I wish I had started choosing a word for myself years ago. I love, love, love my word for 2014. It has started to feel like a mantra. Whenever I feel frustrated about something, I call on ACCEPT, and it calms me right down. ACCEPT is shorthand for “Is there anything you can do to change this situation right now? No? Then just ACCEPT the situation.” I’ve found it can even work under slightly different circumstances. Just last night, I was angry at someone. I knew I had to talk to the person, but I had to wait for the right time. As soon as I thought of ACCEPT, my anxiety lessened, I was able to compartmentalize the anger and hurt, and wait for the right time to speak.
Of course, there have been times that I’ve forgotten to use it until after I already got frustrated or angry, but I’m getting better at calling on it more quickly. Hopefully by the end of February, I’ll actually be able to anticipate when I need it.
Motto for the month of January: “Don’t move until you see it.”
This was a good motto for a slow-moving winter month. I always want things to happen in January, partly because I’ve just made new resolutions I’m excited about, and partly because nothing’s happening outside. But as I wrote in Winter: A Time To Rest, it’s okay to use the cold and dark as a reason to hibernate a little and let creativity and fresh motivation sprout from the dead time. “Don’t move until you see it” helped me creatively this month. For example, I took a couple of weeks to compose a query letter to an agent I really, really like. It was just a letter, something I could have dashed off in an hour or so, but I wanted to get it right, and I needed practice “selling” the novel with my words. So I wrote a draft, and let it rest. Read it again, edited, and let it rest. Sent it out to some family and friends to review, edited, and let it rest. When I finally sent it out, I was proud of it, and I felt I had given it the best possible chance of attracting this agent to my novel. (Now I’m sending out queries much faster, because I already have this dynamite letter. At least, I’ve been told it’s dynamite. Just not by an agent, yet.)
In a complete surprise, creativity also sprouted last week, when I started thinking about the short story I wrote this summer, “Midnight Snack,” which didn’t yet have an ending. I’d posted it serially on the blog, and asked readers to think about what could happen next. I never got a consensus or any fresh ideas myself, so I abandoned the story. But last week, I started thinking about Kristy and her problems again, and I decided to back up the story a bit and start from a new place. Now I’m writing like a fiend, and I have a clear ending in mind. I can’t wait to finish, do a few more drafts, and start submitting it.
My monthly motto for February will be: “Let your mind wander.” I get my best ideas when I start with a deep breath, an empty mind, and a mindless task, like dish washing. Instead of distracting myself, I’m going to give myself some headspace to think.
Did you take a word for 2014 or a monthly motto? How is it working for you?