Writing inspiration: Lessons for everyday life and writing
7 lessons I learned in 2022
I created this newsletter so that I can hopefully help support your writing. Doing the Write Thing is meant to help you keep writing, stay motivated, find inspiration, improve your writing, get published (if you want) and follow your heart (whether you’re a writer or pursuing another creative/artistic passion). I hope that you’ve found that Doing the Write Thing is helping you learn new things and is helpful to you.
In 2022, I learned a lot of new things too. While I love learning and growing—I loved school and continue to pursue opportunities to learn and grow—I still wasn’t expecting some of the lessons I learned this year.
Since these lessons were helpful to me, I thought they might help someone else too. Also, many of them might help your writing, so I’d like to share them with you.
Lessons Learned in 2022
1. Expect to make mistakes. Early this year and a few times since, I realized that I will make mistakes and to accept and expect that. Specifically, I realized that even though I make decisions largely driven by following my heart, not wanting to hurt others, and being true to myself, there will be times when I make a mistake and unintentionally hurt someone.
This lesson does not mean we should give up on treating others well or apologizing—it means being ready to work together when we miscommunicate or make mistakes so that everyone can understand and support each other.
This lesson also inspired another lesson…
2. Ask for help. I KNOW this is important and am usually quick to offer to help someone. And yet, when I knew I wanted help, I hesitated because I didn’t want to bring tough topics to loved ones when everyone is already handling so much with the pandemic. It’s like I knew logically the importance of we human beings asking for help, but emotionally felt so resistant to the idea of interrupting someone’s flow with something that might be difficult for them—even when someone offered to talk! Since I value logic and am also very sensitive, maybe this tug makes sense!
Eventually I did reach out to some of my loved ones and the support was so helpful.
This lesson led to another lesson…
3. Sometimes it helps to just try things. If you’re thinking about something and your gut tells you it’s what you’re looking for, sometimes it’s time to just do it!
For example, earlier this year I knew I wanted to talk to an unbiased third party about communication tips. So I reached out to a counsellor and it was so helpful. She told me multiple times that my ideas matched the recommendations she would have made, and she offered new ideas too. Later this year, I reached out to another counsellor regarding communication styles and, again, found the support and ideas to be so helpful.
As I wrote about in one of the first newsletters, another new thing I did this year was to launch Doing the Write Thing. I usually focus on editing In Your Dreams but also felt it was time to jump on an idea I’d had for the past couple of years to launch a writing newsletter about following your heart. I’m also working on launching a parenting magazine that comes very much from the heart.
As I predicted, working on multiple writing projects does mean I work on In Your Dreams a little less often.
This leads me to another lesson I learned this year…
4. You can’t do everything at once. Okay, I know this is true and yet I am almost always doing a lot (hehe). Since I was a teenager, I’ve enjoyed setting and achieving goals (this ties into that bit about enjoying learning and growing, as well as being a writer), especially related to writing and health/exercise.
When I returned to work this year after parental leave, I started working part-time with new freelance clients while editing In Your Dreams and launching Doing the Write Thing and writing articles for my new parenting magazine/blog. I also really wanted to get back to exercising regularly but found I couldn’t do all these things at once.
Accepting that we can’t do everything at once really helped me to plan my evenings in a more relaxed manner that balances writing and relaxing. It also helped me learn to make decisions that support a realistic workload.
Now I work part-time, write and edit often, am getting into a groove with Doing the Write Thing (thank you for your patience and I hope you’re enjoying!), am close to launching my parenting magazine/blog, and exercise regularly (also thanks to my husband, Julien, for being my exercise buddy and teammate!).
This lesson led to another lesson I learned this year…
5. Be gentle with yourself and treat yourself with grace. You will make mistakes sometimes—that’s part of being human. How you handle those situations—hopefully with integrity, sincerity, an open heart and an open mind—matters too. On nights when you realize you can’t do x and y and z, be gentle with yourself—understand that sometimes you just need to relax (if that’s what you’re feeling) or prioritize something more important or take a break from writing.
Earlier this year when I had multiple assignments due at the same time, I chose to take a break from editing In Your Dreams so that I could focus on work. It took weeks to get back to writing regularly.
This lesson taught me something surprising…
6. Writing can help support mental and emotional health. I’ve known since I was five years old that I’m a writer. I’ve followed my heart to writing regularly since I was in senior kindergarten. I consciously chose to make writing my career. I continue to edit my books, attend workshops and learn from other writers as part of my writing dream to publish stories that hopefully help people, animals and our planet, and hopefully help make the world a better place. I’ve kept diaries since I was a kid; I realized in recent years that writing things down is an important part of how I work through things and that recording things feels good and special to me. When I wrote something new as part of NaNoWriMo after years of editing, I realized how much FUN and FREEING writing is for me.
What I didn’t know is that writing is part of what makes me feel grounded and lighter at the same time, that not writing for weeks while I worked more was affecting me, that writing brings me something—a sort of strength—mentally and emotionally.
I already know that family and my loved ones help me feel grounded and lighter at the same time—that they are my greatest joy. I truly believe that family comes first and family and loved ones are our everything.
This leads to the all-important lesson to…
7. Follow your heart. This is not new to me. I started following my heart subconsciously at a young age and consciously later. “Follow your heart” is a huge part of who I am, of my heart and soul, and a big part of why I’m generally so happy.
I understand that sometimes it’s not easy to follow your heart—sometimes it means being brave and sometimes people might not support you. It might feel like it comes with those costs.
Let’s not be fooled, though—not following your heart comes with a price too, like not living as freely or feeling the true happiness that comes from doing what you love, or helping make the world a better place by spreading your contagious joy and beautiful art and being you, the only you who will ever be.
My husband Julien—who is also my editing buddy in addition to being my exercise buddy—worded it this way: “Following your heart can be hard and scary sometimes, but not following your heart can also be hard and scary.”
Following your heart is one of the keys to unlocking your greatest joy and can help you navigate when you’re not sure what to do.
Even when I needed to learn these lessons, something that helped me was following my heart.
Did any of these lessons or messages resonate with you this year? Do you see any lessons here that can help you achieve your goals next year?
Thematic word for 2023
This is a time of year when many people reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the new year. I tend to always make and work on goals but, since 2018, I also like to pick a thematic phrase or word for the new year.
In 2022, my word of the year was MOVE. As I wrote on Instagram:
“I saw this word pop out of an Instagram post by @adrienelouise for her free 30-day yoga movement* (which I highly recommend!) and suddenly I knew this word I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of matches my priorities.”
I recently looked at my 2022 goals and was pleased to see I’ve been working on all of them.
For 2023, I thought I might choose the phrase “be brave,” which is something that helps me when I take a counsellor’s advice to trust that others are okay sometimes when I worry about them.
That phrase helps me with that advice, but for a thematic word for 2023, I looked to Adriene Mishler again. I read about her January 2023 30-day yoga movement and I saw a word:
And I felt something.
I felt grounded, comforted, calm, good. It makes me think of my family and loved ones, who are always my priority.
When I see the word “centre,” it also makes me feel a sense of calm and accomplishment. And since 2023 is the year when I push to get In Your Dreams out to literary agents, it feels fitting!
I love working on In Your Dreams, which I have been editing on and off since I wrote it in 2006-2007, and I am also very eager to work on other stories. I have made so much progress with In Your Dreams and want to share it with you and then work on other novels! (Up next: Lavender Fields, which is dedicated to Emmie, one of our furry family members and one of my best friends.)
I also bought a new agenda for 2023, which I will talk about more in another newsletter.
How about you? Do you set goals for a new year, throughout the year, or take a different approach? Do you like to pick a word or theme for a new year?
Also, to help me learn more about what would help you and your writing most, are there writing topics you’d particularly like to learn more about?
Dear reader, thank you SO much for subscribing to Doing the Write Thing and for your continued support! It really means a lot! I really hope these newsletters help you with writing, pursuing your creative passion and following your heart.
Here’s wishing you and your family happy holidays!