Resolutions, unlike rules, were not made to be broken, and while I may have been asleep next to a Japanese mountain dog named Jake at midnight on January 1, I do take the whole New Year, New Start thing quite seriously. Unless 2012 was a perfect year for you, unless you’re Frank Ocean and did something in ’12 that will be remembered for decades to come, you should look at this new year as a great opportunity to re-mount higher expectations for yourself. If you’re knee deep in the freelance life, here are a few resolutions to employ right away.
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Oath of Coffice
If you’re still rollin’ coffice style and are at the point in your career where you could start considering co-working spaces, why not take the leap now? You can read our recent Guide To Brooklyn Co-Working Spaces, to help decide which space is the right one for you. It’s not only an investment in the quality of your work, it’s an investment in your career. One of the unsung perks to these places is the networking potential that comes along with them.
If you’re still doing the coffice thing, (ain’t nothin’ wrong with that) try and improve your situation a bit. If you don’t like your current coffice, find a better one; if you’re not vibing with the staff maybe try tipping them for some new year’s karma.
As a writer in New York City, your social life can make an incredible impact on your career. That’s why I recommend going to every reading, meet up, or party you can find that’s related to the writing world. Here’s how to do it: Whenever a new Village Voice or L Magazine comes out, go through and find every literary event that looks intriguing. Meet folks and add them on Facebook so that you will start to receive invites to book parties. Check out literary blogs like The Rumpus, The Millions and Vol.1 Brooklyn for event info and sign up for email lists like, well, hmm…I’ve heard that Brooklyn Based is good, and my new favorite Platform for Pedagogy, for even more literary shindigs. Go to the major reading series, especially The Franklin Park Reading Series and may I recommend with special enthusiasm, this month’s Soundtrack Series wherein yours truly will be reading a factual story about a certain song that informed my formative years.
Chicken Soup For the Freelance Soul
It may seem like generic advice, but your health can make a big difference when it comes to your writing. I’m not saying you have to go out and exercise, though if you haven’t tried it, you should, it may improve your work. Personally, I find that if I do real cardio or weight lifting training, my writing ability reverts back to that of a 4th grader post-workout. Yoga on the other hand, helps me focus on the task at hand.
What I do recommend for anyone is eating better. We’ve talked about the ettiquite of eating in a coffice, but bringing a banana should usually be acceptable. Try eating breakfast if you don’t already, it could make all the difference.
Well Hung Calendar
I can’t state the importance of this enough: get a calendar. I don’t just mean start making use of the calendar in your phone, but hang a physical calendar on your wall, maybe one with nice pictures of majestic wolves stalking through the winter snow. As soon as you’ve purchased it, mark down any important dates you can think off the bat, then do the same thing at the first of each month, and Monday morning each week.
Read and Write Like You’re in a Goddamn Twilight Zone Episode and the World Has Ended and You’re the Only Person Left, and All You’ve Got is Food, Water, Pen and Paper and Loads of Books!
What I’m trying to say is that you must read and write every day, or do at least one of these two things each day. The difference it will make in your craft is immeasurable. In the recent documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Jiro, the world’s best sushi chef, relays the Japanese ethos of doing the same thing every day and finding fulfillment in doing so, in understanding what this kind of repetition is doing for your craft. Shokunin is the Japanese word for “a master of one’s craft,” you must aspire to be as good a writer as Jiro is a maker of sushi, to be a shokunin.
To kick off the New Year, I suggest making use of Largehearted Boy’s 2012 Best Book Lists list, wherein he’s collected favorite books of the year from journalists and bloggers. Find the books that come up the most in these lists, or the ones that most appeal to you and read them. Juliann Garey’s Too Bright To Hear Too Loud To See and Joe Meno’s Office Girl are two of my favorites.
Finally, listen to music in the mornings. For the rest of the day I like to listen to audiobooks and podcasts, but in the morning, music can make such an impact on your psyche. My List of the 50 Best Albums of the Year, is a nice place to start, or check out this 2012 playlist from David Chiu, or this one from Jay Honstetter.