Happy Boxing Day! For those of us in the States, today is the day when we return the gifts that weren’t quite right and look for bargains (or, we avoid the mall at all costs). Outside the U.S., today is the traditional day when people give presents to those outside their core circles — employees, the friends one meant to see but didn’t. South Africa changed the name from Boxing Day to the Day of Goodwill, and I love there’s an official day on the calendar when we are compassionate and kind. (I’d love to see the greeting cards for that!)
Today is also my birthday. I give myself a gift of goodwill that’s difficult for me to give most other times of the year: judgment-free writing. And I return to work I’ve done with a kinder eye.
Here’s what I do:
1. I sit down and I write. Often, it’s early in the morning while everyone else is asleep (that’s my favorite time of day). I give myself an assignment: I must complete something. I also release myself from judgment. I can write anything, I just have to finish it. Some years, the best I can do is a journal entry. Most years, it’s a short story, often a flash piece. I’ve also used the time to revise a piece that gave me problems. Today, I’m going to attack one of the chapters in the novel I started this summer as part of The Summer Writer’s Club. I’m excited!
2. After writing, when I’m still in the afterglow and feeling accomplished and also kind to myself, I give myself the gift of reflection. I revisit the pieces I’ve written that year and I ask myself: why did I write this? What did I want from it? Did I get that? Why or why not? How does that make me feel? And, finally, what can I do differently next year?
This reflection, combined with a sense of accomplishment from completing a piece of writing, is my gift and it’s one of the best things I give myself all year. We can all give this to ourselves as writers, whether you want to take it on your own birthday or today, the Day of Goodwill, one of the last chances before the calendar changes to 2014.
Happy writing, Book Country friends. I hope that the new year brings you joyful and accomplished writing and that you remember to be kind to yourself.
You might also like: Beyond NaNoWriMo: Afterglow or Aftershock?.