Writer’s Resolutions or New Year’s Rally Cry

Here’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions: I could resolve all day long to do things like take my vitamins every day or exercise at least twice a week. In the end, I would still ignore the alarm that beeps on my phone every morning at 7am, reminding me to down the iron and calcium and what not. I would also fail to recover the pair of tennis shoes lost somewhere deep in the shadows of my closet.

Resolutions don’t work for me. But, mantras and mottos do.

When I made the decision several years ago to (seriously) pursue this whole writing idea, I did so with one phrase in my mind: Why not?

What’s the worst that could happen? I thought. I would fail? I was already failing to write by lamenting about the fact that I wanted to write stories and yet only put pen to paper in order to jot down a to-do list or scratch out an occasional journal entry. Why not just do it? Stop whining and start writing.

Why not sign up for NaNoWriMo?
Why not start a writing blog?
Why not contact that best-selling author and ask if she’d let me interview her?

In that year, I finished NaNoWriMo and got my blog rolling and off to a decent start. And that best-selling author I contacted? Beth Hoffman said yes right away and launched my author interview series. Beth has also become an author I want to emulate; she encourages emerging writers, even as she continues to receive accolades for Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt and prepares to release her next novel. Not every author holds a hand out to others. And, I might not have met this woman had I supressed my initial rally cry, Why not.

Why not gave me the initial push to pursue what I wanted, but over the holiday break, I fell into a lull. You know, that place all writers fall into, where we consider what we’ve done and try to figure out where the heck we’re headed. Then, I read a random mass email that opened with two motivating words, Fearless Writers, and it hit me. This year, I needed a new rally cry, one that would drive me to tackle goals with reckless abandon: Fearless writing.

When I say fearless writing, I don’t mean just finishing that short story or submitting that memoir piece. It isn’t only about completing the next big rewrite of my novel or finally compiling that collection of flash fiction pieces (though all of these things are part of the big picture). I say those two words with more intention. Fearless writing also means stepping out of my comfort zone, doing things that move my writing career forward in ways I want but have been afraid to pursue.

This week, fearless writing means filling out an application to work with some great writers in a position I want but am either 1) afraid I won’t get, because I’m terribly under-qualified, or 2) afraid I will get, and at which I’ll fail miserably, because I’m totally not qualified.

Fearless writing.

Nothing happens if nothing happens. I can never attain what I aim for if I never apply, if I never open the story file or write the query or send out my resume. Fearless writing means remembering that I might look down on my accomplishments (or lack thereof, if self-doubt takes over), while another person might very well see them as qualifications. Taking action, in whatever way leads me toward that thing I most want, is one way to push aside my fears. At least for the moment. And, if, in the end, nothing comes of my actions, at least I’ve had the practice of refining a story, of forming a professional email, of gathering a list of what I’ve done in the last year. Of recognizing forward progress.

What will you do as a Fearless Writer this year?

* Photo credits: “fist” from doctor_bob and “keyboard” from justcola, both on Morguefile.com
Christi

About Christi

Christi Craig is a native Texan living in Wisconsin, working by day as a sign language interpreter and moonlighting as a writer, teacher, and editor. Her stories and essays have appeared online and in print, and she received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's Family Matters Contest, 2010. You can send comments or questions via her contact page.
This entry was posted in life, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Writer’s Resolutions or New Year’s Rally Cry

  1. John says:

    Thanks for this post it is an excellent idea for 2013. If you don’t mind I would also like to adopt Fearless Writing as my mantra for the upcoming year. I just received my first rejection slip of the year in the mail last night, but it is going back out in the mail to another market this weekend. Fearless Writing indeed!
    John recently posted..Shooting the Messenger, Part 7My Profile

    • Christi Christi says:

      John,
      Definitely, post the words on your laptop (I think I will). And, ah…rejections. I received my first rejection of the year on New Year’s Day 🙂 Here’s to Fearless Writing (and persistence) in 2013!

