A Clean Slate

A Clean Slate

Each January, we look back over the past year to see what we’ve accomplished toward our writing goals and where we fell short. I hope you don’t focus much on the goals you didn’t reach. Instead, concentrate your energy on the year to come.

What do you want to write in 2024? Do you have a project you want to start or one you hope to finish?

I let go of writing my memoir consistently a couple of years ago. I was so stressed in helping my parents with their Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, running my business, and having some semblance of a life. I had no capacity left for creativity.

I also did what I tell people not to do all the time. I began thinking about the end, what people would think of me, and my choices. I worried about the people I may hurt or disappoint. I anticipated those I would anger if I wrote the truth. Those thoughts can paralyze a writer, and that’s what it did to me.

In my mind, I heard myself telling others not to think about the outcome. Give yourself the freedom to write like no one will ever see it. Write first and deal with how your words might affect others once it’s written.

I also lost confidence in myself and my story. Why would anyone want to read my life experiences? My life wasn’t that interesting. What I lived and learned won’t help anyone. Blah, blah, blah.

So, here I am, facing a new year and asking myself, “Is this the year you’ll get back to writing your story?”

I want to hedge and say, “Yes, I want to. I plan to. I hope to.” But I can already feel myself wiggling out of the commitment when I talk like that.

So, here’s my answer, “Yes, I will start writing my story again.”  I’m publicly committing to all of you and asking you to help me stay accountable.

These are some things that helped me when I was writing consistently, which may serve you as well:

  • look at my calendar each week and schedule time to write
  • plan what to work on each week in advance so I don’t lose time figuring that out during my writing time.
  • log my word count into a spreadsheet after each session. Here’s a blank spreadsheet you can download and use if you find it helpful.
  • print out what I write in each session and put it in my notebook
  • use 750words.com to write 750 words a day.

So, where do I start? I need to take stock of what I’ve written to see where I am. I want to pick a section of my life to focus on, update my brainstorm list of that time, select a story from that section to write, and use index cards to create scene cards for each scene in the story.

Okay, that’s my plan. Now, what about you? Where are you with your writing? What do you want to accomplish in 2024? Have you struggled with defeating thoughts like the ones I’ve had? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Also, if you know someone expecting a new bundle of joy, check out Baby’s Five-Year Journal, which we just received on Friday.

With a beautiful cover of baby animals and fourteen pages explaining five-year journaling and how to do it successfully, Baby’s Five-Year Journal is the perfect gift for new moms and dads.

Did someone forward this email to you?

If you aren’t getting them already, sign up to follow the Life Writers vlog and Sunday Stories and receive our thank-you gift, Five Tips to Help You Write Your Life Story.

Please note: All grammatical and typographical errors have been put in this article for
your enjoyment in finding them.

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Orah Zamir
Orah Zamir
5 months ago

I am starting a project to write a companion piece to the Passover seder explaining how the paradigm shift now happening in our culture is built into the seder ritual. I am also preparing Torah teachings for my spiritual community. I am not sure thee activities are appropriate for Life Writers.

6 months ago

I think I’m the queen of defeating thoughts. When I read the stories of my fellow Life Writers, I realize how talented they are and feel like I don’t fit in. Every time I submit a story, I regret it. I keep thinking others will read it and discover that I’m a pretend writer and should resign from LW. I know this sounds extreme and self-pitying, but I struggle with those thoughts which in turn hinders my writing. I really do want to write my stories. It is just a challenging process for me every time I sit down at… Read more »

David Godin
6 months ago

My short-term goal is to create a cliché. A simple phrase. Not a whole, epic work of literature, a brilliant novel, a revealing memoir, a fact-filled article, or even an insightful essay. Not even a full sentence, but just a simple phrase. The phrase is the second most important building block of good writing after the well-chosen word. The phrase, to be elevated (or demoted) to cliché status, must be well-crafted, and concise, worthy of being remembered, quoted, and passed on.  But why a cliché? Aren’t cliché’s the lowest form of writing; hackneyed, worn, unoriginal, and overused? Cliches do have… Read more »

Norma Beasley
6 months ago

Good morning life writers. I recently purchased a copy of the baby journal. Patricia tells me I was the first to do so. It was very appropriate for a young lady I helped put through school. She recently married and had just returned from her honeymoon in the Bahamas. She was surprised and thrilled to death. I love the cover concept having met several illustrators in my profession who do this kind of work. Great move Patricia! Love ‘ya for this idea.

Lori Howard
Lori Howard
6 months ago

Although I have been following you for years and have been part of Life Writers, I’m still not ready to put my life on paper. I have led a full life, but I’m struggling with my adult children knowing some things about me. Since they like to read, they’d definitely read my memoir. Instead, for the past few years I have been writing a fictional work which uses some of the knowledge and experience I’ve earned but with a creative twist. Last week, my publisher presented me with the proof of my book and it is fantastic. It’s a nice… Read more »

David Godin
6 months ago
Reply to  Lori Howard

I can relate. I just wrote a short story about shooting my dad’s dictionary with a .22 rifle. My sister read it and said “You might not want to share this with the grandkids” and there are aspects of my life I may never share with my kids (I do want them to view me favorably).

Good luck with your novel. Fiction is another way of speaking the truth.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x