Happy New Year, Happy Writing Year

“I love writing. I couldn’t see any other life for me.

I love words. The act of writing, in itself, is a pleasure.”

– Bill Kennedy

Writing buddy Dave Blumkin shared this quote with me recently. I wonder if all of us approach writing with the same joy? I know that I have struggled with writer’s block or resistance, and at times I have thought of writing as a chore or something to get through. A recent Writing Workshop participant was wondering about her writing because she only wrote when she was inspired. Now, that may be her process, but when she decides it is no longer working for her, there are options in exploring schedules, setting goals, and finding support.

We sometimes bring unrealistic expectations to our writing, expecting to create the great American novel (or poem or memoir) in our first attempt, or in comparing ourselves to published authors. This way leads discouragement and often failure or unrealized dreams.

It’s important to compare our current draft with the last one. It’s also important to recognize that a published work goes through many revisions and edits, and that not all efforts by all famous or published authors are equally good.

Workshop participants and readers of this writingessentials blog and newsletters know that a favorite prompt and essay from Naomi Epels’ The Observation Deck is “Set Realistic Goals.” In these forums, I have offered advice and strategies on how to identify yourself as a writer and how to set time aside for your work, as in my 21 Day Challenge and in “Write More, Write Smarter” and “Writing Challenges for your Life” post.

A recent workshop with Jessica Page Morrell, a developmental editor and author (offered by SinC Grand Canyon Writers), brought this home to me again. Jessica, whose workshop was on “Power Writing: Using Layered, Resonant and Potent Language to Craft Compelling Stories,” spoke of challenging yourself – take moments in the day to record the light, the color of the sky, the feel of the atmosphere. (Though a developmental –story or structure level – editor, Jessica reminds me of the “old-time editors” at publishing houses before they became mostly acquisition editors – she loves words and capturing in writing and would be a great editor to work with.) She also says she will sometimes challenge herself to tasks, such as writing a poem a day for a month. Writing buddies Francine Lynch and Denis Whitford are tackling this one together with me – though their poetry skills are much more advanced. I rarely get a recognizable poem, but playing with language, as well as the images and memories that surface, is inspirational.

Jessica also collects words, images, quotes, and other inspirational items in commonplace “notebooks,” including word processor documents. Commonplace books are an ancient practice, and one I also practice, including collecting quotes about writing and the writing practice. Here’s a recent one: “The writers who are at peace with their creative process whatever it may be are the ones who are the most satisfied.” This is what I would offer for that WW participant and others. 

How can you make 2022 a year of happy writing, a year of peace and fun?

(Naomi Epels’ The Observation Deck; Jessica Page Morrell; SinC Grand Canyon Writers)

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