The Time of the Great Forgetting
Six months ago on the first of January, many, many, many thousands of writers around the world decided to start up their writing, give it more attention, get stories out, and so on and so on.
You all know… the “New Year’s Resolution.”
So now, here we are coming up on July 1st and it’s a great time to restart the year. A good halfway point. So I’m going to give a few suggestions on how to restart that dead resolution and help you get to the end of the year with some real progress.
But first, some reality about this time of year.
The Great Forgetting Time
I have watched this “great forgetting” for decades and always puzzled some about it. I am sure that there are all sorts of great scientific reasons for it. But I think the causes are more on the surface and easy to see.
Winter is over, weather is getting better, graduation takes time, families are demanding attention, house chores need to be done, vacations planned, and so on and so on. All great and honest reasons for a writer to forget about a distant New Year’s resolution made back there in the snow.
Now granted, professional writers have long since gotten past this problem, and many, many dedicated newer writers are fighting through this, continuing to learn, continuing to write, while still working and playing with families and so on.
But why I call this “The Great Forgetting” is because most newer writers (starting in April and going until the middle of July) just flat forget their New Year’s Resolution about their writing. Everything else, and I do mean everything, becomes more important.
Months have passed, the drive of the resolution has faded to a memory, the reality of the daily or weekly writing has become a normal thing. And family and friends, while fine when it’s snowing or raining, suddenly want you out with them when the sun is shining. Nothing at all wrong with that. Nothing.
The key is to not forget the writing and the learning as well.
The return to the memory of writing is sometime between July 1st and September 1st, depending on a number of factors.
The problem is that memory of a missed resolution suddenly returns.
Yes, that is the problem.
If not pushed by the reality of July 1st and the year is half done, the memory returns when the heat becomes boring or summer is ending and the winter ahead can be seen.
Suddenly writers realize they are behind and have fallen off their resolutions. They have, in their own mind, failed.
Imagine that word “failed” echoing down a canyon, over and over and over and you get the idea.
And that feeling of failure, even though false, grinds the writing down even more.
And makes it even harder, if sometimes impossible, to restart.
Many writers just toss it in right there and decide to try writing again in November to get ready for the new year. With the same results the following year.
And so on. One nasty yearly cycle that brings a feeling of constant failure to the writing. Not a good thing.
The key, although seemingly impossible, is to break that cycle. You have to understand that you have not failed, you just forgot for a time.
The Time of the Great Forgetting can do that to you.
1… Restart with a new resolution on July 1st. A six-month resolution.
To set this resolution, look at what you accomplished in the first months of the year before you forgot. Then just use that amount as the resolution for the six months coming up. You know you can do that, because you did it in the first part of the first six months. So that is a great resolution amount to get you to January 1st.
Second idea, take your original year’s resolution and cut it in half, then set that for the last six months.
Extreme caution on both of these. Summer, the last part of the Great Forgetting is still not done or even close to being done. So play for a slow start and a ramp-up in the fall. PLAN FOR THAT. Be real.
2… If you don’t feel your yearly resolution is shot yet because you only forgot for a month or so, then figure out how much is left to hit your resolution, divide that by six months, and go from there. But warn your family and friends you are climbing back onto the resolution so they can help. They will help as much in the summer as they did in the winter.
3… Reset completely. Last year I reset my resolution to start on August 1st, which is this Writing in Public and Smith’s Monthly. So sometimes it’s just better to reset completely, be realistic, and move forward, so that by the end of December, you will have success instead of looking back at a year of failure.
4… Measure success over the summer in other ways. For example, take an online class from me or Dave Farland or others doing online classes. They tend to only take a few hours per week, but they keep your mind on the writing while you are unable to get to any decent amount of typing. Writers with young children often do this. If you do a class, COUNT THAT as part of your success for the year. Writing fiction is not only typing, it’s also learning craft and learning business.
5… Measure success in studying some books. Learning in craft is also studying other writers, from plot to cliffhangers to openings to pacing. And so much more. So pick a few books that you can take along with you to the beach or the pool with the kids and focus on studying. And COUNT THAT as success. It will also keep your mind on the writing.
Many, many writers have a burning desire to write stories and books and sell them to readers. And so many writers set resolutions either on January 1st or in November with the big writing challenge.
And then they forget after a short time.
We all get distracted from our writing at times. I have never been immune to distractions. Never. As my friends and wife will laughingly tell you at great length, I am sure.
But I have learned tricks and methods that got me through the Great Time of Forgetting so that my writing became something I did and worked at and learned about all year long.
It’s almost July 1st.
The year is half done.
A great time to reset.
And have fun.