This is my last column of 2012. I like to spend a little time at the end of the year to take stock of what I’ve managed to do and to consider my plans for the next year. I’ll have to do some writing between here and January; there’s just too much to do for me to spend the next two weeks completely slacking off. But I really want to focus on winding up the year and getting recharged for the future.
Everyone’s got a preferred method for rejuvenating their artistic spirit. These are a few of my favorites.
Re-read something. It’s comforting to pass through familiar settings and turns of phrase in the company of characters who feel like old friends. Re-reading also reminds me of places in my own past. I have a Sherlock Holmes collection that reminds me of a snowy afternoon in Charlottesville on the weekend I decided to attend the University of Virginia. Each time I read Jane Eyre, I think about how much my life has changed since the first time I read it in middle school. Thinking about the full circles and broken patterns of the past often gets me thinking about the future, too.
Play games with the muse. I’ll probably have to work on some larger projects over the holiday, which means the laptop, my enormous stack of index cards, and at least two full-size notebooks have to come with me when I travel. But I’m planning to take one of my pocket notebooks with me, just to fool around in. I might run a few 15-minute exercises. (I tried two last year – 15 minutes starting with “I remember” and another 15 minutes starting with “I don’t remember” – that felt fresh and exciting.) I might dash off a character sketch or play “what if” or pull out one of my writing exercise books. When I switch it up with the muse, he often responds with a surprise of his own, which is very nice indeed!
Embrace a hobby. My personal favorite is knitting (my home is filled with partially completed projects, slowly stretching out on the needles), but I like to get into new recipes over the holiday, too. Once my hands are distracted, my mind is free to think of the writing in a less structured way. It’s easier to be positive about how I’ve been doing as a writer when I’m occupied with completely different projects.
Get out there. The world outside is just loaded with sensory stimuli – rocket fuel for writerly pursuits. Holidays are also great for people-watching; everyone’s off work and relaxed and enjoying the season. Being outside among other people is a reminder that the world is brand new and different every day. Each morning presents a fresh combination of random chance and individual planning, and there’s no way to really know what’s going to happen. How exciting is that?
How are you enjoying the end of the year? Share your invigorating secrets in the comments. Don’t worry – I will greet the first of the year at the top of my game, with lots of tough editorial love for everyone.
**Freelance editor Lexi Walker will be posting on issues of grammar, usage, and style twice monthly. She knows that her firm approach to editing stings a little but prefers to think that the momentary discomfort means the process is working.