“This is the year that I’m finally going to finish my novel! No, really!”
I’ve been repeating this little statement to myself since, oh, about 2003. And sure, the particular manuscript in question might change. But my pattern of goal-setting… and goal-abandoning… never does.
It starts in January with a New Year’s resolution and the optimistic thought, “Surely, a fresh start will motivate me this time!” I write like gangbusters for awhile, but then my energy fizzles. I tell myself that this is understandable. After all, teaching and/or parenting takes tons of commitment and thus I can’t be expected to write during the school year.
Fast forward to the start of summer vacation and the optimistic thought, “Surely, a fresh start will motivate me this time!” Especially since this isn’t just some arbitrary fresh start indicated by a page on a calendar. No, no! This fresh start is accompanied by theoretical gobs of free time because I’m theoretically off work. (Cue another burst of enthusiastic writing.)
But this burst is also short-lived because apparently I was utterly wrong before. What my writing really needs is a dedicated place within a larger routine. Yes, my summertime lack of obligation is actually quite bad for me. So I recommit again in September with the optimistic thought, “Surely, a fresh start will motivate me this time!”
Lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseam for 13 years now. Oh, heavens. Have I really been doing this for over a decade? Why, yes. Yes, I have.
Sigh. I think a well-worn cliché definitely applies here: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The good news is that I’m finally ready to call off the crazy. No more telling myself that I’ll experience success if I just work harder or want it more. Clearly, that isn’t working. It’s time to break my pattern.
I’m confident I can make a change. After all, I finally won NaNoWriMo after multiple fruitless attempts. Surely I can do this, too!
Over the next few months I plan to investigate goal-setting, habit formation, and self-knowledge as the first stage of shifting my writing paradigm. I hope you’ll buckle up and join me for the ride!