Christopher G. Fox, PhD
The holiday season and the New Year are already almost upon us, and if you are like most people, this year, they arrived sooner than ever. In this time of giving, don’t forget to put your writer’s self on your gift list. What can you do to show how much you love and care for the writerly aspect of yourself? Think about what that writer needs. What could bring you inspiration in 2020?
Here are a few ideas for gifts that your regular, daily-life gift-giving self can give to the writer within.
1. An actual gift.
If you have a formal gift-giving tradition in your life, you can select a gift, wrap it, and include it in however you choose to exchange presents with loved ones. For example, if you keep a tree or stocking, you can wrap your gift and keep it there until you open presents. Think of giving your inner writer a book you have always wanted to read, a subscription to a literary journal, a diary or notebook for 2020, a fine pen, or anything else that may unlock inspiration. Make sure your gift includes a card or tag with a message to your inner writer.
2. The gift of time.
Set up a recurring block of time on your calendar (or in your datebook if you’re still a paper person). Keep it regular and schedule it at a time that is likely to work for you as often as possible. I personally have a block of time scheduled from 3:30 to 5:30 PM every Friday called “Creative Time.”
I do whatever I can to honor the commitment, make sure that both colleagues and family know that I’m busy at that time, and if something comes up, I reschedule it for myself. When I treat this time with the same seriousness as an appointment or commitment to someone else, I respect my inner writer.
If you struggle to find time to write during the week, this gives you two more hours than you previously had. If you already spend a substantial amount of time writing, first, wow, good for you! But as for creative time, you can actually still use it to your advantage.
One suggestion: use it to work in another medium. If you write prose, try poetry. Or exercise your talents in drawing, painting, music, etc. No matter what, time blocks are a great way to tame all the distractions in your life.
3. Messages to yourself.
There is another way to use digital organizing tools to your advantage. Sit down and think about what you want to have achieved as a writer in April, in July, or whenever. It really doesn’t matter. Set a reminder for 30 days before that date using your calendar, to-do app, email, or any other reminders system you use. If you search for it online, you can find many tools and tips for sending yourself a time-delayed message. In the message, ask yourself kindly how you are progressing towards your goal, and ask yourself what you need from both yourself and others to get there.
Here’s how you can do this using Gmail. You can also easily find instructions for Outlook, for text messaging, or for many common apps.
4. Get off the resolutions bandwagon.
Five years ago, I decided to stop making New Year’s resolutions and instead decide on a theme for the year. Commitments and concrete goals will emerge from there. I’m a big believer that the way you look at the world strongly influences how you do things in the world and what you achieve in it. Others recommend replacing resolutions with goals. I like that approach as well because it focuses more on the why than the how. If you resolve to get exercise three times a week, life could quickly get in the way and lead you to drop the whole thing. If you set a goal of getting stronger or increasing stamina, you can continue to move towards that goal even with changes in your circumstances. Still, others say that doing nothing is better than making a resolution. Think about whether this freedom from resolutions might be a gift to your writerly self. (If you’re curious, my theme for 2020 is going to be “commitment.”)
5. The gift of kindness.
Be kind to your inner writer. Writers are often intensely self-critical. We hold ourselves to high standards. We expect a lot from ourselves, and we respond harshly when we don’t deliver. If you have not been writing as much as you want to, if you are stuck on a project that you were sure would be further along by year’s end, forgive yourself.
Forgive yourself for not writing; take a gratitude inventory towards all the relationships and all the beings that have received your time and love this year. Remember that you are more than your responsibilities.
If you let yourself off the hook for this, chances are, you’ll stop writhing and start writing, or doing, or working, whatever it is that’s blocking you. Here are some excellent resources for this kind of gratitude and self-compassion.
Writers and lovers of writing, I wish you the very best of this holiday season, and may your year ahead bring you all good things.
Bio: Christopher G. Fox, PhD
Christopher G. Fox, PhD is a writer and communications strategist living in Los Angeles. He works with executives and subject matter experts to help them build reputations through messages, conversations, stories, and thought leadership.
His website, Syncresis® is a consultancy focused on thought leadership, patient communication, and content strategy. Its unique virtual operating model means that teams are purpose-built to the needs of a specific client and project.
He is also the creator of Kindness Communication®, which promotes the idea that the worlds we move in can be better places if we make kindness the core of how we operate.
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