Today I want to have a heart to heart with you about your writing life in 2022. I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I think that if you want to do something, you should just do it no matter what time of year it is. Resolutions often mask a sense of shame around what we didn’t do the previous year and demanding that we do better in the next.
But the start of a new year does offer a real sense of a fresh start, so it can be a great time to reflect and consider what’s working and what isn’t.
What did your writing life look like in 2021?
The first thing I like to do is consider what my actual writing life has looked like over the past year. When did it happen? Was it consistent? How long did a typical session last? Was it scheduled, or did it just happen on a whim each time? No judgement, no right or wrong, just asking what it looked like. Unless you put it on your calendar and know for sure that you showed up every time, we probably can’t do exact math on this one. And that’s okay.
My writing life in 2021 was sporadic until March, when I hired my book coach Julie. I had planned my novel, but I hadn’t really gotten much into the writing. Once I had deadlines with Julie I wrote more, but it was still sporadic and unplanned. Then, mid-summer, two of the members of my writing group decided to start meeting on Zoom to write every weekday morning for an hour, and they invited me to join. And since then, there have only been a handful of mornings that I haven’t written.
Now it’s your turn. What did your writing life look like in 2021? Take a minute and jot down some notes.
What worked…and what didn’t?
The next question I like to ask myself is what worked, and what didn’t. Again, this isn’t about shame and blame. If we aren’t willing to look at our habits with curiosity, we will never make the changes we want to.
So, in my life, writing sporadically doesn’t work, especially now that I have deadlines for a certain number of pages. I am a champion procrastinator, so you can bet that I will wait until two days before my deadline to cram out those pages. And that doesn’t feel good to me. It feels pressure-filled and painful, which is the opposite of how I want my creative work to feel. It has definitely worked for me to have the external accountability of two other people who are also rolling out of bed in the wee hours to meet me. However, on the off-chance that both of them bail on a particular day, I have noticed that I, too, fail to show up. Which isn’t a surprise, but it’s worth noting.
Now you go. What worked and what didn’t in your writing life in 2021? Take a minute and jot your thoughts down.
What results do you want in 2022?
Over the years and through the many, many self-help books, accounts, and podcasts I’ve binged, I’ve finally realized that focusing on the result is the best way to set goals. For so long I would set goals like “write more” and “eat better” and “exercise more” but those are vague and unmeasurable. What works so much better for me is to brainstorm what I want to have to show for my efforts at the finish line.
This year, I want to have my first draft finished by June 1, which means realistically that I’ll be knee-deep in revision at the end of 2022. Since the latter is unmeasurable, I’m just going to focus on that June 1 deadline for my first draft, then set a new result for the second half of the year.
Your turn! What result do you want in your writing life in 2022? Be specific and tangible. What evidence will you have that you did what you set out to do? Write that sucker down.
What does your writing life need to look like in order to make that happen? a.k.a. What needs to change?
Here is where it all comes together. What does your writing life need to look like in 2022 in order to make that happen? This question can span a wide field, right? It can include mindset work, time, scheduling, new learning, contracting with a coach or editor, prioritizing, setting boundaries, and on and on and on. So I’d recommend really taking time to dig into this one. Dump all of your thoughts onto the page, and then keep squeezing the sponge to get out every idea you can think of. Start with your notes about what worked and what didn’t work last year, and then go from there.
To be honest, I still have to do some work to do on this one. Off of the top of my head, though, I’d say I have to continue to show up for my morning writing sessions, even if my partners don’t. If I miss a day, I fall behind. Also, I have to do some mindset work about my story itself. I’m feeling a lot of doubt and insecurity about its worthiness, even though intellectually I know it’s a good story. And I have to work to shut off the outside world while I’m writing. I’ve been writing during a block of time where my whole family is getting up for the day and I usually write on the couch in the living room, so I’m constantly being interrupted. I might need to change my physical location and also set some boundaries with them about that time.
What about you? What does your writing life need to look like in order to make that happen?
Writers, beautiful things can happen for all of us in 2022, even if we don’t set resolutions or elaborate goals. Let’s just be honest with ourselves, and support one another. I’d love it if you’d let me know what you want your results in 2022 to be, and how you’re going to make it happen. You can email me or DM me on Instagram, or leave a comment below. I’d love to cheer you on.
Because while it’s easy to feel isolated as a writer, we’re actually all on this journey together.
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