Think Like a Writer Series: New Year’s Resolutions

Don’t you just love that feeling you get at the end of a book when everything is wrapped up in a nice neat bow?  Our protagonists have fought the valiant fight.  They’ve figured out the right way to fix the problem.  They’ve finally heard our screams from somewhere in outer book space saying:  “Hey, dumb ass!  This is what you need to do!”

Wouldn’t it be great if we had someone screaming at us how to fix our problems?

Whether we want to recognize it our not, there was someone on the other end of a book with scissors and ribbon, carefully constructing a series of knots and bends and arcs that all came together in the perfect bow.

So why can’t we do this in our own lives?

This year I’m kicking off a new series on the blog entitled:  Think Like a Writer.  It’s an experiment, really, in applying what we do everyday as writers to our own everyday lives as people, to see if it really does wrap things up in a nice neat bow.  (Or at least help us make things more tidy.)  I hope some of my bad girlz will join in throughout the year with their own little experiments.

Experiment One:  New Year’s Resolutions.

You either love them or hate them.  I believe that in theory they serve the greater good, but for me they’ve never been very useful.  In fact, this year I made the same resolutions I made the past two years because apparently I’m on the five year plan.  Lose some weight.  Increase my social media presence.  Have more patience with my kids.  Write more.  Scrapbook more.  Faithful date nights with the hubby.  And of course, every pre-published writer’s personal favorite, find an agent or editor that believes in me and my writing.

So, how am I going to make this year different?  How will I finally earn a check next to a few of these resolutions and make room for new ones next year?  To answer these questions, I’m going back to the basics to find out where I’m going wrong.

Resolution (noun):  The act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.

To a writer, this makes perfect sense.  The resolution is what we work to achieve throughout the length of our books.  It’s why we torture our characters, throwing harder and harder conflicts at them that aid in whittling down to that exact, perfect solution that they couldn’t quite see before the book began.  Okay – I got this.

Problem 1:  By definition, my resolutions aren’t resolutions at all.  They’re goals.

Goal (noun):  Something that you are trying to do or achieve

I want to write another book.  I want more twitter followers.  I want my kids to have scrapbooks created by their patient mother, and I want to fit into that pair of skinny jeans my husband bought me when we go to the movies or dinner.  These are all great goals to shoot for, but that’s what they are – goals.  Nowhere does it state how I’m going to achieve any of it, or what I’ll need to sacrifice to get it.

Well, no wonder I’ve been failing!  I’m an obsessive planner without a plan!

So, if I were one of my characters, what would I need to do before I could find my resolution?  Identify and defeat my antagonist!

Antagonist (noun):  One that contends with or opposes another

In my case, my antagonist isn’t so much a who as a what.  The stingy bastard standing in my way is the clock.

With more time, I could start a workout plan, spend hours coming up with funny tweets to draw folks my way.  I could plan a weekend scrapbooking session with some friends and not feel guilty because I’m not spending every spare minute writing.  I could afford more patience with my kids because really…what’s the hurry?

So, I just need to figure out a way to stop the clock and voila!  I get all my heart’s desires!

Problem 2:  No matter how strong or brilliant I am, I will never be able to stop time from marching on.

Seconds pass, minutes pass, hours pass.  It’s one of the few absolutes we have in life.  We can’t stop it.  It’s hopeless.  It’s like my own little, personal black moment!

Black Moment (noun):  The moment when all hope is lost, and there is no visible light at the end of the tunnel (hence, BLACK moment).

So, what do I do now?  What would my heroine do to rise from her black moment? After some fit throwing and head pounding, she’d finally realize she’d been going down the wrong path to begin with – and she’d find another way out.

If I can’t stop or slow down the clock, I need to find a way to get what I need in spite of it.  I need to create minutes, which is also equally impossible.  I need to free minutes.  I need to better manage my minutes.  I need to unclutter my minutes.

Resolution (noun):  The act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.

And I’ve come full circle, haven’t I?  Imagine that.

I, Jenna P, do solemnly swear to resolve to actively work toward freeing, better managing, and uncluttering my minutes in 2014.   

That, I might just be able to do.  It will take hard work and some disappointment, but it might just be the best way to meet all those goals.  Only time will tell, ironically.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Happy New Year!

Jenna P.

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