I may have mentioned, but I am all here for all the new year hype.
Over the years, I’ve done it all. I’ve made goals (finish the novel in 2018! Nope). I’ve listed new habits I planned to adopt in order to reach the goals (face the page every day). I’ve chosen one word. I’ve chosen three words. This year, I did a worksheet that leads you to your “true north” (i.e., your most important values), which brought me to 5 words. One of those became the word I chose for this year, and it is the cliche-est of all. I’ve been studying happiness so long, I decided to make it my word for this year as a reminder to focus on what doesn’t make me stress, strive, or worry.
What I love about choosing a word or words is that it’s not a checklist. It’s a lens. I wrote an entire narrative for my lens this year with short paragraphs on how I’ll approach my job, my finances, and my writing. I’ve already returned to it, held my day up to it, my hour, my minutes. Like habits, picking a lens is not about reaching the goals but pursuing them.
My only goal this year is still about the writing, but I’ll tell you what my writing goal is not about this year. It’s not about my feelings. Last year, I thought everything would work itself out if I could just find the joy again, if I could write for the love of it. I never found the joy, and things didn’t work themselves out either.
At that point, it seemed obvious to quit. No one was asking me to write a novel. No one cared. And, it had taken too long and led to too many rejections for it to be fun anymore or for me to believe, “but the next draft is the ONE.”
None of that mattered. I couldn’t seem to let it go.
So this year, I’m staying on track, following the book map I’ve created, getting the pages written, however long it takes, and not even trying to love it. If that sounds horrifying, there’s this: I’m also over the failure. I no longer ask myself why it is taking so long. I don’t think about the fact that the dream was to be a professional writer-of-books a long time ago, not to be one someday.
Now, I think: the dream is to write, and I am. Perhaps I should have made the dream “to enjoy writing”, but there’s only so much dream-shaping a person can do without getting down to business.
Last year, I learned I am a 4 on the Enneagram, an ancient personality system from 1-9 with wings and balance and other things I don’t understand, and I read in a book that fours tend to obsess over the one thing they want but do not have. Hello, me. I was doing this with a fantasy about what I wanted my days to look like and what I wanted to be doing in them. I wanted it to be all about books and plays and movies all the time. And, I knew other people had this life I had imagined, and I wanted to know why I couldn’t have it, why I didn’t have it yet, and what exactly I needed to do to get it.
The antidote to the 4
And, here we are. I’m letting go of the fantasy but sticking with the work. I wake up on Mondays and pretend they’re my every single day. I go to the writing like it’s my day job, and I type out words like I’m loving it. Words can become books. This, I know. And words are the best I can promise myself for now.