Mid-year Check-in

Photo: Karin Dalziel via Flickr

Photo: Karin Dalziel via Flickr

January found me wanting me to make yet another resolution to get more serious about my writing.

Usually this involves a detailed list of projects I want to start, finish, revise and submit by certain dates throughout the upcoming year. It ends up being a fairly grueling schedule that sucks the fun out of writing before I even begin.

This year I decided to try something different. At the end of the year, I participated in an online “Renew & Review Writing Challenge” with Jill Jepson. It helped me to look over the past year to see what worked and what didn’t in my writing life. It also helped me to clarify what I wanted my writing life to look like for the next 12 months. What I loved was how we focused more on intentions rather than goals. Goals are product, intentions are process. Goals are future, intentions are present. It just really resonated with me.

When January rolled around, I took a four-week hypnosis workshop at my yoga studio designed to align us with our resolutions for the new year. I showed up each week with the intention to show up to writing practice and life, to all aspects of it:

My writing life will continue to flourish in 2014 by showing up daily to my creativity and writing; being comfortable with not always knowing what comes next; allowing myself to play; giving myself permission to succeed or fail; being present to and grateful for the process.

These intentions held a much more fluid space than the rigid goals I’d normally set for myself. I showed up to my writing and yoga practices, letting one nurture the other. I listened to the meditations from the hypnosis workshop each night, letting the words flow into my subconscious, letting them work their magic.

It all worked. We are halfway through the year and I have a new relationship with my writing life. In six months I have:

–       Finished revising my novel-in-stories

–       Wrote an agent query letter

–       Began rewriting a second novel

–       Jotted notes for a YA novel

–       Participated in a 4-month apprenticeship for elephant journal in which I wrote 19 personal pieces, edited close to 60 and gained an in depth knowledge of social media

–       Became an elephant journal columnist once the four months was up

–       Started my own writer Facebook page

–       Rededicated myself to building a Twitter audience

All of these accomplishments are great. Seriously, I am super proud of myself. But it’s not even the main point. The main shift I’ve experienced is a more fluid relationship to my writing, to showing up to my work. Much less angst and reprisals. More joy and compassion.

And I think that is filtering into all the nooks and crannies of my life.

I can’t wait to see what the next six months hold.

How about you? Any intentions or goals for the summer? For the rest of the year? I’d love to hear about them.

 

 

Emerging from Creative Hibernation

I’ve been in what I like to call a creative hibernation. I don’t believe in the dreaded “b” word. Creative hibernation feels like it is just a part of the process. I do that sometimes. I hunker down and I always think, “This is it. I’m done writing.” Not out of a hissy fit or anything. I just don’t feel the urge. Nothing is stirring in my subconscious. No characters lurking, beckoning. The only way I know it’s not for real is that I feel this sliver of terror that I am no longer a writer. If I really didn’t care, I really wouldn’t care. So, I’ve come to take these periods of hibernation for what they are. Creative hibernation. A time to recharge. Relax. Read. A lot. Then, slowly I start getting antsy. Restless. Then I become downright irritable with myself and everyone around me. That’s when I know it’s time to hit the page again and the relief I feel is overwhelming. Of course I’m a writer.

One of the things that sent into this particular hibernation was more than just part of my creative process. Part of it was this rejection I got. It really hit me hard. Usually, I just roll with it. It wasn’t the right editor/journal. time, whatever. Send it out again and move on. But this one… this one I let my hopes get up. Way up. Like sky high up. It was the novel I submitted to a contest back in March. I heard on October 8 that I didn’t win. Not only did I not win, I didn’t even place, even though they had a record number of honorable mentions. That really hurt. Seriously, I read the list of winners at least five times thinking I must’ve missed seeing my name. Once I realized that I had not missed my name, I sat back and cried. Yep, cried. Later in the kitchen I told my husband and cried again. He said all the right things. Hugged me. Encouraged me. Finally I said that I appreciate what he’s saying but that right now, I needed to wallow. So I did. Apparently I wallowed for forty days. And forty nights. And now I am done.

One of the things that pulled me out my funk was a dear writing friend, Laura and she doesn’t even know it. The other morning I checked out the novel she wrote and self-published this year. I read the first six sample pages on Amazon and found myself reading it like a reader, not as a former member of her writing workshop. Her writing had gone to this whole new level. I added it to my wishlist so that I can buy it for myself after Christmas shopping is done. In the meantime, I was so inspired by the work she had done, by her writing, by the faith she showed herself by self-publishing and marketing it via all forms of social media and is hard at work on her next novel that I snapped out of my own self-imposed creative pity party and printed out the 87 pages I have of my WIP. I pulled out “The Writer’s Mentor” by Priscilla Long, a book that I have to repress the urge to underline almost every single sentence in because, I swear, she is talking directly to me. I gathered a notebook for my writing practice, a book for my lexicon, my laptop, morning pages notebook and came to the bookstore.

I’ve been working for two hours. Wrote and typed a new scene. Created a word trap for my WIP. As I strolled the bookstore, (after I wrote) I came across a book that intrigued me for its structure. It gave me an idea for a structure I could use in my novel, something I have looking for for a long time.

My plan is to come here Monday-Wednesday this week from 9-12. That kind of structure works for me. It gives me a time to be at my desk and it gets me away from the TV, housework, internet.

My plan is to keep working with Long’s book, work on my WIP, blog and tweet on a more regular basis, stay connected to the social media community of writers, submit my other novel to another contest, research and submit to an agent and just keep showing up. Just keep writing. Keep working.