I like to think of writers as Architects of the Imagination. We build worlds from the stuff inside us, using words as our medium instead of concrete or steel. We people them, we set things in motion; We are God in our little universes. I sometimes like to imagine that if one were to peek inside our scribe brains, you wouldn’t see skulls or tissue or nerves or blood: you’d see vast landscapes and streetlights and lovers quarreling and ships racing across purple seas. Oh, the places we go!
Like any good architect knows, we need a solid foundation from which to build. The new year is a great time to inspect said foundation–namely, you, the writer/architect. All of your writing, regardless of genre, is built on you. No one can write what you write because no one has your exact construction of weird and beautiful and flawed and ugly and brilliant. The first days of a new year is a time that’s set apart, perfect for an inspection of your foundation: but it has a small window. The further you get into January, the more that window for reflection and aspiration shrinks.
Below are a few questions to help you reflect on your writing life in 2017 and suss out what you’d like 2018 to look like for you as a writer. This is a holistic exploration (it’s all connected!). I suggest printing these out and having a go at them in a nice journal when you’ve got a bit of quiet time to yourself. Hopefully next year I can make you all a luscious workbook, but I was too busy writing this time around, so I’m sure you’ll forgive me. 🙂
First, a look back at 2017 to see patterns, to think about breaking the ones that didn’t work, and to celebrate all that you did:
- Approximately how many words / hours / days did you write in 2017? No matter how many or few it was, take a time to celebrate yourself for having a passion and dedicating time to it. Truly, this is a remarkable feat that many would envy you for. Writing is not a numbers game. Publishing is. Make sure you know the difference.
- What was your favorite bit of writing from 2017? Why did you love it so much? (This can be answered both for your own writing and something you read)
- Do you have a favorite line that you wrote in 2017?
- What worked for you in 2017 in terms of process?
- What didn’t work for you?
- What was your biggest challenge as a writer in 2017?
- Who supported you the most as a writer this past year?
- Who made you feel like shit? (Hint: this person gets less of a peek into your writing life)
- What kind of community did you have in terms of the writing tribe? (If you haven’t joined the Pneuma Facebook Group yet and you’re a lady-identifying person, please do so! We’d love to have you)
Below are a few aspirational activities and questions for 2018:
- Clean / dust / organize your writing space
- Give your vision board a re-boot (or make one if you haven’t done so yet!)
- Get a planner or calendar of some kind and start keeping track of when you write and what you did during each session (I usually track word count, but you do you). This is a way to be mindful about how much time you’re actually devoting to your writing and to keep yourself honest.
- What’s your biggest craft goal for 2018? Do you want to improve metaphor usage, pacing, dialogue? What will help you improve? Take a class, join a writer’s group, enlist a writer friend’s help. Craft books are good – but they can only get you so far. You need comments on your work. If you’re interested in coaching or editorial help, email me! That’s what I’m here for.
- What are your writing goals for the year, in terms of the work you’re going to produce. Name them. Own them. Rock the shit out of them.
- Who in your life is going to keep you accountable to your writing goals? Call them and tell them what you want to do, and ask them for their support and cheerleading.
- What is one major thing you’re doing to yourself right now that is hurting your writing life? It could be negative self-talk, sabotaging your writing time by going on Facebook, or being too afraid to come out of the writer’s closet.
- Come out of the writer’s closet
- Choose a quote that inspires you for your goals this year. Write it on an index card and post it where you can see it.
- What makes you want to write? Is it reading a really good book? Going to a museum? Watching an awesome film? Do more of whatever gets you excited about working on your story. Then…work on your story!
- Finish this sentence: “By this time next year, I will have……”
- What types of modalities will you employ to support you in the difficulties and uncertainties of life as an artist? (Hint, hint: meditation)
And off you go, Architect! Go dreamscape the hell out of this year. I’ll be here along the way to cheer you on.
As usual, you can sign up for my newsletter for exclusive posts on the writing life, meditation and mindfulness for creatives, and more. If you’re a lady writer, please join us on the Pneuma Facebook Group for daily inspiration, motivation, and community. If you’re interested in working with me as a writing coach, don’t be shy: email me and I’ll get back to you ASAP. You can also check out the Pneuma Creative site for coaching, editorial, and class info. Happy writing!
Pssst: gorgeous photo art by Francesco-Paleari