The Life Autistic: Why We Don’t Do ‘Resolutions’

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It’s New Year’s Eve, and if you haven’t started your parties yet, you should do those and come back to this.

But if you’re here: we autistic folks are not ones for ‘cheap, tacky, trendy resolutions.’

“Gee, that’s odd,” you might think. “I thought you all loved routine!”

We do. At least I do.

Which is why we’re pretty much set in our ways, and resolving to do things differently is a carefully measured choice and long-term effort.

For us, resolution is not a “thing to do” to ring in the New Year.

I’ve carried out two major, life changing actions as an autist, and neither of them could wait until some popular, traditional point in time.

See, we like being unique.

Undergoing (and often failing) some annual ritual of life change is too mainstream, popular, and the wrong kind of normal. For me, I need more successes, and a New Year’s Resolution isn’t giving me good odds on one.

When I resolved to cut down from being a whale to a moderate walrus, I needed to make it personal, not popular – and I needed it on my terms.

By New Year’s, I had something better than a resolution.

I had a habit.

If you’re the type for resolutions, good on you. Maybe you’ve done well. If so, awesome.

But if not, take a page from the autistic playbook:

Snap. Change. Continue. Forget about when and just go with what. Be different, personal, private, but purposeful.

Happy New Year. 

Keeping Writing Resolutions

Christmas has been conquered. The holidays, defeated.

New Year’s euphoria continues to run on liquor, rocket feel, and imagined vibes, anticipating a slow crash back into reality. The coma subsides. Here we are, back to the new struggles in 2013, same as the old ones in 2012.

For many, that’s reality. For some, it’s a choice not taken.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

I don’t really want any more New Year’s resolutions to keep. How do I keep the ones I have?
—Moira Bartlett, Peterborough, Ontario. 

(Editor’s Note: The resolutions/revolutions for 2012 still pack a wallop for 2013: http://writingallwrong.com/2012/01/02/new-years-revolutions/)

That is the trick, isn’t it? All the brainpower goes into resolution making, but it’s the willpower that goes into resolution keeping. If you’re looking to turn your writing resolutions into reality, here are a few New Yearly helps to do just that.

Keep it small and steady.

Unless you’re unemployed, it’s a stretch to set a stretched wordcount goal. “I’m going to write OVER 9000 words PER DAY!” isn’t only stupid, it misses the point of building a habit. If you happen to hold a job, kids, or jobkids, it’s more impressive to build a muscle of writing every day. It’s never the amount that counts. It’s the mounts that amount. Or something.

Look just down the road, not into the future. 

Become best-selling author. Get all the royalties, book deals, chicks, booze, and followers on Twitter to fund my Kickstarter island awesome paradise.” — WRONG (on so many levels).

Find your “down the road.” If you haven’t finished your novel, short story, novella, then finish it off in 2013. If it’s done, then get it represented (or self-pubbed, if that’s your inclination.) If it’s represented, work on a next book. You can build that “island awesome paradise” on the backs of years of finished resolutions.

Take less giant leaps and more small steps.

The time will come when you need to make that big splash. The big publishing break. The joint venture. The cross-collaborative blogging initiative-a-palooza. But don’t be afraid to keep moving forward. Whether it’s more fictions here, more writing snippets there. Keep taking forward strides, maybe even more than the giant leaps. Often will you miss a leap, but rarely will you miss a step.

Look back to look back.

What all did you accomplish in 2012? Maybe it’s not so much doing things different, but better.

In Writing All Wrong City, I kept my audience of nine or ten plodding along with blog posts. Didn’t quit, even though I had the hat ready to hang each week.

I broke off some unnecessary connections and made new ones. Influence is profound, and chose those who’d help my writing, not hinder it with distraction (plugging, advertising, backscratching, pandering).

I finished my second book. This time, I resolved to refashion a plan that would get it off the agency slush pile and into representation. I queried plenty (and smarter) in 2012 than I did in 2011. I won’t say where things stand just yet, but stay tuned.

2013 is a year of reaping what you sow and sowing anew. Make a little, keep a lot.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

New Year’s Revolutions

Welcome, New Year. You have no idea what you’re getting into.

We’re a day into 2012. By now, over half of the New Year’s resolutions have already been broken. Don’t eat the entire bag of Cheetos. Don’t get drunk enough to swallow your own vomit. Be responsible. Lose fifty pounds. Write.

And what you fail in resolution, you fail without making revolution.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Writing All Wrong,

What are some good New Year’s Resolutions for writers in 2012?

—Avinash Dvarakanath, Paterson, N.J.

No resolution trumps a New Year’s revolution. Go beyond “resolving” to do things. History has time and again proven that man’s resolve is insufficient to effect change. But a revolution? Ah, now we’re talking.

Revolution 1: Influence

If you’re like the rest of us, you’re human. If so, you’re susceptible to influence both good and bad. Don’t let yourself be influenced by lesser writers who entertain you on Twitter or by those who garner the acclaim of the masses of mediocrity. Take care in who you let bleed into your writing, consciously or otherwise.

Revolution 2: Substance

Stop drinking soda, drink more coffee. Beyond that, make your stories speak of stronger substance. Better to spend a month firming up the raw substance (topic matter, character, lucid plot) of storycraft and write for a day than to write for a month on a day’s worth of meager substance.

Revolution 3: Sustenance

Read stronger books. Classics, idiot. Enough with the vampire/zombie tales for now.

Revolution 4: Balance

All write and no play makes Jack an incomprehensible mess of an artist (and possibly a killer psycho ravaging the Stanley Hotel). You need life balance more than you think you do.

Revolution 5: Violence

Whatsoever thou doest, do with all thy might. Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty, bloody even, if you’re looking to make it happen in 2012. Cancel that dog-walking therapy this year. Skimp on birthday shopping if time is better used for writing. Shower coldly in the morning. Those who have moved earth with vehemence are those who grow the gardens to splendor.

Revolution 6: Relevance

You can be relevant and have your flash-in-the-pancake, or you can shoot for a slice of the eternal. Note: this means your vampire/zombie/undead fiction is going to be stale in a decade, more dead than when you wrote it. Read that last line again. A quick buck is less than a penny down the road.

Revolution 7: Obstinance

If you found, founded, or find something that works, it’s OK to keep doing that. The motive d’jour is change. Don’t change for change’s sake. If you’ve got enough to blast you beyond the stratosphere, then stick to what fuels that rocket. Be daring. Be unchanged.

Revolution 8: Abstinence

You don’t always need a word count each day to be a writer worth writing. You don’t always need support groups. You don’t always need to enter flash fiction contests. You don’t always need the tantalizing tickle of someone famous. You don’t always need blog hits or re-tweets. Abstain from such. Keep writing.

Revolution 9

A classic. (And you probably saw that one coming.)

What revolutions do you plan for 2012?

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com), followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and revolutionized for takeoff.