It’s easy to look ahead to a new year and make resolutions about new habits—I’ll write 1,000 words a day, I’ll write seven days a week, I’ll finish/start that novel/short story/novella—you get the idea. But instead of resolving to do better, try harder, work smarter (not that there’s anything wrong with that), why not look at what gifts you could give yourself in the year ahead instead? A few to consider:
A sacred space
This year I looked around the home office in which I do all my writing and realized it looked like a dorm room, with posters taped to the walls, papers overflowing the desk, piles of books on the floor, and a mish-mash of furniture. My desk, a lumbering dark wood beast, faced a wall that hadn’t seen a fresh coat of paint in 10 years. When I opened the closet door, things fell on my head (this is truth). This was not a space that said, “brilliant creative work is being done here.” It was a space that said, “I’m too busy to deal with this.” So I made time. I painted the office cream, with pale gray woodwork. I painted that big dark desk a beautiful shade of gray-blue. I moved the desk to face the window, and put a bird feeder outside in the yard. I organized the books and papers, threw away a lot, cleaned out the closet, and framed and hung paintings I’d done on the walls. I cleared my desk of everything except my computer, a notepad and pen, and one or two small items that bring me pleasure—a millefiori paperweight my aunt gave me when I finished my last novel, a photo of my girls as babies, the glass bowl that sat on my father’s dresser. When I walk in here to work, it’s peaceful and inspiring. It’s been well worth the cost of a few gallons of paint. For more on how I created my sacred space, complete with before and after photos, click here.
It’s our most precious resource and the one we waste most often. I learned long ago that I need to exercise a minimum of three times a week or I get squirrely. So I schedule three hours of exercise a week into my calendar as soon as I turn the page to a new month. Those three hours per week are inviolable; everything else I do (with rare exceptions) gets scheduled around them. I’ve learned to do the same with writing. I wrote my first novel while working part-time and taking care of two young kids, and I got it done by carving time out of each morning after my kids left for school, and out of each evening after they went to bed.
Imperfection [Read more…]