Without a doubt, high school physics was my all-time worst subject. Mr. Jones might have been lecturing in Sumarian, for all that I understood. Today, here is my total recall of nine months in his class:
Newton's First Law of Motion: An object in motion, will remain in motion. An object at rest will remain at rest.
So how does this pertain to the subject of New Year's Writing Resolutions?
A writer who writes will continue to write. A writer who goofs off will continue to goof off.
For a lot of really valid (to me) reasons, last year was my least productive writing year ever. Initially, I thought my six word resolution would be "Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing." However, my mind kept adding the words "you big slug."
Uh-oh. My Inner Heckler was awake and throwing nasty stuff from the cheap seats.
Ms Heckler's voice can curl shingles. "Hey you, Rodman" she brayed. " You're undisciplined, lazy and disorganized. You haven't had an original thought since George Bush, Senior was president. You're weak!"
Isn't she lovely? There she is, a rogue radio station, jamming my creative frequency with unproductive negative thoughts. The scary part is that she sounds like me when I am nagging my daughter.
Well, not exactly. You don't get a kid to clean his room by calling him a lazy slob. (At least not my kid.) It's counterproductive. I would certainly never use that tone of voice to inspire my students.
Would I ever, under any circumstances tell a student they were undisciplined or lazy or uncreative?
No! I emphasize their strengths, and offer positive suggestions for improvement. I nurture my students, helping them to find their creative selves. I balance criticism with praise.
So why I can't I do that for myself? Why can't I try to look at my own work more objectively? Why can't I tell Ms Heckler to get lost?
This is not a new problem. At least once a year, my elementary school teachers would write on my report card "Mary Ann is her own worst critic." Somewhere along the line I must have decided that if I expected the worst, I would never be disappointed. Which might make sense when you are eight, but not when you are....well, never mind how old I am!
So, in order to help myself to be the writing embodiment of Newton's First Law of Motion, here is my real six word resolution: "Tell Ms Heckler, 'take a hike'." Only after I begin to treat myself with the same care, understanding and encouragement (and yes, an objective eye), can I become a Writer in Motion.
Happy New Year, all you teaching writers. We're in this together!
Mary Ann Rodman
*Addendum from Carmela: It's not too late to enter our contest. All you have to do is post a comment with your six-word resolution for the new year (or an update on the resolution you posted here last fall). For complete details, see April's post.