Happy New Year!
Last weekend I ran a free online workshop to help writers plan for 2019. It was a lot of fun – we looked back at 2018 and thought about what we wanted to be different in the coming year and set clear goals for ourselves and our writing lives.
I thought a lot about that workshop later in the week when a good friend emailed to say that her mother was gravely ill, and then today as she subsequently died. I’m thinking about her and just holding her in my heart because that’s such a hard start to 2019.
I am also guessing that grief may cause my friend – who is also a talented writer with a busy day-job – to press pause on her writing projects for a little while. Not because she wants to, but because grief tends to take us over and she will have other things on her mind.
Another writer friend ended 2018 with the death of the family dog. Also a difficult time, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if my friend spent time she otherwise would have used for writing just staring out the window or into the fireplace and missing the head of her furry friend laid gently on her feet.
I don’t mean to get you down before the year is out of the gate, but I do think this is a very important point to think about as we make our writing resolutions and turn them into concrete plans for the year: Real Life happens.
It doesn’t have to be the gut punch of a death in the family. Maybe the kids get sick, or move off to university and you’re an empty nester for the first time, or you get the flu, or your parents need help moving into a home, or there’s a major crisis at work, or hey – maybe a freakin’ tornado blows through town and wipes out entire neighbourhoods (this actually happened in Ottawa in 2018.)
Life happens. With shocking regularity.
Real Life and Writing Resolutions
And so my biggest tip for writers, as we all look ahead with excitement and a renewed commitment to our writing life in 2019, is to plan for real life.
- Think it will take 4 weeks to edit your short story collection? Plan for 6.
- Aiming to have the first draft of your novel ready for the end of April this year? Let’s say May instead.
- Want to write thirty poems in thirty weeks? Decide that 25 in 30 still has a nice ring to it.
Because watching our deadlines whizz by can be dispiriting and often this can trip us up enough that we stop writing for just a little longer than we meant to, or even somehow forget to pick ourselves up and press the reset button on our writing routines for quite a while.
Sometimes resilience as a writer means cutting yourself just a wee bit of slack.
As I finished my own writing resolutions and made detailed plans this past week, I made myself go back and adjust all the deadlines I’d set for myself to just allow for a smidge of extra time. If I finish earlier: YAY! I’m a woman who knows how to celebrate a win. (Prosecco, anyone?)
But if I do need the extra time, then it’s there for me and I don’t have to feel like I’ve let myself down.
If you think this might be helpful for you, then I’d invite you to join me in re-writing some of your deadlines for the year to make room for Real Life. Are you with me?
And if you wanted to attend last week’s workshop but couldn’t make it, just shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can send you the recording and the worksheets so you can go through the process on your own time.
Love and solidarity,