I have many excuses as to why I haven’t written on this blog sooner. Relatives were visiting, I traveled to a lovely writing retreat, and I’m on a book deadline and negotiating a contract. But at the end of this paragraph, who cares?
What habit would you like to change in your life? Want to get that book written? Create art every day? Drop a few pounds? I just read This Year I Will . . . How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True by M.J. Ryan.
Ryan says there are ten resolution pitfalls:
1. Being vague about what you want. A friend of mine is creating a website. When I asked her for specifics, she can’t pin it down as to what her site is all about. No wonder she’s a year late on her own deadline for this project.
Write down your goal. Next, break it up into baby steps. I like list-making. If it’s too big of a project it will scare me away. But if I only have to do one tiny thing per day, the work will eventually get done.
2. Not making a serious commitment. How bad do you want this goal? Why?
3. Procrastinating and excuse making – - no time, wrong time, dog ate my homework. (See my first paragraph above.) An acquaintance of mine does this, too. Years ago she said she couldn’t write because she was raising her children. Now, children are long gone and she still hasn’t written the book.
4. Being unwilling to go through the awkward phase.
In writing a book, this often is either when a person begins the book or when the writer reaches the murky middle. Even though writing isn’t digging ditches, it’s tiring. And no one is patting you on the back with huge checks with each chapter you write.
5. Not setting up a tracking and reminder system. Have you created a schedule? Check off what you’ve done so you can visualize your own progress.
6. Expecting perfection, falling into guilt, shame, regret. Remember, rough drafts are supposed to be lousy. Don’t keep rewriting. Just get the work written. When you write THE END, take a break and only then are you allowed going back to the beginning for your rewrite.
7. Trying to go it alone. It takes a community to write a book. Discover a writing partner, group, or online list serve to cheer you on or suggest ideas for your creative process.
8. Telling yourself self-limiting rut stories. Negativity not allowed!
9. Not having backup plans.
10. Turning slip-ups to give-ups.
I’m not explaining the last two. Read the book. It’s worth it.
I’m trying to stop drinking diet soda. I manage this fairly well until travel time or when a migraine attacks. My body seems to crave caffeine and diet soda. Somehow, through the wall of pain, I feel the world owes me this addiction. I’ll never get rid of this horrible pain again. (#8?) A writing friend also is struggling with the same addiction so we encourage each other along and cry on each other’s shoulders. (Thanks, Deborah!)
One more hint from the book: If you have trouble with negative thoughts, here is something from the work of Byron Katie who stopped being a morbidly obese agoraphobic. She’s now a famous and lovely spiritual guru.
Ask yourself four questions:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
3. How do you react when you think that thought?
4. Who would you be without that thought?
1. Choose a habit you would like to adapt or change. Write it down.
2. Read M.J. Ryan’s book and use your habit to do the exercises within the book.
3. Will this help you with your art and/or writing?
4. Write about the emotions you experience through your process.
5. Write an essay or poem about your habit.