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How Shari Caudron’s Kick-Butt Workshop Gave Me My Word for 2013
Andrea W. Doray
I don’t make resolutions.
(Of course, you can say that I actually am resolving by making this decision!)
Oh, yes, I heartily support the concept of fresh starts and new beginnings; you know this if you have ever tried to keep my address in ink. I just don’t rely on the calendar to signal their inceptions.
Instead, I choose a word as my focus, and since New Year’s Eve, I had been looking for my 2013 word. Then it stood up and declared itself at Shari Caudron’s Day-Long, Kick-Butt, Get-Your-Writing-Year-In-Order Workshop. At this set-our-writing-goals-for-infinity-and-beyond session, Shari asked us to describe why we write, who we write for, and what we want to accomplish with our writing.
The first part was easy…
“I write because I have to.” Most writers I know will answer the question with variations on this theme.
Yet Shari asked us to dig a little deeper, to express why we feel compelled to write. Responses from around the room ranged from the altruistic—“to make a difference” and “to help people,” through the light-hearted—“to entertain” and “to make people laugh.”
My own reasons include both altruism and light-heartedness…and everything in between. Sounds lofty, right? Ultimately, though, I narrowed it down to an easing of burdens, and an illumination of meaning.
From there, distilling “easing” and “illumination” was pretty straightforward: “light,” as in making loads lighter, and in shining a light on that which I decide needs to be seen.
(By the way, although the reasons why we write may shift, they may also just put on a different face…mine have. After finishing my first poetry manuscript in Chris Ransick’s Master Class last summer, my second collection is forming around a very different set of topics with different audiences, but with the same overall reasons for writing.)
That’s how “light” became my word for 2013…
And that’s why I’m looking forward to the New Year with renewed interest. What possibilities there are for light! (And not just Lean Cuisine and light beer…is there such a thing as light wine?)
I’m already on a journey of lightening my own load, having started a project called “365 Days of Divesting” on my birthday last October. Every day for one year, I’m divesting my home and my life of at least one item…and it’s way easier than I thought. Let me know if you need ladies size 7-1/2 black shoes or kitchen utensils.
I’ve also lightened my mental cargo by scaling back the width of my social and professional activities and focusing on the depth of the commitments I do make.
And now for the hard stuff…
At the very beginning of our workshop, Shari asked us to make a public statement about the amount of writing we’ll commit to. Between my four (soon to be three) blogs, my newspaper column, my volunteer writing, and my “for-me” writing, I committed to 8.35 hours per week. (Putting beans in the burritos occupies most of the rest of the time.)
Shari also asked us to describe, for ourselves, our 5-year goals. Mine? “To write,” of course. Seriously, though, after we had articulated our 5-year goals, we outlined what we would need to accomplish by the end of 2015, then—to achieve these goals—what we need to do by the end of 2013.
(Laundry was high on my list, but then I found out that it didn’t really count.)
From here, you’ve probably guessed, we detailed what we need to do every month. I am still in awe of the commitments from some of my fellow participants!
And so, out loud, here are mine…
• Set aside three days a month to research opportunities and (get up the guts to) submit.
• Participate in at least one Lighthouse workshop.
• Write one column per week.
• “Finish” at least one poem per week.
• Post daily (and here I trailed off into hysterical laughter…).
Nevertheless, I now have a plan. And I have a white board to write out my plan. Steps one and two, check and check.
What would your word be?
Let me ask you: if you were to decide against resolutions—to state your goals and get your writing year in order (à la Shari)—what would your word for the New Year be? How about a word for, about, or because of our writing?
For 2013, personally, I’m looking forward to the light.
Andrea Doray is a writer who believes that—in writing—entertaining and making a difference are not mutually exclusive. Contact her at email@example.com with your word for 2013.