My favorite thing about starting a new year is that clean-slate feeling: the sense that anything might happen. 2015 is a blank page, just waiting for new words, new ideas, new inspirations.
Of course, I know that’s somewhat arbitrary: I could designate any day of the week as my day to start afresh, to set new goals. But the new year carries more cultural and calendrical (I just made that up) weight, and so I’m going to enjoy the feeling (even if it’s more than a bit imaginary).
I think there’s something inherent to our psyche that not only relishes the idea of a new start, but needs it. After a particularly traumatic day or week, I need to get away–to escape physically on vacation, or mentally into a book or television show. And after a year of ups and downs, I need to believe that I can hit refresh on my life and do better this year than did last year.
Sometimes we need the same release with our writing.
Sometimes we need to be able to step away from something that isn’t working and open a new document.
Sometimes we need to give our characters opportunities to change, to start over, to become someone new. In my most recent MS, one of the characters evolved nearly 180* over the course of the first draft and he’s now one of my favorites.
And sometimes we may need to step away from writing to fill our inspirational wells elsewhere.
I’ve been struggling for the last month or so to start something new. Querying took a lot of energy, and then I was working on revisions for my agent. I’ve brainstormed (and outlined) three new novels in the last three weeks, but I have less than 10,000 words among those stories.
One night, instead of trying to force ideas that wouldn’t come, I shut the computer down and my husband and I went to see the conclusion to the Hobbit trilogy. I loved it–the epic sweep, the reunion with beloved characters, the emotional heart-ache (it was a bit too long, but I’m not complaining). And by the time I finished dropping off the baby-sitter, my fingers were tingling with new ideas to flesh out the plotline of one of my shiny new projects. Stepping away that night was one of the best things I could have done.
So in the midst of all the goal-setting and planning this year, I want to also emphasize that sometimes it’s okay to shut down, to step away, even to take a break from the business that drives us. As Tasha put so well on Wednesday, being centered can help fuel us in ways that the most rigid schedule can’t do.
What helps you hit “refresh”–in writing and in life?
Rosalyn Eves is a part-time writer, part-time English professor, and full-time mother of three. She loves all things BBC, especially costume dramas and mysteries. When not wrangling children (and sometimes when she should be wrangling children), she’s often found reading. She’s represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.