I, ____________ ____________, in the interest of creating the best art possible, do hereby commit to the following:
- I shall remember to do things like leave the house and interact with other humans beings once in a while. I will not let my only friends be the imaginary ones I put to page. I will make time for the real world and all it has to offer so that I have life experiences to draw from when I sit down to draft.
- I will forgive myself the days when the words don’t come.
- I will not forgive myself for giving up.
- My brain is my temple but my body is my foundation. As I have a sedentary job, I will take care of my foundation so that my temple doesn’t crumble. I will remember to eat slimy green things and drink non-coffee from time to time. I will exercise –preferably outside so I get vitamin D and an actual skin tone — and I will try not to weigh my mind and body down with too many carbohydrates. They make the temple sleepy and needlessly expand the foundation.
- I will dare.
- I will listen to others who wish to help me improve my manuscript, but I will also stay true to my principles. If an edit or criticism flies in the face of what I sought to achieve with my work, I reserve the right to say no.
- I will say no.
- I will also say yes.
- I will remember that no matter how successful I am, it is very easy to become unsuccessful in such a mercurial industry. A little bit of humility goes a long way.
- I will not forget what it was like to be that fresh-faced hopeful querying agents. I will not forget the utter torment of the submission wait time. I will do my best to help new writers because established writers helped me along the way, too.
- I will give my eyes a break.
- I will remember to shower because GROSS.
- I will not publicly react to criticism regardless of my injured feelings. Faced with negativity, I will walk away from my computer and do something productive with my time. Barring that, I will stab pins into my voodoo doll. If neither improve my mindset, I will speed dial the confidante most likely to tell me that I’m allowed to be hurt, but that lashing out will only make me look like a crazy.
- I will ask questions because I never want to stop learning.
- I will repeat the following mantra whenever I feel my productivity failing me: pushing ahead is more important than polishing. The hardest part of writing is finishing the draft. The plot holes can be filled, the language smoothed, the characters made more consistent after the fact when I graduate to the editing phase. Trying to make something too perfect too soon is an excellent way to never finish anything.
- I will take time to pat my dog because dogs are awesome.
- When I can’t remember why I got into this crazy business, I will open up a book and learn to fall in love with words again. I will allow another writer to move me to laughter, to tears, because that is why I do this. Love. Love of story. Love of reading. Love of the promised journey inside of every book.