I see great things for you in 2023
crafting your vision for a new year of writing + a vision board party
Happy New Year, and welcome to Write More! We’re trying something new for the new year—the January Jump Start. Every Sunday in January, you’ll get an email with a tip or strategy to help you set goals and track your progress. If you’re hoping to write more this year, it’s going to be a fun way to get started.
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I have a good feeling about this year. I don’t make resolutions, and I’m not hoping to become a new and improved version of myself this year. But I do believe in harnessing the energy of a fresh start. I believe in naming your ambition.
Basically, I believe in starting with a vision.
Here’s my pitch for starting with vision: it’s aspirational, in the very best way. We’ve probably all had the experience of making ambitious resolutions on January 1, then somehow waking up mid-February and feeling like a real failure for not having totally transformed ourselves in the bright light of a new year. Your vision board won’t do that to you. It’s there to guide and encourage you. You can always reorient yourself. You can’t fail your vision.
In the next few weeks, we’ll get into creating targets and breaking goals down into milestones and setting up your spreadsheet. But first: vision. When you think about your hopes for the year, what do you picture? Does it have a color, or a texture? Does it, while we’re at it, have a vibe?
this week’s exercise: make a vision board
I’m going to describe the process I’ve used to make a vision board for the last couple of years. But! This is even more fun if you do it with friends—so I’d love for you to join us for a vision board party Thursday, January 5, from 7-8 pm eastern on zoom. If you’re interested, you can register at this link; you’ll get a confirmation email with zoom info in it. (If you can’t make that time, you can still register, and I’ll send out a link after—it will be a very short recording of me talking about how I make my vision boards and what I’ve done in the last couple of years.) You’re welcome to bring a friend (virtually or in your actual home) and to share this invitation with anyone else you think would like a little vision at the beginning of the year. You'll want to have a big piece of paper or poster board, some magazines you can cut up, and a glue stick.
***edited, since the live vision board party has passed—if you want to be part of the fun, you can watch the recording here. (It’s just under 7 minutes—a quick bit where I talk about my vision boards and how I’ve put them together, then give some directions or guiding principles for making your own vision board.) You’ll hear shout-outs for Real Simple’s pretty graphics and Leigh Stein’s no-nonsense approach to writing, money, and ambition, which has been really important to me in the last several years. Even if you think you’re not a vision board person, maybe just try it out? Worst case, you’ll have a pretty, encouraging piece of art above your desk or on your dresser or wherever you’ve got a spot.***
Here’s how I’ve approached making a vision board. You can use these steps if you’re vision boarding on your own, or you can just skim if you’re coming to our zoom party later this week.
Start by thinking about the big picture of the year. What’s ahead of you? What are you hoping for? What are you excited about?
Dream big. It’s okay to be a little audacious here. It’s great, even. If you, like me, were raised to be modest, it might feel scary to name your ambitions. Do it anyway.
Start clipping. I like to put a little music on and just flip through my magazines and see what speaks to me. I grab a nice pile of phrases and images, more than I can use.
Keep it visual. I love words (obviously) but too much text on a vision board makes me feel like I’m being yelled at.
Leave some space. I like to think of the white space on a vision board as making room for good things I haven’t thought to hope for yet.
If you’d like to vision board with us, you can register here.
other new year/fresh start resources
Virginia Sole-Smith’s recent Burnt Toast Annual Report was a really generous look into how she sets goals and reflects on the newsletter, and it also led me into this older piece she wrote about creating a business plan as a freelance writer; even if, like me, you’re not a full-time freelancer, I think her guidance around creating professional goals is really helpful. She also suggests checking in on your goals quarterly, which I’ll be doing this year. (Putting a “quarterly meeting” on my calendar makes me feel like a business lady, which I’m kind of into.)
I’ve done Dan Blank’s clarity cards exercise in the past and found it really helpful. I think it’s especially useful for thinking about the intersection of creative, personal, and professional goals. He’s hosting a free webinar, Creative Clarity: Find More Time, Get More Done, and Live with More Confidence, on Friday January 6th at 12:30pm ET. (That’s another one where if you can’t attend live, you can register anyway and watch the recording afterward.) Register here.