  2. Beth Lowe says:

    Wonderful piece, Christi. Fearless writing is what I need, too. I love “Nothing happens if nothing happens.” I may have to borrow that one for my own mantra. Thanks for being fearless in writing about the stuff that lurks within. Happy New Year and, yes, why not?!
    Beth Lowe recently posted..November 30, 2012My Profile

  3. Happy New Year, Christie! I too don’t make resolutions, but prefer to make focus statements. These are the items that I, or my family together, will focus on during the year. Fearless writing is one of this year’s focuses. Albeit, I didn’t craft a nice way to refer to it, like you did here. One of the things I plan to do this year is write something in a different format and genre (ie, a sci-fi/thriller short story).
    Mieke Zamora-Mackay recently posted..Note To SelfMy Profile

    • Christi Christi says:

      Mieke,
      I like how you refer to it, focus statements, since, for me, fear can certainly be a distraction. Writing in a different format or genre is another great idea, and definitely a way to break out of our comfort zones. Enjoy, and keep me posted!

  4. I love your idea of a mantra, and I like “why not” as much as I like “fearless writing”. I can feel your enthusiasm coming through the screen … here’s to a fearless 2013!

  5. Lynn Wyvill says:

    I like the rallying cry of “Fearless Writing” I hit a lull, too, and I’ve been wondering how to jump out of it and figure out what’s next. You’ve communicated your passion for writing in this post, and I’ve “caught” it from you. Good luck with that job application!
    Lynn Wyvill recently posted..Planning to be SpontaneousMy Profile

  6. After another sip of coffee, I couldn’t get the “fearless writing” out of my mind. It made me think of one of my favorite books on writing — Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. She talks about first thoughts and how you might write: I cut the daisy from my throat. Immediately your politeness and fear, and embarrassment kick in and you think: “that sounds suicidal”. So you change it to: My throat was a little sore, so I didn’t say anything.

    This is my mantra for fearless writing this year — ignore the whispering little voice of fear that makes me swerve toward what’s “safe”.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Christi Christi says:

      Ooh, I love that example, Cathryn. Too many times I have changed bits of stories in order to make it feel more safe. But, lately, I’ve been reading stories that are boldly written. That’s what I want to be able to do as well. Thank you for your comments!

  7. Christi,
    I enjoyed your article and will continue to read your posts. I think you have to be “Fearless” about whatever you pursue.
    I use a quote by Dr. Forrest Shaklee: “What You Think, You Look; What You Think, You Do; What you Think; You Are.”
    I wish you the very best in all you do this coming year and forever. Keep writing!

  8. I love BOTH mantras, Christi! Look how much you accomplished with the first one — I’m sure there are many great things to come as you fearlessly write this year. Good luck, and best wishes.

    • Christi Christi says:

      Thanks, Amanda. It’s such good exercise to look back on the year(s) to see how far we’ve come, since, in the day-to-day, progress feels so slow.

      Happy writing to you this year, as well!

  9. Kathy says:

    This post really hit home for me! I’m doing almost the same thing this year, but I have two mottos: “It’s all too much” (used for simplifying and downsizing of my life) and “If not now, when?” (regarding my writing). I’ve been paralyzed by fear for too long and drowning in stuff and unimportant obligations and I’m not willing to stay in this place anymore. So every day, I’m getting rid of things (whethere actual possessions or responsibilites/activities I no longer want to do) and I’m writing–or at least, sitting in my chair with my pen and paper, not allowing myself to do anything else. By the end of the year, I want to have a big stack of pages I’ve completed–whether they be blog posts, essays or the book I’ve been “writing” for two or three years now.

    I love your mottos and I wish you great adventure and happiness during your year of fearless writing!
    Kathy recently posted..Less Is MoreMy Profile

    • Christi Christi says:

      Kathy,
      Wow, I love both your mottos as well. I’ve been at a similar point: sick and tired of obsessing about unimportant stuff. I love the idea of ridding yourself of one thing every day and, in turn, using that space (physical or mental) for your own creative efforts. What an inspiration! I’d say that’s fearless indeed!

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  10. Pingback: News & Noteworthy | Christi Craig

  11. Pingback: A Little Late to the Party | Christi Craig

  12. Pingback: Tapping the New Year with a Review, Advice, & a Rally Cry | Christi Craig

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge