Writing Update: Pt. umpteen-ish

Seriously, I have no idea how many writing update entries I’ve done.

(I know, I could like, look it up, but whatever…)

So, on the novel front:

I have 8 literary agents I’m either waiting to hear back from, or waiting for their ‘I don’t respond if I’m not interested’ window to expire.

That makes 33 rejections – not counting the 2 publishing companies – (so, 35, if I’m being annoyingly pedantic, and really, when is pendant-ism not annoying?) – for the novel I’ve been trying to sell for, something like the last 5 years or so.

(Ok, a little longer than that, but, much like the complete list of rejections, the number’s probably higher, but I can’t be arsed to figure it just now.)

I often have the, “Well, do I just give the fuck up?” thought.

It’d be easier.

But I don’t think I can, for a couple of reasons:

1) I’ve had some seriously good feedback from one of those publishing houses. Like, the editor I sent it to really loved it and wanted to publish it, but couldn’t get the rest of the editors on board, because there was a similar concept property already in their production pipeline.

[And – editor at Angry Robot Books who shall remain nameless until they want to be named – if you’re reading this, I wrote the sequel. It will blow the back of your head off.]

2) Most importantly, I believe in this book. And its sequel.

It’s not because this book is my baby, or anything like that.

I’ve torn it apart, reworked it, rearranged it, had my beta readers go to town on it with baseball bats and bike chains, and then reworked it again. Hell, I’ve even paid to have the thing professionally edited.

Real money. A bunch of it. (Six months of savings for my poor ass.)

That’s how much I believe in this book.

No, it’s not my first novel either. It’s not even my second. With some qualifiers, you might call it my third, but that’d be pushing it.

I’ve tried to learn to write good query letters. Since I’ve gotten no feedback on those, I can’t say if I managed it, but I did the research and the work, and that matters.

So, eight left.

Eight people left to hear from to see if I can get representation for this thing I sincerely believe people will enjoy, and want to read more of.

Eight.

And what do you do after that?

What do I do?

Self Publish.

(well, start saving up for the cover art and formatting charges, but after that…)

I have a friend who has been asking me why I haven’t self published before now. She’s been asking me for most of the last five years. I’ll tell you what I told her:

I have a full-time job and didn’t want to have to be all of the things traditional publishers pay someone else to be –

PR specialist

Editor

Copy editor

Proof reader

Artist

Jacket designer

etc…

I didn’t want to wear all of those hats. I just wanted to write, and talk to people about my work.

I wanted the rest of that time to let the weirdness in my head off-gas and condense on the page.

Time to stare off into space and dream about, whatever.

And maybe a couple extra hours of sleep a night wouldn’t hurt either.

So, by the end of May, I’ll know for reasonably sure that I need to get my head measured and fitted.

Because this thing is happening.

I started writing this blog to create a platform for my writing. Got on social media for the same reason. In truth, I don’t post enough to really use that as a spring-board.

Not yet anyway.

I’ve thought about starting a Patreon account.

Basically what stops me is: what extra content will I give my patrons?

If I figure that out, it’ll be a go.

(Yes, I’m open to suggestions. Feel free to comment below.)

I’ve done a lot of research, for the last year and a half or so. I still have a bunch to learn about going this on my own.

It’s nice to think at least some of you reading this will be going with me on that journey. I’ll try to keep the updates regular and interesting.

To Recap:

Before Memorial Day, I’ll be able to cross the remaining eight off my list.

By sometime in June, if that is the case, I’ll have figured how I’m moving forward.

Of course, I’ll be back here to tell you about it.

Thanks for reading.

[Long walks are always better with company.]

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

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Putting the Civil Back in Civilization: Argumentation for the Very Busy (part II)

Everything on Earth with substance has a form.  A pattern of arrangement by which we recognize it as an individual entity – a thing unto itself.

Argument is no exception.

(If, at this point in time you haven’t read the first entry in this series here I recommend you go get caught up. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…)

Before we get to the basic pattern of an argument, let’s have a brief recap/ definition of what argument is. Probably the simplest definition of what an argument is comes from S. Morris Engel’s book, With Good Reason, in which he describes an argument as:

 

“…A piece of reasoning in which one or more statements are offered as support for some other statement.”

 

Think of this, in its barest form, as an “If/ Then” proposition, wherein “if” statement A is true, “then” statement B is also true.

You’ve heard this kind of reasoning your entire life. Take a minute, think back, and I know you’ll come up with innumerable instances of it.

But this type of single stage reasoning doesn’t make for good arguments. Let’s face it, a skeptical person is going to need more than one reason to agree with any proposition.

And to be clear, the point of making an argument is to get a listener to agree with your proposition.

So, to save the day, here enters the hero of our story: Aristotle.

Aristotle, among other things, gave us a simple template for of constructing an argument:

 

The Syllogism

An Aristotelian Syllogism takes the form of two statements (called premises) put forth to support/ prove a third statement (called the conclusion).

Example:

If all A = C

&

If all B = C

Then: all A = B

 

The classic example of this is:

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.

Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

 

That last one shows up in a lot of philosophy books. I think in just about every one I’ve ever read.

You can add more premises to support the conclusion, but in its simplest form, two is all you really need.

But here’s the problem:

A syllogism is so blindingly easy to put together that often we create really fucking bad ones.

Thankfully, there are tests to see if an argument sucks out loud:

 

How to tell if an argument is Bullshit:

Let’s start with an example of a crap argument and see where it falls apart:

(example 1):

 

The Sun rises in the East and sets in the West.

The sky is blue.

Therefore, the Sun goes around the Earth.

 

I’ll bet you see the problem straight off.

What the hell does the sky being blue have to do with the Sun going around the Earth?

This is often the easiest bad argument to spot – an invalid one.

(People like to throw the term “invalid argument” around a lot. And those people usually don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Forget them and their ignorance. Let’s drop some knowledge.)

An invalid argument is one where the conclusion does not follow logically from the premises. If the two statements given to support the third don’t add together to actually support, the argument is invalid.

Put another, positive way: A Valid argument is one where the conclusion logically follows from the premises.

The supporting statements will seem to add up to the conclusion.

This is Validity, and it is the first hurdle an argument must clear before it’s considered not to be an abject trash fire. But it’s not the last one.

An argument can be valid, but still be wrong. (Wrong, for our purposes, means Unsound.)

Let’s change the argument to something that seems more true:

(example 2):

 

The Sun rises in the East and sets in the West.

The Earth does not move.

Therefore, The Sun goes around the Earth.

 

(don’t laugh, this is some actual ancient reasoning. Human beings believed this a very long time ago, but still. Tells you something about our ability to jump to conclusions.)

So, what’s wrong with this argument?

Well, here we run into the second potential problem with an argument: it can seem reasonable, but still be wrong.

The problem with this argument is that one of the premises is false.

(We know that the Earth does move, for those of you that have forgotten Copernicus and Galileo.)

So, what we have here is an argument where the conclusion appears to follow logically from the premises, but one of the premises is patently bullshit. This is an unsound argument.

To turn that around, into positive language, a Sound argument is one where the conclusion follows logically from true premises.

 

Those are the two main tests of an argument. And you’ve probably guessed that the second one – soundness – is often the most difficult to discern. It is so difficult because we have to know, or be able to find out, whether the supporting statements are true, or the person making the proposition is just blowing smoke up our asses.

And this is where many arguments breakdown: the truth of the supporting statements.

When you’re building your arguments, take pains to make sure your supporting statements are true.

(True, in this instance being defined as adhering to the facts. Facts are neither true nor false, they simply are. Whether or not a statement contains facts will be the deciding factor in that statement’s truth claims.)

 

 

If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably beginning to think all this argument shit is too damn hard.

It’s not.

It’s fairly simple and straightforward.

But it can be time consuming.

Perhaps that is the reason most people don’t actively engage in the process.

Too tired. Too busy. Too fucking lazy.

You might be one, or some combination, or all three of those things, but by now, you’re not too ignorant.

Now you know, and knowing changes you. You’re welcome.

And, if you wish to know more, well, you are on the internet. The whole world at your fingertips. Go exploring. There’s a lot to discover on this subject.

Libraries are good too. They even have helpful people who know about the books you’re looking for. And, in most cases, libraries are free. So that helps.

 

Next time we’ll be discussing some of the pitfalls you’ll run into when dealing with arguments. We’ll talk about arguing for the wrong reasons, arguing with the wrong people, and how to tell the difference, and we’ll briefly describe fallacies. Fallacies will probably require a whole post in itself, as to understand them, one requires examples and explanations. And there are a lot of fucking fallacies.

Ok, that may end up being one long post. I’ll figure it out when I sit down to write it.

I hope this has been some help to you.

If you have questions, put them in the comments section. I’ll do my best to answer them in some way that makes sense.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

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A Brief Interlude

Hi guys and gals,

I had planned to post the second part of my Argumentation for the Incredibly Busy series, but life, as it does, got in the way.

Nothing too serious, please don’t worry.

The Wife and I had to drive to Florida to visit with family for about a week. Unfortunately for me, there was neither stable enough internet connection to post, nor really, any free quiet time to put coherent thoughts together.

I did make some notes. A feat, for which, I am actually proud – given the objectively poor state of my cognitive functions during the trip.

All that to say: Other than writing up something for the game I run this Friday, my attention is free to light directly on the task at hand. So, barring accident or injury, I should have part II up sometime in the next few days. Wish me luck.

Until next time…

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Pieces, Puzzles, and …

It’s been a thing, my entire life;

Not fitting.

Which is difficult for a member of a species that bases much of its survival on the ability to stick together.

(Yeah, we have imagination, and bipedalism going for us, but mainly we look out for one another. That’s how we make it through in a world that would be indifferent about killing and eating us.)

I have never felt like I fit in, anywhere.

In truth, I probably haven’t.

In any fair assessment, I am the oddest of my sibling group. And that usually holds true for whatever peer group I encounter.

I say “encounter” because my peer group, as it stands now, has generally been cobbled together with other oddballs I’ve run into along the road. We’re something like a tiny tribe, but even then, we don’t fit together well most of the time. And it’s taken me my entire life, bouncing from one group to another, never able to find a home, to find these crazed fools I call my family.

(And those two things together ask the question: does nurture = destiny? Let me know if you figure it out.)

All that is to say, coming up on 40, I don’t have a single fucking clue what my place is in this fun-house ride we call life.

So many of the things I’m good at and do are done so much better by so many other people. So, if there is a purpose to all of this, I haven’t found it there.

I had a friend, recently in her blog, talk about embracing a life that was not conventionally what she had in mind when she was younger.

And if you asked me, when I was younger, what I thought my life should be like at anything near my present age, the truth is, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. I didn’t have plans. I figured I’d probably go to college. Check (Albeit much later in the timeline than I expected.) Figured I’d probably be married. Also Check, but also much later. Most importantly, I thought I’d know by now.

You see, I’ve never quite felt like my life had a purpose.

(And I’ll bet most of the populace feels the same way, contrary to what movies and self-help gurus would have us believe.)

Purpose, for our purposes, means direction. I know some people think of it as meaning, but the meaning comes from feeling like one has a direction. It’s easy to get those mixed up.

Now, my blogging friend – who I’m certain doesn’t read this blog –  said that she relies on her faith for comfort in walking an unknown, or at least not-planned-for, path.

I say good for her. Everybody needs something.

Usually, I need a drink.

But really, as an Atheist, I don’t much believe in predestination, or any grand, cosmic plan.

I get to sit with my discomfort and doubt.

I sit, and watch, and try to understand it.

And I get on with my day – often slower than I’d like. And definitely not in the rhythm of the regular world.

For good or ill, I feel like a spinning compass that never points north. I feel like the piece that has never fit.

I don’t think I ever will.

In a strange way, that’s my place – the place where I fit is in the not fitting.

(It’s polar thinking; one thing implying the existence of its opposite in order to generate the whole. There needing to be a Back in order to have a Front, that kind of thing. Valid reasoning.)

It’s not comforting, feeling like the stone in the washing machine; that tiny fragment of bone in your hamburger, that one inflamed taste bud that makes you exquisitely aware of your entire tongue.

But it is what it is, not what we wish it would be.

And even if that is the case, it’s still not terribly comforting. Feeling like you don’t fit, seeing it take shape in your life, it’s lonely. And it’s cold.

And it’s easy to begin to feel like not fitting equals not mattering.

No would-be angels here to show us life would be worse off without us. We have to try to imagine it. Or try to imagine how we make things better.

I consider myself a fairly imaginative person – I’m a writer, after all.

But even I have a hard time conjuring that image.

I’m thinking quite a few of you do as well.

And I don’t know what to tell you. If I did, I’d probably be making a mint on the self-help lecture circuit.

The only thing I can think of is that in not fitting, I add friction to a system that was never meant to run smoothly in the first place. The grit in the machine that makes the gears slip in interesting ways.

I have no evidence for this, but it’s a comforting thought.

And we all need something.

Why am I posting about this? Why am I airing for public view something that might do just as well in a private journal entry?

I’m not looking for sympathy. I was never much good at accepting it anyway.

I’m hoping.

I’m hoping that some one, some where, feeling the same way, reads this and knows you are not alone.

I may never know you, or speak to you, or share a drink.

Our paths may never cross.

But I want you to know you’re not the only one.

You are part of the show.

And it can’t go on without you.

Without us.

Maybe there’s some comfort in that.

I hope so.

 

 

 

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Putting the Civil Back in Civilization: Argument: an Introduction

In recent years, hasn’t it just felt like people don’t know how to talk to each other about controversial topics anymore?

Seems like there’s no end of online screeds, rants, polemics, fights, and the occasional incitement to riot.

It’s one thing to be bad at talking to each other, in a private sense; person to person conversation about whatever. It’s another, entirely, to not be able to converse on the salient topics of the day in a form of government that is, ostensibly, based on the populace coming to terms with one another.

In a democracy, we must be able to discourse on public matters, and to do so reliably.

In short, if we can’t talk with one another about the problems facing our nation, and possible solutions to those problems, in the not too distant future we will have no nation left to worry about.

And I understand why we’re bad at it – the talking thing.

Unless you were in debate club or had a really good teacher somewhere down the line, or – in the rarest case – actually had to take Civics in high school, you were likely given no training in how to have these types of important and sometimes delicate discussions.

And you damn sure didn’t learn how to do it by watching politicians of the modern era.

They don’t argue.

They fight.

And they hurl accusations, and they jockey for political position. They’ll filibuster for 14 hours straight for political theater, but they don’t know how to construct an argument, or when it is necessary.

(Unless you were raised by hard-core academicians, you probably didn’t learn how to properly argue from your parents either.)

So, by way of an introduction to the concept, lets talk a little bit about what an argument is -and isn’t- when and where it’s appropriate to employ, and maybe a bit more about why you should learn how, the proper way.

 

What an Argument is and isn’t:

First off, an argument is not a fight.

If you find yourself personally offended, or if your intent is to be personally offensive, you’re not in an argument, you’re in a fight.

Name calling. Derision. Rhetoric meant only to evoke an emotional response. Outright dismissal of an opponent’s legitimate point. These are all hallmarks of a fight.

We’ve gotten so comfortable using the word argument in this blanket way that we’ve lost the thread about what a real argument is, and why it’s a good thing.

(and in the case of our democracy, a necessary thing.)

As a general rule, if you’re intention is to hurt the other person in some way, you’re not arguing, you’re looking to fight.

And, let it be known, I’m all for fighting. Just approach it with some fucking honesty, if that’s your goal.

So, all that being said, what is an argument?

(Definitions are always tricky.)

An argument is a conversation between parties where a topic is discussed, from different points of view, logically, and in regards to the merits and flaws and possible repercussions of the subject matter.

In less academic speak: at least two people, talking about a topic from different sides, using reason to come to a consensus, or failing that, some amenable conclusion. As a bonus, if you are engaged in an actual argument, it is a chance to learn something. That might be only a clarification of what you believe on the subject, or it may be more, but if you’re giving the argument its due respect, you will come away from it knowing more than you did when you went in.

The point in all this that often trips people up is the “logically” part.

Don’t get shook. Logic is fairly simple, and in most arguments, you’ll be using the easiest forms of it. We’ll get a little more into logic, properly, in a later post in this series.

Alright, you may ask, when should I do this argument thing?

 

When to do the Argument thing:

The truth is, outside of politics, religion, or philosophy – or unless you’re a lawyer – argument won’t play much of a part in your daily life.

You argue things that matter.

Good argument should be devoid of personal attachments.

As such, argument should probably be saved for matters that are not strictly personal; not exquisitely personal, at any rate.

You don’t argue about where to eat dinner, or which sports team is the best, or whether or not Soundgarden was better than Nirvana (they totally were, fight me). In fact, if it’s a matter of personal preference, it’s not really a topic for a proper argument. Preferences, like opinions, vary and often are not obedient to logic. They are things of feeling, and that is a separate subject altogether.

Here is a brief – and not at all exhaustive- list of things that matter, in the terms of arguing:

 

The Environment.

Aspects and actions of Government.

Resource allocations.

Education.

Social behavior.

Crime and punishment.

Directions for future endeavors.

Metaphysics (the nature of reality – it’s the most likely kind of philosophical argument you’ll have, unless you’re an actual philosopher.)

 

(all of these can be broken down into innumerable sub-categories, and those can be further broken down into sub-sub categories, and turtles all the way down, I suspect.)

These topics, and all the ones I haven’t mentioned here, all deal with who we are, as a society, and how we deal with each other and the world around us. And all of these subjects are integral to having a future in which we – and subsequent generations-  can flourish.

Because that, in the end, is what we want: a world where we can flourish.

(no, you can’t engineer a society for happiness. It’s too ephemeral and subjective. But we can engineer one that helps us grow healthily and well.)

 

Why bother?

Truth is, maybe you don’t care. There’s bound to be at least 10% of the populace that couldn’t be persuaded that it will help them, or their nation, to be better and move forward.

Some people just don’t give a fuck.

I suppose that’s their choice, and I’m fine to leave them to it.

But for the rest of you, the 90% remaining who might actually care, here is another list, (definitely not exhaustive), of the benefits to learning how and when to argue.

  • It teaches you how to think, (that’s the logic bit we’ll get to some other time.)
  • It teaches you how to listen, really seriously listen. (if you’re trying to poke holes in your opponent’s reasoning/ argument, you’re going to need to listen closely to it. And that’s something that gets better when you practice.)
  • It will help you understand both yourself and your own beliefs better, (seriously, even if you “lose” an argument, you’ll come out more knowledgeable than you went in.)
  • It will make most people think you’re smart, (well, smarter than you look anyway.)
  • It helps you learn to think on your feet, and quickly, (also makes you faster with comebacks.)

Is that enough?

Ok, one more thing:

IT MIGHT JUST HELP YOU SAVE THE WORLD!

Not a bad goal, that.

There are probably better introductions to the realm of argument. My guess is, if you’ve read those, you’re probably not reading my half-sane ramblings on a regular basis. But hey, who knows?

And this is just the briefest of overviews. There are entire post-graduate degrees based on this stuff. I’m not going to go into that much detail.

This is just a quick and dirty guide to get you started, and maybe send you out into the world a little better armed than you were before the reading of it.

To wit, the other armaments I’m looking to place in your arsenal:

(more in this series of posts…)

 

Pt 1: The Basics. (logic, logical arguments, syllogisms, how to tell if an argument is crap, etc.…)

Pt 2: Pitfalls. (informal fallacies, deconstructing an argument, the principle of charity, who not to argue with & why)

Pt 3: Probably some closing thoughts, if I can work up the energy.

 

So, that’s what you’re in for, if you choose to stick around. There won’t be any TL; DRs here. Pretty much everything is going to be as distilled and as simplified as I can make it.

My hope is, by the end of this series, you’ll have at least a fighting chance out there.

And remember:

YOU MIGHT JUST SAVE THE WORLD!

Until next time…

 

 

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Since You’ve Been Gone…

…Oh no, wait. That’s me. I’ve been gone.

A while now.

Lots of reasons, thanks for asking.

Some of it was definitely depression. Seems I can’t ever get too far from that, not yet anyways.

Some of it was a six week course I took to get a certificate in technical writing.

(I see you, hoping that will improve my grammar and composition here. Don’t get excited. I’m not making any promises.)

Some of it was/ is the new project I’m working on.

I had two ideas fuse together into something captivating, late last year. I decided to give that a go for NANOWRIMO.

I wrote a bunch. (Around 7.5 chapters.) And the more I wrote, the more I found I needed to think things through. New threads always pop up when I’m writing. I try to follow them until they peter out. It’s worked so far.

My plan for that is to try to have the novel done before I turn 40 in June.

Yep, I’m getting old.

Better than the alternative.

There’s also this thing I’ve been planning for here. It started as one new “Putting the Civil Back in Civilization” post, and turned out that it needs to be two or three. Maybe four, but maybe I’ll get off light.

If you’ve been paying even scant attention to the interactions of the world around you, you’ll have noticed that we really don’t know how to interact anymore.

At least I’ve noticed it.

And, as per my rule with everyone else except the wife, if you bitch about a thing more than 5 times without trying to think up a solution, I just stop listening. I kind of want to keep listening to myself – I do so love good conversation – so that means I need to try, in my own small way to do something about it.

To that end, I’m creating a small series on how to Argue.

We, most of us, know how to converse (okay that one may be iffy, but still). We certainly know how to fucking emote. What we’ve apparently become absolute shit at – as a nation – is how to argue opposing views with respect and logic.

So, the next couple of posts in the Civilization category will be a sort of primer for how to argue. It won’t be a formal class and I’m not handing out ribbons or anything, but it’ll give you a good base to work from, if you want to argue a point, or points, and be able to feel like you’re not engaged in some kind of all out rhetorical war.

I’ll save the rest of that for the introduction post. Trust me, this subject needs one.

So, what else has been keeping me away?

Tell the honest truth, it’s also the cold.

I hate the cold weather.

It makes me sleepy and grumpy, and any number of the other dwarves.

What it doesn’t make me is productive.

Winter is a good time to dream.

And dreaming takes up it’s own share of time.

Here’s hoping your dreams are pleasant,

or at least forgetful.

 

Until next time.

 

 

 

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It’s New Year’s Eve…

…And I hate being sick during the holidays.

For a week now, I’ve felt like the crusty floor of a NYC taxi cab, sometime after the ball has already dropped.

My sinuses feel like Mardi Gras after the beads ran out.

So, to distract myself from this sorry state, thought I’d offer a suggestion for how to handle the dreaded resolutions this year.

(In previous years I have suggested not making any. If you’re happy where you are, I recommend sticking to that plan. If it ain’t broke…)

So, being a depressive and prone to rumination, on New Years past I have often found myself lamenting on all the things I didn’t do in the previous year, well, all the things I had planned and not accomplished. And, at some point – not around the dawning of the year – I had a different thought about it:

Was there a way I could handle this situation in a positive way? Some way that didn’t make me feel like the dried pond scum I’d convinced myself I so obviously was?

Well, as it turns out, yes, there is.

I started implementing this series of ideas, ad hoc, over the last 8 months or so.

(Yes, a bunch of these are cobbled together from other ideas out there. I don’t claim credit for them, but I’m also not listing a bibliography. Let’s face it, if you really wanted to know, you wouldn’t be getting your information from me. Suffice it to say, all of this information is out there, available for free, if you find your interest piqued. )

First Thing:

Don’t waste time thinking about the things you didn’t do.

(Seriously, don’t. I know it’s attractive, but resist. Beating yourself up over the nebulous things you didn’t get done is just another form of procrastination. It sucks, but it’s a reliable way to put off doing what you’re afraid to do, which, incidentally, is probably what you actually most want to do: that thing you’re afraid of. Desire’s like that sometimes, learn to roll with it. So, no pining for lost opportunities, and no self castigation. Really. If you can’t do this, right now, then learning how should be your only resolution this year.)

Second Thing:

Find a quiet spot with some paper and a pen.

(You’re going to want to write this down. It helps cement the memory, and the physical action gives it weight in reality.)

Third Thing:

Ask yourself: if I look back from this time next year, what things/ actions would have made 2018 awesome?

(Really, imagine yourself in the future, looking back on what you thought was supper cool about the year. Make these things you can control/ actions you can take. Don’t base the ideas on anyone else or on chance. What did you do, for you, that made 2018 fekkin’ amazing? Jot down as many things as you can think of – doesn’t matter if they’re small or large. Just mind-vomit them onto the paper.)

Fourth Thing:

Take a break.

(Walk away from your list. Get something to eat. Watch some TV. Do laundry. Have a wank, whatever. Just put it out of your mind for a while – at least 15 minutes.)

Fifth Thing:

Read your list. Pick out the 4 things on it that really set your spark.

(This is the hardest part, frankly. No other advice.)

Sixth Thing:

Plan how to achieve these goals.

(Ok, this requires more explanation. Limit your goals to one per quarter, if they’re big goals. If they’re really big, maybe knock the list down to 1-2 goals. Some things can take a whole year, building a business, significant weight loss, etc.. But, if the 4 are reasonable sized, plan to try to get one done every three months.

Break each goal down into the smallest performable action. The absolute easiest, least energy expensive step you can take. We’re looking for the tiniest barrier to entry here. If you want to be successful, start small. The universe started small, look how that’s turning out.

Make a plan for how to implement the next step, and the step after that. At this point, the excitement of making the plan will probably take hold. So, while writing down your plan, make sure to write yourself a note: remind yourself to take things as they come and not to rush. You’re trying to do this well, the time portion of it is just to help you lay out the specifics.

Important here: be super specific.

Be specific about your goals and about what steps you will take to achieve them. Vagary is your enemy. Being vague will let your mind over inflate certain things and underemphasize others. Be specific and you get around this mental pitfall.

Be reasonable. Dreams are great, but you’re supposed to be planning things you can do. Dreams can get big, but start small and be reasonable. If you don’t know yourself well enough to be reasonable about what you can and can’t attain, then I suggest you make getting to know yourself a priority in this coming year.  Hell, make it your only priority. It will be worth it.

Make a list of your plans and each step you’re going to take to achieve the particular goal. Again, write it down!

Pick a start date for each plan. And – you guessed it – WRITE. IT. DOWN!

Also, while you’re at it, plan how you will celebrate each achievement. )

Seventh Thing: (last, I promise)

Display the list of goals, and the plans for them, somewhere you will see it daily.

(It’s like a design for a tattoo. You want to be reminded of it regularly.)

Last, Last Thing:

Go relax. Seriously. Go enjoy your New Year’s Eve without regret or recriminations. Don’t spend any time thinking about the future. Be there, wherever there is for you, and be as fully in the moment as you can. Tomorrow will be there when you wake up. No use in rushing it. Not like you can anyway.

That’s it. Fairly simple, but just about everybody knows by now that simple don’t mean easy.

These are the steps I took this year to finish my novel and start working on a new one.

This is what I did when my weight loss stalled.

This is how I’ve planned my next year.

I’ll adjust the plan as the terrain changes, but that’s to be expected.

I actually have 5 things on my list, but one of them is only going to take about 2 days, and then lots of waiting.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you experiment and come up with modifications.

I hope your New Year’s Eve is as awesome as you want it to be.

Have fun. Don’t drink and drive. Kiss someone that makes you weak in the knees.

Until next year.

(Although, given the infrequency of my posts, that’s not nearly as kitschy as it sounds.)

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