Thursday’s Work-in-Progress: Non-Writing Writing Resolutions

How many of you have made New Year’s resolutions concerning your writing practice this year? Let me see those virtual hands!

As you know, one week ago I was content with simply resolving to get a few projects under way before midnight on December 31. I’m happy to tell you that I did write and submit the two reviews I mentioned; I did send the newsletter out; and I did continue working on that prompt-into-poem-into-essay project (yes, that one has indeed carried me into 2012).

But with the surfeit of resolution-related posts that I’ve seen on others’ blogs lately, and the actual arrival of the new year, I think that I’m finally ready to make a few long-term resolutions regarding my writing practice. The funny thing is, none of them will require any writing. And not one of them is really new.

More exercise. I have to be honest here. It’s only because holiday travel, a really bad cold, and frigid early-morning temperatures have packed such a brutal punch lately that I have to use the word “more” here. In general, my 2011 exercise regime, especially in the latter part of the year, wasn’t so bad. Since my return to a 9-5 office job in early 2007, I have found it exceedingly challenging to stick with regular exercise (oh, for the freedom to go for a quick, mind-clearing midday run!). This isn’t just bad for my health. It’s also bad for my writing. And that’s not only because I seem to generate some pretty good ideas (if I say so myself) while I’m walking or running, but also I seem to figure out new ways of dealing with projects-in-progress–sometimes, even the very same project I left blinking on the screen when I got up to put on my running shoes.

More time away from home. I’m not talking about a month-long residency somewhere (not in the cards). Here’s what I mean. I already spend 40 hours each week in my 9 to 5 job, so I try to conserve as much of my non-dayjob time for writing as I can. I’ve been pretty lucky that up to this point, my office has been a 15-minute walk from my home. This is great in so many ways. The one negative is that–especially on cold, dark, winter days–I succumb easily to the temptation to go home straight from work and attempt a “second shift” focused on my own writing, in all its forms. Or maybe I’ll stop by to visit with my niece and nephew (my sister lives literally halfway between my office and my home). I’m considerably less likely to go downtown for a reading, say, or even go out for dinner or a movie. But I need more Julia Cameron-esque “artist dates”. I could probably also benefit from more in-person networking along the lines suggested here. It’s good for me, and, importantly, I know that it’s good for my writing. My office is moving to a midtown location next summer, and while this will add time to my commute (I’ll probably have to join the hordes on the subway or buses) and make the pre-workday exercise embedded in the resolution above even more challenging, it will also put me much closer to prime after-work temptations, such as the many events offered by the Center for Fiction, the campuses of The City University of New York, and an array of other institutions.

More reading. Yes, I already read more than plenty of other people. But there are so many books that I want to read! Within the past few days, I have finished one book (Joan Leegant’s Wherever You Go) and started another (Jenna Blum’s Those Who Save Us) that had been sitting in my TBR pile for way too long. These books capture my interest as a reader and as a writer. They inspire me to push myself in my own subject matter and style. I need to get to more books–faster. It’s as simple as that.

Are there any non-writing activities that might help your writing in 2012? What are they? I’d love to know!

3 thoughts on “Thursday’s Work-in-Progress: Non-Writing Writing Resolutions

  1. I recently wrote about what I call “Green Lights”, things that were working to do more of in 2012…that for me includes continuing to enjoy the natural beauty around me and continuing our practice of offline family time on Sundays. Good luck with your plans!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      I’m going to look up that post. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Six years ago I took a five-day intensive course in Right Brain Drawing. I not only discovered that I could draw, I also found that this form of creativity seemed to stimulate my writing. I now attend an informal drawing class once a month that is hosted by the teacher of the intensive course. We meet in a small restaurant here in Tokyo on Wednesday evenings, chat and eat, but the main activity, of course, is drawing. I’m usually tired and stressed when I get to the restaurant, and often go along unwillingly, but the two hours furlough that these occasions give me, the non-verbal activity of creating a visual image on paper, refresh and stimulate me in ways that then find unexpected expression in my writing.

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