Saturday, August 27, 2011

Promises, Promises

Tomorrow, I will write/edit/read everything on my to-do list.

I'll make an editing schedule and keep it up every night.

As soon as I'm done reading this book, I'll get back to revisions.

These are just a few of the promises I've broken to myself and others who try to motivate me. It's like somewhere along the line, I decided every writing goal was a New Year's resolution to be bent, broken, and forgotten sometime mid-February.

It's not that I'm lazy. Okay, maybe a little bit. And easily distracted. And busy with other (worthwhile) things, like raising my kids, teaching important life skills (yes, I get the irony), and cleaning the bathrooms.

The thing with unreliable people is that eventually the people around them stop trusting them to keep promises. And while I do try to be reliable for other people (especially the physical, face to face people in my life), the same thing applies to self-trust. At some point, I don't believe myself anymore when I set a writing goal because I know the toilet will overflow or there will be a hurricane looming over the east coast, or I'll get diverted by a shiny object, and the goal will be forgotten. Usually I remember it the next day and try to get back on the horse.

But sometimes I just stop writing/editing/reading. For weeks at a time. I always come back to it because it's part of my soul. There are other parts of my soul, too, though. And they have a siren song all their own.

I wonder if there will ever be a time in my life when all those promises I made to myself will be fulfilled. Some books take a lifetime to write. Maybe some routines or habits take a lifetime to master.

I'm not going to end this post with a new promise. I'll just say I have hope and determination on my side. I've been described as tenacious. I've been compared to a fire.

I've accomplished many difficult things, from brutal survival situations to a marathon to natural childbirth, and I always come out stronger, if a bit bruised. And I can conquer myself, too.

I may not be making leaps and bounds toward my ultimate goals of publication and readership, but even baby steps will get me there someday.

There's one thing I can always promise:

When I want something badly enough, it happens.

Are you the promise-making type? How do you keep yourself in line?


  1. Any small step in the right direction brings you closer than you were before.

  2. Give yourself permission to take a break sometimes. It can totally help your muse. :)

  3. I am totally a promise-maker, too. (I was actually planning on making a writing to-do list for this weekend, but then my extensive editing notes showed up, and now I am making a very different to-do list!)

    In any case, sometimes I fall a little short, as well. But I agree with Kris: sometimes, you just have to step away from the process of writing itself. I like to think of it as research, though. Writing is so informed by everything we do - the books we read, the places we've gone, and even just by our everyday lives - that even the smallest things aren't wasted. So really, when you step away, you ARE bringing yourself just a little bit closer.

  4. OH, girl. I am NOTORIOUS for making promises and/or goals that are either impossible to reach or I never plan to reach in the first place. I think this is one of those things we have to train ourselves to do, which means starting small (baby steps, like you said). One of my co-workers who is also a writer has one rule: he works on his story for at least 15 minutes every day. If things go well, he keeps going. If nothing is happening, he stops after 15 minutes, knowing he kept his commitment. I've found this works well for me, too.

  5. You guys are awesome and so right. Breaks are essential. Yet I feel guilty. :) Anne, I'll have to try that! I think I can do fifteen minutes a day. Thank you, ladies!

  6. Oh I'm terrible at goals--so I rarely make them. When it comes to writing I just love it so much I don't need to motivate myself.


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