It’s the first Monday of February, when you can ask me questions and discuss any aspect of writing that concerns you.
It’s also when many of us make – and sadly break – our resolutions for the New Year. We aim to be healthier, give up bad habits, and be more productive. These resolutions are soon broken, not because they are unworthy goals, but because they aim for perfection, not a natural place for humans to be.
We can still work toward our goals but they probably should be built into everyday life, rather than pressuring us to do everything at once. Several years ago I started eating more sensibly, and am reaping the benefits. Had I started during the holiday season, I’d have far less chance of making the changes stick.
On Facebook recently, someone posted what I think is a far more creative approach to the New Year. Rather than making resolutions, you choose a word to inspire you through the coming year.
This makes sense to me. But like many of you following this blog, I work with words. So far, I’ve published over five million words in books alone, plus movie scripts, short stories, novellas and articles.
How on earth to choose just one?
There are writing-related words – brainwave, inspiration, dedication, productivity, imagination, success, creativity.
Scary words – procrastination, deadlines, endurance, not really the encouragement I’m seeking.
After much searching, I finally settled on a word to sum up my hopes and plans for 2020.
*drum roll, please*
The word is ENRICHMENT.
As a volunteer guide at Canberra’s National Zoo and Aquarium for over ten years, I was very familiar with this word. When visitors commented on how happy and energetic the animals were, enrichment was the reason.
Everyone from zoo keepers to volunteers contributed materials or helped make toys for the animals. Toys were usually food-related such as screw-top bottles or egg cartons filled with seeds and treats. Each item was tailored to the animal’s needs and skills, designed to challenge and entertain while eventually rewarding the animal’s efforts.
In summer, frozen treats were on offer, such as “bloodsicles” for the big cats, and frozen fish for the massive European brown bears. One year, the owners brought in a load of snow from the Snowy Mountains, and heaped it around the enclosures. Seeing a 400kg European brown bear cautiously check out a scary pile of snow was fun for animals and zoo visitors alike.
I can see enrichment working well for writers. We’re prone to boredom if we don’t have enough variety in our work or the going gets tough. Rewards help us stay motivated. New journals and stationery are favourites, as is chocolate. Streaming TV shows or movies, taking research trips and giving ourselves reading time can enrich our writing lives, providing new information from which we can draw our stories.
Right now, in the searing heat of our Aussie summer, a pile of snow delivered to my backyard has plenty of appeal.
What word would you like to adopt for 2020? Share them with us in the comments below. I moderate posts to avoid spam, but if you want your comment to appear right away, click on the “sign me up” box at right to subscribe. I don’t share your details with anyone.
Happy New Year and may your words flow in 2020,
on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook
Sat 14 March 2020, 10am-4pm AEDT
Getting Back the Joy of Writing
Literary agent Linda Tate and author Valerie Parv AM show how to
recover your lost enthusiasm, even find pleasure in pitching your work
Venue – Harry Hartog books Australian National University
153-11 University Avenue Acton ACT 2601
Book now at http://tinyurl.com/ug3vvq5