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