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Giving Yourself a Clean Slate for the New Year

The holiday season is a time for joy and forgiveness, which includes forgiving yourself for all those creative projects languishing in the back of your closet or in forgotten files on your computer. All those stories awaiting an ending. All those tiny scraps of paper sporting lines of dialogue. All those frustrated characters without an ending.

It’s easy to feel guilt about projects we don’t finish, to feel the weight of stories we’ve neglected. But that guilt only serves as a barrier to creativity, a self-imposed hurdle we force ourselves to climb as penance for having procrastinated or abandoned our idea.

It’s time to move on.

In this season of joy and celebration, I encourage you to let it go. (No, not like the earworm from Frozen, but in the cathartic sense.) It’s the perfect time to release the negativity as we enter a new year with its promise of clean slates and new beginnings.

Think of this release as a gift to your inner writer. It’s a gift you deserve.

Writing is built on imagination and creativity, both of which wither in inhospitable environs. Guilt and self-blame falls into that same category. If you want to write in the new year, you need to release any and all baggage you’re carrying about the process. But don’t release the work! Take out those pieces that are whispering nasty rebukes in your subconscious and dreams. They are calling to you for a reason. Now’s the time to brush them off and decide whether they deserve your time or should be stashed away in a box for later use or as a springboard for another creation. The point is to deal with them.

Read through them. Think about each idea’s potential and make a decision. Will you write about this in 2018? Does it call for more time to develop? Where could you use each idea? Is it just a crap idea? If it’s the latter, find a box marked “Crap Ideas” and toss it in. You never know when you might need a bad idea, so don’t toss them. Besides it’s fun to look back on bad ideas sometimes for a laugh.

In my next blog, I am going to discuss writing goals for the new year. Collecting your story bits will help in that process. The guilt will not. Leave it in the trash can with the other undesirable scraps.

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