Every Tuesday night, I join a group of writers online to chat via twitter. The chats are moderated and sponsored by Whole Story Media Group and some fantastically talented folks. Each week, they choose a topic and we gab about it online for an hour. (9 pm EST, #wsmg, join us). I’ve come to cherish these chats and the writers who chime in as much as I cherish my favorite coffee mug in which my coffee simply tastes better, or that perfect, medium point, ball point pen in blue that makes my letters all fat and curly when I use it.
Last night, we discussed resolutions for the new year and what we wanted to accomplish as writers this year. So much of a writer’s work is internal, isolated and narrowly focused—finding the best word, simile, or character trait, expressing the exact emotion or the shape of a wave—that to hear from others similarly focused is to remind us that we are not alone, that we are not crazy, that we are following our hearts and valiantly. This is part of the value of community: to remind us that the world is large and we are simply moving through it, collecting our people like shells in a bucket.
Writers are, like most, at the mercy of ourselves and our environment; life always gets in the way of our best intentions. There is never a convenient time to train for a marathon, or to have a baby, or to go back to school or to polish off that novel you started in college. There is always a reason to NOT do it. Call it an excuse if you like.
I find I’m not so much interested in the resolutions or the goals, or the whatever-you-want-to-call them, as I am interested in the reasons behind them. I don’t mean I want to know your deepest darkest heart, but I’m all ears if you want to tell me anything juicy. What I mean is that when we set goals, asking ourselves what motivates us can flip a switch of action. Being able to see the behind-the-scenes scaffolding on which we build our goals helps keep that momentum alive, whether the merest hint of a spark, a glowing ember, or a roaring flame of purposeful work.
Last week, I shared that New Year’s resolutions aren’t for me. Not against them entirely. I like a good resolution to lay off the ice cream as much as the next gal. I just don’t want to wait for a lunar reason to move. And I’m interested in exploring the ideas that prompted the goal in the first place. Saying I will finish my novel this year is fantastic. And, I will do it because I know the reasons why I’m writing it. Saying I will run a marathon is different, and it’s one I’m still weighing. I want to do it for the “right” reasons, not because it’s the next logical distance or it’s expected, or it might be fun. (I’m fairly sure it will not, in fact, be fun, to run a marathon, but we’ll just let that slide for now.)
While I ask you how do you find your goals or resolutions, I’m asking myself how I will know I’m ready to commit to a marathon. So? What do you think? Are the reasons behind a goal/resolution important? Are there good or bad reasons? I’m all ears, even if it’s not that juicy.