Reflection & respect: What really happened this year?
Wherever you are in the world, I hope you, your family, and your neighbours are feeling well and are safe.
It’s not unreasonable to feel unsteady amidst so much uncertainty.
Unprecedented times call for us to be creative, so we can do things differently while making things better. But if we don’t feel calm, it’s hard to be creative.
We need to digest change before we can know what to do next.
If you’re feeling fatigued or anxious, try to find that still and quiet place deep in yourself. Once you’ve restored your own balance, you can use it to help stabilize others.
We’re writers, and we have an important skill: we know how to feel fear and calm at the same time.
That’s often what writing is all about. We write through uncertainty.
We’re always living through an unknown stage in our collective story, and these days, it feels extreme. It’s not easy, but we know how to do it. If you’re part of the Sarah Selecky Writing School writing community, you know this: you’ve been practicing this already.
Now is a good time to write, digest, and reflect.
1. One way I like to make time for reflection is using Susannah Conway’s amazing Unravel Your Year workbook. I’ve been using it for years. Look it up — it’s beautifully designed, printable, and free! Part of the workbook includes a calendar, with three monthly journalling questions for every month of the year.
2. I learned my evening reflection practice from Christina Crook, author of Good Burdens. She advises you to reflect on your day and ask yourself, “What was the most life-giving moment in my day today?” and also to consider “What was the most life-taking moment?” For me, this kind of effortful and sometimes uncomfortable reflection has felt more powerful and creative than a simple gratitude journal. By seeing my patterns daily — what gives me life, what takes it away — I’ve been changing my habits and defaults and feeling more connected.
3. Finally, you may choose to reflect on your year of writing with a Writing Inventory. Look back on the year, month by month. Get out your calendar, your iPhone, your notebooks and journals.
What really happened?What did you start? What did you send out on submission? Did you show another writer your work? Did you publish a series of blog posts? What books have you read that influenced you this year? Did you take a rest, start something new, commit, and then pause and review?
We often forget how much work we have done because so much of our good writing happens through practice, and we don’t count the drafts, the trials and errors, all of the crucial and unglamourous and forgettable steps on the journey toward creative completion.
Look at each month, and write down the highlights.
In our Centered Call this Wednesday, December 29th, I’ll be guiding our writers through a detailed Writing Inventory that I designed just for year-end reflection. This is something I’ve done with my Story Intensive teachers for years, and I’m leading this workshop for the first time ever, outside of our teacher retreat. Please join us.
However you decide to do it, when you reflect on the adventure of this past year, give some respect to all of the twists and turns that you discovered in and through writing and reading this year.
This is not a linear path.
Write until you feel you need to rest. Then rest until you feel ready to write.
Everything that you experience has a role to play in what you write next.
Happy new year,
Photo credit: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash