Dear writing sisters,
As many of you know, every year at this time I choose a writing word to guide my writing in the coming year. Then I spell out my word with Scrabble tiles and set it above my desk so that every time I look up there it is, my writing word, reminding me of my conscious writing intention.
This year’s word? Honesty. Why? Two reasons. First, honesty—as in the opposite of betrayal—is one of the driving themes of my memoir. My narrator’s quest for her voice is in many ways a quest for her true self—in order for her to fully realize her voice, she has to be honest with herself about who she is, which means shedding the false self she has hidden behind for so long. Honesty, then, becomes a kind of self-reckoning. Second, as the writer sitting at my desk now making sense of her story, I want to be as honest as I can in the telling of her tale. Sounds easy, right? But as someone who learned early to put my false self forward as a means of self-preservation, revealing myself on the page can feel, well, akin to peeling the cornea off my eyeballs. Honesty reminds me to write my story through true eyes, to be honest about who I am, what I know, and what I see.
So, what exactly is a Conscious Writing Word and how do you choose one? The following article—an edited version of last year’s article—answers this question. May it guide you on your conscious writing journey and bring you much writing joy in 2018.
What’s a Conscious Writing Word?
Some years ago I ditched New Year’s resolutions, which felt more like giving up something for Lent—i.e., depriving myself of something I wanted—than evolving myself into the person I wanted to become. In place of making a resolution, I began choosing a “word of the year.”
Choosing a word of the year is akin to setting an intention that guides you toward your purpose, moving you from where you are now to where you want to be. Instead of pushing upstream toward a hard-to-achieve resolution, you embody your word and allow it to permeate your consciousness. In a sense, you become your word as you take action in your day-to-day life that puts your word into practice. Your life, then, begins to mirror your word. Your word becomes your way of being in the world.
Several years ago, as I reflected on the year gone by and set my sights on the year to come, I realized that in previous years I’d unintentionally chosen writing words, words that guided me toward my writing dreams and goals.
In hindsight this is not surprising given the fact that writing holds my sense of purpose, my sense of self. Indeed, like most of the women writers I work with, writing is the foundation of who I am. When I prioritize my writing, I am more present in every other area of my life. Life goes better.
No wonder I had unwittingly chosen, year after year, a word to guide my writing: my writing guides me.
What better way, then, to begin a new year than to deliberately choose a writing word that steers your conscious writing journey and encourages you to become the writer you want to be?
How to Choose Your Conscious Writing Word
First, take stock. Notice the gap between where your writing is now and where you want it to be. What word or phrase will help you to bridge this gap?
If you are an aspiring writer, perhaps the word write will move you from where you are—aspiring—to where you want to be—writing. Post the word write in your writing space. Allow it to remind you of your intention to write. Then, act on your word: write and watch yourself become someone who writes.
On the other hand, if you are someone who has been writing for years but who has drawers full of unfinished writing pieces, perhaps the word completion will return you to your work with a renewed commitment to complete one piece at a time. Post the word completion in your writing space and allow it to permeate your consciousness; become a writer who completes her writing projects.
Your writing word can be a word that underscores a tangible outcome you want to achieve in your writing, such as publish or submit. Or your word might echo a next step you want to take; for example, if you write alone and never show your work to others, your writing word might be community or share or tribe. Or your writing word might embody a state of being: confidence, compassion, joy.
Notice how the Writing Word in each of the above examples heeds a want or desire. That is no accident. The purpose of your Writing Word is to help you become the writer you want to become.
If a writing word does not come to you immediately, write your way toward it. Pose the question What do I want for my writing in 2018? in your journal or notebook. Set your timer for ten minutes and allow the answer to this question to emerge from the tip of your pen. Other questions to consider: Who do I want to BE in relationship to my writing? What story wants to be told?
Be gentle with yourself if it takes you a while to discover what you want as a writer. As women, we often become separated from our deep wants and desires (and, yes, writing is a deep and worthy desire). Sometimes it takes time and space and reflection and an honest tuning in to ourselves for our desires to re-emerge.
Ultimately, your writing word should put you in sync with your Self. When you light upon it, it will resonate to your core. You will experience a full-body knowing. A smile. A yes.
I find that posting my writing word in my writing space keeps my word on my conscious awareness which, in turn, makes me a more conscious writer.
How about you? What’s your Conscious Writing Word for 2018? Let us know in the comments below. Or come join us at the Writing Out Loud Sisterhood–Writing Women’s Lives private Facebook group—and share your Writing Word with the Sisterhood.
Much writing love,