Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Writerly Resolutions for 2014

Yes. I, Poe Von Page, believe in the magic of the new year. Part of that magic, for me, is found in resolutions. I know a lot of people roll their eyes at New Year's resolutions, but I've actually had good results with them in the past. I've been talking about breathing life into my writing practice for quite a while. Well my pretties, it's time for me to shut the fuck up and write. So, I've set some writerly resolutions to jumpstart my practice.   

But first, some background info...

I've been inspired by Ray Bradbury's well-known keynote address at the Sixth Annual Writer's Symposium by the Sea. If you're interested, it's a one-hour talk and it's worth the watch. 

He addresses what he calls "writing hygiene," and discourages beginning and intermediate writers from jumping into writing a novel. Instead, he pimps the power of the short story and recommends budding authors write one short story a week for 52 weeks.

So, resolution the first: Write one story per week in 2014. 

He goes on to prescribe a one-thousand day program to "stuff your head" with information, metaphors and ideas: Before you go to bed every night, read one short story, one poem, and one essay. He has very definite ideas on what constitutes "real" poetry (hint: it ain't the work of modern poets) and the diversity of the essays one should read. He even includes some personal recommendations. Now, realistically speaking, this head-stuffing trifecta would be quite difficult for me to maintain. Committing to the program as prescribed feels like signing up for failure and disappointment. But I can certainly take the idea behind it and alter it a bit so it's more realistic for the likes of me. I also think it'd be pretty groovy if I listed and posted links to (whenever possible) my readings throughout the year via this blog or my Twitter stream or on Facebook or whatevs. This way, I can go back and I have a record of all my past head-stuffings if I need to recall something in the future.

Resolution the second: Subscribe to Bradbury's head-stuffing trifecta (a short story, a poem, and an essay) a minimum of four days per week in 2014. 

My third writerly resolution did not come from Bradbury's speech, but from a need for follow-through on all those short stories I'll be writing. The goal, beyond establishing a writing practice, honing my craft, expanding my fiction portfolio, and challenging myself is publication, after all. 

Resolution the third: Submit something for publication at least once per week.

Following those first three resolutions, I have some others I'd like to publicly commit to. They are as follows...

Resolution the fourth: Keep my writing desk clean...ish. 

I've found that, for me, this helps keep the words flowing. I'm more motivated to sit down to work at a tidy desk and I'm far less distracted once I'm there when I'm not looking at my monitor over a stack of unopened mail and crumpled receipts.  

Resolution the fifth: Write in new and interesting places at least once a week.

Sometimes, we just need to get out of the house. Often times, a change in scenery or writing in a group is extremely beneficial. 

Resolution the sixth: Cultivate flow. In more practical words, write something at least five days per week. 

My standard work-from-home "office hours" run from about 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. More or less. However, I tend to only write when I experience flow or as I like to say, when my muse is putting out. The problem with writing this way is that it greatly diminishes my output, particularly in times of stress which I've had a whole lot of, lately. I truly dislike the fact that I'm such a high-maintenance, artsy-fartsy author and feel like I need to work on something that more closely resembles a schedule. If I can push through my urge to do anything other than write on days when my muse is playing hard to get, I feel as though I may even be able to learn how to seduce her. Perhaps I can cultivate flow.

Resolution the seventh: Make mistakes.

I got the idea for this resolution from Neil Gaiman and I couldn't speak to it better than he did if I tried. So, I won't. Just read his short but powerful explanation about halfway through his blog post from December 31, 2011. This coincides with sage wisdom from my long-time friend and critique partner, Kerri-Leigh Grady. She has said to me on many occasions, "You can't fix what's not on the page." I can get so paralyzed by fear of failure that I don't try at all. This is a pretty common problem for people, I know, but it's also plain ol' self-sabotaging stupidity. So, this year I will learn to allow myself to make mistakes. Juicy, messy mistakes.

Did you set any resolutions for yourself? What are they? C'mon, clap if you believe in resolutions!


  1. I suck at resolutions, so none for moi. But I love yours and will stand behind you as you spank 2014's ass and pull its hair.

  2. There's a dirty joke in there somewhere, KL. Something about you behind me whilst I divvy out spankings and hair pullings. I'm not caffeinated enough to pull it all together, though. But thanks! I love that I can always count on you. And the visual makes my pervy little heart go boom boom boom.