This New Year’s resolution actually excites me

Why I hope that A Page A Day is a resolution with potential

Last time, I shared with you some of this history behind this year’s New Year’s resolution, and shared with you the simple resolution I set myself for 2016:

I will fill one page in a notebook each day.

On the face of it, it appears underwhelming. But that is because my resolution is not my goal. My goal is to exercise my creativity. Because I can feel it there, and I feel how so many mundane choices I make can keep me from effectively expressing myself. (Many of those choices are not directly related to my attempts at creativity, but time management and managing energy and attention levels.)

But like when I started losing weight, I also can’t think of a creative goal that is big enough to excite me but doesn’t put me at immense risk of paralyzing myself by feeling like I have failed if it doesn’t happen exactly as I see it today.

There’s a phrase that I used to hear at the end of church almost every Sunday, when I lived in Canada. The prayer after communion most weeks in their prayer book spoke of God’s power being able to do “infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” And while I am not trying to set myself up as a god, that phrase has come to mind when I think of this year’s resolution, because I don’t have a solid goal for that creativity, but I think I have the potential to do more than I can ask or imagine in the hours between now and the start of 2016.

If I were to try to come up with the best idea I have now, in the last week of December, for what I could do in 2016, I don’t think it would be a very good choice. If I made a resolution to work towards that, I think it would be too limiting. It would attempt to lock myself into that choice and it would take time and energy away from other goals that might be more worthy of those resources in the year ahead.

Using a notebook will, I think, not be earth-shattering in and of itself, but it will lay the groundwork for creativity.

If nothing else, it will be something I do that doesn’t involve typing on a keyboard or swiping on a screen. It will be something that I do that has no audience in and of itself. The pages themselves are not intended to be shared. I might share the occasional photo of them or excerpts from things I write. But the notebook pages are not the product.

In some ways, this is similar to Morning Pages, popularized by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. But when I have tried them, I have found them too burdensome. Some days, I feel like I spent all my energy forcing myself to do them, and then had nothing to give to anything else. Some days, my Morning Pages because too inwardly focused, and I would spend too much time writing about things that I didn’t need to be thinking about, and maybe shouldn’t have been thinking about so deeply without a professional’s help. Or maybe it was just the wrong tool for that time in my life.

I have hopes for this resolution that they will spark some creativity, and that while I am in the habit of putting pen to paper, that other creative output will happen. I have ideas from time to time, and often I just don’t get around to putting the time and energy into them. Sometimes that is just as simple as spending too much time consuming content: too much TV, too much Internet.

This resolution forces me to do one thing every day that does not go through the computer. That may be its biggest benefit.

I also find that I need to manage my disappointment, to a certain extent. If I get disappointed and discouraged, it is way too easy for me to check out.

So my actual resolution says nothing about the content of the notebook page. It doesn’t prescribe a particular notebook. While I would like to be creative, I know that won’t happen for me every single day. Some days, the page might be taking notes while I listen to somebody or planning something. It may be a chart that I draw, trying to work something out. In the worst case scenario, it might be nothing other than practicing my signature. Or counting with the words written in longhand one, two, three…

There is an open-endedness to it that is appealing to me. And there is effort required. There is enough vagueness for me not to fall into the trap of believing that by setting up this project, I only need to mechanically do something 365 times to succeed. The project is not a magic wand: I will get something out of it, but only as much as I actually put into it. If I write nothing but shopping lists and telephone messages, I may fill 365 notebook pages and complete what I have resolved, but I will not accomplish anything to be proud of.

And, if I am honest, I will be disappointed if I only fill 366 pages (as I remember that 2016 is a leap year). Because I do not want to use only a single page each day. But a page is enough to keep me actually trying. I hope that, while I have pen and paper in hand, I will write more.

I do intend to keep writing about A Page A Day. But today, as 2015 is slipping away, I can not tell you much about what that will mean.

I do know what it will not mean. This isn’t going to be a set of 365 posts. And you are not going to see every notebook page here. What I hope is that you will end up reading some posts that talk about the results of those pages. I hope that you will read about new things I have done. And how the experience of trying to get into the habit of writing in a notebook is going.

I also do not know how often I will write. The notebook is written in daily: everything else (including my posts here) is of secondary importance, at least today. I am expecting that I will likely post between once each work and once each month, with perhaps an extra post or two in the first week as I get started with this.