I pray I’ll be able to colour a doll’s eye by the end of the year—specifically, the eye of a Daruma doll. Last summer, when I went to Japan, I saw these dolls sitting on window sills everywhere, and when I asked my relative what they were, she called them Daruma dolls and explained that people used them as good luck talismans and goal motivators. You’d make a goal, colour one of the doll’s eyes in, complete your goal, then colour the other eye in.
My goal, this year, is to complete a fantasy novel. Let’s just say that once upon a time, I participated in something called NaNoWriMo, a national online event where writers and poets, both amateur and professional, attempt to write 50 000 words during the month of November. I decided to write a fantasy novel about bratty jewel thieves, cracked Latin-inscribed hourglasses mysteriously appearing in nearby forests, and ill-tempered death reapers.
After many cups of tea and periods of “headphones on, world off,” I managed to reach the word count. It wasn’t easy, but NaNoWriMo really helped motivate me throughout the month. There’s something about participating in a community with hundreds of thousands of writers attempting to accomplish this ridiculously intense and seemingly impossible challenge. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that we get weekly messages from authors cheering us on, have forums for writers to complain with one another about the challenge and share plot ideas with those who suffer from writer’s block, and have a graph marking our steady progress towards that 50k goal.
Unfortunately, I never completed the novel after completing the challenge. Why? Back then, I didn’t really know. Fast-forward one year, and I’d say it was a mix of writer’s block, laziness, and de-prioritizing it in the face of school. These three reasons have stopped me from pursuing a lot of other goals and opportunities as well—so in trying to complete the novel, I’m going to have to conquer these hindering qualities of mine, a challenge in itself.
Perhaps some of you face similar problems. Have you ever dreamed of joining that club, learning that skill, or or picking up that hobby, but never followed through because it seemed like too much effort at that time, though you later regretted not taking it up? Or perhaps you kept telling yourself the club, skill, or hobby wasn’t as important as studying or trying to get a job, internship, or research opportunity.
Regardless, it’s the start of 2016, and with the end of last year comes experience that’ll make you better informed about how to navigate and make the most of this year. Based on my experience with NaNoWriMo, I’ve learned that I’ve got to know my plot better by outlining it beforehand, lessen my procrastination by setting small daily writing goals, and work towards a better balance between work and play by allotting rain-check–less time for writing every day.
How about you? Why not check out the Winter Clubs Fair, or alternatively, check out the list of U of T clubs to see if any clubs of interest are still accepting new members. Also, consider checking out the upcoming Hart House Literary Fair if you’d like to join a literary journal in roles, such as a writer, editor, or illustrator!
It’s the start of a new year, so turn your brightest face to new opportunities and mysterious outcomes, and perhaps, by the end of 2016, watch that one-eyed doll become two-eyed.
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Let me know in the comments below or through Twitter @lifeatuoft!