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The No Goal New Year

My writer girls and I had our year-end pow-wow last month about what we wanted for 2012.  We do this every December…we talk about what we liked and didn’t like about the past year and what we want to do differently for the next year and how we’re going to do it.  We usually set goals.  This year we even have great journals to keep our writing thoughts in (thanks, Serena!).

The overarching theme seemed to be that we all wanted to have more fun. Each in our own way, of course.  One of us wanted to try new writing-related things, one wanted to relax and have more faith in things working out so she wouldn’t be so stressed about her writing. One of us wanted to stop caring what everyone else thought of her and her writing and just write what she wanted and what gave her joy.  One of us wanted bits and pieces of what all of the rest of us wanted combined.

What I want is more creativity and more fun…mainly in my writing, but also in my whole life. Not that my life isn’t ever fun. But, for the most part, that’s not how I would describe my general state of being. I turn a lot of things into “work” that could be fun, which stifles my creativity…and then I wonder why I don’t want to do these things.

One of these things is writing.

Getting Honest Here

Writing used to be a lot of fun for me.  I thought about it all the time, had plots and scenes and character emotions running through my head all the time. I lay awake at night or woke up early with great ideas I just had to get on paper right away. I had more story ideas than I knew what to do with.

I miss those days.  It’s been a while since writing was really fun for me.  I have too much other stuff in my head…day job stuff, family stuff, writing stuff that FEELS like work…so when I sit down, even with the express purpose of writing, I can barely think about it.  I feel stuck and stifled and completely UNcreative.

As we talked, one of my friends, Cathy Yardley of Rock Your Writing (who is both a fabulous friend and horrible friend at the same time because she asks really REALLY hard questions that make my brain hurt), said (paraphrased), “I don’t want to make goals this year. I want to decide how I want to FEEL this year and figure out how to do that.”

Whoa.

It hit me that that is EXACTLY what I need!  I could set all kinds of goals…write a book this year, find an agent, write X number of posts a month for Happy Writer…and none of those goals would matter, even if I met them, if I didn’t have fun while doing it.

I’ve been saying this on The Happy Writer for over a year now. I’ve talked about this in my Happily Unpublished workshop.  You have to be happy right where you are in order to be happy wherever you find yourself someday.  If I want to be a happy writer when I publish again, I need to be happy NOW.

I’ve been saying it to you, but not applying it to myself. (Ever heard that phrase, “Physician, heal thyself?”  Yeah, I should say, “Teacher, teach thyself.”)

What Do You Want to Feel?

Before this whole conversation, I already knew I wanted 2012 to be the Year of Creativity for me.  But this conversation made me realize WHY I want that.  I want the Year of Creativity to bring back the FUN of writing for me.  I want to look forward to sitting down and writing. I want to think about my characters and puzzle out their stories and think outside the plot box.  I want to smile with delight when I talk about writing again.  I want to read books that make me smile and want to play with  MY words and my worlds.

I foresee one major benefit to this.  I’ll WANT to write. Which will mean I’ll write more.  So my creativity will affect my productivity.  Which will, in turn, make me smile more and have more fun.  It’s a win-win situation, all with NO goals, except to write and fall in love with it again.

In the past month since we’ve started this little experiment, we’ve all experimented with different things:   Using metaphors to look at things differently, writing out of order, planning writing playdates, thinking outside the box and, as I get back to working on my current manuscript, I’m not going to limit myself to just one story. I’m going to work on whichever project makes me feel most creative and happy on any given day. Because it sounds like fun!

Even a month in, this experiment is working fabulously.  We have all been sooo productive!   I even finished up an edit and submitted to a publisher for the first time in several years.

All because we realized that if we’re not having fun, all the goals in the world aren’t going to make it fun. 

If this resonates with you at all, maybe you want to give it a try?  Maybe not. You might be really good with goals. Maybe you set goals and achieve them easily or find that they keep you on track. That’s totally okay!  You can still set goals AND decide how you want to feel by the end of 2012.  If I set goals and accomplished them, I would look back and feel proud of my accomplishments, and that’s a great feeling to have.  If I wanted to feel more skilled at my writing, I might take classes in 2012, so that by the end of the year I could look  back and feel more educated.

There are lots of feelings you might choose to focus on for the year, so give it some thought.  How do you want to feel at the end of 2012?  This time next year, looking back on what your general feeling of the year was, what do you want that feeling to be?   Share if you like!

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