Gently, Gently Does It

It’s that time of year when every social media platform is inundated with posts and memes about setting goals for the coming year.

old photos my childhood

Rocking the ’80’s!

But what if you don’t like setting goals? What if you haven’t made a New Year’s Resolution since 1983?

Official goal-setting goes against my rebellious nature. I don’t like being told what to do – even if it’s by myself! However, last year – spurred on by my yearning to succeed at this writing thing – I chased so many goals that the joy of what I was trying to do (write a book) suffered. I felt lost and thankfully by October, came to my senses. I allowed myself to step back from everything – both writing and social media (which I wrote about here) – so I could process where I had gone wrong.

A Freefall writing course in November, run by Barbara Turner-Vesselago, re-ignited my passion for writing; strengthening it even. Not only did I find two amazing critique partners, I was able to see my book from a whole different angle. Freefall let the book and its characters tell me what they wanted to say – rather than me trying to force the story into a synopsis I had made when setting my goals earlier in the year.

Most importantly, Freefall taught me to trust my intuition and to write more organically. I felt again like the writer I had started out as, not one who was trying to write a book that might fit a certain market. Barbara’s written feedback on each piece of writing helped dampen my increasing sense of imposter syndrome. I may never have gone to university, or reached the lofty heights of industry, but confidence in my writing soared. I was able to allow myself to acknowledge that writing is something I’m good at. Something that will continue to improve with time.

Barbara’s feedback on my writing was balanced; areas for improvement were gently pointed out. But there were so many positive comments, it was hard to choose just two:

‘I found this really lovely, and very moving. The voice feels absolutely clear and on target throughout, never sentimental, but present and compassionate. (…) It didn’t seem to me you put a foot wrong, throughout. The writing flows, and the emotional tone of it is absolutely even and deep, giving the reader absolute freedom to feel. It’s very good work.’


‘As with all your writing, the sentences are so articulate, and well-turned. It’s very good writing, and I think this is also a highly believable, emotionally effective story – what I’ve seen of it.’

So, was the time I spent chasing all those goals last year wasted? Definitely not. I learnt a lot – both about the writing process and myself. But as for this year, my motto is ‘Gently, Gently’. I’m not planning on setting formal goals. I know I put myself under too much pressure to achieve them at all costs. I plan to enjoy a year of spontaneity, creativity, and intuition. I know that writing is important enough to me that success and achievement will be taken care of by my inner-drive. And I’m more flexible in what that ‘success and achievement’ might look like.

I hope you have a gentle and creative year – whether setting goals and New Year’s Resolutions or not.

If you’d like to read more about the Freefall writing experience, Louise Allan wrote about it here.  You can follow Barbara Turner-Vesselago from Freefall Writing on Facebook here.


Our cat, Tiger, approves of my gentler writing approach.


27 thoughts on “Gently, Gently Does It

    • I think I’ve been trying to follow every other writer’s journey up til now! All part of the learning journey, I guess.
      I hope you get something out of following Barbara. Her course is really worthwhile – I think it’s run once a year here in Perth.


  1. Awesome post Marie, I too have found that goal setting isn’t for me either. I have dreams that will come to fruition by letting things happen gently and taking such a creative adventure to open the doors to 2018. Have an awesome 2018 of going gently, gently on your creative adventure. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great to hear, Hayley! I like that you’ve learnt to take the creative approach too.
      Best wishes for your new learning adventure in 2018 – it’s going to keep you very busy, and hopefully very fulfilled!


  2. I’m the same: the more I force the work the more my creativity clams up. I have to trick my creative self into doing the work, Have you read Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ ? She has some interesting strategies on the matter. It sounds like you have been successfully re-calibrated! I look forward to following your progress and seeing what 2018 has in store for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mohamad. I like your phrase – ‘goals without a time framework’. Although it seems to go against all the ‘helpful advice’ out there that goals need to be time specific in order for them to work, I agree with it and it suits my longer-term aspirations.
      Best of luck for 2018.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have this book! (Writing Without a Parachute: The art of freefall). I absolutely LOVE IT. My mum bought it for me when she was in Melbourne a year or two ago. It’s the best writing present anyone has ever given me. I can’t even imagine how motivating a workshop would be considering the book is so good! Sometimes I can only read a few pages and I have to start writing. It’s phenomenal.
    p.s Tiger is so cute!! I’ve always wanted a cream burmese

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bought Barbara’s second book during her workshop: Freefall Into Fiction – Finding Form. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get the Writing Without a Parachute while she was there.
      Something to add to my birthday ‘wish list’!
      Tiger’s brother is also very cute – he has a tinge of red to his coat.


  4. Gently, gently is a perfect motto for the year. Goals are pointless if they aren’t attainable or if you set too many and burn out. It’s great that you’ve come out the other side. Good luck this year, Marie. I am looking forward to reading more of your work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kirsty 😊. You are so right – goals are pointless when not set right (except maybe as a learning curve as to how NOT to set them! 😆).
      All the best for 2018. I hope you have a wonderful year and look forward to sharing it with you across our social media channels.


  5. I’m so glad the writing course reinvigorated you and good luck with the gently gently approach. I’m the opposite, if I don’t have goals/deadlines or something to work towards I procrastinate so bad. Can’t wait to read your book 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sam 😊. I’m glad you know what works well for you and that you stick to it. Good luck with the goals you’ve set for yourself this year – I’m looking forward to another year of following your progress and wish you success.


    • Thank you, Michele 😊. I feel like the last couple of years have been about figuring who I really am – and writing has helped so much with that. Thankfully it’s such a rewarding and enjoyable activity.
      All the best for 2018! x

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well done on the lovely feedback, Marie. Thanks for the links about Freefall – I hadn’t heard of it before and I’m intrigued. It reminds me of Morning Pages from the Artist’s Way, but seems ‘more’ than them, somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jessica. I’ve heard of other writers talking about the Artist’s Way, but haven’t yet looked into it myself. Maybe it’s time I should? It’s always discussed in such a positive way.
      Thanks for stopping by 😊


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