David Farland’s Kick in the Pants—Resolutions

I hate the word “resolute.” Whenever I think of it, I think of soldiers circa 1800, marching resolutely into battle, knowing that they’re going to die. Yet every year I make resolutions anyway. Maybe if we had better attitudes about resolutions in the first place, it wouldn’t be so hard to keep them.

This year I have a number of resolutions.

It seems to me that if I approach my goals properly, then reaching them won’t be too hard.

For example, let’s look at writing goals. What if instead of saying, “I’m going to write twenty pages a day for at least three days per week,” I decided that, “I will approach each day of writing calmly, training myself to be excited about the task, and anticipating the rewards of a job well done”?

I think that I might get a lot accomplished, without feeling as though I’m marching into battle while the canons are exploding at my back and gunfire erupts all around me.

Or how about this as a New Year’s Resolution: I’m going to train myself to write by writing. Each morning, I am going to get up, and I will have my current novel/short story up and ready to go. I will begin typing on my manuscript before doing anything else, so that by the end of the week, I will have trained myself to think, Ah, there is the keyboard. I will go and work on my manuscript.

You see, many of your habits are subconscious. Some people teach themselves that the computer is for video games, or it’s for checking email, or it’s for chatting on Facebook. So when they sit down to the keyboard, by force of habit they immediately begin playing.

But what if you trained yourself to make writing your habit? What if you tried something like this:

1) Close your eyes and think about something that excites you. Perhaps it’s the idea of getting your first novel published, or maybe it’s an award you’ve won, or just the joy that will come when you complete your novel.

Think about it, and let the excitement build for 15 seconds.

2) Now, sit at your computer, open the file to your work in progress. Do not do anything else. Instead, open your WIP and write one paragraph.

3) When you’re done with that paragraph, get up from your computer and walk around the room for a moment, thinking about what you might want to do with your work in progress.

4) Repeat step 1, thinking about something that excites you, and letting the excitement sweep through you.

5) Now write another paragraph. Make it beautiful.

6) When you’re done, get up from your computer for a few minutes and think about what you will write next.

7) Repeat steps one through three ten times. By the time that you have done it a few times, you will have begun training yourself so that when you sit down, you will become excited at the prospect of writing, and you will immediately open your work in progress.

This of course is a form of self-hypnosis. We do so many things out of habit—things like putting on our clothes, eating, driving. If you work in a factory, you probably don’t much think about the repetitive tasks that you’re doing. You quite literally may find yourself doing them in your sleep, dreaming about them.

Well, I’m convinced that writing is much the same way. When I go on a writing retreat, I choose to go to places where I don’t have internet access or a phone. All that I can do with my computer is write. Without any distractions, I find that all of my computer time quickly gets focused on writing, and as a result, I can do tremendous things. So what if I train myself to avoid the distractions, to simply focus on what I really want to do most?

Give it a try. It really isn’t hard. You don’t need to be resolute at all.

Only two days left until we end the our sale on writing workshops over on MyStoryDoctor.com. So, if you are interested, now is your last chance to act.

One of my friends, Mette Harrison, has a book launch happening in Salt Lake City, Utah, January 2nd, at The King’s English Bookshop, for her book The Bishop’s Wife

In the predominantly Mormon city of Draper, Utah, some seemingly perfect families have deadly secrets.

Linda Wallheim is a devout Mormon, the mother of five boys and the wife of a bishop. But Linda is increasingly troubled by her church’s structure and secrecy, especially as a disturbing situation takes shape in her ward. One cold winter night, a young wife and mother named Carrie Helm disappears, leaving behind everything she owns. Carrie’s husband, Jared, claims his wife has always been unstable and that she has abandoned the family, but Linda doesn’t trust him. As Linda snoops in the Helm family’s circumstances, she becomes convinced that Jared has murdered his wife and painted himself as a wronged husband.

Linda’s husband asks her not to get involved in the unfolding family saga. But Linda has become obsessed with Carrie’s fate, and with the well-being of her vulnerable young daughter. She cannot let the matter rest until she finds out the truth. Is she wrong to go against her husband, the bishop, when her inner convictions are so strong?

Inspired by a chilling true crime and written by a practicing Mormon, The Bishop’s Wife is both a fascinating look at the lives of modern Mormons as well as a grim and cunningly twisted mystery.

“The Bishop’s Wife has good reason to draw a large readership. It places heavy emphasis on domestic abuse and on the question of how dangerous fire-breathing extremists really are. The man who inveighs against women as whores and sinners may or may not be anything worse than a crank. The man who speaks sanctimoniously of them may be much worse… That’s why Ms. Harrison’s Linda is such a welcome character: In her role as Sister Wallheim, she encourages women to speak freely, at least to her, and to escape the shame that has burdened some of them since childhood.”

—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Harrison makes her adult debut with a stunning contemporary mystery set in Mormon country…

[She] easily transports readers into a world most will find as unfamiliar as a foreign country.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review

“The mystery surrounding Carrie drives the plot, but Linda herself is the most compelling thing about young adult author Harrison’s debut adult mystery about a world she knows well.”
—Booklist, STARRED Review

“Adds twists aplenty to an insider’s look at a religion replete with its own mysteries.”
—Kirkus Reviews

The book launch party will include a Jello salad contest judged by authors Shannon Hale and Matthew Kirby.

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