I don't know about you, but I often find myself at this time of year—the twilight between Christmas and New Year's—wondering where the year went. More specifically, I find my thoughts turning to what I didn't achieve rather than what I did. Perhaps it's the after-effects of all that sugar, the post-Christmas letdown when everyone has gone home, or the early dark of the evenings. Whatever the cause, there is one remedy: to make an inventory of successes and achievements along with goals for the coming year.
Several years ago I had the good fortune to take a workshop with Mary Carroll Moore at the Ocean Park Writers Conference in Maine. An author, teacher, writing coach, and blogger, Mary has a lot of wisdom to offer, including the exercise below, which has been slightly adapted from one of her e-newsletters (if I could find it, I would give you the link!). I do this exercise for myself every December, and what I mainly find helpful is not so much the setting of goals, but the realization of how much I have actually accomplished in the preceding year. May you also find the exercise fruitful! And please visit Mary at her website listed below. You will find a wealth of good advice there.
Happy New Year!
Your Writing Goals
An Exercise from Mary Carroll Moore
1. Brainstorm on paper, in your writing journal or in an email or post to your writing support (class members, writer's group, writing partner, Facebook friends). List five to seven things you've accomplished, learned, or realized with your writing this year.
Some of the categories:
Classes or workshops or conferences you attended and what you learned
Feedback you received
New ideas you tried
Where you got stuck or realized something important
Anything unexpected that happened with your writing
What you changed about your writing habit or writing space
What you did with that realization
What you ended up with, at the end of this year
2. Spend 5-10 minutes imagining how you'd like your writing to grow in the coming year. What feels like a natural next step?
Some of the categories:
What feels stuck right now? Do you need to abandon or reinvent any part of your project? What might rejuvenate your interest?
Sometimes we get stuck because we are trying something new and we just don't have the skills yet to do it in a satisfying way. What skill(s) do you need, to take your project to the next step? Where might you get these skills?
What support would you like for your writing this year, ideally?
What changes do you need to make in your writing habit or writing space?
What's one crazy idea you'd love to try, if you had the resources (time, money, childcare, energy, skill)?
Write down five to seven goals for 2017. These are rough ideas, what you know now, and they can be changed as you learn more.