Reflecting and Reforming
We all begin the year with a new drive and enthusiasm. We have goals and plans and have every intention of sticking to them. This time. But after the first month or two by, say, Valentine’s Day, enthusiasm seems to have waned a bit.
So, perhaps its time to figure this out. What makes us give up? What bores us with the task we’ve set ourselves? In a phrase, why do we give up?
Reflections over the year that’s gone…
Reflecting back is a common psychological method of application that is required of psychologists. Perhaps we, as writers, should use it too?
I have found a way to spur myself on. That is to look back over the previous year and figure out what kept my interest levels high, what I feel I should have kept up with and why I thought I was onto the losing/winning track.
Doing this helps you in a number of ways. Chiefly, setting aside time to reflect, allows your brain to check-off what was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with your previous goals - it also helps you to identify what worked.
Also, when you identify the challenges you’ve overcome and the tasks that you’ve achieved, it gives you the incentive to continue. Fight the good fight, so to speak.
When you look back you can identify the hitches you faced and how you dealt with them – and determine to either use that method/approach again, or steer well clear of it.
Here are some questions to ponder when reflecting:
Have you had enough quality time spent at your writing desk?
Have you listened and related to the people around you? As a writer, it’s your job to keep your ears and eyes open to nuances and mannerisms.
Have you seen seemingly crushing situations and horribly dire events as opportunities or new ways of viewing life - rather than pitfalls that distract you from your goal?
Have you been able to keep away from distractions (television, internet, iPhone etc.) and looked at the natural things around you instead? (i.e. made time for nature?)
Have you sat, for just a moment, to let your imagination work on how your current situation will improve, or how you would like it to look?
Have you been able to look upon your skill as a gift? If so, have you asked yourself how you can use that for the benefit of others?
‘Plot planning’ your life
How would you like to write your own story for 2017?
Some people use a wall calendar or a desktop diary to fix dates that are not to be missed. Events to attend, book fairs to visit, book launches to set, or even books to write. But, if you use a plot plan method instead, you can relate your life to that of a story.
Divide your year into three sections – just as you would a three act play. The beginning, the middle and the end. Figure out how many weeks or months would suit you to get your plans into action, actually go into action, then tie up all the loose ends at the end of your 'story of your life'.
Time After Time
Use this as an awareness exercise. Remember, as in every story, there is no perfect scenario. You’re just aiming for the three qualities that I mention throughout my teaching:
Reforming after Reflection
Try not to get frustrated if the year doesn’t turn out the way you planned it. I always remember an artist (Bob Ross, see below) on one of the many freeview channels, when the brush went the wrong way, he said it a ‘happy accident’ and continued to paint as though this was intended.
Focus on the meaning behind the challenges you face. Once you do this, your focus will become more precise and goals will become easier to accomplish. If you get stuck, don’t stare at a blank screen or piece of paper. Instead, read the local news, watch a film. But don’t get immersed in them – stand apart and analyse them from a writer’s viewpoint.
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