Success depends on more than just acknowledging a goal with a glass of champagne in one’s hand at 11:59 p.m. on December 31st. Resolutions—shed some pounds, kick the cigarettes, drink less caffeine, avoid speeding tickets, go 365 days without being arrested, etc.—are easily made and even easier to cast aside. One can’t just spit out a resolution; one must also have the ambition and obsession to achieve.
Let’s define these:
Resolution: the act determining upon an action or course of action, often made at the beginning of a new year and abandoned two weeks later.
Ambition: an earnest desire for achievement and the willingness to strive for its attainment, an element often missing from New Year’s resolutions.
Obsession: the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea or desire, the presence of which elevates resolution to ambition and gives one a chance at success.
Okay, I might have tweaked those definitions but they’re still solid. 2014 is probably not the year I’m going to give up nicotine or caffeine, although I do plan on maintaining my “never been arrested” status and keeping a sharper eye out for radar-running cops than I did during 2013. I do, however, have plans for myself.
Not resolutions. Plans. Ambition + obsession > resolutions.
All word-based. Words require attention, sometimes hyper focus. Words are beautiful, the love of my life, but they don’t come easily. One must keep ambition foremost and feed the obsession that leads to success.
So here are my writing, reading, and word-focused goals for 2014…
1. Read 80 Books.
GoodReads promotes a yearly reading challenge, where members set their own “I’m going to read [#] of books in 2014” goals. Setting the bar too high would be doomed to failure—I have the real life, adult world responsibilities like everybody else. But setting the bar too low would be shameful because books are awesome and I have a massive stack of unread books waiting their turn. So in 2014 I will read 80 books.
2a. Complete My Work-in-Progress.
I began writing The O’Shaughnessy Reputation: Put on Your War Paint as part of National Novel Writing Month. I finished about half by the end of November and have kept putting fingers to keyboard since then (occasionally for frustrated keyboard-mashing). When I wrote the first part in this series (You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid), I started in 2011 and didn’t finish until early 2013, and I won’t allow that to happen again: I will finish this WIP at all costs.
2b. Complete an Edit of My Soon-to-be-Finished WIP.
I will not only finish this novel, I will do at least a first pass, rough edit on it before November 1st. I can’t start Kiss the Ring, part three of this series, for NaNoWriMo ‘14 until the events in part two have been smoothed into something resembling a coherent story.
Speaking of NaNoWriMo…
3. Participate in National Novel Writing Months, including Original Flavor NaNoWriMo (November) and both Camp NaNoWriMo sessions (April & July).
Providing concrete goals, a fast-approaching deadline, an active community of writers, and a nifty progress graph, NaNoWriMo has been one of the best things to ever happen to my writing life. It’s a kick in the ass, a kick so hard I’ll put said ass in a chair to avoid the hit. And half of writing is, after all, simply sitting your ass down to do it.
4. Begin Work on Charm of the Pavement.
The idea for this novel has been haunting me, bouncing around in my head for at least six months but doing little more than mocking my attempts to wrangle it into a coherent story. No more avoiding the pen, you brat; the time has come.
5. Increase My Writer Circle
The most successful writers seem to be those with a solid, expansive community of writers they consider friends. The interaction acts like an injection of word-adrenaline, promoting creativity and keeping a writer focused. I know several writers, a couple of whom are quite serious about it, and I’m determined to welcome more into my life. Because writers are awesome…and other writers are the only ones who share my special brand of ‘not quite right’.
I have my pen.
I have my vices—coffee, booze, cigarettes.
I have my ‘Write Drunk, Edit Sober’ mug.
I’m ready. Let’s fucking do this.