Especially when I’ve been away from my writing for a while–and it’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote–I will grab a writing prompt from a favorite resource. Lately when I’ve been traveling, I usually pack a couple of writing cards from The Writer’s Retreat by Judy Reeves. Each large card offers a series of writing prompts according to its theme. On the theme “Wanderlust,” one of the prompts encourages me to ask myself: Where have I been and where am I going?
Where am I coming from? That’s a good question for me, coming back to writing a book and a screenplay after three weeks of class preparation and teaching. I hope that the break (from writing) will allow me to re-enter both projects with new, fresh insights. One of the points that I emphasized with my students was to make the audience, or the people I am writing for, the “starting point” of the project. Every decision I make about the script or the book, I want to reference to the future viewer or reader. Telling them about this has been a good reminder for me–I’ve already realized one change I need to make in the book I am writing on the Eucharist.
But where am I going? I hope the break will allow me to enter my writing with less of a focus on deadlines and more of a sense of freedom. Even though it’s mid-January, it’s not too late for some writing resolutions for 2012. (Actually, I find that it’s helpful to renew my writing process regularly.) Here are my five chosen writing resolutions:
1. Recommit to my writing–both the projects and the process. This may be obvious, but it’s something I need to do often to keep my doubts and misgivings at bay. In the midst of writing, I tend to worry too much about the end results, instead of simply respecting my own process and writing rhythms. I want to take time not just to be productive, but also to develop my writing: to learn, to try new things, to spend more time observing. My writing process often includes my prayer, so I want to continue paying attention to the connection between my prayer life and my writing life.
2. When I can’t write, don’t worry about it. There are times in all of our lives when writing can’t take priority or may even need to be put on hold. Since these are usually busy times, carrying around that unnecessary guilt can be a heavy burden. Instead, I plan to try to take five minutes a day to simply reconnect to my writing life–browsing a writing article, or brainstorming one aspect of my project.
3. Stop pushing so hard. When I’m relaxed, I write so much better. When I simply immerse myself in my writing and commit to the project, then the whole process is not only easier, it’s so much more enjoyable. Deadlines are a reality of the writing life, but there’s a place and a time for focusing on them. Always worrying about deadlines is not only panic-inducing, it actually deadens my creativity.
4. Divide up my time better between various projects, so that those that are close to completion or that I’ve been dreaming about for several years, can become a reality. I’m especially thinking of a podcast for See Yourself Through God’s Eyes, which I’ve wanted to do for two years, but I keep putting off until I “have time.” I also want to put together an author website–to offer additional resources to my readers, and to have an easy way for people to get in touch with me about a specific book.
5. Offer critiquing services to other Catholic and Christian writers. I first discovered my love of giving feedback on others’ writing as a member of the various writing groups I belonged to. I’ve read a lot of books about writing, but critiquing seems to be more of a natural talent for me, as I feel I’m able to see a project’s strengths and needs. I have professional experience evaluating screenplays and books which have Christian themes or elements, specifically: screenplays, fiction in certain genres, nonfiction spirituality. I haven’t actually put myself out there to help beginning Catholic and Christian writers, and I’d like to do that this year.
These are some very substantial resolutions, and I’m not sure I’ll successfully keep all of them, but the first four are absolutely essential if I want to grow in my writing. I’d love it if you share your most important writing or communication resolutions for 2012.