to write: meditation. Meditation is usually used to clear the brain, to minimize chaos, to increase general good feeling in one's self. Its therapeutic tendencies are central to Buddhism, Taoism, and many other Eastern religions. It is not usually thought of as a technique in writing. The idea of sitting in front of a computer screen or a blank piece of paper, with the intention of filling that empty space, by doing nothing, not even thinking, seems counter-intuitive. And that's precisely why it works.

We all have our own personal difficulties, distractions in sitting down to write: bills, kids, spouses/significant others, basic household chores, Facebook, lack of will, etc. What motivational tactics do we use to get ourselves to write, especially on days when we just can't seem to bring ourselves to write?

What tricks, techniques do you use? Do you use a reward system? Are you a naturally self-disciplined person who doesn't need any tricks? Do you need a deadline: and, if you have a self-imposed deadline, do you have the self-discipline to hold yourself to that deadline?

Confession: there is a partial selfish motive in this discussion topic. Now that I've finished my MFA, I'm finding it difficult to hold myself to writing. So I'm looking for any ideas that others may have.

Since graduating with my MFA, I have spent most of my creative fuel inconsistently updating this blog  and trying to decide which of my many creative projects to tackle next. The usual result: too many options yielding creative paralysis.

I recently had this discussion with some friends and fellow writers, and thought I would send it out to whatever readers I have of this blog. Any suggestions, or even discussion is highly welcome.

As always, thanks. And enjoy.