Since it’s still January, I was going to post about how much I hate traditional New Year’s resolutions. I never follow through and I resent the fact that I’ve set myself up for failure. But then I decided to look at it a different way. A new year can be a fresh start, and as I’m always looking for ways to enrich my writing ability, I came up with some anti-resolutions of things that in a roundabout way will give me new ideas and experiences to incorporate into my writing. I'm hoping some of these will inspire you too. So here’s what I’m going to do:
Try a new hobby or sport, even if it’s only one time, or volunteer someplace I’ve never volunteered before. And once I am into the process, I’m going to try to think about how it differs from writing. A character’s hobbies and interests are a huge part of them, and sometimes it’s hard to imagine how a character would feel doing something I haven’t personally experienced. I’m not going to take up marathon running (!) but I am thinking about a new hobby. Chinese brush painting appeals to me, so I’m going to try my hand at that.
Read a nonfiction book on a topic or subject I know little or nothing about. I’ve already got a book picked out. I bought this book a few years ago and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since. I’m intrigued by mazes, but I’ve never given myself the time to read about them.
Go have lunch or dinner or coffee somewhere by myself and NOT CHECK MY PHONE. I’m going to people watch instead, sitting and absorbing the atmosphere. Even if I can’t go back in time to Renoir's Paris in the 1800s, it will still be a useful exercise. (Notice there are no cell phones in the picture.)
Try a food I’ve never had before. Writing for middle grade readers is often writing about experiences kids are having for the first time, even if it’s something very small and unimportant. Adults generally have a set list of food items we eat, and we don’t think much about them, beyond the fact that something tastes good or it is or isn’t cooked particularly well. I made Moroccan food the other night, which I really like, but my kids have never had. They didn’t particularly like it and I think it’s because they weren’t used to cinnamon in a main course dish. My son didn’t know what exactly was in it, but he said it all tasted “muddled.” It struck me that I haven’t thought about how to describe how I felt about a new, but small experience in a long time. I’ve decided to try chayote. I don’t know many details about it yet, but it is sold in a local grocery store and I've always wondered what it tastes like.
So that’s my list. I’m thinking that I should easily be able to do these, especially since there are only five things on it, and I have a whole year for them. Any of these ideas appeal to you out there who might be on an anti-resolution kick too?