January 2, 2020

Happy New Year! Welcome to a Blank Page

Notebook open to blank pages with text: How Can We Get a Fresh Start?

Yay! We survived another year! I don’t know about you, but sometimes that goal feels rather iffy during the year, so yes, surviving is an accomplishment. *smile*

The New Year is a time of wrap-ups and resolutions. We might make a list of our favorite books or review our accomplishments of the previous year.

But I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions that never survive the month of January. (As a perfectionist, I already have plenty of things to beat myself up about, and I don’t need to add to the list, thank you very much.)

Instead, I focus on the positive side of moving forward. The New Year can offer us an opportunity for making changes in our life, but for that, it helps to see the New Year as a blank page on which we can create a new story for our life.

What Does a “New Story for Our Life” Mean?

As writers we all know what it’s like to start a new book. We might experience feelings of…

  • excitement with the sense of endless possibilities for exploring our idea
  • terror when looking at the blank page and thinking of how much work we have ahead of us

(Or more likely, we’ll experience a mix of both, along with several other emotions between those extremes. *smile*)

How can we take advantage of the fresh start of the New Year? Click To TweetThe reality of writing is often somewhere in the middle. Our “endless possibilities” are limited by our writing strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, if we actually sit down to write, those blank pages are quickly filled.

Similarly, thinking of how we want to change our life—creating a new story for how we live—can prompt a mix of emotions. Yet like with writing, baggage from the old year (or the old “us”) can follow us and affect our efforts.

So let’s take a look at some of the ways we can “push the reset button” and get a fresh start, no matter the time of year.

Creating a Fresh Start for the New Year

Although the New Year is an obvious time to think of starting from a blank slate, we’re not limited to making changes only at the beginning of January. In fact, there are a number of ways we can think about giving ourselves a fresh start any time of year.

Let’s take a look at how we can deal with some of the baggage that might be holding us back from making changes…

Is Our Baggage Related to Feeling like We’re in a Rut?

If so, even just a little push might help us grow. What can we improve over the upcoming year?

If we examine what we’ve accomplished over the past year, we can think about how to build on our successes or accomplishments. What good habits can we make more ingrained?

Did waking up earlier to write work well for us? Maybe we try to do that more often. Or maybe focusing on the good stuff we manage to get done helps our mood. In that case, we could try a gratitude or happiness journal to make sure we’re giving ourselves enough credit.

Is Our Baggage Related to Our Bad Habits?

If so, what do we want to leave behind? If we know what didn’t work for us, we can figure out how to eliminate or minimize that situation in our life.

How can we prevent baggage from last year from holding us back? Click To TweetDid social media take up too much time? We don’t want to beat ourselves up or feel guilty (in fact, let’s leave guilt behind *smile*). Instead, we can just come up with a plan for how we want to use social media from now on and aim for that rather than our old (bad) habits.

Or maybe we decide that we want to leave our self-doubt behind. If we pump ourselves up with affirmations of what we deserve or have earned, we can feel more confident when reaching for new opportunities.

Is Our Baggage Related to a Fear or Weakness?

If so, we might want to change ourselves at a deeper level than just habits, good or bad. What can we strengthen over the upcoming year?

For example, we often want to learn new ways of dealing with situations. In writing, we might decide to take classes or tackle a writing skill we want to add to our craft toolbox.

In life, we might decide to confront a problem or go to therapy to learn better methods of fixing problems. Or maybe we want to create new habits, such as developing a writing schedule or committing to better eating or exercising.

Is Our Baggage Related to Our Perspective?

If so, it might disappear if we tackle it in a new and different way. How can we change the lens we see through?

As I mentioned last year, changing the look of something can help us see it with new eyes. With our writing, we can print out our stories, send the file to our ereader, or change the font in our word processing program.

In our life, we might change how we define success, which could give us more opportunities to succeed. Or we might try to see situations through others’ perspectives, using their lens to better understand others and/or the bigger situation.

Is Our Baggage Related to Feeling Overwhelmed?

If we’re not sure where to start, chances are that we need to re-prioritize. What priorities do we want for the upcoming year?

No matter our situation, it’s easy to overcommit ourselves. But getting a fresh start can mean letting some things go so we can focus on the rest. Sometimes our decisions come down to what we’re willing to sacrifice.

In writing, we might set a story aside that we’re not sure how to fix so we can start over with a new story. In our life, we might back out of some commitments to give more effort to the commitments we decide matter more.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Although I’m not a believer in New Years resolutions, the New Year can be an opportunity to create a blank slate. With that fresh start, we can improve our writing and our lives in big and small ways.

On Twitter, I’ve seen writers stating their intention to get rid of many types of baggage. Some want to go into the New Year with more confidence. Others want to change their writing habits. With the RWA implosion, many have mentioned an end to coddling racism or other important issues.

The New Year can be a time of changing things up without guilt for how we did it last year, but even at other times of the year, we can still find a way to “push the reset button” when we want to make changes in our life. Rather than a case of seeing our previous efforts as “wrong,” the fresh start allows us to see change as good—independent of comparisons—giving us more freedom to make the changes we need. *smile*

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What type of resolutions do you make? Do you see the New Year as an opportunity to make changes? Does thinking of a fresh start help you make changes? Can you think of other ways to “push the reset button”? What changes do you want to make?

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Elle Love
Elle Love

Hi Jami,
I don’t have any resolutions this year, only goals and a plan to achieve them. I plan to make writing every day a habit, even if it’s only 200 words, on anything, not just my novel. I need to learn GMC for scenes: Goal, Motivation, Conflict, and make sure each chapter in my novel has them. Any suggestions on resources? I also need to design my website. I can’t build my email list without one.

Best of luck on all your goals for the new year!

Deborah Makarios

I love setting goals, but sometimes they become more stick than carrot.

So this year I’ve stuck to just a couple of important (and manageable!) goals, and for the rest of life I have a theme (this year it’s Joy) and areas of focus.

So instead of saying “I will achieve X by Y date” I’m saying “I’m going to spend time focussing on X until Y.” Takes the pressure off but still helps to concentrate my efforts!

May this year be the year when your health improves in leaps and bounds, setting you free to give more focus to other parts of your life. 🙂

Lynne Fisher
Lynne Fisher

For me, a new year has become about RE-evaluating what I’m doing that feels stale in my life. I don’t make resolutions or set goals because I am pretty good at motivating myself without the added pressure that the words ‘goal’ and ‘resolution’ have taken on with their usage. I just keep trucking with my art and writing but look for opportunities to refresh myself and learn new things. And that’s about it really. A really considered and insightful post, Jami!

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