Tag Archives: resolutions

How 2012 Wasn’t Supposed to Be -OR- Not Facing the Empty Page

by Elizabeth McCallister

I guess you can tell from the title that this isn’t going to be one of my more positive (if I ever write such things) blogs. Normally, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions – they’re so easy to make and even easier to break. However, I had hoped that maybe, just maybe if I cleared enough off my personal to-do list, that I could get back into my regular writing routine. You know all those things that you simply must get done first in order to write. The list for every person might be different but most of us have them.

In fact, you might call them our excuses. The lies that we tell ourselves because we’re not being as productive as a writer as we know that we need to be. I’ve called them excuses or lies because professional writers don’t hide behind them. My excuses are as follows: I was working overtime before Christmas, I work with numbers mainly, Christmas got in the way, housework piled up, and family members were seriously ill in hospitals. Now, I can make a fairly convincing argument that all of the above are good reasons for slipping away from the empty page. Generously, you might agree with me.

Yet, this is a blog about being a writer not about excuses for not being one. If I can deconstruct some of my excuses, perhaps you can deconstruct some of yours. My favourite reason is that working with numbers might shut down the language part of my brain, but I know of poets who are accountants and engineers in their day jobs. I even find that working with lists (and what else are spreadsheets but lists of a sort) clears my mind for writing. Next “reason” is all that working overtime makes me tired and want to veg in front of the T.V. So now, I’m getting cranky because I’m behind in my reading and turning into a couch potato instead. I can’t even figure out my logic in that one except my eyes are tired from too much 8 point type.

The traditional excuses are work and family pressures. Yet, there are writers who have made the time round those things. One Canadian novelist and poet whose day job was a teacher used to wake up at five in the morning so that he could write. There’s the possibly apocryphal story of a Canadian woman writer who used her arts grant to hire a babysitter to watch her children so she could write. Modern technology has given us even more reasons to fritter our hours away – Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, Spider Solitaire – take your favourite.

In the end, all that makes us writers is writing for the reader. That means taking the time every day to face the empty page or empty computer screen and do it.

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Elizabeth McCallister grew up in Scarborough now resides in Brantford. She is currently a member of the Cambridge Writers Collective, enjoys poetry readings and has been a winner in Cambridge Libraries’ Poem A Day contest.

Resolution Inspiration

by Bill Ashwell

It is a new year, a time to cast off the old and welcome the new. Looking back on 2011, I can clearly see that I am becoming more and more excited about writing again – or at least writing more. All the tools are in place. I have a fully functional computer, a handful of flash drives, my Roget’s Thesaurus, my Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a working coffee maker and an ample supply of ground coffee. What more could I do? Try, maybe, inspiration. That always works.

Having developed the habit of always carrying a pen and most times carrying a notebook/notepad of some kind, I’m constantly scribbling notes to myself. However, more often than not, these notes usually take the form of to-do lists: gas up the car, dentist appointments, volunteer meetings, etc. Occasionally, a sentence will pop into my head that just screams to be written down. Unfortunately, as the line often screams, the rest of the piece that begs to be written often remains mute and unwritten.

So now with a New Year at hand, I have decided to make a list of my New Year’s Writing Resolutions. These will go into effect at precisely 12:01 AM, Jan. 1, 2012…and will likely expire at 12:15 AM, Jan. 1, 2012. Nevertheless, here they are:

  1. I promise to seldom split my infinitives.
  2. I promise to use my spell cheker more oftin.
  3. A promise is made by me that the passive voice will never be used by me.
  4. Whether my back is to the wall, I will put my shoulder to the wheel and my nose to the grindstone, and never use clichés.
  5. I promise to completely eliminate different kinds of redundant phrases during the course of my writing.
  6. I promise today (actually, make that tomorrow…maybe) that I will not procrastinate in 2012.
  7. I promise to use, commas, only when, and where, necessary.
  8. I promise to be less reliant, less dependent, under the thumb of, my thesaurus.
  9. I promise to write more rhyme/But will not do it all the time.
  10. …there is no #10. I’ll be busy enough breaking these nine as 2012 progresses.

Happy New Year, everyone!!!

Image: Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Cambridge native, Bill Ashwell has been a CWC member since 1995.

In 2007 Bill was awarded the City of Cambridge’s prestigious Bernice Adams Memorial Award for Communication and Literary Arts. His poetry and prose have been published in several editions of the Writers Undercover Anthologies, The Cambridge Wartime Scrapbook, and most recently, for the Cambridge Libraries’ 2011 Poem-A-Day Contest. In 2001 Bill published Moments of Clarity, a collection of his poetry.

Bill also volunteers for many community Arts organizations, including the Cambridge Arts Festival.