HAPPY NEW YEAR!
2016 has been laid to rest and 2017 has begun.
In preparation for our move in 2015, I cleaned out the old metal desk in my basement. Old papers and magazines found their way into the trash barrel; things that were no longer needed found their way into the Salvation Army box; but some things went into the boxes to be moved. In the box to move, I placed the folder with my scores on certification tests, my teaching certificates, my diplomas, my evaluations, and my contracts.
It has been two and a half years since I retired from teaching, but when I was teaching, the various pieces of the contract held me accountable for getting things done. The contract required that lesson plans were filed in the office before you left for the weekend or by Monday morning depending on which district I was employed by. The contract advised on expectations of teachers in regard to curriculum development and grading. It advised on professional attire and communication with parents. It advised on class size. It held me accountable.
When I retired and turned my focus to writing, there was no one who presented me with a contract. I now had to hold myself accountable, a difficult task.
As I look at my writing accomplishments for 2016, I am saddened by the fact that I practiced procrastination and slacking instead of diligence and hard work. I produced little new work at a weak pace. I might remember to write morning/evening notes, write to prompts that came to my email, work on writing and editing of any kind, OR I might not look at something for more than a week. As I look back at 2016, I am not happy with myself or my writing.
In one of the many workshops I attended during this past year, we worked at developing our own personal writing contracts. Something that would hold a writer accountable.
In addition, we were encouraged to read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, a very valuable book that delves into what keeps writers, and other artists, from producing and how to conquer that roadblock.
What does a writer’s contract look like?
The simplest document states how much you will write and how many hours or days you will commit to writing.
PERSONAL WRITING CONTRACT
I Karna Tecla commit to writing a minimum of 1,000 words or 3 hours each day I write, and I commit to writing a minimum of 5 days each week.
You might look at this and shake your head.
Let me explain.
Instead of working with the whole year, I have decided this year to break the year up by the months. I can do anything for 30 – 31 days. When I was a teacher, my contractual obligation was a five day work week. I didn’t commit to specific days because life tends to interfere and knock me off my commitment. So, most Mondays, I visit the chiropractor, have breakfast out, and get my errands done. Sometimes I’m home by noon and have time for writing, but most times the day is shot before I sit down to write. Not setting the specific days in stone helps me to find a way to sit down and write.
Included in these writing goals is the creation of blog posts, the exploration of one type of poetic form, and the re-writing of the novel I’m working on.
This statement holds me accountable to specific types of writing.
I will refrain from surfing on FaceBook and Pinterest, playing games on my phone, reading my emails in detail, cleaning, and working on creating crafts to sell until my writing commitment for the day is completed. I will face my resistances and tell them they have no power over my commitment.
So, this week, take some time to think about what you want to accomplish as a writer and how you plan to do this. Then, write it down, date it, sign it, and hold yourself accountable.
And how about sharing your commitment to writing here in the comment space? Sometimes sharing your commitment will inspire others as well as make you feel you need to fulfill your contract with yourself.