No, really, you are. If you’re looking back at 2015 and thinking about how you could have used your writing time better, and are now staring down the barrel of 2016 with the determination that things will be different—good. The reality is things will be different. You have an entire year’s worth of more knowledge, experience and personal truth to back up your writing.
Let me share with you my path. I’ve been writing since I was twelve. I wrote my first book when I was sixteen. Then I wrote another book. I studied writing at university and then spent close to a decade in various marketing and editing roles. I started and stopped writing perhaps thirty books of varying lengths between 10,000 and 50,000 words. In 2014, I turned my back on a successful marketing career in order to write full time. I wrote another book. At the start of 2015, I moved interstate to live with family so that I could actually afford to write full time. I worked furiously on the redraft. A few months after that, I had to go back to work because, well, money. The writing stopped. Then I decided to return to university—not because the giant plunge into writing full time was a failure, but because I knew the knowledge and experience of a new path will enrich my writing. And it already has. Now that uni is done for the year, I am back full circle to writing like crazy.
The point is, who I was at the start of 2015 is different to who I am now. If you look back on 2015, you’ll find change and growth, too. And you’ll find more success with your writing than you give yourself credit for.
But if you’re anything like me and focus sharply on the lost opportunities, missteps and writing massacres, maybe a little bit of time in 2016 needs to be spent filling up a writing jar.
The Writing Jar
The concept is no different to a happiness jar, only that you fill the jar with your writing joys and successes. Get yourself some coloured scraps of paper (I love the 2.5cm x 2.5cm multi-coloured stickynotes), and each time you have a positive moment with your writing, you mark the date, describe the moment, and pop it in the jar.
Perhaps you have a breakthrough with a troublesome character—in it goes. Maybe it’s been a week since you last wrote and you scraped in 15mins during your lunchbreak—that success deserves to go in, too. The time spent skyping a friend so that you could work on your writing projects together even though you live in different cities—it needs acknowledging. Each moment, day, week and month of writing merits recognition. Because writing is hard and lonely work, and it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come.
Before you know it, you’ll have a jar brimming with success and writing happiness. You can look at those notes when the bleak days inevitably arise. They’ll be your inspiration and solace.
And perhaps you’ll realise that if you’d started taking notes earlier, you’d have a jar of writing happiness for 2015, too.