The Christmas holidays are behind us, some of you may have even braved the crowds yesterday to stand in returns lines to purge yourself of unwanted gifts. This year is nearly over and 2013 is bearing down on us with its high beams glaring. Are there any Triskaidekaphobes out there? If so it’s gonna be a long year. Well now’s the time to make a few New Year’s resolutions. If you are short on ideas here is a baker’s dozen for you to consider:
1. Get ready for 2013. Like a good Boy Scout, “Be prepared.” You will either have to grab a hold or step aside. It doesn’t have to be a bumpy ride if you are ready for it, just try to avoid getting run over by it. Surf the tsunami rather than letting it roll over you.
2. Write more. This is one resolution that might be adhered to past mid January. I am going to pledge to write something every day. 365 days of writing. If I can watch TV every day, maybe I can find enough discipline to commit to writing daily.
3. Read more. I got a number of books for Christmas and for a writer I believe that reading is just as important as writing. A good book can be a how-to manual or a roadmap to success. The more you read the more you are exposed to what has made it to print. Pay attention.
4. Expect the best. In Italy, 13 is considered a lucky number. In our household we embrace the number 13. My son was (finally) conceived in the 13th year of our marriage and born on February 13th (almost 19 years ago). How lucky is that? It’s all a matter of perception. Don’t shit where you eat. I am personally looking forward to a good year!
5. Love language. If you are a writer, words are your medium. Dig deeper into what they mean, how they are used, where they came from, how they have changed. This blog has been a real journey for me over the past 14 months and I have tried to share some of that discovery in more than 150 posts. I am sure that I have only scratched the surface.
6. Let technology be your friend. We are surrounded by it. The internet, reading tablets, smart phones, apps. Like the 2013 tsunami that is gathering on the horizon, let’s ride the crest rather than drowning underneath it. Technology can be a confusing, roiling slurry of the incomprehensible, but if you have patience (or a teenager in your house) you can learn to use it to your benefit.
7. Don’t abandon the tried and true. This might sound like contrary advice to recommendation number 6, but pencils still work. There is also something to be said for holding a printed book in your lap and turning actual paper pages. Just because technology is everywhere doesn’t mean we have to use all of it.
8. Listen more. We all have valid points and listening to others more than we listen to ourselves might be something new and exciting. I am also going to listen to how things are said as well as what is being said. Tune your ear to the natural cadence of speech and harness that in your writing and dialogue.
9. Speak more eloquently. I have begun to take more time to express myself with care. Don’t just blurt it out craft your response. It just might catch on. Do yourself a favor and go watch the movie Lincoln (an incredible film by the way) while it is still in the theaters and pay attention to what Thaddeus Stevens has to say and how he says it. The spoken word has devolved into a series of catch phrases and acronyms. Don’t just “LOL,” let them know that coffee just came out of your nose. If we speak with more thought and art maybe our writing will follow suit or vice versa.
10. Share. Sharing has been one of the most gratifying byproducts of writing this blog. I began it to serve as a platform to make my book available. I do not think that I have sold a single copy through this blog. Frankly I don’t care if I ever do. What I did find out, about two weeks into it, was that sharing your ideas and experiences with others is a powerful thing.
11. Enjoy. Do you sense a pattern here? Do more. Eat good food. Drink fine wine. Try a new restaurant. Write in the First Person if you’ve never done it. Take a stab at poetry. Jump into the Flash Fiction fray. But by all means do it with gusto. Don’t just taste it, savor it. Don’t just sip it, make note of it. Don’t just make a reservation and show up, experience it. Don’t just write it, live it.
12. Lose weight. Okay, everyone makes and breaks this resolution but here it is. Why break with tradition? Besides, misery loves company and since I have been trying to reduce my bulk and lower my cholesterol since November I thought that maybe you would want to fight the fight along with me. I have made little changes in my diet and my routine which I hope has made a change in my waistline. Yogurt instead of sandwiches from Potbelly’s or Burgers from Five Guys. I am taking the stairs instead of the elevator (not all 12 flights mind you but I am doing 6 of them and in January I’ll see if I can make it up 7 flights without going into cardiac arrest) and I hop on an exercycle in our basement every once in a while. We don’t have a scale in our house but my clothes seemed to have stopped “shrinking.”
13. Last but not least, don’t bother making any New Year’s Resolutions. If January 1 seems to be all about making them, then January 2 seems to be all about breaking them. I don’t know a single person who has been serious about any resolution they have ever made, nor anyone who has consciously tried to keep one. Don’t make resolutions, but do change your outlook, perception, habits and mindset. Change can be a scary thing, but switching from sodas to water is not that big a deal. It is doable and over the long run can make a difference. Change can also be liberating and life altering. Embrace that change.
Happy New Year! Happy ’13! Don’t freak out, it’s going to be a good year. I can feel it.