2016: The Year of Threes

I have a lot of things I want to accomplish and improve on in the next year. And when I first wrote out my list of resolutions, it was pretty long. I looked at it, and decided to distill everything down into three sections (personal, writing, and work), with just three goals each for the year. Anything I accomplish or change outside of that is just gravy, so to speak. And I have, in fact, already made some changes not on my lists that mean (among other things), that I had more time on Sunday to get this blog post written and scheduled.

I’ve also started changing my attitude towards certain aspects of my life – it’s a process, but since I’ve started that shift (with my vacation in mid-December), my head has been a lot more clear, and life in general has felt much less overwhelming. My main goal for 2016 is to keep it that way as much as possible.

Leaving out the work list (because it just doesn’t need to be public), here are my personal and writing resolutions for this year:

Personal
– Read *every day*, even if just for 10-15 minutes.
– Treat hobbies with the respect they deserve.
– Engage in more analog, tactile activities

Writing
– Write three novels in 2016 (I have them chosen)
– Write eight short stories: two per quarter for each pen name (just writing under two this year)
– Focus on just two drafts at any one time (one novel, one short)

Last year, I was so focused on meeting my writing obligations that when I was on vacation and tried to remember the last time I’d picked up a book, I couldn’t. Reading is my escape, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. It’s one of the few things that pulls me out of my own head, makes me stop thinking about my own life, and forces me to live in the mind and life of someone else for a little while. And I underestimated the importance of that to my mental well-being. Ever since my vacation, I’ve made a point to drop everything – even writing – by midnight and go to bed so I can read for half an hour before sleeping (the only time I’m guaranteed to get). And my mental state has improved significantly just by making that one little change.

One other thing I found I was doing was making hobbies into “mini-jobs”. Whether it was crochet/knitting, or comic books, or stamp collecting, I was getting to where I felt guilty for not making/finding time for them, but also guilty if I *did* indulge because I should be doing other things – stuff for the writing business, or writing, or housework, or whatever. So I felt like I “should” work on them, but always felt bad when I actually did. Not healthy.

This year, I’m going to engage in my hobbies guilt-free. It’s healthy to explore a variety of interests, and I don’t want to stifle that just because I feel guilty that something else has to wait. My hobbies will all have a weekly spot on my schedule where I can work on them if I want (or not, if I don’t feel like it that day). No obligation, and no guilt.

I should note that for priority purposes, my writing is going to “major hobby” status in my brain this year, rather than “second business”. I’m done feeling guilty for working on other things because I “should” be writing (or working on something regarding writing/publishing). My writing doesn’t have to pay the bills, and since I like my job, there’s no reason to saddle my writing with the responsibility of making money. It’s fun, and that’s why I want to do it. It’s okay to write as a hobby. It took me awhile to be okay with that attitude.

Writing does help to keep me mentally healthy though – I get a bit angsty/anxious when I don’t write. So writing is a higher priority hobby, and has a set spot in my schedule Monday through Friday. But business is not fun for me, it’s work, and worse, work I don’t want to do. Writing is great fun. I have no need to make writing pay, therefore I’m going to pay far more attention to what’s “fun” than what’s not.

My writing goals are there more to give myself limitations, rather than give myself deadlines. I love writing so much and have so many ideas that I tend to tackle way, way too many projects all at once, which is part of why I was in such a pickle with it last year. It ceased to be fun, and became just another obligation. My three resolutions are there to rein myself in, so I keep it fun, rather than trying to do too much.

As far as engaging in more analog/tactile activities – it all started with a pack of Harley Quinn cards my husband gave me last month. I decided to play a game of solitaire with them – and found it the most relaxing few minutes I’d spent in a long while. Played a game of solitaire on the computer to compare…and it wasn’t nearly as relaxing. Even though I have a touch screen, there’s still something about being physically engaged with an activity – turning over cards or puzzle pieces, turning pages, writing by hand – that is …well, just so much different than interacting with a computer for the same tasks.

While I have zero intentions of giving up my computers/gadgets/ebooks/computer-based job, I did notice a definite mental downshift when playing solitaire with an actual deck of cards on my ottoman, or working on a jigsaw puzzle laid out on our dining room table. There’s something about the tactile experience that forces me to focus, to engage more with the task, and to let go of all the other things swirling about in my head. Crochet/knitting are similar, along with my stamp collecting hobby, or reading print books/comic books.

More tactile activities seem to keep me out of that overclocked-overstimulated frame of mind that is so deadly to my daily outlook and attitude. So I plan to make a point of setting the screen aside more in the evenings/on weekends, and doing more analog/tactile tasks, even if I’m just “playing”. Good for the brain. Also, good for dexterity. Win-win!

There will be challenges this year, and things I don’t want to deal with, but I think sticking to these few basic “ground rules” will keep me on a mostly even keel no matter what I have to deal with. And that should provide a good basis for the other changes I want to make as I work my way through another calendar (and planner).