There’s still time to join Jami Attenberg’s Mini 1000 Winter 2023, which runs January 7-12. (Her prep suggestions are very helpful, whether you’re new to #1000words or not.)
If you’re feeling a little more philosophical, I loved Megan Angelo’s new Romper essay, How To Celebrate The New Year When Nothing Ever Really Feels New, which urges us to embrace “random shit” in 2023:
At the risk of sounding like a Chicken Soup for the Soul workbook tie-in from the ‘90s, here is my plan: I want to talk to more strangers at the post office. Leave my phone in my bag in the waiting room. Join a club where everyone’s twenty years older than me, I don’t know. Drive a different route home. Buy a book that came out five years ago and nobody talked about. Walk. Let my kid pick out what’s for dinner. If they say something annoying, I won’t make it, and we’ll just have bacon. Maybe when all my other friends from high school say they don’t want to go to the next class reunion, I’ll text back: “Yeah! Me neither.” Then I’ll go. Just to see what happens.
I’m telling you now, when it comes to self-care, serums are out. Random shit is in.
(Reading that took me to her essay on motherhood and Wanda Vision, which I also loved.)
upcoming events (on the internet and in 3D, in Texas!)
The Long Devotion at a Hundred Pitchers of Honey (online), Th, January 19th, 7.30 pm eastern
We’re so excited to have contributors to The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood on Donna Vorreyer’s great online reading series, A Hundred Pitchers of Honey. Our readers include Sunu Chandy, Emari DiGiorgio, January Gill O’Neil, Clarissa Mendiola, Joyelle McSweeney, and Lena Khalaf Tuffaha. You can follow A Hundred Pitchers of Honey on twitter and read more about the series here.
Reading & Conversation with Emily Pérez at White Whale Bookstore (online), W, January 25th, 7pm eastern
Emily and I were so excited about our anthology coming out in 2022—but did you know we both published our own second books last year, too? On Wednesday, January 25 at 7pm eastern, we’re having a reading and conversation online hosted by White Whale Books (a gorgeous bookstore in the city of my heart). We’ll each read a couple poems from our new books and talk about the balance of mothering, work, and writing. If you’re someone who’s working to create a sustainable creative practice alongside all the other wonderful, overwhelming parts of your life, I think you’ll really love it. You can find a facebook invite for the event here (invite a few friends, while you’re at it!) or go right to the EventBrite link here.
The Long Devotion goes to Texas!
Emily and I both have Texas connections, and The Long Devotion has a ton of amazing Texas contributors, so we are really thrilled to be taking our little show on the road! We’ll be in Houston Friday, February 24th for a reading at Basket Books in midtown, and we’ll be in Austin on Saturday, February 25th for a reading at the Crashbox Theater. (I’m also teaching a workshop in Inprint’s Teachers as Writers series on Sunday the 26th in Houston, but it looks like that sold right out! I’ve written elsewhere about how vital Inprint’s workshops were in sustaining my writing practice when I was working a million hours a week as a high school English teacher, and it means so much to me to be teaching for them.) More info and snazzy graphics to come! If you’re in Houston or Austin, I’d be so thrilled to see you there!
I’ll be back next Sunday with the next issue in the January Jump Start. I’ll hope to see you on Thursday for our vision board party!
Write More, Be Less Careful is a newsletter about why writing is hard & how to do it anyway. What’s your vision for the new year? Reply to this email, comment below, or find me on twitter (@nancy_reddy) and instagram (@nancy.o.reddy).
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Late to all this, but just wanted to say hi. My wife has been a longtime user of vision boards, but it's not something I've ever tried myself. But, I'm feeling that this year has more internal impetus than previous ones for me. Part of that has been committing to writing daily (and I very much subscribe to your other post about Write First, Fix Later -- I won't even allow a glance at my phone or emails before I sit down to write in the morning over coffee. It's been incredibly liberating). The other aspect has been through discovering Substack and getting to read from lots of awesome people and places and feel a constant sense of inspiration.
Serums are out. Random shit is in. 🤣 think I’ll put that on my vision board!